Fate made every effort to make Michael Coorengel and Jean-Pierre Calvagrac meet. They have a common passion for antiques, they both...
Alice Bizien, a decoration aficionado and expert in contemporary art, has transformed an old, abandoned factory into a family home. Having reinvented herself as an interior decorator after several years in the Hôtel Drouot auction house, Alice has the perfect mastery of furniture styles and periods that allows her to use her knowledge in each room of the house. Her passion for period furniture is reflected in her endless quest for rare finds or period furniture, both for her clients and for herself. To pique her children’s fancy, she likes to leave a few open books lying here and there around the house. This yields an authentic and refined result for a most unusual setting.
So, Alice, what do you do?
I am an interior decorator and purchase advisor for objets d’art and interior decoration. I also write for lifestyle, interior decoration and flea market magazines…and I recently set up my own online magazine [bikok].
I started out as an expert in furniture and objets d’art but I’m sort of changing tack recently to focus more on interior decoration and enhancement.
How did you find your house? What is its story?
I am a keen reader of real estate ads. I like to know what is on sale, know the market, see which quarters are trending… By chance, I became intrigued by Argenteuil and I found out that it is changing very quickly, with very beautiful and extremely varied quarters. The architecture of the houses is amazing, from the little millhouse perched on the heights through the immense manor house, very much in the 19th century style, on the banks of the Seine, to the huge lofts and artists’ sheds near the railway – all this only 9 km from Paris. The house we bought spoke to me at once. Its potential was immediately obvious to us. This 19th century house was the home of a salting factory called Le Bon Accueil. The adjoining workshops were demolished and the land was divided into plots, except for the main workshop, which runs along the house. We completely renovated it and now the workshop blends perfectly into the ground floor.
Did you have to do a lot of work? Were you helped by an architect?
Yes, we did a lot of work. I drew the plans myself and redesigned the rooms and passage areas. It was not my first attempt – I had redesigned our previous home in Asnières – but it was really at that point that I decided to focus more on interior decoration. Today, the house is my calling card and business is picking up.
In terms of decoration, what is your style?
To be honest, I don’t have a particular style. I am an inveterate bargain hunter and when I see a piece of furniture or an item, I immediately imagine where it would fit and how to juxtapose it. Of course I hunt around a lot for furniture and objects of the mid 20th century, but I love to pair a Napoleon III bronze ornament with 1950s chairs with blue Skai seats for instance.
Do you have a favourite period or style?
I would love to furnish my home or just one room in the house, with Art Deco…. But I am a great fan of designers of the 1950s and 1960s, obviously! Borsani, Ponti, Cadovius, Paulin, Guarriche …etc.
Could you tell us where you go for decorative objects, either online or offline?
What’s your favourite at the moment?
I love the work of the Cypriot designer Michael Anastassiades for Flos. It’s very minimalist but also beautifully balanced. I dream of an ultra-graphical “string lights” fixture.
What do you consider the greatest deco faux pas?
An impersonal decor. That is what I love about this job. I have to understand the customer, get to know them, learn to know their tastes so that I can take account of their personality in my proposals.
Do you have a restaurant you’d like to tell us about?
Where did you and your family last go on holiday?
We are just returning from a few glorious days in Marseille. I love that city. But we take our family holiday in Brittany for the most part. We really feel at home on the pink granite coast.
What is your latest deco purchase?