Sira Niamé and Pierre Videix haven’t lived in the Marais district of Paris for long. However, they already know many of the businesses there! Companies the artist and consultant has made friends with, and which give the impression, when you take a walk with her, of being part of a small village… in which she is one of the key protagonists! Responsible for the development of the clothing brand Norwegian Rain & T-Michael in Paris – whose beautiful boutique with Japanese and Nordic inspirations is located just a few steps from her apartment – but above all a singer and guitarist, this Paris native is a passionate person. A jack-of-all-trades, she was brought up by parents who told her that “in life, you can and must make your dreams come true”, a philosophy that can be found in her family home. A series of rooms, peppered with objects full of memories, sometimes religiously preserved in a glass case, sometimes proudly displayed on their shelves, and is a projection of that philosophy. A place that bears witness to the importance of the family’s multiple cultures, the legacy of Pierre’s antique dealer father – who lived in a house with 17 rooms filled with antiques! -The couple’s fascination with travel and fashion. And we mustn’t forget music, which is ever-present, with a collection of vinyl records from the 1970s brought back from Mali by Sira’s father. “A figure who inspires me every day,” she writes. Like all the members of their respective families! For it is family that shines through in each story told, making this space, with its antique and vintage decor and lack of large furniture, as interesting and unique as its owners.
Sira, Pierre: could you introduce yourselves, please?
I’m Saul’s proud mum. I’ve been a singer and guitarist for several years, but above all, I come from a family of lyricists from Mali, so oral art is part and parcel of me. This has also given birth to a project that will shortly see the light of day! I also have other passions, including fashion, in this case. Which is why I “wear several hats” a day! I may be in freelance “brand consultant” mode or have my COO (chief operating officer) hat on, as I’m responsible for sales development for a Norwegian brand: Norwegian Rain & T-Michael in Paris.
I am Saul’s proud daddy and Sira’s happy companion! My time is organised around my activities as a visual artist and interior designer, and I’m a skateboarder in my spare time. (Laughs)
You both have remarkably diverse profiles. How do you explain that?
I grew up with parents who never restricted me but always – on the contrary – encouraged me a lot! I keep in mind the image of my father, who was convinced that you can and must achieve your dreams in life.
When I was younger, I went to Paris at the request of a public figure. Working with her has opened me up to a whole new world. This experience gave me the skills to express myself in all possible media in the different professions that have become my strong points: carpenter, painter, 3D designer, film decorator, etc. I started out as a video property master and then set up a business that allows me to remain free!
You have a taste for objects that tell a story, recall a memory. How did that come about?
I’m from Mali originally. I grew up in Europe but still spoke in my dialect on a daily basis. Little by little, I came to know my history. That of my father who left Bamako to go on an adventure – many years ago – taking with him things we had at home. Objects filled with anecdotes and adventures. I love knowing what they mean. Something vital, and a method I chose to share and pass on in my turn!
As a child, I lived with my father in the Creuse. Our house had 17 rooms stuffed with antiques and objects from all eras! As an antique dealer, my father got us into it very early on. There were even things in my bedroom that people could come and buy!
We have pieces from our many travels at home. Treasures that we found together or separately with Sira. Things we’ve fallen in love with; in short.
What about your style?
I have been wearing my natural hair in dreadlocks since I was 14. My wardrobe contains lots of vintage pieces that I’ve been buying second-hand since I was a teenager! This quest for treasures forged my taste for strong pieces. I built a timeless collection that reflected my tastes and still does (laughs). Pierre Cardin suits, Paule Ka dresses, Louis Ferraud wool jackets from the 1980s, high-waisted Levis jeans and blue overalls from the 1920s-1930s all find their way into my wardrobe!
Last summer, you would have seen me wearing a pair of sneakers, a moleskin jacket and a quirky sweatshirt! My most original piece? A Mickey Mouse jumper from a shop in Tokyo (laughs) ! An amazing look for my 40th birthday that makes people think I’m ten years younger! But for me, comfort is the most important thing. My activities can damage my clothes very easily. It is important to me that my pieces are long-lasting and comfortable to wear. These are qualities that I find in Kenzo!
What about designers, artists and musicians, whose work has – or had – an influence on you?
When it comes to music, there’s a very long list! As soon as a story is told, I am particularly touched by it. My album reflects the pleasure I get from storytelling: I recount anecdotes about my father, a figure who inspires me every day! I also admire the work of Amah Ayivi – whom I consider a brother – and who has set up his brand Marché Noir Lomé/Paris. It’s a project that dazzles me with its authenticity and the beauty of its creations. Other designers also inspire me a lot, like Louis Rubi – my other Spanish “brother” – (laughs) the “king” of oversize LR 3COMMUNITY, a permanent collection of garments to suit all sizes, all genres. Someone else I can mention is T-Michael, a professional tailor and Kimono specialist who takes my breath away with his Japanese cut collections. Lastly, I would complete the list with Sam and Shaka from Art Comes First. My musical tastes range from Vieux Farka Touré to R.wan. Oxmo Puccino is also a source of inspiration for me. He’s an artist for whom I had the honour of doing some memorable opening acts!
You seem to be driven by the elsewhere and the journey. Was there a particular trip that stood out for you?
We get a kick out of every trip! Bali is a destination where I’ve felt the same sense of calm on each of the four visits I’ve been lucky enough to make. We are used to living at a hundred miles an hour in Paris, but we learned to live differently there. Being in tune with ourselves brings us a sense of fluidity and magic. Japan is also a country we love! We took two suitcases on the way out and came back with three or four, filled with kimonos, crockery and mangas! And I might tell you that since Saul’s arrival, our travels have been epic! (laughs)
I think Pierre’s told you everything! (laughs)
You work with countries with different cultures. Does this influence your vision of decoration or design more generally?
I love seeing design pieces that reconnect me with my origins, memories or people! I recently came across a Dutch designer, Louis Bos, who offers furniture with a futuristic look but resolutely inspired by Africa! Geometric, modular shapes. In particular, a coffee table that I invested in – not long ago – that is out of this world! A genuine work of art.
How did you furnish your home, since you spend a lot of time making other people look beautiful?
We have pieces from our many travels at home. Treasures that we found together or separately with Sira. Things we’ve fallen in love with; in short, they remind us every day of who we are. They are full of memories, and we find them comforting!
Bringing beauty into people’ homes is also a way to make them feel good. To make their dreams, desires and needs possible. That’s it! “If you want to do yourself good, do something beautiful.”
What do we hear in your home?
We listen to a lot of vinyl. From my father’s extensive collection to our personal finds! From Maravillas de Bamako, Buena Vista Social Club, Orchestra Baobab, Prince Nico Mbarga, David Bowie… and many others! At the moment, I’ve got two bands on a loop: the Black Pumas and The Teskey Brothers.
Where will we see you in the coming months?
In Paris, of course! And on the move, we hope. We don’t know where yet, but we’re comforting ourselves with good food that reminds us of our past travels! Homemade pad thai or my mother’s delicious tiep!
For Sira, I hope, on stage and on your radios! As for me, I’ll be at your place to help you rethink this space or create that object! A decorative scheme that appeals to you and will also be resolutely you.
Photography: Valerio Geraci – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily