As with people, some places just feel right. A feeling “where you immediately feel safe and at ease” which is why to this day Stéphanie Huguenin says that she and this apartment were made for each other. So much so that two years after moving in, nothing – or virtually nothing – has changed. “The volumes and the layout were as you see them today. Nothing needed altering,” she says with a smile on her face. Located a 15-minute walk from “all of Paris’s central points”, the space now occupied by the family of the founder of the FrancineFramboise production studio perfectly matches their urban lifestyle. As a woman whose job is to “unite people from different backgrounds”, just like “a designer, but in my case for brands”, she applies that same ethos to her home via furniture and objects. A mixture of family pieces – passed down from her parents for her first home twenty years ago – provide a base to which striking pieces have been added: works from Studio Hiromi, a wooden table by Gesa Hansen, a coffee table by Willy Rizzo, and beautiful cleverly-selected lights alongside a few pieces from The Socialite Family collection. A variety of pieces, that work with the colours used on the walls and floors, add structure to the scattered yet harmonious minimalism held dear to her and her partner Stéphane, a creative director who works in advertising.
Stéphanie, Stéphane: would you introduce yourselves, please?
Stéphane is a designer in advertising. I produce content and experiences for brands. We’ve been together for seven years and married for four!
What is your background?
I studied history and political science at the Sorbonne. Following an exchange in Montreal, I started working on advertising campaigns that featured real people for the ads at a company called Dissidents. That was followed by ten years in advertising agencies and production companies. I set up my production studio, FrancineFramboise, in 2015.
Tell us about your upbringing. Where did you grow up – and how did that affect the development of your taste?
I grew up in a family that loved to create cosy interiors, places that felt good to live in, kibbutzes where the whole family came together on Sundays at family lunches or in the summer in Brittany. I owe my earliest memories of decorating to my grandmother and my uncle, who loved to create rich, lived-in interiors together, not always agreeing and often arguing with each other. I have memories of flowers, toile de Jouy, sunny colours and prints. Every room was like a painting, from the fabrics and shades to the knick-knacks and furniture! I also remember the antique shops I used to go to with my grandparents at the weekend. The furniture we had in my mother’s house had belonged to her parents, and to their own parents before them. This is the same furniture that forms a large part of our furnishings in this apartment. I like pieces that tell a story. The idea that inanimate objects say who we are and, at the same time, are themselves subjects of conversation when we choose them, when we place them, and when we pass them on. They are our daily reality, but at the same time, they are our memories, our past, and our future.
I really like the work of the artist Johanna de Clisson from the Hiromi studio; I have two of her pieces. Her brutalist style packs a punch in a classic Haussmannian interior. It happens to fit very well with the neo-1970s artistic style that has gradually become part of the house. I also really like Willy Rizzo; I find his pieces very beautiful and timeless!
Where I am in this industry, my daily challenge is getting people from different backgrounds to talk together. Each project requires its own Esperanto, each subject is a blank page that allows me to meet very different talents (author, game designer, journalist, director, graphic designer, artist, etc.), and that’s what keeps me doing this job with a renewed appetite. I’m a kind of designer in my own way, but for brands.
Interactivity, feedback from people who can cheer, boo or even ban messages have radically changed the top-down communication of the pre-digital era. This relationship with people and the world in general has made this industry more reflective, and brought it closer to the realities of the world. In a word, more responsible.
After several years of meeting, knowing, and learning from great professionals, I wanted a structure that could welcome projects from all horizons and be agile and fresh. A structure that allows me to spend a lot of time on projects while remaining profitable. A structure that’s a bit of a UFO in the value chain and allows me to go upstream or further downstream in the chain if I wish. I wanted to offer a tailor-made methodology where we start with the idea and the project and that I can develop. The idea, and this is still the case today, is to do just few projects where I’m very involved and where I can really support the talented people I source and produce in each subject.
I seem to have visited this apartment in December 2018. I was (very) pregnant, and we were looking for a place to accommodate this new family. We’d visited a lot of properties, and it became obvious to us that this was the place. You know, that feeling we sometimes have with some people too. Where you immediately feel at ease and confident. Where we know that we’re made for each other. The spaces and the circulation were as they are today. There was no need to change them. We are true city dwellers, and being a 15-minute walk from all the central points in Paris suits us just fine!
I like pieces that tell a story. The idea that inanimate objects say who we are and, at the same time, are themselves subjects of conversation when we choose them, when we place them, and when we pass them on.
It was extremely well-thought-out by the previous owners! The children have their own space, and ours is quite a long way away. The living room is a mixed zone that we keep very uncluttered in terms of decoration and odds and ends… so the children can move around safely. The kitchen opens onto it, and we spend a lot of time there. It’s quite funny that even when we have a dinner party for 10 people, people hardly ever go into this space; they prefer the kitchen! In the children’s room, we repainted the floor in white. That adds a lot of air and light to the space. Finally, Stéphane discovered his office during the lockdown. It’s also where he indulges his passion for video games, and for the kids, it’s the room that contains all they lust after – the room of secrets if you will (laughs). I really like our bedroom. I could spend all my days there. We carpeted it and put in dark walls; it’s a cocoon.
We took it one step at a time, really. We didn’t have a preconceived vision or a plan. Things came together naturally, which created a very scattered but harmonious whole. We don’t have much. The basis was mainly the furniture that was handed down to me when I set up on my own over twenty years ago. A bookcase, a beautiful desk, copper lamps. We had a dining room table by Gesa Hansen that Stéphane and I bought together for our first apartment. Then this magnificent Fortuny lamp, which we found in Venice during our honeymoon. When we moved in, we bought a lot of lighting at the Bon Marché Rive Gauche. We also have a Togo sofa, which we love, and Pierre Frey curtains, which are a great addition to any room. For my 40th birthday, my friends gave me a plant wall which is really the heart and soul of the kitchen. My last two purchases were a Willy Rizzo coffee table and two works by Studio Hiromi. They add real structure to the living room. It’s minimalist, and each piece works around two or three strong pieces. I have pieces from The Socialite Family collection in almost all my interiors, too! (laughs)
That simplicity is the ultimate sophistication!
It’s an inspiring medium that features people with projects (including families, because a family is quite a project in itself). A gold mine for decoration, for lovers of both large and small gifts!
Photography: Constance Gennari – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily