Vanessa Droin and Rodolphe, Oscar 22 years old
Family - Lyon

The Strictly Minimalist Style of an Architect's Central Lyon Apartment

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Vanessa Droin and Rodolphe, Oscar 22 years old

“I need to feel passionate about anything I do”. When it comes to interior designer Vanessa Droin, there are no half-measures. A wholehearted person who uses this strength along with her gut instinct to tackle her wide-ranging architectural projects head-on. A sense of spontaneity and emotion that our Parisian design studio is familiar with when it comes to designing our collections. This former business school graduate listens to her heart when working for her Lyon clients as well as those with properties in the iconic resort of Megève – where you’ll also find La Stazione, our boutique-chalet – as she designs their interiors with “chic simplicity”. A preference for sobriety that she infuses in her projects when she’s not overseeing a site, or selecting the furniture for the premises. So it’s only to be expected that the mother of Oscar, Emma and Gaspard follows the same ethos in her own home, where things are kept to a strict minimum. After living in the countryside, this large family returned to city life. The layout of this stunning Lyon apartment has been completely redesigned: “the bedrooms have been moved to the quiet of the courtyard side, and the living rooms give onto the street”. And to add an airy touch to a flat located in the middle of an urban jungle, our host has used depth to create quiet areas. Here, the spaces play on perspective, particularly between the volumes of the living room and its adjoining kitchen. Having weighed up all the decorative possibilities, Vanessa expresses her idea of timelessness within these walls. Colours that “soothe and provide filtered light” combined with “noble yet understated materials”.

Le salon avec canapé gris de Vannessa Droin
Le salon avec rideau gris chez Vanessa Droin
Photographie noire et blanche chez Vanessa Droin
Salon avec cheminée chez Vanessa Droin Cuisine ouverte chez Vanessa Droin

Vanessa, can you introduce yourself?

Vanessa

I am an interior designer, and mother of three children: Emma, Oscar and Gaspard. We have been living in Lyon for almost seven years. My aesthetic education undeniably came from my parents. And I cultivated it tirelessly as a teenager. It now guides everything I do. I find it hard to do something if I don’t feel passionate about it.

Can you tell us about your background?

Vanessa

I took care of my three children until they went to school. I’m a business school graduate and I started my career at a renowned architecture firm in Geneva, as head of the interior design department. I would be involved from the architectural design phase onwards, in order to find solutions to any decorative constraints that could put a spanner in the works. I then opened my own business starting in Geneva followed by Lyon, Paris, Megève and gradually extended it to the whole of France. I’m involved in the construction phase, decorative choices, and selection of furniture; I advise my clients from the beginning to the end of their project or just occasionally depending on the brief.

You moved from the countryside to the city. From Switzerland to France. Why did you make the move?

Vanessa

My husband and I both studied in Lyon. I love this city, it’s vast but on a human scale, and I’m so close to everything. Plus, my friends are here. I need to be inspired, to feed off what’s around me. Living in the country was great for my kids, it helped them understand the simple things in life, enjoy hobbies and benefit from a solid foundation. But once they hit their teens, it became obvious that we should leave the countryside, so they could get their first taste of urban life.

Méridienne grise chez Vanessa Droin

I am very observant and instinctively connected to what surrounds me in every detail. I don't know how to walk through a place without seeking something that will inspire my future projects.

Photos de famille chez Vanessa Droin
Table de cuisine en bois chez Vanessa Droin Plan de travail en marbre blanc chez Vanessa Droin Plan de travail en marbre blanc chez Vanessa Droin

What nourishes and stimulates your inspiration during your daily life?

Vanessa

I am very observant and instinctively connected to what surrounds me in every detail. I don’t know how to walk through a place without seeking something that will inspire my future projects. Everywhere I go, people, places, cultures, and associations inspire me. We travel a lot. Social media is also a great source of inspiration.

Designers, artists: whose work has had an influence on you, on your work?

Vanessa

My favourite designers are Piero Lissoni, with whom I had the pleasure of working on projects in Geneva, and also John Pawson and Vincent Van Duysen. I like elegant things, understated but effective. Nothing over the top. I’ll liven things up with a few personal touches without weighing things down with complicated or ostentatious elements. I’m also inspired by Belgian designers.

You have completely overhauled your apartment. What were your desires, needs?

Vanessa

After building a house inspired by the California Case Studies Houses and Bauhaus softened by raw concrete Japanese-style architecture (Waro Kishi and Tadao Andō in particular), I wanted to preserve the old without compromising the efficiency of the new. I rethought everything; the rooms seemed to naturally fit together. The bedrooms overlook the quiet courtyard, the living rooms look onto the street. Notably, the kitchen, which is an important hub, since the five of us spend most of our time there. I love its size and connecting it to the living room adds more life. It adds perspective. The vanishing points add depth and make the apartment feel airier. It’s far from dull living in a city centre!

Fauteuil avec fourrure chez Vanessa Droin
Chambre grise avec photo noire et blanche chez Vanessa Droin
Photo portrait noire et blanche chez Vanessa Droin

I rethought everything in the flat; the rooms seemed to naturally fit together. The bedrooms overlook the quiet courtyard, the living rooms look onto the street.

Entrée avec table d'appoint blanche chez Vanessa Droin
Chambre avec chaise en corde chez Vanessa Droin

What was your vision? How did you choose the furniture?

Vanessa

I always have a common thread when I embark on a project. Here, it’s elegant simplicity. The use of noble but understated materials, like oak or white marble for example. My interior decor needs to be timeless. To do this, I chose a shade from the palette by Ressource, an oatmeal, which I had applied to all the walls and woodwork. A colour that soothes and filters light. As for the furniture, it wasn’t specially chosen, and I actually rarely replace pieces. I like beautiful objects.

Which piece from The Socialite Family collection do you like most?

You work as an architect and interior designer between Lyon and Megève where La Stazione, our boutique-châlet, is open until April 2. What are your other favourite go-to places?

Vanessa

I recommend La Draperie Française for its quality linens and the Scarlett bookshop for books and decorative objects. If you have time, drop into By Mahe for its selection of clothes. For a good downtown eatery, try the Le Hibou Blanc. And finally, head to the Chocolaterie for tea and delicious cakes, while settling down on Maison de Vacances banquettes.

Where will we find you in the coming months?

Vanessa

In Lyon, where I live and from where I manage my projects down to the very last detail. In Paris, with my partner Anne from l ‘AtelierM59, or in Megève, where I often go to build my clients’ second homes.

Dressing avec miroir plein-pied chez Vanessa Droin
Salle de bain avec miroir rond chez Vanessa Droin
Revêtement salle de bain chez Vanessa Droin
Salle de bain avec miroir rond chez Vanessa Droin

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