Nothing remains of the old garage that once adjoined Karoline Bothorel’s former house. Nothing, except for the plot of land on which a wooden construction now stands. A home inspired by “the stripped-back aesthetics of Japanese tiny houses”, designed in partnership with the architect Franck Gaubin from the OP / EX agency. Even before work started, the founder of The Brand Dispatch collective and her two daughters, Joséphine and Jeannette, had the precise idea of creating “an ambience, more than just building a house”. A warm yet pure interior that highlights the use of wood and is of a size that suits them. A home thought out for all three members of the family! A skilful use of vertical space, for a medley of varying heights with separate staircases that form spines to differentiate the layout and ambiances. The choice of materials highlights the attention to detail, from concrete to white tiles, which “highlight the singularity and uniqueness of wood”. A home that reflects its owner’s “perpetual search for balance between ecological and aesthetic desires”, reinforced by the choice of furnishings. The furniture is limited but well-thought and carefully integrated into the home’s structure. Particular attention has been paid to the emotions that the objects and their modularity create. For rooms that allow “the space to be arranged according to our needs!” By moving away from single-use spaces as much as possible. A need for agility and hybridization which, according to the artistic director, “allows us to move beyond the concept of housing to a home vibrating with life”.
Karoline, could you introduce yourself, please?
I’m 41 years old, and I’m an art director.
What is your background?
After I finished my studies in fashion design in Brussels and Paris, I was lucky enough to start my professional career at Leherpeur, an agency that specialises in foresight and brand strategy and is still a bit like family today. After a few years as a freelance collection manager, many projects, and many aeroplanes, I settled down and co-founded Very French Gangsters, a brand of high-end optics and sunglasses for children, 100% made in France. In 2018, with seven years of entrepreneurship behind me, I put my all-round experience and 360° vision to good use for different brands. A few months ago, following the various periods of lockdown, convinced that the answers to our new needs will be born from the energy of collective intelligence and the power of cooperation, I created The Brand Dispatch community. This collective is the fusion of independent but committed creatives, individuals with complementary skills, specialists in content creation and brand culture. It’s an agile ecosystem that allows us to work as closely as possible to the client’s demands while controlling costs and time.
Tell us about your education. Where did you grow up – and how did your taste develop as a result?
I grew up in Northern Brittany, a quiet childhood far from the cultural life of the city but in contact with nature and natural materials. So I think I experienced the notion of beauty as an intimate perception in contact with the elements, a personal feeling very far removed from an aesthetic intention or an intellectualised concept.
How are you, in turn, making your two daughters aware of this?
I make them aware of the subjectivity and singularity of beauty. For me it is important to teach them that there are no universal aesthetic codes. I often quote this sentence that I once read and which particularly touched me: “There is no such thing as perfect beauty, it’s just a concept invented for lazy and uncreative people.
This house reflects my perpetual search for a balance between ecological and aesthetic desires, the desire for a more authentic way of life but not synonymous with boredom.
Designers, artists: whose work has had a particular influence on you and your work?
In no particular order, I would say the sense of cut and the boundaries of the genre of Yves Saint Laurent’s early work, the intimacy and light of David Hockney’s paintings, the audacity and ingenuity of Charlotte Perriand, the praise for nature and functionalism of Alvar Aalto, the humanism, simplicity and spirituality of Tadao Ando’s work.
Tell us about the history of your house.
I designed this house with my architect friend Franck Gaubin from the OPEX agency. He was incredible because he really enlightened the girls and listened to our wishes which were sometimes very specific. Joséphine and Jeannette participated at every stage. I involved them from the very first sketches, and we decided everything together. We wanted to create a cocoon, a warm interior, all in wood. We put together the whole project from this initial desire, thinking above all of an atmosphere rather than a house.
Given the space, what challenges did you have to face with the work?
Franck has done a remarkable job on the spaces in the house. We had to organise ourselves within a very narrow grid, dealing with a narrow strip of land. A height difference of one metre between the street level and the garden level led us to combine a system of half levels with non-standard ceiling heights adapted to each space. This interplay of heights, all different, makes it possible to emphasise the different ambiences and to make the most of the double volume, which is very generously open onto the garden. The staircases are deliberately not superimposed on each other and create a pathway that gives distance and intimacy to the different spaces.
What were your inspirations for its design and construction?
Clearly, the aesthetics and minimalism of the Japanese tiny house and the ingenuity that these small spaces require: the purity of the proportions, the use of vertical space, the use of emptiness, the attention to detail. Every last detail! Then I added my French touch, which is a bit more cheeky.
Why did you choose raw and natural materials? Light-coloured wood for the frame, waxed concrete for the floor, for example.
The essence of the project lies above all in the choice of materials, particularly wood as the structural element of the building. The simplicity of the concrete and the white tiles only serve to highlight the uniqueness of the wood.
Some pieces were chosen for their modularity, like the Togo sofa and the Carlotta coffee table, which allow us to change the layout of the space according to our needs. We chose other things for their boldness, their uniqueness! One case in point is the painting by César Audebert (@cleopatre_rchaos). I like the contrasts in this painting, these two Dobermans symbolising love, the fact that tenderness and sensitivity do not preclude strength and virility. I find this artist’s work and view of masculinity very interesting
What does this place say about you?
This house reflects my perpetual search for a balance between ecological and aesthetic desires, the desire for a more authentic way of life but not synonymous with boredom. In trying to move away from single-purpose items, a need for modularity and hybridity emerged. The desire for everything to become more agile, more mobile, multi-use. For me, all these variations make it possible to move from just being a place to live to being a place of “lives” in movement and to prioritise the harmony and energy that emanates from that.
What does The Socialite Family mean to you?
Where will we find you over the coming months?
Developing our The Brand Dispatch community! In addition to production, I also spend a lot of time meeting super-creative people (photographers, set designers, developers, video makers…) to enrich the range of profiles and skills of the collective.
Photography: Valerio Geraci – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily