We couldn’t possibly go to Nantes without making a detour to Annabel Guéret’s home! The artistic director, an old friend of The Socialite Family, has, since we met her first, moved with her family to a new cocoon with exterior features – pathways and paving – inherited from the fifties. A refined interior that reveals her love for natural materials and whose look reminds her of a “holiday home”. This is where the designer, who considers herself an “interior furnisher”, exploits her natural inclination for decoration. A taste for the sort of “beautiful things” her mother and her aunt – a painter – brought to her attention from her earliest childhood. This attraction quickly turned into a passion for vintage. Whether for her clients or for her own pleasure, this Aveyron native assiduously scours flea markets and charity shops like Emmaus. Each find then naturally falls into place as if it was meant to be in this house tucked away at the back of a courtyard. Whether it’s a design classic, like Mario Bellini’s Camaleonda sofa with a Divino cushion from The Socialite Family collection, or our Rotondo armchair, which illustrates her desire to give pride of place to unique pieces and the right combinations. Versatile pieces, chosen without exception on a whim, which mother and daughter sometimes enjoy taking out into the garden once the weather is fine enough. To find themselves “suddenly in the South”!
Annabel, could you introduce yourself, please?
Originally from the Aveyron, I lived in Paris for several happy years. Now I live in Nantes! I have two wonderful daughters, Louise and Violette, aged 20 and 15. I’m lucky enough to be passionate about my job. I furnish homes, offices and public places. I also work with brands and designers as an art director. In the last few years, I’ve started to photograph still life, the natural world, and also portraits where you can barely make out the faces.
Can you tell us about your background?
I started working in the world of communication in Paris, and then, quite naturally, to feed my passion for it, I turned to vintage furniture. In 2009, I created one of the very first websites selling vintage furniture, Edmond, named after my grandfather. He and I started bargain-hunting together when I was a child. At the same time, I derived enormous pleasure from designing and renovating the houses where we lived.
Tell us about your education. Where did you grow up, and how did that influence your taste?
I grew up in Aveyron with a mother who loved “beautiful things” and I was never far from a gifted painter aunt. I suppose that’s when my eye started to be educated. I quickly became attracted to unusual objects and different atmospheres. That’s when I realised that beauty was good for me.
How are you, in turn, making your daughters aware of this?
I try not to do anything like that. For the moment, they have their own tastes and their own worlds. Maybe I dragged them around the flea markets and photographed them a bit too much when they were little, so we’ll have to see. (Laughs)
What about designers and creators: whose work has influenced you?
The inevitable: Charlotte Perriand, Pierre Jeanneret, Enzo Mari, Joseph Savina, Joe Colombo, Jan Van Tongeren, Giorgio Morandi, and also Charles Freger, Virginie Clavereau, Caroline Denervaud, and Adrien Vescovi. There are so many talented artists!
You are a stylist and art director. How would you describe your style?
I like strong, natural materials. Uncluttered atmospheres that will leave room for unique pieces and good combinations. Wood, concrete, marble, travertine, stone, sandstone, linen. I try to strike the right balance between things that are cold and warm to the touch.
What do you like most about your job?
Suddenly being inspired by a landscape, an atmosphere, a setting, a work of art, a colour, a piece of clothing, a person…
Tell us about how you came across this house.
I liked this house. It could very well be a holiday home. I immediately liked this pathway and the very 1950s paving. I added succulents, cacti and a palm tree to underline the atmosphere. In the summer, we take an AA chair and a white hammock outside, and suddenly find ourselves in the South of France.
How did you furnish it?
I hunt a lot for second-hand stuff, both for my clients and for myself. I often start with a strong piece, in this case, the Camaleonda sofa by Mario Bellini, and build a story around this first element. I only work on a whim! It’s often the lighting that sets the tone. I choose the lights very carefully, a lamp base in stone, sandstone perhaps.
What does it say about you?
That I like to hunt out forgotten objects, pieces that are out of the ordinary, but also create a warm and reassuring atmosphere.
Which room are you particularly fond of?
I love the living room and its superbly graphic travertine coffee table; I found it at Emmaüs. However, the real luxury – and joy of this house – is the wood-burning stove I had installed. We tend to curl up around it to read, or meet near it for an impromptu drink before dinner.
If you had to tell us your favourite spots in Nantes, what would they be?
For bargain hunting, there’s the Viarmes flea market every Saturday morning. I love the carefully selected pieces at Barak, Lionel and Maison Simone. Mira is a must for the selection of graphic art and unique works.
What does the Socialite Family mean to you?
I met Constance during the first report she did on us seven years ago. Since then, I’ve been following The Socialite Family closely, especially the range of furniture and accessories. I really like them, and they go perfectly with vintage items.
Where will we see you in the coming months?
Currently, I’m starting work on a very challenging and inspiring project to furnish wineries and châteaux in Switzerland. I’m in charge of decorating the offices of Lhyfe, a start-up in Nantes, and I’m still working with André Renault, a manufacturer of top-of-the-range bedding.
Photography: Jeanne Perrotte – Text: Juliette Bruneau @thesocialitefamlily