It was the Lyon shop at 54, rue Auguste Comte – which Florence Bouvier occupied for many years – that The Socialite Family moved into in February! A happy coincidence that, as well as allowing our brand to develop in the heart of the antiques district, continues the close link we have had with the antiques dealer since we first met. Now, seven years later, the designer has not only moved out of her former location. Trading in her apartment on the Presqu’île for this house near Lyon, which is “easy to live in with three children, two dogs and friends who are always in and out”, the Lyon native has chosen simplicity. A calmness essential to creativity. Because for several years now, Florence has been responsible for her own brand and has been creating household linen from antique natural fabrics – including hemp and linen – which she dyes or adds meaning to with gentle words. A restrained style imbued with poetry, which can be found even in the ambiences she devises for her interior, in which it is a question of “lots of white, wood, a little black. Very few colours. Beautiful antique objects and furniture.” But definitely not uniformity! Above all, what motivates this director’s daughter is the pleasure she takes in the interplay between eras. And the choices she makes for her decoration? She chooses “instinctively, always with a taste for objects that have had a history” Those that catch our eye, from the workshop to the large living room with its wide windows opening onto the surrounding park. Another of the advantages of this place, where the soft light is so soothing. Instant calm.
Florence, could you introduce yourself, please?
I’m a mother of three. I’ve been an antique dealer for over 20 years and I also design cushions made from old fabrics. I like to bring objects and materials from the past into the limelight to create an atmosphere that reflects me. I love eclecticism and authenticity.
Tell us about your background.
I studied law and then worked as a communications director before giving in to the siren call of the antiques trade, which had been beckoning me for a long time. So I opened a shop at the Canal de Lyon flea market in 2001. At the same time, I was developing my Florence Bouvier cushion brand and my online store florencebouvier.fr. The brand has grown. Now many shops in France and abroad sell my cushions! In 2018, I sold my flea market shop and moved to Lyon city centre. To be more precise, to the Rue des Antiquaires
Tell us about your upbringing. Where did you grow up, and what effect did that have on the way your tastes have developed?
I wasn’t brought up in a family of antique dealers or decorators, but my father was a stage director. This is probably where my love for creating an ambience and setting the scene stems from. Added to which, I lived very early on with my husband and children in very old, huge houses that were being restored. I discovered how much I loved hunting for antiques and vintage items for these places, bringing them to life and decorating them! I didn’t have any training for this. Everything was done and is still done today, by instinct, always with a taste for objects that have had a history and taking pleasure in the interplay between eras. There’s nothing more boring than the total look!
Designers, creators, whose work has influenced you?
You are an antique dealer, and you have developed your own brand over the years. Why did you specialise in household linen and cushions?
I used to go bargain hunting a lot, and I often saw beautiful old linen and hemp fabrics that nobody was interested in. So I wanted to give them a new lease of life by turning them into cushions. I leave the fabrics raw or dye them and apply gentle words or stars to give them meaning. That’s my trademark. I have a real passion for these fabrics. They are wonderful materials that deserve to be valued!
How would you describe your style?
My surroundings are rather understated. Lots of white, wood, a little black. Very few colours. Beautiful antique objects and furniture. Fabrics in natural materials and quite pure spaces with a clever mix of styles and periods.
Tell us about your first encounter with this house.
I was living in Lyon’s city centre, which I found increasingly noisy and aggressive. Wanting to move to a quieter, greener environment, I looked at the estate agents’ advertisements and found this gem. I was immediately captivated by its large grounds, its woods, its touching simplicity and its close proximity to Lyon while still being quiet. I bought it on the evening of the viewing!
How have you furnished it?
I wanted to respect its 1950s style, its structure and its simplicity. I renovated it in that spirit. However, I’ve removed some internal walls to create open spaces that are more suited to our lifestyle. As far as decoration is concerned, there’s always a bit of my style coming through. White walls, comfortable sofas, 1950s furniture, antique objects and lamps, rugs, cushions, linen curtains and so on. The walls are full of drawings, lithographs and engravings; they’ve always attracted me. Finally, familiar and comfortable objects that make this place a real cosy cocoon.
What does it say about you?
It’s a real haven. It is soothing, soft, harmonious, bright and warm! All things I need to keep in balance. It calms me down and makes it easier for me to be creative. And it’s very easy to live with. With three children, two dogs and friends who are always in and out, I needed a place like this.
I love the world of Picasso, Jean Cocteau, and Alberto Giacometti, as well as Pierre Soulages' work with materials (...)
Which room are you particularly fond of?
I divide my time in the house between my studio, which I love and where I make my cushions, and the large living room. This open space between the kitchen, the living room with its fireplace and the dining room is a wonderful place to spend time alone or with the family.
If you had to tell us your favourite places in Lyon, what would they be?
I love wandering around the Puces du Canal de Lyon flea market; I always find treasures there. I also love rue Auguste Comte for its eclecticism and its pretty designer boutiques and galleries. Finally, there are two favourite addresses: the Galerie du Désordre, where Serge always has unique and unusual objects to offer us, things he has collected himself, and the Hôtel de Verdun 1882, which is carefully decorated and where Isabelle and Gilles welcome us as if we were at home.
What does The Socialite Family mean to you?
It’s a genuine snapshot of today’s families. ! It’s a modern, authentic and eclectic platform.
And where will we find you in the coming months?
I sold my shop in Lyon a few weeks ago – now yours! At the moment, I’m taking a short break to think about what to do next. I have several projects in mind; I’ll tell you about them when they’re a bit more advanced. And, of course, I’m still developing my range of cushions. The website is working very well, and my resellers are still growing in number!
Photography: Jeanne Perrotte – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily