Alix, who are you?
I am a woman of 45. I’ve had several personal and professional lives. I have four children with two different fathers. After years of questioning, I have now acquired a certain serenity, but I still have a thirst for learning, and I and undertake something new every day!
Tell us about your career path, which is somewhat atypical, and which allows you to live from your passion today.
Once I had my baccalaureate in my pocket, I went on to study law. Partly because I lacked confidence in myself, and because I came from a bourgeois background, choosing to work with my hands meant risking downgrading myself. After six years of law, and already with a baby (my daughter Salome was born when I was 24 years old), I left college and decided to become a sculptor. But it was partly to please someone other than me. I got a workshop from the City of Paris, I taught courses, I even went abroad for a residency. And, above all, I worked with many techniques: stone, clay, plaster, metal and so on. At 30, I decided to free myself from a complicated relationship with the father of my first two children. I needed to become financially independent: so I decided to complete my notarial degree and work in a law firm, which I did for the next five years. During this period, I met my husband, who played a vital role in my professional career (although he doesn’t understand at all what I do and doesn’t have a very developed aesthetic sense)! After the birth of my third child, I left the notary’s office and went to work for the construction company that renovated the warehouse we had bought in Ivry-sur-Seine. I became a site manager for two years. When I was 35 years old, Louis, my fourth child, was born. I was sure I wanted to start my own business, but which one? I’d already changed direction so many times without finding the right one! It began to haunt me. I decide to go and see a coach and then it was like a miracle: in two sessions, I finally plucked the right thread from the ball and then all I had to do was unroll it.
Crafts, working with materials… Is that a family predisposition?
Yes, a very strong predisposition! A very large part of my childhood was devoted to it. Both my parents are themselves very gifted with their hands and attach importance to something other than purely academic education. I spent several years at Decroly school (a kind of Montessori). My father, a notary, passed his aptitude certificate, his CAP, as a carpenter. I made a lot of things with him. I learned to sew, cook, upholster, wallpaper, and so many other things with my mother… skills I don’t feel I’ve yet had time to pass on fully to my children. But I’d like to be able to do it in our new holiday home, where I plan to set up a workshop!
Why did you decide to work in particular with Limoges porcelain – for your objects – and silver gilt – for your jewellery?
Porcelain is a fascinating and noble material. It is the most demanding ceramic clay, but also the whitest and most translucent. However, I started out working with earthenware, because that’s what I used in sculpture. But its opacity and overly earthy side didn’t suit me for making utilitarian objects. I wanted to dust off the ‘art of the table’ as it had been practised by porcelain makers for decades. At first, actually, the porcelain maker I work with didn’t understand me very well. My pieces were too irregular, and I don’t think he liked them very much! As for the jewellery, I did some experiments with porcelain, but I wasn’t satisfied with them. They lacked finesse and possibilities for expressiveness. I would have liked to be able to work with gold straight away, but due to a lack of cash and legitimacy, silver-gilt, also known as vermeil, was a perfect compromise. It’s a precious metal and is processed exactly like gold. After several years of working with this material, I finally feel legitimate in launching a collection of gold and precious stone jewellery. We are working on the catalogue and visuals at the moment. I look forward to showing them to you.
Will we see colour in your collections one day?
That’s a big question for me! I love drawing, and I’ve made several attempts to fire decoration onto my pieces. For the moment, I haven’t found what I want, because the firing process limits my colour range.
Why did you work with a palette of rather muted tones in your home?
Every time I used bright colours, I got tired of them very quickly, too quickly. I find them too obtrusive, and I prefer to use little touches of them, in paintings or with cushions or other objects, for instance.
Is the aesthetic world of your brand close to that of your decoration at home?
There are some similarities between Alix D. Reynis and the decoration of my house, but in my personal life, I attach less importance to details, which seem essential to me for my brand. My brand was built from scratch. So I can shape it exactly as I want. I think my style is quite classic, I’m looking for timelessness, refinement. The decorative arts of the 18th and 19th centuries are an inexhaustible source of inspiration.
How did you design your family home, which is a meeting between a modern setting and antique pieces?
When my third child was born, we needed space, and this warehouse met that need. It is modern, and I like the idea that our family furniture brings the soul that it lacks into this raw place. We have an accumulation of objects that have belonged to several generations in here; things from a number of origins. I combine them as best I can. But I dream of an old house full of timbers, mouldings and fireplaces!
The communal rooms (dining room, games room, living room) are very generous, open… designed for spending as much time as possible together?
The challenge with this huge space, where light only comes from the facade, was to find a way to live together without encroaching on each other. So it had to be sequenced, rather than partitioned. I think, after ten years of development, my house is finally finished (Laughs). I feel so good here that I may not go out for days on end!
You live in Ivry-sur-Seine and have two shops in Paris… Can you share your favourite addresses, your favourite haunts with us?
Photography: Valerio Geraci – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily