Eve, Arnaud, can you introduce yourselves, please? What is your background?
Arnaud is an interior design specialist, I’m passionate about the decorative arts, and I trained as an art historian. We collect vintage designer pieces. Every eight weeks, we set up a different type of room (living room, office, bedroom, and so on) which illustrates our style as an interior design firm and which brings our current selection of furniture into the limelight at O.D.A Galerie, our space at the Puces de Saint-Ouen flea market in Saint-Ouen.
I grew up in the South of France. I’m a cabinetmaker by training. I opened a gallery in Montpellier when I was 28. It was a kind of concept store I ran with three friends, and we offered a selection of Scandinavian furniture from the 1950s (mainly), vinyls and vintage American clothing. I moved to Paris a little later when I had the opportunity to join Silvera as a project manager. I took on responsibility for different departments and showrooms and that’s how I advanced within the group. For almost two years now, my wife, Eve, and I have been creating a rather unconventional sales space, the O.D.A Galerie, in the Puces de Saint-Ouen.
I spent my childhood in the 17th arrondissement in Paris. My only major adventure geographically was going to settle in the North West beyond the Seine! I studied art history at the Ecole du Louvre, where I focused on Islamic arts, and I completed my studies with an M.Phil in contemporary art at the Paris-Sorbonne University. I still have magical memories of those years. I then moved into the museum world, at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, the Palais de la Découverte and the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, working in exhibition design, communication and marketing. I broke away from this rather linear approach by founding my own company, a children’s clothing brand, Pouti Paris, but I had to give up the business for personal reasons a few years ago. I missed the adventure of entrepreneurship and I didn’t hesitate for a second to launch a second time with Arnaud and set up the O.D.A Galerie.
We're almost beyond complementing each other, it's virtually a fusion!
What about your education in art and design?
I’m self-taught in a way. But my passion for furniture springs quite naturally from my training as a cabinetmaker. My experience at Silvera has allowed me to consolidate my knowledge of architectural furniture and design in general. In the south of France, I was immersed in a world where a lot of hip-hop was being listened to, and street culture was very prevalent. I also played a lot of baseball, and through this, broadened to include the clothing involved, I learned a lot about American culture.
When I was a child, my parents used to take me to museums like you take children to the park. I used to take a notebook to draw in, and since I wasn’t very good at it, I mainly collected postcards of the works I liked best! And I discovered Japanese culture and its sophistication at a very early age. I’m very grateful to my parents for making me aware of all forms of beauty. My training at the Ecole du Louvre has, of course, contributed significantly to developing my awareness of culture and particularly the Islamic arts. It’s also responsible for my taste for ornament and colour, and the refinement of the Safavid period. Typology, the Bahaus and graphic design were my first “loves” in modern art. Subsequently, I had the opportunity to work with talented graphic designers, true creators of new forms, who inspired me enormously.
How did you combine the two – as well as your personalities – in your gallery, O.D.A (Objet d’Affection)?
We’re almost beyond complementing each other, it’s virtually a fusion! Seriously though, we design and create the staging together. Arnaud is in charge of the layout and sourcing, I manage the communication and we share the customer relationship side of things. What we offer is the sum of what we see and what we intend to do.
When we met, we realised that we shared the same passion for the decorative arts. We used to buy lots of pieces together. As time went on, we felt the desire to express a singular decorative language and we wanted to share it. We really wanted to see particular pieces in the way our audience might see them, to put them in context and imagine how they could find their place in someone else’s life. So we created the O.D.A Galerie, a space where we can tell decorative stories. For us, finding a treasure is an opportunity to place it creatively to the best advantage. We like to “assemble”, as a designer does with an outline, hence the term “interior designers”, which we prefer to being called decorators. We want to inspire as many people as possible and surprise even the initiated. Above all, however, our primary intention is to create spaces that are opportunities for discovery, curiosity and pleasure.
Why did you choose this name?
Objects of Affection is the title of a chapter of a book I read in Milan at Nilufar during the Del Mobile show. This title immediately echoed what we wanted to communicate; namely to find intimacy and create secret links with objects in a lively and engaging space. So we decided to use the initial letters of “objets d’affection”, which gives us: O.D.A Galerie.
How does your style express itself here, at home? In your apartment, do you move the objects, the furniture, around?
Our apartment is a creative laboratory. We live as we work, and vice versa. It’s a sort of layered decor that we change around very regularly. Our apartment reflects the same individuality that we are developing at the Puces de Saint-Ouen: lots of flat colours, sometimes with discordant combinations. We enjoy playing with those. My daughters, Elia and Adèle, sometimes complain that the layout changes too often, yet at the same time they are becoming more and more curious and excited to see new pieces arrive!
Which period(s), period(s), movement(s) inspire you in particular?
We are as much touched by the rigour and purity of line of a French designer like Gérard Guermonprez as we are by the saturated brilliance of the 1970s. We like the bold and fluid shapes, almost organic, and we particularly appreciate low furniture. It was an era that celebrated total freedom, extravagance and true conviviality, and we love it! We try to re-appropriate the elegance of those years with a touch of humour and irony, and without seeming too literal or rigid!
Which piece(s) are you most proud of?
The “Carrera” modular sofa by Lomazzi, Urbino and Pas. An Indian wooden capital dating from the end of the 19th century and a bed by Bernard Govin that we haven’t shown yet.
Which artist are you passionate about?
Oscar Niemeyer and Axel Vervoordt.
James Turell, Le Bernin, and Alexander Mac Queen.
Colours and materials are clearly important in your home. How did you choose them?
Our primary influence was the facades of Rome in the 1950s.
As “interior stylists” and true interior designers, can you give us some advice? How can we introduce some personality into a scheme?
Be daring with colour, don’t worry about so-called rules and even less about fashion. You have to trust your own tastes and not be afraid to combine eras and styles.
Where are we likely to find you in the coming months?
Definitely in an address in Paris in addition to Saint-Ouen.
Photography: Constance Gennari – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefmaily