To us, it looked like a painting. On the heights above Geneva, this pied-à-terre, with its unobstructed view of Lake Geneva, instantly captured the sparky spirit of Natascha Wittgenstein. And for a very good reason. “Five minutes from the city”, the keen eye of the founder of the Tooshie brand is amply nourished by the serene landscape we at The Socialite Family envy. After frantically scouring the globe from Paris to New York, this interior reveals itself as a sanctuary in keeping with her desire for a quiet life. An ideal compromise for this new “phase of life where one prefers to stay at home, read, (…) and recharge one’s batteries”, yet not far from the urban buzz the gallery owner needs to support her latest ventures. In this pure, white environment, which is unforgiving about both “the choice of objects and the dust”, the Camondo School graduate effortlessly sets an iconoclastic scene. The decoration, punctuated by art books here and there, reflects her love of styles and genres of all periods. Even if the citizen of the world admits to a proven penchant for pop art and the 1960s and 1970s. But she also focuses her spotlight on young contemporary Swiss artists – including Thomas Hubert and Roman Signer. Up-and-coming names to be found alongside the family mementoes she collects and spreads throughout her home. Pieces acquired from pleasure-loving parents, especially her mother. A multi-talented woman, a model turned antique dealer, who instilled in her a sensitivity to image that our host is now passing on to her daughter Tatiana, like a precious family legacy.
I love to mix different styles and periods. The spirit of the 1960s and 1970s plays an important role in my tastes and inspiration.
Natascha, could you introduce yourself, please?
I grew up in Paris in a family of Swedish and German origin, and moved to my native New York at the age of 25 to work in the fashion and luxury industry. These ten years of apprenticeship opened the doors to the house of Nina Ricci in Paris, where I became director of the creative studio in 2001 before becoming vice-president of Devi Kroell in New York. I left in 2006 to found my own swimwear brand, Tooshie, which I have been designing, producing and developing since 2007.
Tell us about your upbringing. Where did you grow up, and how did that affect the way your tastes developed?
My mother became an antique dealer and interior decorator after modelling in the 1960s, while my father worked in finance. They were both art lovers and collectors. I owe my career path and the choice of my interior architecture and design studies at the Camondo school in Paris to them.
How are you introducing your daughter Tatiana to your world?
I’ve been taking her to the Paris International Contemporary Art Fair ever since she was young on a scooter. I asked her to make a report on the best discoveries she made with her iPhone. I always ask for her opinion because I saw she had a good eye as a child and encouraged her to find beauty in everything around her on a daily basis.
You wear a lot of different hats and navigate between curating designer furniture, being a gallery owner and being the artistic director of your swimwear brand, Tooshie. To what extent do you express your multifaceted sensitivity to beauty in your work?
I love to mix different styles and periods. The spirit of the 1960s and 1970s plays an important role in my tastes and inspiration. I’m interested in crafts and design as well as modern art.
You live in an annexe tucked away in a manor house, surrounded by beautiful countryside, not far from Geneva. What do you like about this environment? How does it inspire you from day to day?
It’s a unique place in Geneva. The countryside just five minutes away from the city. It fits in well with this phase of my life where I prefer to stay at home, read, invite my friends over and recharge my batteries rather than travelling all the time as I used to. I find serenity and some of my best ideas in this quiet environment, surrounded by greenery and dogs.
Your use of white from floor to ceiling highlights the selection of objects and books that are dotted around your living spaces. Why did you choose it?
White brings in lots of light and, at the same time, encourages a degree of discipline in my decoration in the sense that it’s a colour that doesn’t forgive anything. Neither objects nor dust. Even in winter, I feel like I’m in the South, and I think this is reflected in some way in my collections.
There are quite a few works of art on your walls. Which one are you particularly fond of?
I’m a big fan of pop art. I’ve always loved Alain Jacquet, who started at the same time as Warhol but never achieved the same degree of fame. Living here, I’ve become interested in Swiss artists like the painter Thomas Hubert and the conceptual artist and filmmaker Roman Signer, whose work can be found in our gallery.
What does The Socialite Family mean to you?
It’s an ongoing source of inspiration. There are always great stories. It’s more than a magazine
about decoration. You have very well-targeted collections.
What is your favourite item in our collection?
In December we opened La Stazione, a boutique-chalet in Megève. What other addresses would you recommend in the area?
I’d recommend By Johanne and Victoire, where you can find some original things you can’t find anywhere else, as well as my Tooshie swimwear!
Where will we see you next?
You’ll find me at the Art Geneva art fair from 26 January with my friend and associate Olivier Varenne. I’ll also be in the new gallery that we’ve just opened at 37-39 rue des Bains in Geneva where we have two spaces: one is dedicated this month to Swiss artists, and in the other space, we’re showing a little-known artist, Gregory Masurovsky, a friend of David Hockney and Yves Saint Laurent, who collected his work. And we’re currently in Gstaad with our showcase, The Little Art Window, where we have a beautiful installation by Chiharu Shiota, a promising young Japanese artist.
White brings in lots of light and, at the same time, encourages a degree of discipline in my decoration in the sense that it’s a colour that doesn’t forgive anything.
Photography : Jeanne Perrotte – Text : Juliette Bruneau @thesocialitefamily