Ronan, Nicolas: could you introduce yourselves, please?
I’m from Brittany, and Nicolas is from Lorraine. We have been living in Paris for about 20 years. We met in 2015. Nicolas then lived in the 10th arrondissement, the former furniture craftsmen’s district, in an industrial-style flat overlooking a typical courtyard. As for me, I was operating in the 2nd arrondissement, near the Palais Royal. Then we moved in together near the Place des Vosges, into a very light, bright space.
We entered into a civil partnership during the lockdown last year! It was very exciting to experience it in the middle of a pandemic. I’m a veterinarian, passionate about Thai cuisine, I’m a gourmet and a fan of plants, travel… I love red wine, and I collect kitchen utensils!
I grew up by the sea in Brittany. That’s what gave me my love of open spaces, of the horizon and inspiring landscapes. There, the light changes between poetry and melancholy, and that’s what I love! I’m a lover of craftsmanship, of raw materials, and I’m addicted to running and photography. I’m passionate about objects, architecture and decoration. In the near future, I’m planning to produce and sell some of the furniture and objects that I’ve designed for our friends as well as for our apartment.
What is your background?
After studying interior architecture and design in Rennes, I arrived in Paris in 2000. Professionally, I wear several hats. I spent a long time and gained a great deal of experience in window dressing for Sonia Rykiel, and since then, I’ve worked for a number of years in artistic direction for beauty and perfume brands. During all this time, I learned to look. Now, I’m launching my own identity. My own interior design company, my first passion. At the moment, I’m working on the name and logo. I’m delighted to be writing this new chapter in my life!
After studying at the Alfort veterinary school in Maisons-Alfort, I decided to set up my practice there. It’s been 18 years already! I have just redone it in its entirety. I wanted to make a change, offering my staff, my clients and the animals I care for a new, more functional and brighter space. In keeping with today! I like undertaking this kind of challenge.
Tell us about your education in “beauty”. How have your tastes developed?
My mother always laid the table beautifully for meals, with pretty crockery she found in the flea markets, flowers from the garden and candles. There was always a warm atmosphere at home. My father was a builder. He built houses. That always fascinated me! I was immersed in this world from childhood. Sharing was paramount, and attention to detail was very important. I grew as a result of my various professional experiences and, above all, through meeting some very inspiring people. We don’t build ourselves alone! I learned to look in every sense of the word, without limits and without prejudice. Today, this helps me a lot in my work, and I cultivate this curiosity every single day.
Here, open spaces for entertaining friends coexist with intimate spaces for meeting and working. You could say it’s a friendly place with little sitting areas we move around freely.
Designers, artists: whose work has influenced you, your work?
Enzo Mari, for his support of manual work, as well as for his authentic vision of design. Constantin Brâncuși, and in particular this magnificent place in Paris, his studio on the Place Beaubourg. He inspires me greatly with his combination of materials. I like the contrast between his raw materials and the delicate lines of his sculptures. Giorgio Morandi for his still lifes and compositions. They are what – for me – perfectly illustrate “what is right” in a composition. I’m a fan of outsider art. Then there is Isamu Noguchi, Carlo Scarpa, for his use of light in his architecture to create visual effects to underline the grace and subtlety of his structures. Émile Gilioli, Ensamble, StudioDani Karavan: brutalist architects. They were a great inspiration for my research and in the creation of my collection Miroir, miroir – which I would like to reissue – and which can be seen in our flat. Christine Rebet, an artist friend, for her dreamlike, political journeys, the chroma of her world. And, finally, Ugo Rondinone, using in turn photography, video, painting, drawing, sculpture, text and sound.
Tell us the story of how you came across this apartment.
It was at the end of August two years ago, after several months of searching, the day before we left on holiday. It happened very quickly! I visited it on my own first. I fell in love with its proportions, the area, the light, the balcony and the potential for transformation. It had a bourgeois side that we wanted to ‘twist’. As soon I’d viewed it, I jumped on my phone to describe it to Nicolas, who was working. We were leaving for Athens the next day but managed to get an appointment with the estate agent four hours before we flew. Nicolas, in turn, literally fell under the spell. We made an offer and left for the airport, dreaming of our future home.
Living in Paris, why did you ask an architect from Marseille to help with your project?
We used to spend a lot of our weekends in Marseille, another city we loved almost as much as Athens – and Greece in general. The atmosphere, the architecture, the colours, the greenery, the light, the people… All of this captivates us. After the 3rd arrondissement, near the Place des Vosges where we lived, we wanted to rediscover the atmosphere of the streets, the neighbourhood. We wanted to be in Paris but with this feeling of being on holiday, of freedom. That’s why we turned to the 10th arrondissement. Next, we found the architect Julien Fuentes on Instagram. His vision, his way of understanding spaces, is everything we love. The meeting went very well. We had an excellent feeling and, magically, the chemistry worked.
How did you envisage it?
We wanted to create two distinct spaces. One dedicated to the daytime, another to the night while enhancing the DNA of the place, its “bourgeois” history, and at the same time giving it a modern and offbeat style by using specific colours and materials. We wanted spaces that communicate with each other to increase the number of perspectives. This is why there are very few doors and, as a result, light in all the rooms. We liked the concept of letting the place “breathe”. The spaces are connected by a common thread. For example, an industrial bar that runs from the living room through the kitchen to the bedroom and serves as a light fitting. Julien’s choice of lighting fixtures was subtle and delicate. In the bedroom, we created a headboard with asymmetrical tables in a midnight blue shade, the same shade that the southern sky takes on at nightfall. A walk-in shower in white mosaic coupled with a tangerine shade on the furniture sets the tone in the bathroom. It gives us a lift in the morning with its tangy and energetic quality, like sunshine! Finally, we also completely redid the kitchen. On the floor, we find terrazzo (reminiscent of Marseille), the light green of the doors reminiscent of Greek landscapes and expanses of succulents, as well as the black quartz that reminds us of the volcanic stones of Etna. An area of the kitchen we love? The larder. That’s where we store herbs, vases, and dishes brought back from our travels. I like the old-fashioned look revisited. With Julien, we worked a lot together. This was done remotely, over hours of telephone discussions filled with the exchange of ideas. It was very rewarding! Julien was totally attentive to our needs.
What does it say about you?
Here, open spaces for entertaining friends coexist with intimate spaces for meeting and working. You could say it’s a friendly place with little sitting areas we move around freely. I like the idea that things move with the seasons, moods and times of day. That’s why we put in mirrors to multiply the points of view. And there are always lots of flowers. We love, entertain, cook… we love life!
How did you furnish it?
It’s a mix of designer pieces and furniture found at flea markets or from the family and, sometimes, even found in the street! I like the idea of a dialogue between objects. I archive materials, stones (which I collect), good luck charms, things brought back from trips. I thoroughly enjoy combining pieces from different worlds. I think of them as altars. By transforming objects and combining them with others, as if to give them a new life or a new function. In that sense, our interior is genuinely a space for research, for dreaming. I ‘script’ almost everything, and it changes frequently! It’s my laboratory where my creations rub shoulders with pieces that are often very emotional. A mixture of styles, colours, materials and plants! One of Nicolas’ passions.
In which room do you feel most comfortable?
In the double living room, surrounded by most of our favourite objects and furniture. This is where we feel most comfortable and where we spend most of our time. I work there during the day, I receive my clients there. The apartment is flooded with light; it’s a joy! This room reflects my work style, my world, and in the evening, we have friends over. We dine, we chat, we dance… It’s the hub of the apartment. I like the idea of the village square where the inhabitants meet; it’s a bit like that (laughs). This room is large and full of energy, yet it’s also very soothing during the day with the view of the Paris rooftops.
For you, The Socialite Family is…?
A family, a sustainable decoration brand, a style we love!
You live in the prolific and vibrant 10th arrondissement. What are your favourite places locally?
Chouette Vélo de Ville, for their passion for their job, their welcome and the superb bikes. Épicerie Vélan, a family institution in the Brady passage for tea, dried fruit, fresh vegetables, rice and spices. Bleuet Coquelicot, which belongs to Tom, our romantic florist. Far from the standard offering, his flowers come from passionate local producers! Ippudo République, our ramen restaurant. Our must-have? Yokohama soup and age gyoza. A delicious treat! House of 3 Brothers, an authentic modern patisserie. Our friend Mirko runs this business. We like to go there to buy his generous, comforting cheesecakes. Finally, Le Magenta. To enjoy morning coffee and its diverse atmosphere!
I thoroughly enjoy combining pieces from different worlds. I think of them as altars. By transforming objects and combining them with others.
Photography: Valerio Geraci – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily