This is how it all began. Through a summer holiday at a friend’s house in Marseille seven years ago. Then chance brought Céline Le Dez – originally from Angers – to Marseille. Her return to this “sunny” city full of “contrasts” was a foregone conclusion. And inspired by its energy, here at the crossroads of Mediterranean cultures, the interior designer came up with her Weekender project. A hybrid concierge service that reflects the diverse nature of this southern city, and offers both seasonal rentals and interior design services. All of which is in keeping with a keen and assertive vision of the lifestyle the Marseillaise love. For Céline, her positioning is clear: at Weekender, the aim is to offer lucky visitors “lived-in, personalised places” that have the individuality to encourage relaxation and idleness. This individuality is reflected in the recurrent use of natural materials and understated tones in the decoration. A taste for minimalism that has also dictated the design of her own home – the 211B project – which she shares with her partner Loic Prosperi. The spaces and proportions have been completely rethought, with the kitchen becoming a bathroom, the living room becoming a kitchen and the shower room becoming a bedroom… Open, and above all with “very little furniture”, they give the chosen materials ample opportunity to display their contrasts and their acute sense of purity: mineral resin on the floor, immaculately integrated niches, and wooden window frames. “Without falling into the cliché of an overly fashionable interior”, the entrepreneur displays in her home her innate talent for composing minimalist settings that are reminiscent of her trips to Lanzarote and to Brazil!
Céline and Loïc, could you introduce yourselves, please?
I’m Céline. I’ve lived in Marseille for six years with my partner Loïc, who has lived in Marseilles all his life. We are different, but at the same time, we complement each other beautifully, like the sun and the moon. He is a unifying force and with a sunny personality; I’m more of a compulsive dreamer and a bit of a star-gazer. I manage holiday rental properties, and I’m also a decorator. Loïc runs a family business and co-founded Boxon, an event agency, with his best friends. They also organised the Paradis en Mer event together in Marseille.
What is your background?
I began my studies at an advertising school in Bordeaux, and then went on to study at business school in Paris, where I lived for six years. After my master’s degree in design and brand strategy, I spent a year in London and then, finally, settled in Marseille. The choice was intuitive; I loved this city. I’d come here to spend a holiday with a friend seven years ago now. Nowadays, I am happy to live in such a diverse city where there is so much to do and achieve.
Tell us about your upbringing. Where did you grow up – and how did that influence the way your tastes have developed?
I’m originally from Angers. I grew up there with my parents, my sister and my brother. I’m the eldest. I also spent a lot of time with my grandparents, and I was very close to my grandmother. It was she who gave me a taste for fashion, clothes, magazines… My dad also liked antique shops a lot. So when I was a child, I was already surrounded by objects, paintings and antique furniture that tell a story… Which explains why, today, I am attracted to all this. Marseille inspires me a lot too. Since I arrived here six years ago, I must admit I’ve developed a certain sensitivity to architecture and photography… It’s a sunny and vibrant city that has completely captivated me and given me the strength to create my own business, one that reflects me and the things I’m passionate about.
Born in Marseille, I grew up spending time between Cassis and the city. I’ve always had a taste for beautiful things, and it is thanks to Celine that I’m becoming more and more interested in interior design.
Marseille inspires me a lot too. Since I arrived here six years ago, I must admit I’ve developed a certain sensitivity to architecture and photography…
How about designers and artists: whose work has influenced you and your work?
I am a fan of the ceramist Julien Capron and the sculptor Guy Bareff. I also like photography a lot, and I’m keen on Akila Berjaoui’s work. And I admire the architect, César Manrique. His work is unique and fascinating. And finally, I’d like to mention Jean Cocteau for his drawings and his art, which is so poetic…
Céline, you founded Weekender, a hybrid site that sits at the intersection between holiday rentals, lifestyle and tourism, all designed with the Mediterranean in mind. Please tell us how this project came about.
I would say it’s more of a hybrid concierge service, and I like this term because it is actually cross between several things. I started managing seasonal rental properties four years ago and, being quite demanding, I was absolutely determined to have beautiful properties to market and show. Beauty attracts and therefore inspires. So I offered my services in this vein with a clear focus: to select interiors with character. I also wanted to go back to the original concept of the Airbnb platform: staying with locals… so in lived-in, personalised places. As time went on, I built up my network, and the owners trust me because we have common interests. That’s also where bringing my lifestyle touch to my business came from: I photograph the apartments myself with a thoughtful eye and a sometimes retro style. Highlighting spaces and specific decorative objects, an atmosphere, a light, it sets a tone, and that’s what I like. I also wanted to break with the standard conventions of concierge services and bring a different perspective to this activity. Of course, in all this, there is the desire to welcome travellers and to make them love Marseille as much as I do.
You have also developed your activity as a decorator in parallel. The 211b project – which you are currently living in – is one of your achievements. Tell us how this project came about.
Yes, indeed, I have developed this new activity which makes sense with the Weekender business. Nowadays, I furnish and decorate apartments that I sometimes take in for seasonal rental. Our personal project – 211B –was an eye-opener in launching me firmly into this field. We found the property by chance before the lockdown. For the record, Loïc was living in the building next door when we met. We knew the area well and wanted a similar but larger interior… and we found it within a few days. It was as if the apartment was made for us. It was in its original state, obviously, so we had to rethink the spaces and proportions: the current bathroom was the kitchen, the current kitchen was the living room, and our bedroom was the bathroom… We redid everything, right down to the windows, which we chose in wood. We applied a mineral resin to the floor, integrated niches, frames… Our work began a few months after lockdown; it was a bit of an escape from it, all coupled with an overwhelming desire to please ourselves.
I sometimes work on impulse, but I’m becoming less and less impulsive. To be honest, I often think hard before I buy. First, I visualise the object in a space to see if it fits with the mood I want to create (...)
How did you furnish this apartment?
I sometimes work on impulse, but I’m becoming less and less impulsive. To be honest, I often think hard before I buy. First, I visualise the object in a space to see if it fits with the mood I want to create, and if it does, then I buy it. I really like the Honoré pieces here: our pendant lamps, for example, and our brown terracotta table lamp. In fact, brown was the basic colour of the decor along with white and cream… not to mention our wooden windows and custom-built kitchen. It’s what we based everything on. We even took the plunge with a chocolate-coloured bathroom, which we love! I’ve also hunted down quite a few interesting items: all our furniture is more or less vintage. Found after hours on the Internet, a weekend at the Lyon Flea Market, and several visits to Eloge Design – a small shop on rue Neuve Sainte-Catherine – where the owner is a true enthusiast. All their stuff is amazing. It’s a joy to have pieces in your home that have lived several lives before.
You have made use of plenty of natural and organic materials. What was behind this choice aesthetically?
It was an obvious choice from the beginning. I like it to be natural, and I like it to be clean and neat. I was also inspired by my travels. Lanzarote, five years ago, struck me with its architecture, and Brazil too. And, naturally, my attraction to the 1960s and 1970s shows itself here. For me, these are periods that are authentic and ring true. I wanted a sunny and minimalist decor without falling into the cliché of creating an overly-fashionable interior.
What is your favourite piece?
Our favourite room is probably our living room which combines the living room and the kitchen… Our windows open completely. We wanted to be at one with the outside world. We have a breathtaking view here. The light in the morning absolutely floods in… it’s also where we entertain friends, where we cook and where I work at the moment.
It was an obvious choice from the beginning. I like it to be natural, and I like it to be clean and neat. I was also inspired by my travels. Lanzarote, five years ago, struck me with its architecture, and Brazil too.
What does this apartment say about you?
The apartment has a minimalist yet considered atmosphere with its harmonious design and the choice of vintage objects. We really wanted to create an open living space with very little furniture. Loïc gave me carte blanche over the decoration and furnishings. I got him on board with my wishes: from the aesthetic of the niches that remind me of 1970s homes to the vintage furniture that gives an authentic atmosphere, through the timeless natural materials like the mineral resin on the floor… We have retained this connection and this solar and lunar relationship that reflects us both.
You live in the VIth arrondissement of Marseille. Why did you choose this particular neighbourhood?
It’s a central district in Marseille between Vauban and Périer. The neighbourhood has a very nice lively atmosphere. It’s important for us to feel good, to be able to go downstairs to get our croissants on Sunday morning, to buy our vegetables in the evening at our greengrocer’s or to have an aperitif with friends in our neighbourhood… We all live next door to each other, which is very practical and means that our get-togethers with friends can become quite spontaneous.
Any Marseilles addresses to recommend?
Obviously, Il Capriolo in the Longchamp district. Authentic Italian cuisine and a romantic terrace: the perfect combination for a romantic dinner. Nearby, there is also Chez Romain et Marion, which serves Afghan cuisine and is a great place to meet up with friends for a memorable experience. For real food lovers, I would say Bistro O Prado, and for seafood lovers, Coquille, a restaurant to try with friends, lovers and last minute! It’s always a treat. For those with their roots in Marseille, Chez Étienne, without a doubt. I would add the Calanque de Niolon, where you really feel like you are in a small village. You can enjoy its authentic character while you enjoy your meal at La Pergola. Not forgetting the walks in the Vallon des Auffes: in the morning for the peace and quiet and in the evening for an aperitif at sunset. And finally ,Tuba for the sheer magic of the place.
The apartment has a minimalist yet considered atmosphere with its harmonious design and the choice of vintage objects.
Photographies : Valerio Geraci – Text : Juliette Bruneau @thesocialitefamily