At The Socialite Family, the work of the young guard of architecture and interior design professionals is a powerful source of inspiration, which is why our latest wanderings took us to Marseille to visit Jérémy Chaillou. Studio Chaille’s founder is delighted to be in the position of both “client and architect” for this latest residential project. Alongside his partner Vanille Gautier, the Camondo graduate gives free rein to his creative signature, ambivalence, in this completely redesigned interior. This duality is reflected in his decision to ‘preserve’ certain architectural features of this historic building – such as the terracotta floor tiles and wooden beams – while ‘adding’ new elements. Mirrored ceilings and a bespoke staircase, to name but a few. Here, “the warmth of old materials contrasts strongly with the precision of mirror, metal and stainless steel”. This approach has been dubbed “Marseilles neo-maximalism”. This reinterpretation of a traditional three-window building typical of the town is contemporary and assertive, and the reflective surfaces echo each other, multiplying perspectives. With a single glance at the ceiling, we lose all sense of space. In this architectural mirage in Marseille’s 6th arrondissement, the designer is pursuing the sensory and spatial experience and paying particular attention to the selection of furniture. He draws the narrative thread of his geometric and rhythmic imagination through, punctuating both floors of this duplex with his design prototypes – a Martini stool and a tubular wall lamp. He likes to mix these pieces with the flagship creations of design pundits like Warren Platner and Roger Capron and those of local designers such as Axel Chay and Emmanuelle Luciani. Once again, the desire to blur the lines with timelessness.
Jérémy, Vanille: would you introduce yourselves, please?
I was born in Nantes, and I work as a make-up artist in the fashion industry. I’m passionate about my job, which mainly involves work in Paris and Marseille. I’ve been living in Marseille for nearly seven years now, and I’ve always loved being on the move, changing where I live and my routines.
I’m Jérémy, and I’m an interior designer. Like Vanille, I spend my time between Paris and Marseille. I feel deeply attached to these two places, and they represent my ambiguity quite well.
Jérémy, how would you define your architectural style, and how is it reflected here?
I’d say timeless, bright, rhythmic, geometric, masculine and empathetic. Beyond beauty, my style is expressed through the body. I believe we create by and for the body. I use the way we move as a basis for designing my spaces and objects. This translates into the use of curves which you will find in my work. I approach my projects through a process of dialogue, too: I listen to the place and what it has to say. I try to enhance its specific characteristics and incorporate them into the project. One essential aspect of my style is the creation of axes through which I compose pictures. Then I play with the images I’ve created, multiplying the perspectives by using mirrors and reflective surfaces. When I’m playing with perceptions of a place, I’m trying to create a sensory and spatial experience that’s unique to each project. The main feature here is undoubtedly the mirrored ceiling. It makes the space look bigger, and creates a multitude of new points of view. The mantelpiece highlights the living room’s double height, and the oil-black earthenware creates a surface that reflects the light. The brushed stainless steel in the kitchen creates even more surfaces where light and the other materials are reflected, as do the curved window reveals. The first floor is intentionally glazed, providing natural light throughout the living room. Finally, the central stringer staircase is a reinterpretation of the staircase Perriand designed for Maison Borot.
For Vanille and me, it’s our life project, our first cocoon. And it’s also the first project on which I’ve been both client and architect.
You have drawn on Mediterranean imagery and contemporary lines: how have you blended these inspirations to create balance in your interior design?
This apartment is really a product of our heritage. It’s what’s known as a Marseille three-window, except it’s on a corner. It’s double-aspect, so the sun shines in freely throughout the day, and its generous proportions immediately caught our attention. The dominant tones in the apartment are warm and comforting – the terracotta tommette tile floor has lived many lives – and I decided to emphasise them to define the ambience of the place. The Persian travertine worktop in the kitchen echoes the floor tiles. These are horizontal elements that I’ve treated in monochrome shades. The wooden beams and furniture are equally at home in this palette of warm, mineral and stone colours. The mirror and earthenware create perspective, while the white elements stand out. The layout has played an important role in this completely redesigned interior. The kitchen is a simple linear unit, but it structures the space by distributing the functions in the main room. On the first floor, the bathroom sink is placed in the middle of the room, giving it a structured look. I was inspired very strongly by the 70s when it came to creating these spaces. I knew that with this place, I could create something new. The warmth of old materials contrasts strongly with the precision of mirror, metal and stainless steel. This ambivalence in the choice to ‘preserve’ or to ‘add’ defines the style of the apartment: Marseilles neo-maximalism.
What sort of constraints and challenges did you face during the project?
I’d say the scale of the work. We had to completely rebuild the roof structure to free up the space and create the main room, a first floor, a window on a blind wall and finally, a fireplace. There was a strong emotional dimension, too. For Vanille and me, it’s our life project, our first cocoon. And it’s also the first project on which I’ve been both client and architect. I had no constraints from the project owner, and I’m not subject to his choices. I must admit I really enjoyed the exercise, and I can’t wait to do it again on other projects. Sometimes you can feel you’re on your own when it comes to making decisions, but that’s precisely when you can express yourself to the full.
How did you go about furnishing this unusually spacious interior?
I wanted something generous and more substantial than my interior design work. I also wanted to work with antique items, some of which I inherited. I can’t get to grips with everything being brand-new. In my opinion, that approach lacks substance and depth. So I’ve added in my family pieces alongside iconic design creations like the sofa by Giorgio Montani and the coffee table by Roger Capron. And I’ve included pieces by talented friends and some of my prototypes, notably the Studio’s Martini stool in its chrome and wood version and the wall lamp in the living room, which is the studio’s latest edition. It’s a prototype I developed for the occasion and which will soon be on the market. You’ll also find works here by local designers, including Axel Chay with his Modulo floor lamp, and the cast aluminium stool by Southway Studio – Emmanuelle Luciani.
I play with the images I’ve created, multiplying the perspectives by using mirrors and reflective surfaces.
Do you have a favourite piece in our collection – or one that you think would look great in your home?
A set of Rotondo modules in camel velvet with an aluminium base!
What does The Socialite Family mean to you?
A global vision focused on beauty and style through its online shop and boutiques on the one hand, but also through its media. It’s an inspirational resource for anyone with an eye for decoration.
Any insider Marseilles addresses to recommend?
Take a stroll through the narrow streets and follow your instincts, because there’s always a good chance you’ll come across a pleasant surprise!
I’d suggest the Ratonneau battery on the Frioul archipelago: it’s the most complete and beautiful panorama you could possibly have of Marseille.
Where will we find you next?
I hope to be at Paris Design Week very soon!
Beyond beauty, my style is expressed through the body. I believe we create by and for the body. I use the way we move as a basis for designing my spaces and objects.
Photographies : Eve Campestrini – Texte : Juliette Bruneau @thesocialitefamily