Gaëlle Mancina has a veritable predilection for tableware and the art of table setting. Curious and inquisitive by nature, and something of an all-rounder, she loves to be carried along and inspired by the various opportunities that present themselves to her. With a succession of artistic projects already under her belt – from modelling to comedy acting and advertising – this young mother has now turned her attention to the world of tableware and the art of table setting with Sans Façon, her latest project to date. It was at Les Néréides that Gaëlle first met Pier-Paolo, now her partner. A luxury costume jewellery brand, Les Néréides is run by the four Amaddeo children, with Pier-Paolo as the artistic director. These two confirmed bric-a-brac and second-hand goods addicts form, together with Viggo and Olimpia – their two children – a highly colourful tribe. Audacious and creative when it comes to the decor of their flat, this highly in-tune couple avoid having an overall plan and instead allow their impulses to guide them. Adopting a completely spontaneous approach, they adorn the rooms of their Parisian cocoon with diverse combinations of materials and colourful shades as the fancy takes them. Their credo? Skilful mixing-and-matching to create a warm, friendly home environment in which each item of furniture is free to express its potential. An aesthetically simple yet alive and lived-in home interior in which all kinds of knick-knacks and ornaments sit alongside vintage furniture, most of it picked up at flea markets and car boot sales in the Somme region, to which Gaëlle and Pier-Paolo like to get away at the weekend. A visit to an eclectic place where friendly conviviality around the table is the order of the day!
Gaëlle, Pier Paolo, could you introduce yourselves ?
I’m 35 years old and live in Paris with Gaëlle. I’m an artistic director at Les Néréides and a bespoke jewellery designer at Maison Amaddeo.
I’m 36 years old, of Italian and Kabylian origin and live in the Le Marais district of Paris with Pier Paolo. I’m the founder of Sans Façon, a website dedicated to the art of tableware and table setting.
What kind of artistic education have you both had?
I come from an artistic family background with Italian and Belgian roots. I grew up in Paris and studied fashion marketing. I also studied and learned about uncut diamonds in Anvers. I joined the family business 10 years ago and am now launching my own bespoke jewellery brand with my sister Valentina, to run alongside the family business.
After passing my baccalaureate in the south of France, I decided to leave and move to Paris to take a course in theatre studies. A complete flop! (laughs). I really needed to earn a living, so I did lots of casual jobs before finally being spotted by the casting director Brice Compagnon. I spent a few years doing one artistic project after another: comedy, advertising, modelling, etc. Then one day I passed a casting for Les Néreides. That’s how my story with Pier Paolo began. He initially assigned me tasks that involved dealing with the visual identity, the lookbooks. The team were impressed with my work. I went on to join the company in 2015. My work involved doing photographic styling and design and lots of other things. I was something of a multitasker! I’ve also had two children in the period since then, Viggo, in 2016, and Olimpia in 2018.This unusual and atypical career path has enabled me to develop and set up a third project, Sans Façon.
Pier-Paolo, could you tell us how the history of your family is linked to that of the Les Néréïdes brand?
My parents created Les Néréides, a brand of high quality costume jewellery, in 1980. We are four children who today all work for the family business. I learned a lot from my parents and their history, which we are striving hard to keep going today whilst at the same time bringing something of our own to the business. We are very proud of it! Gaëlle joined us four years ago to look after the set design for the photos, which meant the family circle expanded even further!
You are the company’s artistic director and have just set up Maison Amaddio with your sister Valentina. What is it about jewellery that you’re passionate about, that inspires you?
I’ve always liked the symbolic aspect of jewellery. The stories it can tell, the way it can be inspired by the past, the secret that can lie behind a single detail: it’s all these things I’m most passionate about. With Maison Amaddeo, we are now creating luxury bespoke jewellery, with a particular specialism in rings. With this new project, we are going to share both our jewellery culture and our gemstone culture, and we are going to work with our customers in designing and making the creation they’ve always dreamed of.
In what ways do these two worlds complement each other? How do you hope to grow and develop them both?
They complement each other through their symbolism. At Les Néréides, we tell stories through jewellery. At Maison Amaddeo, we create jewellery to which we add your own story. Les Néréides has been in existence for 40 years. And we are continuing to develop and expand it worldwide through franchising. Maison Amaddeo has just got several wonderful ring-related projects underway (birth ring, wedding ring, family crest signet ring, etc.)
Gaëlle, how did your work as a visual director at Les Néreïdes lead to the creation of Sans Façon?
Sans Façon was born out of my lifestyle, on Instagram. I love conviviality, getting people together around an attractively set table.Browsing for second-hand bargains is my big passion. It’s played a big part in my life since my earliest childhood.My mother often took me looking around second-hand places. Mixing and matching, finding beauty in something that’s deliberately imperfect, making the best use of items to bring out their character: this is what I like most. With Sans Façon, I provide previews of items I’ve selected myself, using a responsible approach, and which are soon to be found on a special dedicated website, as well as an overview of my services. Each piece has its own story to tell. Sans Façon is a way of breathing new life into them.
Why the choice to focus this project on the art of tableware and table setting?
I wanted to bring visual pleasure back to mealtimes! After confinement, I wanted to change my professional direction, and it was a good time to choose to launch myself into this unique project. I’ve always been very theatrically inclined, and Sans Façon is a way of expressing myself through the deep love I have for the art of tableware and table setting.
What would you say are the three most essentials things a well-presented table needs?
Don’t sit guests too close together, don’t place a vase taller than 12 cm high on the table as it could create a problem for the person in the neighbouring seat… and, as we’re in France, forks should be placed prongs down; that’s the tradition! (laughs) I’m joking! I can’t bear etiquette; so there are no rules. I personally like to create unique tables by mixing different eras.
Which styles and eras are you particularly fond of in terms of decor and decoration?
I’m all for combining different genres, so mix’n’match all the way! Eras, styles, materials… The most important thing is not to take yourself too seriously and to play around with differences and uniqueness. As far as the decoration of our flat is concerned, we don’t follow “trends”. We’re more about spontaneously buying things we see and like, which gives our place a real “anything goes” feel. We like items and ornaments that have meaning, a story and character. Our interior is a bit like a merry-go-round. We aren’t materialistic, which allows us to change the decor often!
You like working with colour, both in your professional projects and at home. Why?
The hard reality of the world we live in is so dark that it’s perhaps a way of adding a bit of light. Nothing is too carefully thought out, basically.
How do Viggo and Olimpia feel about this colourful and curiosity-filled universe they live in?
Olimpia is two years old and Viggo is four. They’re still too small to properly understand, though I think it’s stimulating and enjoyable for a child to live in a colourful world! I don’t like sterile things. Neutral is far too boring for me.
Where can we expect to find you this year?
At a flea market or car boot sale in Picardie at the weekend, as the family has a house in the Somme region! Our next project is to buy our own: an opportunity to do another portrait for The Socialite Family perhaps? (laughs)
Photography: Valerio Geraci – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily