When you arrive at Amélie’s house, all the sounds mingle together. Jack, the family’s Brittany spaniel, hops up and down at the sight of the chocolate and chestnut fondant which our host places on the living room table for the day . The celebrations can now begin. Auguste blasts us with questions. His chatter, the dog’s footsteps on the floor, Amelie’s crystalline laugh: that’s it. Everything’s in place. There’s a festive feel, like the holidays have just begun. We can almost believe it. The view from the main room is there to remind us. As an architect, Amélie likes to tell stories. To appropriate a place’s architecture. To give it some soul. The wood cracks underneath our feet here. The furniture is antique, accumulated over time. It’s a cosy environment with splashes of colour. Darker colours for corridors, brighter colours for the rooms. Bold hues – deep black, khaki green – which she mixes with endless materials, something she inherited from her mother. Raised in a family of aesthetes, very focused on arts and crafts, Amélie was surrounded by beautiful pieces from an early age, seeing their production. A sensitivity which she wants to pass on to her son, in turn. Everything is there to stimulate his senses. When he’s not looking at collections of ceramics or antique glasses – skillfully concealed by his mother – he can enjoy his bedroom. Designed solely by his parents, it even has a custom-made cabin bed. Again, Amélie’s primary motivation was to let her little boy dream. Mission most definitely accomplished.
How would you describe yourself, Amélie?
I’m an interior designer in Paris. I’m passionate about interior design, photography and flowers. I’m also the mother of Auguste
What kind of education have you had in relation to architecture and interior design?
I grew up in a family that has always been very focused on art and craftsmanship, that happily mixed ancient and modern. My grandparents are quite forward-thinking and their home allowed me to see some beautiful pieces. My mother also played a big role, she’s amazingly skilled with her hands and would rustle up all kinds of things with every sort of material and fabric before my very eyes. She also passed on her addiction to fabrics to me. I studied drawing throughout my schooling. So, my choice of subject was already fixed, which didn’t prevent me from wasting a bit of time in the lecture halls of the law faculty!
Who are the architects and designers who most inspire you?
I’m very interested in the work of architects who are bordering on scenography, or at least that’s how I see them! Attilalou, for example, is a source of inspiration, as is Joseph Dirand. Of course, when it comes to designers, and I’m sorry for the lack of originality, Charlotte Perriand and Le Corbusier have fascinated me from a very young age. But I have to say that I almost worship Patricia Urquiola who is constantly renewing herself and never ceases to amaze me. I just can’t resist her Credenza and Visioni rugs…
Can you describe your style in three words?
Warm, bold and eclectic.
Do you have a signature touch that makes your work instantly recognisable?
Probably the colour palette that I use, the type of objects that I unearth that are more artisanal than those used by designer, and my desire to create stylish, unpretentious spaces that are easy to live in. I tell a story with my clients, ensuring that each project reflects their personality. Naturally, the style of the narrative is dependent on my own sensibility and I quite like to disrupt the people I work with, for example, to enable them to create combinations that they wouldn’t have thought of, but that they find actually suits them. In the end, my signature touch is undoubtedly the heart of the story that we’ve told together… and, more specifically, a host of small details that help give it its authenticity. This takes time and a lot of discussion and toing and froing.
How do you design the spaces? What would be the most important thing for you in an interior?
I usually start my thought process by assimilating my clients’ requirements, the spirit of the place and the technical and budgetary constraints. Curiously, it’s a very practical approach which gradually results in the aesthetic ideas that articulate the whole in a consistent manner. I believe that it’s essential to respect the architecture of places. This doesn’t prevent me from putting a little twist on the decor and playing with colours, materials and styles.
How did you design your own apartment (with a child and a dog to consider) ?
I wanted to create contrast between the dark passage spaces and the bright living rooms but also to use strong colours: black in the entrance and green in the hallway. I really wanted to mix materials but I had to give up on my textile fantasies because of Jack, our dog, who regularly ransacks the apartment in our absence, particularly the sofa. So, I turned to wallpapers that bring pattern and substance. In the hallway, the wallpaper is exactly like a fabric, I love it! In the living room, the fresco fascinates me… In Auguste’s bedroom, I love the contrast between the black and the wooden rungs and the enchanted animal world. As for the furniture and objects, they live with us… I collect objects that I like and I cross my fingers that nothing happens to them. I’m a little uptight on the subject of ceramics, but Auguste understands!
Which is your favourite piece?
Honestly, several! From the object point of view, several. Our cinema seats that are much more comfortable than they look! They were the first things we bought, at the flea market, and we’ve taken them along with us to all of our four apartments. And my ceramics, my statues, my pots… everything that’s been made by someone’s hands, those talents fascinate me. Lastly, my collection of old glasses, which I’ve hidden away. If I had to choose a space, it would be Auguste’s bedroom! We spend a lot of time there. It has a bit of an odd shape and not much usable wall space because of the doors, the windows and the radiator. That’s why we decided to put things on top of each other to save space. Classic. John built the cabin bed to my plans, and of course our son is very proud of it. We spend lots of time on his bed reading or making up stories with his animal friends from the wallpaper.
What’s your favourite colour at the moment?
Green, which already features heavily in my work, in fairly soft shades, blue-green, grey green… But right now, I’m looking for a lime green, and a very deep, dark green. You’ll see it soon in a project that’s just starting… Recently, I went through a brick phase, my client Emi had to suffer this craze! The stairs in her duplex are superb though!
Where do you get your inspiration from?
The architecture of the place. The personality of my clients. Sometimes it’s an object, a piece of furniture or a picture that’s the starting point, because it reminds me of something… I keep my eyes open, then the ideas flow, form a logical sequence and the project takes shape. Exhibitions and sourcing help, of course.
Do you have a dream project?
Yes, my dream would be an old, unrestored manor-house, sort of British and haunted, lost in the wilds of Scotland! France would do as well, of course. Mostly, I renovate and decorate private apartments and houses. I love the very personal relationships that spring from that kind of project. In parallel, I would love the opportunity to work more conceptually and develop a successful “total look” style, perhaps for a shop, or a restaurant…
What are your favourite places in Paris, or elsewhere?
I love the French Touche interior design shop in Batignolles, created by a lovely lady who’s really good at finding less well-known designers. I also fell in love Ioanna Deschamps’ hats, and yes, they can feature in the decor! Aude’s shop, Joli Jour, is a great discovery that I made while working on a project in the 15th arrondissement! And finally, I am a great fan of Roco, they makess amazing pizzas and they’re really nice!
Any upcoming projects?
Three large : family apartments in the west of Paris, a little customised pied-à-terre in central Paris, and a mountain chalet to be delivered in December 2018 (at the moment, we’re working on the plans and choosing the materials), and a house near Paris.
Photography: Constance Gennari – Text: Caroline Balvay – Translation: TextMaster @thesocialitefamily