This week we went to Nantes to visit Delphine and Nicolas Imbert. Former Parisians, they escaped from the urban chaos to change their...
You probably know her for her tender words, which she slips in everywhere. On paper, shoes and accessories. Sweet little “kisses” have become her trademark and bring a little tenderness to our daily lives, too. But what do you know about founder and artistic director Mathilde Cabanas’ family retreat? Mathilde, accompanied by her husband Simon and their four children, shows us an all-timber home. Designed by Thomas Walter – of Atelier Ordinaire – and built by Construibois, the Cabanas’ “cabin” is ” eco-friendly, and warm” and is a happy place too. This spruce-framed home, tinged with simplicity and a sense of humour, houses a joyful family life that we can only guess is based on sharing. In fact, everything revolves around the central living area. A space combining living room, dining room and kitchen because, as dad, Simon says, “we are all together mostly anyway”. Instinctively arranged, this welcoming space is filled with a profusion of objects chosen without any decorative logic but, on the contrary, with deep affection. Because the designer is guided by her emotions! And this is true both at work and in her home. From the choice of the olive green colour of her kitchen, “a genuine wish”, to its walnut structure and quartzite worktop custom-made by Agence Démesure. Creations that contrast with the organic shell that extends to the first floor of the house. A space “100% dedicated to the children”, who have a hatch between their two mezzanines. A real Wes Anderson-style design where the imagination becomes king! This is clearly a legacy passed on by both their parents, who were aware of design from childhood. In particular, the illustrator, who, thanks to a liberal education, draws her artistic identity from her parents’ frenetic lifestyle. Whimsical characters whose taste for the arts and crafts continues to inspire her, imbuing her childlike soul with their carefree approach to life.
Mathilde, Simon: can you introduce yourselves, please?
My name is Mathilde, and I’m the founder and artistic director of the brand Mathilde Cabanas. I like swimming in the sea, 18-month matured Comté, and Bisous.
I’m Simon, and for me, children are, above all, an excuse to buy more Playmobils! I like pasta and holidays in La Bernerie en Retz.
Tell us about the journey that led you to you establishing your brand, Mathilde Cabanas.
I started out as a freelance illustrator with a part-time sales job at Bonton Bazar, one of the first concept stores in Paris. Then I gave birthday invitations to the buyers, and that’s how my brand was born. First with a range of stationery, then with lifestyle accessories. I partnered with my idol and BFF Alexandra in 2017, and since then, we have been developing the brand together.
What philosophy do you want to convey through it?
Bisou has been my favourite design since the beginning. It is a soft, short word that evokes love and tenderness. I couldn’t imagine a better symbol to spread a message of joy and love.
Clothing, home, accessories: you create a lot, and a little of everything! Why is that?
The thing I like most is designing everyday objects that make you smile. I like to see my designs on different objects, whether it be textiles, accessories, or decorative items, etc. Recently I had the chance to design some wallpapers in collaboration with Cristina Balducci from the Instagram account Bonjour Georges. I loved that my designs took on a new dimension. It’s different every time, and tells a new story. For example, the umbrella adds a little colour to grey skies, and the doormat welcomes people with a kiss. I love to imagine that my products can create interactions.
Tell us about yourself and your education. Where did you grow up, and how did that influence the way your tastes developed?
I grew up in a fairly open and liberal family. My father is a painter; he paints watercolours of Nantes. My brother is a graphic designer and has always drawn. My mother is very good with her hands too. She always encouraged me to develop my creativity; she let me paint all the walls in my room. I dressed the way I wanted! She was a fan of the circus world, of travelling. She passed her love of colours and her carefree attitude on to me, and that helps me a lot in my life today.
What about designers, creators and artists: whose work has had an influence on you, the way you design and your imagination?
I admire designers who have a sense of humour, who are daring and who manage to get a message across as simply as possible. I really like Jean-Jullien, who manages to comment on current events in a way that is always fair, amusing and with three strokes of his pencil. His work reminds me of Bernard Villemot and Raymond Savignac. I love their posters which still inspire me a great deal. They’re always cheerful, colourful and funny! And the illustrator Ingela P Arrhenius whom I had the privilege of meeting. Once again, simple shapes, bright colours and a pop feel. Everything I love.
We were looking to move from our flat to a house and especially one with a garden. We were lucky enough to find a small plot of land in Nantes, and we immediately thought of a wooden house. We worked with Thomas Walter of Atelier Ordinaire for the plans and Construibois for the construction. It’s eco-friendly, warm, and quick to build. Everything was thought out at the same time. Storage, blinds, desks and children’s mezzanines. We have no heating, just a wood stove that we light once a day in winter, and it’s 22°C all day! It’s really nice to live in a wooden house – and it smells good too (laughs). When we said this to the children, Zephyr told us that it was very easy to blow them away (laughs).
We wanted a single living room, dining room and kitchen area as we are all together mostly anyway. The floor is 100% dedicated to children. They have a hatch between their two mezzanines and can pass from one to the other. A real Wes Anderson-style cabin! The grown-ups also have theirs with their bed and underneath, a dressing room and a desk. Everything was built at the same time as the house.
We were lucky enough to find a small plot of land in Nantes, and we immediately thought of a wooden house.
How did you plan the combination of materials, colours and textures?
We wanted materials that were a bit different from the spruce the house is made of. Démesure helped us design the kitchen and dining room table. The kitchen is made of walnut with a quartzite worktop. The table is in confetti terrazzo which I love. I admire it every single day! Even though the total wood approach was interesting, I really wanted colour. We had the kitchen wall limewashed in a beautiful olive green, and I don’t regret it at all. It completely changed the atmosphere in the house! On the other hand, even though I think every day about doing a mural in the children’s room or wallpapering everything, I prefer not to touch the floor. I love the cabin feel and the floor-to-ceiling wood.
• How have you furnished it?
The objects I cherish the most are those with sentimental value. Things I’ve been given, that I’ve picked up bargain-hunting or that I’ve brought back from a trip. I’m a big fan of ceramics; my favourite vase, the one with the red mouths, is a unique creation I was given by the ceramist Julie Perrot from the Amour Amour studio. It took me a long time to find a chair too. I wanted a vintage one, but not one I’d seen a thousand times, and still affordable. This can be complicated when you’re looking for a designer piece! This one is by Marc Held for Air Borne. I love the design, and it’s super comfortable. Overall I don’t think much about what goes together or not. I just go by feel.
What does your home say about you?
I hope it says we are happy, not too complicated and still have a bit of a sense of humour (can a house say that?). I think it also reflects a lot of both of our childhood selves!
The floor is 100% dedicated to children. They have a hatch between their two mezzanines and can pass from one to the other. A real Wes Anderson-style cabin!
What does The Socialite Family mean to you?
It’s a great family album and always full of unexpected discoveries.
Where will we see you in the coming months?
At your local Super U or Leclerc! We are releasing a tissue design in collaboration with Lotus. I couldn’t have wished for a better way of getting involved in people’s daily lives. I hope that, at last, tissue boxes will be proudly displayed on your shelves next to your Dyptique candles or your Assouline book (laughts).
If you had to tell us your favourite addresses in Nantes, what would they be?
Boncoeur Pizza: the best pizzas in Nantes made with love and mozzarella. The bistro atmosphere and the smiling service Pépite, my friend Charlie’s shop, which selects the best vintage fashion from the 1950s to the 1990s. For magnificent wild and cheerful bouquets, Fleurette Sauvage (in the same street as Pépite). Chop chop for a quick, nutritious lunch. I used to get it as a takeaway during the lockdown; it was my little daily party! And of course, Barak for vintage furniture and decoration.
The objects I cherish the most are those with sentimental value. Things I’ve been given, that I’ve picked up bargain-hunting or that I’ve brought back from a trip.
Photographies : Valerio Geraci – Text : Juliette Bruneau @thesocialitefamily