At their first glimpse of the watery curves of the Saint-Martin canal, Jean-Baptiste Martin and his wife Anne just knew. They knew that this apartment would be the one. Even before they had visited all of it. Even though a few months later, with the renovations completed, the sirens of Hong Kong were calling them off to new adventures. It’s when they came back that their life here really began. No more working in advertising. To Jean-Baptiste, Cliché was born. And to Anne was born Sasha, their son now 5 months old. Two treasures that ever since have made each day wondrous. With a smile, it’s in the home that they redesigned with their architect friend Marie-France De Saint-Félix that the whole family welcomes us. The style there is minimalist. Or as nuanced by Jean-Baptiste, “non-accumulation”, carried through by an amazing graphic energy in black and white, beautifully poetic. Soothing too. Each item of furniture, each object adds to the overall impression of tranquillity. Everything was chosen by the two of them together. Anonymous or by grand masters: their creations mingle, enhance each other, blend together. Jean-Baptiste makes no distinction between them, seeing in all of them the same merit, the same energy. A visual composition, setting the scene, a bit like through a photographer’s lens; that’s this Parisian’s idea of decoration. We can’t wait to explore the website of this seasoned curator’s project, which for the moment can be found only on Instagram. A forthcoming selection of his favourite things, plus some very special editions and some exceptional pieces of furniture.
Jean-Baptiste, Anne: who are you? Can you introduce yourselves, please?
I work in marketing, and I have a genuine passion for travel. Jean-Baptiste created Cliché a little less than a year ago after a career in advertising. And above all, we are the parents of Sasha who is five months old!
What is the story behind this apartment and the objects it contains?
When we visited the house for the first time, we were sitting in the living room by these two big French windows, and we watched a barge pass by. We had the feeling that we could almost touch the water. We knew then, without seeing the rest of the apartment, that it was the right one.
An architect friend, Marie France De Saint Félix, was kind enough to help us with the work. She managed to free up space and bring in the light while preserving the spirit of the apartment. A few months after the work was completed, we moved to Hong Kong because a professional opportunity had just opened up for me. It was my dream to discover Asia! It was when we returned that Jean-Baptiste really began to take an interest in decoration. He shows me lots of the treasures he comes across each day, and from time to time I flutter my eyelashes at him and ask him if we can keep particular pieces of furniture or objects. We also occasionally fall in love with contemporary pieces, such as the Andrée et Michel Hirlet lamp we found in the Prisme gallery. I love to call in and listen to Chancelia telling us the story of this pair of ceramic artists she has been representing for over 15 years.
I have to see a certain form of poetry that touches me in the objects I keep, and they must find their natural place here with us. I take more pleasure from selling an object that I collect than in keeping it. Even if I like it very much, what I remember is the moment that I found it and that’s really cool!
Your style is radical, minimalist. What were your main inspirations in bringing it together?
Jean-Baptiste would say that it’s not so much minimalist as a “non-accumulation” (laughs).It’s quite paradoxical considering his job but after our return from Asia – where living spaces are extremely confined and the population very dense – we chose to create a very pure world in this apartment, where we didn’t feel the lack of space. For my part, I love the new wave of decorators who are revisiting the “new Parisian chic”. We’re not into glitzy stuff, I hate it! On the other hand, I have asked Jean-Baptist to find an “Iron Throne” so I can watch the new season…
It all depends on what you’re looking for. After a day in Paris where our eyes are overwhelmed, I need to regain visual calm. “Less is beautiful”. I would have done the opposite for a seaside house (or not). I’m attracted to all eras and styles. But in the end, the place must be imperfect, impermanent and unconventional. I feel comfortable in a brutalist environment supported by the contemporary.
Why this duality between black and white?
I find elegance and calm in it. It’s incredibly good for me.
This duality has an incredible graphic impact. Black is more than just a colour. For me, it’s another light.
Did you achieve this together? How did you “distribute” the work between you?
We always choose the decorative elements of our apartment together. That’s the deal. We both have to be in love with an object for it to merit a place in here! Even if, thanks to Jean-Baptiste’s job, I have learned to develop my tastes! Every week, he introduces me to new designers – known or completely unknown – and this is influencing how we develop our interior.
Was your apartment’s renovation the beginning of Jibé ?
After we came back from Hong Kong, I left advertising to begin this new project, and now I wake up smiling every morning. I started Jibé on Instagram less than a year ago, and I offer an eclectic selection of items that I have uncovered. When I go hunting, my goal is to find extremely cool objects or furniture (in my opinion) that I can offer at an affordable price, a fair price. I work by eye and not by signature. For me, the work of anonymous people deserves as much respect as the work of famous designers. Apart from selling – and this was not planned – several families and shops contacted me to refurbish their interiors.
How do you see your project evolving in the coming month?
The website, with a selection of my favourite items, should soon be open! I will also soon be offering ceramic bowls for children, which will be produced by Jibé, and which are known as the “Drochs” (‘crazy’ in Breton) and I am currently working on some furniture.The most important thing is to continue to enjoy finding things I love, meeting their future owners and most importantly, not to fall into the any of the pitfalls of the job.
What are your favourite places in Paris to stimulate your imagination and your taste buds?
In addition to our apartment, we have discovered a real community lifestyle on the Canal Saint-Martin! We love spending time in La Cantine de Quentin on Rue Bichat, where the cuisine and the wine selection is always exceptional. A stopover there is essential before spending time at Artazart.
More than one place, one hour. I set off to work around five in the morning to find treasures. The whole of Paris is amazing at that time of day.
Photography: Valerio Geraci – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily