Mary ErlingsenEmma 6 and Margot 5
What a pleasure for me to introduce you to the world of my friend, Mary Erlingsen. An artist through and through, her apartment reflects...
Since its very beginnings, The Socialite Family, the home decorating brand that everyone’s talking about, has never ceased to evolve. Starting out as an online magazine dedicated to modern families’ lifestyle and the interior design of their homes, it has enjoyed a metamorphosis over the last two years, driven by Constance Gennari. And has become a complete furniture, lighting and lifestyle accessory brand. We like to think of objects as “itinerant and moveable furniture” within the home, and this materialised with the creation of our early models, now iconic: the Panchina bench, the Cavallo armchair and the Gioia table lamp. These same models can today be found in the home of the founder and artistic director of The Socialite Family. Mingling with personal pieces inherited via a rich artistic family history, with a definite taste for everything vintage. To celebrate the arrival of happy news for The Socialite Family, Constance agreed to be interviewed once more. Turning the mirror on herself. Plain speaking from this Franco-Italian lady who has agreed to share with you the secrets of what most inspires The Socialite Family. A rare visit, throughout which we will meet some of the people who most fashioned her imagination. First of all, her Mother. A collector, not really an antique dealer but driven by an exceptional creative energy, she didn’t hesitate to take her children with her all over Paris to search out objects. Then Italy, birthplace of design, in the shape of Milan, birthplace of her Father. That’s where everything really began.
Constance, for those who are not familiar with The Socialite Family, who are you?
Ciao! My name is Constance Gennari, and I founded The Socialite Family several years ago. The idea of the website was to show how the new generation of parents live now everyone is working. Where do they go to find inspiration to create a highly personal world for themselves at home? What sort of background and education have they had? Nowadays we make our interiors our own, shaped by our personalities. We all have a spark of creativity within us. The Socialite family is the one that lives life to its fullest! It travels, organises its life with its friends and brings up its offspring in a very different way from its own upbringing. When you have children after the age of 30-35, and you want to continue working for your personal development, you become an aesthete and focus on what feels good. Our home is the place where we recharge our batteries in the evening. The idea is to show how much things have changed. From the way we arrange our interiors, to the way we raise our children. Socialites are dynamic, urban, connected and free. I started out alone in laying the foundations of The Socialite Family, and my partner Marianne Gosset joined the adventure four years ago. Together we decided to create a range of furniture, using an in-house design studio. The Socialite Family collection is two years old now. We began by launching the Panchina bench, thinking of easily moveable and mobile furniture for an apartment. The desire to create my own line of furniture had been in the back of my mind for a long time. And then, with Marianne, we launched it. A passion and an education, linking back to my upbringing with my antique-loving mother and my father who was from Milan, the true birthplace of design. Then meetings with the architects, designers, and families who inspire me every day in my artistic direction of the brand.
What is The Socialite Family today?
A decoration brand and a strong online presence, where people come to gain inspiration from interiors, companies and unique locations. We pursue our work as creators every day. Because once we have designed an item in the in-house studio, the designers and I go in search of manufacturers according to the materials we want to work with for the production of the piece of furniture. We seek out those with the greatest expertise in Europe to ensure we can monitor progress milestones and guarantee extremely high quality at a fair price, without intermediaries. Because the idea is for people to be able to buy our models worldwide through our e-shop, The Socialite Family!
What has affected you the most in the five years you have been evolving?
The wonderful people we meet every day. Learning from and being inspired by others who share their enthusiasms, and vice versa. I also like the idea of being able to meet the new generation of architects and designers who will build our future. And then, in-house, there is the excitement of designing our models, in a perpetual quest for a flawless creative process.
Since you established The Socialite Family brand, which has been your favourite piece?
It’s hard to say! I absolutely love all the models we’ve designed in-house. The design process is lengthy, thoughtful, and incredibly detailed. All our models have a story to tell. Right now, I would say our brand new Gioia table lamp! Its line fascinates me, and I never get tired of looking at it. But I also love a lot our Carlotta coffee table.
Is The Socialite Family style your style too? How does it express itself here?
Totally! The Socialite Family style is inspired by vintage lines and earlier periods, with Italian craftsmanship for the design and the guarantee of very high quality! I like the idea of having furniture that you can move around in your living environment. Just moving your furniture according to the seasons can give you the feeling of having re-decorated. The Socialite Family collection brings together different styles. It is the juxtaposition between the Nonna fringed sofa – very much an Empire boudoir look – and the modernist feel of the Panchina bench in cane, with its tubular base. I have a Panchina bench in my hall at home. But it may also find itself at the end of my bed sometimes. My Cavallo armchairs are in my living room, facing the sofa, I like to sit there when I’m working at my desk.
Interior decoration, design: is it a family affair? Are you trying to pass on your love for it to your children?
I was brought up by an artist mother who could have been an antique dealer. My brothers, my sister and I lived in a theatrical setting throughout our childhood! She is a collector, and she never stops searching – even today – from the street to the auction houses, and including the inevitable flea markets. She taught me the importance of being on the lookout, ready to sniff out a treasure! She was the one who introduced me to interior design by explaining to me how to recognise the period of an antique, authentic piece of furniture. How to determine the age of a period carpet. Together, we spend a lot of time talking about a style, a finish. It is a passion that has been with me since I was a child. We lived in an 18th-century style world with antique tapestries we weren’t allowed to sit on too much. It was a traditional upbringing in the midst of a sublime setting, full of picture frames, draperies and antique china. All tremendously inspiring and beautiful. Nowadays, I try as much as I can to pass on this passion to my children by involving them in decoration when I find new pieces for my home, like the rugs I collect, or a piece of china for example. They like to give their opinion. That’s always good because there’s an emotional connection! The important thing is that it creates a vibe within you, there is nothing else that matters.
Are you a collector like your mother?
I must admit I’m starting to collect Italian lamps from the 1930s to the 1960s. I am a fan of those times when opaline was widely used, such as brass finishes and wood. I dream of the pieces created by the Castiglioni brothers or Gino Sarfatti (to name but a few), but I don’t have any yet. And I’m also interested in antique rugs, from various periods. Chinese or Moroccan rugs, and mats from Mauritius, are on offer in our store at 12 rue Saint-Fiacre. And then there’s our vintage Murano blown glassware…
Is that where your everyday inspiration comes from? What else?
Inspiration is everywhere. From the street to fashion and even buildings and shopfronts. Paris is brimming with secrets that shape the way we see things and titillate our creativity. An outfit, a colour, a texture can all give me ideas. I go a lot to flea markets, to Drouot and I look at lots of books on decoration from different periods. The Socialite Family furniture brand has been shaped at its heart by encounters, by interiors. And, of course, by rubbing shoulders with shopkeepers and antique dealers, you are learning all the time. I am passionate and insatiable. I love to immerse myself in the work of a designer who fascinates me. From Joe Colombo, in Milan in the 70s, to René Herbst’s work, to Alain Richard, Luigi Colani, Osvaldo Borsani… Have you got three hours to spare?
Which three words describe The Socialite Family?
Cross-cultural, beautiful and accessible.
Where will The Socialite Family team be in the coming weeks?
Not only in the coming weeks, but for good from Tuesday to Saturday from 11am to 8pm in our first boutique at 12, rue Saint-Fiacre – Paris 2ème as well as in our permanent corner on the 4th floor of the BHV MARAIS!
Nowadays we make our interiors our own, shaped by our personalities. We all have a spark of creativity within us!
Photography: Eve Campestrini – Text: Caroline Balvay – Translation: TextMaster @thesocialitefamily
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