Have you ever dreamed, while walking around Paris, of going into one of these artists’ studios? Rooftop dwellings that seem to reach for the sky with their huge windows and wrought iron skylights. The object of all our fantasies, these apparitions seem to play games with the clouds and laugh loftily at the urban hustle and bustle, setting themselves up as privileged haunts for all dreamers in search of light and tranquillity. An additional dimension that instantly seduced the painter Louis Thomas and his partner, Célia Bruneau! The couple first encountered their future apartment in the Montmartre district last January. Instantly appealing, with an unobstructed view over the roofs of Paris, and occupied in just one month with a small selection of furniture – almost all second-hand. Eager for freedom and simplicity, the designers have done everything possible here to “keep everything restrained and simple, (…) not to distract the eye, since we create visual things every day”. For a place to live and work that is anything but compartmentalised and where you can move around with ease! Portable and lightweight, the easel and trestle table travel from one end of the room to the other according to their owners’ inspiration. A setting in perpetual motion that does not seek to delimit private and professional spaces but instead maintains a happy simplicity that rises above excess. These Parisians favour moderation over material acquisitions, giving full meaning to the adage: “Less is more” in their home. A state of mind that gives the panoramic view its rightful pride of place. That of a muse or a living painting!
I’m Célia Bruneau, an embroiderer and fashion designer.
I’m Louis Thomas, a painter and illustrator.
After my French Baccalaureate in Art History and a degree in fashion design, I concentrated on gaining experience. Creating has always been part of my daily life and three years’ ago I realised I wanted it to be my sole focus. I wanted more freedom! In January 2020, I set off to travel around the world for about a year. Inspired by my travels, I was able to start new embroidery and painting projects.
After 9 years in an art school, I worked in studios as a Concept Artist for Pixar and Universal. At the same time I worked as an illustrator/author for kids’ books, as well as a film director, teacher and portrait artist
My mum was always using her hands – cooking, decoupage, sewing, drawing… My father got me into literature and my brothers into music. From a young age I wanted to leave the suburbs and live in my own place in Paris.
My parents were very orderly to the point of being a bit obsessive. They also introduced me to illustrating, classic cinema and music from a young age. I always wanted to live in an apartment like the ones I saw in magazines that my parents had in the toilet.
After my fashion design studies, I started to turn my drawings into embroideries, almost to prove my worth, but also to feed my curiosity and avoid boredom.
I’ve drawn since a child, like any other kid. The difference is that I continued as I grew up. I never wanted to stop, I always knew I would draw every day.
I’m influenced by a wide range of works and I often find inspiration in images. I like the work of David Hockney, Georgia O’Keeffe, Nicolas de Staël, as well as Japanese stamps and choreography by Martha Graham, Pina Bausch… But I particularly love old iconography: ancient stones, antique and Mediaeval illustrations from Europe or Asia, engravings of the Cosmos…
Drawings and paintings by Picasso, Alice Neel, de Sempé, Quentin Blake, David Hockney, Jean Cocteau and Marie Laurencin. Films by Michelangelo Antonioni, Woody allen and Federico Fellini. Books by Marguerite Duras, Russian novels. Ballets by Pina Bausch, Roland Petit…
I don’t have a particular message or process, I love embroidery and drawing and how they make me feel. There’s emotion involved in every single one of them.
I never wanted to teach others or leave my mark on history. I love drawing for drawing’s sake, to make me happy and it’s a great way to pass the time. Emotion-wise, that’s for the viewer, clients, models, critics. I just want to enjoy myself, an enjoyment that others sometimes share.
I often feel that I prove my drawings’ worth when I turn them into embroideries. My drawings are often naive and instinctive, they allow me to express colours, compositions. Embroidery allows me to transform this naivety into something more complex: technique, details, combining materials, the shimmer of the threads… The landscapes I embroider are an interpretation of a moment in time, a feeling when in a particular place.
I used to draw people, like all kids do. I continued to refine my figures, characters, stories. I think I paint people because it sort of opens me up to a public – to exchange with and discover more about others in order to love onself more. Alice Neel called herself “a collector of souls”.
We wanted a calm, bright place to live and work. We stumbled on an ad online. We visited the place just for the sake of it – the photos weren’t appealing as the previous tenants had left the place in a tip. But we loved it the moment we stepped through the door!
We’re inspired by the light, the calm, the volumes and the open view… For the rest, we’re inspired by similar points of view, but from different sources – people, great artists or other inspirational ideas that we have in common.
We try to keep things simple and uncomplicated so as to not distract the eye, as we create new works every day. Every object has to be useful / functional, and either old or a craft. We don’t like clutter or collecting stuff. The less, the better, a sort of restraint.
Right now, we have all we need. Indeed, we need to sort out some drawings and books. Get rid of stuff rather than adding more.
In Paris, Greece, Italy or California as per usual. And no doubt at exhibitions, Célia in Madrid maybe Palm Springs, Louis in Paris.
We try to keep things simple and uncomplicated so as to not distract the eye, as we create new works every day.
Photography : Valerio Geraci – Text : Juliette Bruneau @thesocialitefamily