Camille, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am an architect, I am 44 years old, and I am a mother of 3 children (Madeleine, 8, Adelaïde, 7, and Honoré, 3) who spend half their time living with me and the other half with my ex-husband, Brice Ceccaldi, creator of the Islaise Tent. I am also ex-stepmother to the lovely Alice, 11, my ex-husband’s eldest daughter! Our family is as blended as they come, but it is a family all the same. I have lived and worked in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris for about 15 years, and I have managed to convince several members of my immediate family to join me in the neighbourhood that I love. My architecture studio (Camille Hermand Architectures) is located just below my apartment.
As a busy mum, what does your typical day look like?
I try and collect them at 4:30 pm after school on Monday, our transition day, as often as I can, and we spend the rest of the afternoon together – homework, baths and activities all fly by, one after the other. Normally all four of us eat together, and I finally get a chance to sit down around 9:30 pm, when I reply to all the emails that have been piling up since 4:30! The weekend is our time for playing sports at the Parc de Saint-Cloud, for crafting sessions on the big office table, and, above all, for friends! I often invite their friends or their cousin to sleep over, and dinner on Saturday nights is a noisy affair, especially when my friends join our little world. I am also fortunate enough to have a mother who is often available to help out. She takes care of the children for part of Wednesday, the busiest day of the week, while I am running back and forth to get each child to their various activities.
How do you manage your time?
My personal schedule runs at two different speeds. Everyone in the office knows to take it into account, and I always warn my clients about my particular rhythm. The weeks that I have the children are dedicated to them, but sometimes the Babysittor app saves my life at the last minute! The weeks when they are not there, my working days are much longer, and I often combine a final appointment with a client with a dinner or an outing! I also prepare for the next week, to limit any surprises when the children are with me. I wouldn’t be able to manage if I didn’t prepare in advance!
Where did you go on holiday this summer?
We just got back from a month-long family holiday on the Ile d’Yeu. I love coming back to Paris at the last minute, to enjoy the last few days of summer, as if we have decided not to go back to school! While we are away, we live life at a very slow pace. It is a time for everybody to unwind, and my children have banned me from answering any work-related questions! Essentially, we live in the moment, at the beach, in the sea, with friends, and our lives rotate around good meals, where fish is king. Long live the Hennequin fishmonger, one of the only shops where I splurge during the summer – they provide all our meals.
Are you looking forward to school starting up again?
I love the back-to-school atmosphere, for the children and for my own return to the office. This year is even more special, because Honoré is starting preschool. I start preparing for the children going back to school as early as July, buying everything on their lists and setting up all their activities, but I let them finish organising their schoolbag the day before – the girls feel like they have done it all themselves, and they are really proud! When I get back to the office, I always hit the ground running! My three assistants and I try to anticipate everything from 15 July onwards, but I insist on a month-long break in August, which is always fatal! Fortunately, we return to work with renewed energy and a positive outlook – everyone has taken advantage of the break, and is ready for an onslaught of information, new projects and new decoration ideas. It’s a hectic time, and I love it!
How would you define your style in terms of decoration?
I do not think I have a predefined style, and at the studio we all work on the design process together. When there are four of you, the ideas flow thick and fast. I adapt to suit my clients’ wishes, and because they know my work, our opinions often converge. I do offer a stronger colour palette than what they were imagining at the beginning, but I also take their personalities into account. I attach a great deal of great importance to space and light, whether in a house or an apartment; creating a sense of perspective is an old habit from my architecture studies, and I try to adapt it to suit all my projects! I like it when everything flows together and seems to be naturally in its place, and the best compliment I can hear is when my customers tell me they feel totally at home in the final result!
Which period provides you with the most inspiration in terms of your work?
The works of Le Corbusier really captured my attention during my studies, as well as those of Charlotte Perriand. These two mixed visions of architecture and interior architecture often provide me with a point of reference. And, above all, I also like to lose myself in the various decorating styles of the 20th century, creating an eclectic mix.
Do you have a favourite colour at the moment?
Red Earth (64) from Farrow and Ball. It is a kind of antique pink with a really old-fashioned and elegant feel, for a timeless and warm atmosphere. I recently used it in my bedroom, with touches of Hague Blue (30) (also Farrow and Ball), and I like the relaxing effect that this colour has on my state of mind!
Which item of furniture comes everywhere with you?
My rosewood coffee table. It is Italian, from the 1960s. I bought it online from Belgium, but I underestimated its size! It is still much too big, but I always design my living room around it.
What is missing from your home?
Another bedroom would be ideal, so that Madeleine and Adelaïde could each have their own space. They have always shared a room, and as they get older their ideas about decoration and the ways they use the space are growing increasingly different, and do not always mesh well together!
Where do you go to find your furniture?
I like to go to the flea markets in Saint Ouen, because I know my way around there. My sister has worked at Paul Bert for a long time, and her antique dealer friends are always there to help me. But a lack of time means that I find a lot of things on the internet, and Selency has a range of pieces that suits me.
Do you have a favourite spot to recommend?
Photography: Constance Gennari – Text: Caroline Balvay – Translation: Textmaster @thesocialitefamily