Ingrid Brochard has eyes that laugh and a thousand stories to tell. With a career path as long and winding as could be and a fascinating life to match, this is a lady who quickly discovered her raison d’être. Growing up in Tours, at the age of 19 she decided to launch her own company. Always passionate about the world of perfumes and well-being, she took her dream in both hands and made it a reality. Her philanthropical nature caught up with her after a while and told her it was time for a change of scene. So, as a lady who always follows to her heart, she turned her attention to modern art. After gliding through life as a publisher to a producer of TV programs to a curator of exhibitions, Ingrid founded the Mobile Museum – the first free travelling museum for children. Its initiative is to open up access to contemporary art, and it was for this that she was awarded the greatest honour of the Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite (Knight of the National Order of Merit) as well as Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of Arts and Letters). But Ingrid isn’t the sort of person to rest on her laurels, she’s always where you’d least expect. With Panoply, her latest project, she took on the ‘sharing’ market to rethink the way we consume fashion. A true lover of style but a sceptic of disposable fashion, she even sees the way she decorates her home as a “raisonnance de l’être.” Here too, the humanitarian artist within her come first. Ingrid buys what she needs without sacrificing herself on the altar of ever changing trends. For her, the time taken isn’t what counts. Meet her in her family home in Paris’ 16th arrondissement.
Ingrid, could you introduce yourself?
I’m a multi-tasking, serial entrepreneur. I launched my first business when I was 19, with a line of cosmetics, then I worked as an editor for a Modern Art Editorial, a TV producer, an exhibition curator … At the moment I wear two ‘hats’: as founder of Musée Mobile (the first touring modern art museum that’s free for kids) and as the co-founder of Panoply. I’m a passionate collector and I have big dreams, I often ask myself: if I don’t follow my dreams how are they going to come true?
What’s a typical day for you?
I rise with the sun at 6am. I like to be up before everything begins, the tranquility of twilight is my favourite moment of the day. Then it’s breakfast en famille. Every morning I make freshly squeezed juice, pancakes, toast, and chopped fruit. Then I pick out an outfit. It’s an important decision because it’s going to take me through the day. So, depending on the sort of meetings I have, I choose a style that’s either smart or casual, one that reflects my mood, but also takes the weather into consideration. One day out of two, (for the sake of fairness!) I drop my son off at school. Then I go to work listening to the show Plus près de toi, presented by Edourd Baer on Radio Nova. Once I arrive at work it’s an absolute marathon. My main objective is to do the maximum I can with the day so that I don’t arrive home too late. Once I’m home I play with my son, tell him stories (some true, some not), and then put him to bed before having dinner with my husband. And then the day’s work resumes, in the sitting room or in bed, with MuMo and Panoply. But I don’t want to give the impression that we never go out! Once or twice a week we go to a private viewing, to a restaurant for a romantic dinner, to the cinema or the Opera. I love spending time with my girl friends too, over our famous Girls Dinners or getting together for a night at Band of Sisters, the cool ladies club created by Cécile Fricker Lehanneur.
How long have you lived in the 16th arrondissement?
8 years. Ever since I’ve been with my partner. Before I was based in the Marais.
Tell us about you arrondissement. How has it changed?
I’m not a Parisian, so I don’t really know how to respond. The 16th is full of surprises at first. I used to not like the atmosphere of this area, very traditional and not enough bistros and a curfew at 10pm. What persuaded me to move here was its green spaces. The jardin du Ranelagh, the bois de Boulogne and the view of the Eiffel Tower, that I take my son to and watch it glittering with as much amazement. Since then I’ve seen it evolve as new places pop up. Restaurants, bars, clubs, even music festivals (Yoyo/Bagatelles/La Clairière) and institutions like Carette, Yamazaki and Le Relais du Bois. And recently, it has been transformed into a place of real culture: Palais Galliera, Musée Marmottant, Musée de l’Homme, Maison de Balzac, Musée Guimet, Palais de Tokyo, Musée d’art moderne and of course The Louis Vuitton Foundation.
Where do you like to spend time when you’re home?
I like to relax in the sitting room. You can do everything there: work, eat, chat, play, read, dream…? This room opens onto the garden. It was designed for receiving guests and family and it even can be transformed into a playroom at the weekend or for birthday tea parties!
How would you define your style in terms of decoration?
Our style is intrinsically linked to our identity. It’s an insight into our artistic universe. For me, decoration is a resonance of self-expression. It’s to be lived in. So in our place, there’s no specific decorative style, instead it’s full of pieces that we have fallen in love with along the way. The walls, for example, were inspired by the book ‘Architectural polychromy’, a nod to our 1920s Le Corbusier dining table.
Which is your favourite artistic era ?
That’s difficult, it’s more a question of the works themselves then their era. I’m deeply moved by Michael Angelo’s fresco in the Sistine chapel, and in my own world in front of a Botticelli, overwhelmed by a Rembrandt, and inspired by a Luciano Fontana or Alberto Boetti, a Maurizio Cattelan, a Mike Kelley, a Douglas Gordon, a James Turrell… The Cells of Louise Bourgeois blew my mind, I was lucky enough to meet her at her home in New York. And then the triptych of Ida Tursic & Wilfried Mille in the living room sums up so brilliantly the details of the Jardin des Délices by Jérôme Bosch, one that had been revisited by so many contemporary artists!
Which designer do you love the most?
Marc Held, he’s a real pioneer of design. The first French designer to be represented by Knoll! We bought his culbutos and his resin bed that was sold by Prisunic, in 1970. It was industrial design, a revolution for the time! I’ve always been interested in the accessibility of design for everyone. I also love Martin Szekely and the Americans Georges Nelson and Charles Eames.
What’s your colour of the moment?
Pink! Fuchsia, pastel, candy, salmon or bubble gum… Pink is present on all the catwalks and on the street. “Pink is punk!”
How do you bring together family life and beautiful décor?
With children you learn to accept that rooms are for playing in. However, I’ve taught my son Sacha to have a little bit of respect for works of art and to be careful of precious pieces. Paintings, sculptures and artists were all in his vocabulary as he started to speak. He lives with art all around him and he pays attention. I think he’s aware of that and I hope he grows up to appreciate art when he’s older.
Our style is intrinsically linked to our identity. It’s an insight into our artistic universe. For me, decoration is a resonance of self-expression.
When did Panoply begin and how did you have the idea?
I had this vision of a department store like a giant dry cleaners where you were free to borrow any outfits that took your fancy, without necessarily having it to own. After 25 years of shopping I still had that ‘nothing to wear’ feeling, even through my wardrobe was fit to burst. “That’s enough!” I thought, I wanted to create something that was more suited to the times we live in : collective use rather than individual ownership. This economical sharing is part of a new social model (more sustainable consumption and less harmful to the environment), a stand against disposable fashion. Today we buy clothes 60% more than we did in the past, and it is the industry which causes the most pollution. By using Panoply, instead of buying 1 or 2 brand new pieces, you can wear 20 pieces for the samce price. It’s a dream! That way you can experiment with colour and prints and different styles. We make the most of fashion at its best.
How did you want to develop your concept-brand?
The digital revolution has already begin and had affected the ways we live and consume. I’m interested in the challenge the future holds. We’ve entered into a new era: big data, artificial intelligence, augmented reality is all going to influence our lives and the way we behave. When you launch a start-up you have to be aware and perceptive, and evolve alongside all the new technology. Soon algorithms will be able to guide our clients with recommendations for styles, sizing and even help them choose their outfits according to their agendas, or the weather!
Is you favourite restaurant in Paris or elsewhere?
Elsewhere! We love going to Ponza in Italy. The best seafood pasta to be had is at O’Restaurante.
Photography: Constance Gennari – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily