Ettore Sottsass is a constant presence in Irina Aupetit-Ionesco’s and Jérémie Patier’s home, whether it be the walls, painted in shades inspired by his Carlton shelf, or the other objects acquired at auctions or during extended bargain-hunting trips! A cult maintained by the image and communication consultant – and now shared with her future husband – in the work of this “jack-of-all-trades” which allowed them to move away from the Haussmannian style of the apartments found the Lyon peninsula and shape a style of their own: “unusual, like our family”. Having moved to Lyon at the beginning of 2019, the couple were successively joined – in the space of two months! – by Yael, the director’s daughter, and then Elijah, their youngest child of just two years old, thus changing them from a duo to a quartet. A dizzying but joyful cohabitation, a real “house full of happiness” where, the Lyon native confides to us, “the presence of the children has given even more meaning to this apartment with its playful colours, and it’s meant we’ve created our rituals and habits all together. And all the while, it’s allowed us to “isolate ourselves and keep a semblance of intimacy” in a generously open but functional space that showcases the family’s passions: art and music, but also – and above all – design. An absolute essential for Irina and a subject she can’t stop talking about because it is so closely linked to her story! To her grandparents, who were “mad about design and African art”, and to her father, an interior designer and architect who worked with Andrée Putman and the Memphis Group, among others. He and her mother founded the OPUS 31 showroom, which, from the end of the 1970s, distributed Ecart International and then FontanaArte, Flexform, Cappellini and Zanotta. A rich cultural background that now permeates the apartment alongside their own pieces, making for a sociable, vibrant whole that feels good!
Mark your calendars! The Socialite Family is opening its first shop in Lyon in the most beautiful district of Lyon: the Antique Shop. See you this Saturday 05 February at 54, rue Auguste Compte (69002 – Lyon). Our team of enthusiasts is looking forward to welcoming you. Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday, from 11am to 7pm.
Irina, Jérémie: can you introduce yourselves, please?
I’m 39 years old, and I’m a consultant in image and strategic communication working between Lyon and Paris. I help brands and companies establish their identity and image by putting together communication plans and connecting them to the right people. I write articles, I do interviews and when I feel like it – and when time permits – I DJ. I’ve always had lots of, “strings to my bow” and I love that! Jérémie and I have an ambition to make a documentary together about child abuse. We’re working on releasing it in 2022; it’s a subject that’s very close to our hearts. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I’m so happy to be Jérémie’s partner and Elijah and Yael’s mum and step-mum.
I’m 41 years old, I’m a film director, and I have three children, the youngest being Elijah, who is two; Irina is his mother. Cinema brought us together; it all started on a film set in Marseille and particularly around the film “Lost In Translation” by Sofia Coppola.
What is your background?
As soon as I entered secondary school, I knew I wanted to be part of the visual world because it would allow me to touch on all the arts. I’ve always been passionate about painting, photography, documentaries, cinema, music videos… I needed a job that brought all this together. I wanted to be a director of photography at first, but film directing quickly took over. I studied at Paris 8 and had the chance to work on music video shoots. I became passionate about filming and haven’t stopped since, moving up from assistant director to director. I’ve been doing this job for 20 years now.
I started my joint honours course in communication and political science in Lyon, then at the end of my studies, I did my internship in Paris. I stayed there because I quickly found a job in communication. In the early years, I went out on my own a lot, and I met a lot of people, including my former partner, with whom I set up my first 360° communication company. In 2007, in the midst of the financial crisis, brands no longer trusted large groups. We wanted to reassure them and work closely with them. There were no other middlemen, and above all, we were two young women in an environment which at the time was still very male-dominated. We had gained the trust of great brands like Colette and prestigious groups including Renault and Luxottica. We were what we did, and we did what we were, and we were totally natural and spontaneous. After that, I worked for agencies and brands including Savoir Faire, DDB, We Love, and Ted X, as well as for artists and personalities like Nabilla. I was headhunted by a big TV producer to become art director and brand manager of the series Plus Belle La Vie. The challenge was a bit crazy after spending 15 years in Paris in a very “trendy” and cutting edge world. I met Jérémie on the set. We became friends, and afterwards, I fell very much in love with him. My whole professional life has been built around encounters, coincidences and opportunities, but above all, passion. I need to be attracted to the other person’s discourse to work with them. One of my clients, the Arrivetz agency/showroom, has been taken over by a pair of strong women. It’s a design institution in Lyon, and they run it with a masterful hand (or rather two). Without the energy they give off, the spark would never have been created. I have to admit that it’s a wonderful privilege to be able to work only with people you love.
I lived in the Paris suburbs in a modest environment, raised alone by my mother. She was always curious and taught me to listen to others. I had access to the books and records that littered the shelves of the apartment, but it was mainly the local arts centre and the activities organised by the schools that opened me up to the world of the arts. I developed my first photographic films there, went to operas, and attended conferences at the Sorbonne with Umberto Eco and Elie Wiesel. I met filmmakers, authors of black novels, and pursued all sorts of manual and artistic activities. Republican institutions opened my mind and gave me access to all these worlds. The interest in decoration came with my job, but it was meeting Irina that sharpened this fascination. Her knowledge is immense, and so is her passion for this field.
My grandparents were mad about design and African art. At a time when people were buying Louis Philippe or Louis XV, they preferred Tecno, Warren Platner and Charles & Ray Eames. They bought their first big pieces from Arrivetz – so we’ve come full circle now (laughs). As a child, I used to go with them almost every summer to the Luberon, to Lourmarin, and we used to go bargain hunting in Isle-sur-La-Sorgue. My grandmother used to spend hours talking to the sellers. She has an extraordinary degree of knowledge that she hasn’t lost and that she still maintains! My father was an interior designer/architect. He worked with Andrée Putman and had a showroom in Lyon with my mother where they distributed Ecart International, Fontana Arte, Flexform, Cappellini and Zanotta. It was after this that he met the Memphis Group and especially Martine Bedin, with whom he had an exhibition. In the early 2000s, he collaborated with Jasper Morrison, Ettore Sottsass, Michele De Lucchi, and again with Andrée Putman. At the time, I didn’t really understand the importance of these people because my father is a very simple and humble person. He never mentioned all these collaborations! Nevertheless, it’s undeniable that all my influences came from there.
David Lynch, because for me, he embodies Art in the fullest and deepest sense of the term; he is a filmmaker, painter, visual artist, photographer, musician… Everything I have always wanted to be.
Strong, liberated women like Charlotte Perriand and Florence Knoll who lived in a misogynistic era and at the height of patriarchy. Then, of course, Ettore Sottsass. My idol, a jack-of-all-trades and curious about everything from pop art to the Beat Generation, Poltronova, Olivetti, ceramics, antidesign, the Memphis Group. An infinitely rich life, full of interesting encounters. A true enthusiast with a way of seeing life in glorious technicolour!
We were spending Christmas and New Year’s Eve with Irina’s parents in Lyon, and I fell madly in love with the city. Irina and I had been working regularly in the South (Marseille and Sète) for some time. One cold, sunny afternoon, we crossed the courthouse footbridge in the Saint-Jean district. I will remember for the rest of my life the moment when I took a picture of Irina on that footbridge and had a vision of us living here in this city, her birthplace. I could see us crossing that bridge with our future child. I said, “I feel good here; wouldn’t you like to move here?” ». One year later, we arrived. Lyon is an inspiring city. It is also the birthplace of cinema… it’s no coincidence.
I was born here, and I saw the city become more relaxed in comparison to Paris even though I was living there. Lyon is increasingly claiming to be the capital of gourmet cuisine, and rightly so. But that’s not all. Culture is becoming more and more prominent here, with Les Subsistances and the cutting-edge programmes on offer at Le Transbordeur, Le Sucre, the TNP and the exhibitions at the MAC. For 19 years now, the Nuits Sonores festival has been an institution for music lovers like Jérémie and me. The same goes for the Lumière festival, which is a sort of mini-Cannes Festival, but the people involved are more accessible and relaxed.
We wanted an open, functional apartment in which everyone could be together but which also allowed for privacy.
We wanted an open, functional apartment in which everyone could be together but which also allowed for privacy. Very quickly, we defined a harmonious colour scheme for the walls. The Memphis movement also quickly became the link to everything that followed.
We wanted light and space, which we didn’t really have in Paris. We had prioritised our search for an apartment in the centre of Lyon, close to everything so that we could move around easily with the children, as we didn’t have a car and travelled very regularly.
There are things that are visible, like our books, works by artists we love like Daniel Johnston, Romain Slocombe, Mrzyk & Moriceau, Fafi, Nathalie Du Pasquier, our small collection of vinyls and objects by Sottsass that we acquired at auctions or on le boncoin, like the Valentine typewriter that he designed in 1969 for Olivetti. We have lots of objects that we brought back from Tangier, but which aren’t typical of Moroccan folklore. I’m starting to purge my collection of … after keeping more than 300 pairs for years, I’m slowly starting to part with them. The same goes for my bags and clothes. Having children, and perhaps also having been in lockdown, has made us want to invest in our home and in travel more than anything else.
Where does your need for colour come from? It is everywhere – on your walls, your furniture and your decorative items.
We use black and white in our objects and on strong pieces such as our dining room table and the Mallet Stevens chairs that surround it. The colour harmony that we defined at the beginning was intended to emphasise the proportions of the place. The colours of the Carlton by Sottsass inspired us in our choice. The pink we chose for the fireplace and our bedroom is quite unexpected. Haussmann-style apartments are often white and immaculate; we wanted the opposite. Something unusual, like our family.
It’s a bit simplistic to say that this place is all about happiness, but it really is. Yael came to live with us in November 2019, and Elijah was born in December of the same year, and we were locked down three months later. We went from two to four in a short time, and the presence of the children gave even more meaning to this colourful apartment and meant we created our rituals and habits together. It’s a happy place, and it really reflects us.
A lovely sense of curiosity! People you want to meet, people with unique backgrounds. A range of well-designed objects in bright, timeless colours.
Back in Lyon, I rediscovered the work of the Lyon photographer Emmanuelle Firman, whose exhibition I would like to organise in Arles. She uses light like no one else. As for the places… It’s hard to be succinct. For a good, tasty meal on the go, we go to Ban. Jérémie and I have chosen the Bistrot Bondy as our canteen. Our two favourite shops are Blitz and of course Arrivetz 24. For discs, we go to Sofa Records and Au Passage for the children’s books as well as our own. And an amazing multi-brand place, Tandem, where we buy our Matshi sauces.
All four of us cuddling up together in our living room, or on a trip abroad if the health situation allows it. On a more serious note, we will be at the Nuits Sonores festival from May 25 to 29, in Tangier with my grandmother and/or in our family home, which is not far from her home, and in Arles for the photographic events, as we have done every year since Jérémie and I met. We have also booked three dates in France to see Gisèle Vienne’s shows. Then we will be at the Hyères festival in October!
The presence of the children gave even more meaning to this colourful apartment and meant we created our rituals and habits together.
Photography: Jeanne Perrotte – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily