Laughter and gentleness seem to be the watchwords that, every day, govern the life of Nayla Voillemot and her family. The four-handed decoration of this Parisian apartment turned into a passionate tale during our visit, reflecting the character of our hosts. Two lovers of art and of photography, in particular. Their style? The documentary photograph. Quirky, funny and sometimes unsettling. A touch of the style of Alec Soth, Rip Hopkins or Martin Parr, whose iconic “Chichen Itza” takes pride of place in the living room. Romain and Nayla are both collectors and travellers too. With the spontaneity that seems to guide them, they headed off around the world on a sudden impulse. When they returned, a series of pop buddhas took up residence in the kitchen and the apartment was transformed into a bright duplex where Nayla’s poetic touch blends with the more urban world of Romain. And since life is never full enough, Nayla and her friend Coralie Biolay founded bbuble, joyful bracelets that string together letters, first names and sweet words, for children and adults. A colourful visit, like the intrepid cavalcades of Ysée and Romy.
Nayla, what do you do?
I do something I love and I feel grateful for how lucky I am every day. I’m developing bbuble, a customised jewellery brand which I founded just over a year ago with my friend Coralie Biolay. I’m also in charge of ready to wear and digital for Martine Leherpeur Conseil, a Parisian company which focuses on trends. Above all, I try to make the most of my time with my daughters and my husband.
How long have you been here?
Our apartment is a duplex. We bought “the top” just over 10 years ago, then we acquired “the bottom” and connected the two floors just before Ysée was born in 2011.
Who’s in charge of decorating your home?
It’s a team effort. I suggest something, Romain approves… or doesn’t approve! We regularly re-arrange our living room, spending an evening to find the best possible combination. I like items with a poetic side, while Romain prefers a more street feel. If I left him to it, all the doors would be tagged by his friend Nebay – just like his scooter which is covered in graffiti by Louis Botero, otherwise known as Luizer.
Where do you spend the majority of your time here?
When I’m on my own, I spend most of my time in our bedroom where my office/workshop space is. With friends and family, we spend most time in the kitchen while the children play in their “play area”. We designed the area as an extension of the living room, just for the children. It allows everyone to get on with things whilst being together.
How did you come up with your jewellery brand?
bbuble came about thanks to Iris and Ysée’s friendship. That’s Coralie’s daughter and my daughter. The four of us spent a lot of time together and I ended up becoming friends with Coralie. We both wanted to launch something but were already very busy with our respective jobs. And then one day whilst we were shopping, we had the idea of creating bracelets with “letter beads”. Coralie made the first ones, we wore them and our friends asked us for some. Then friends of friends asked us for more, and so on. Ba&sh trusted us right away and started stocking us in 12 and then 24 stores in France. The magic of Instagram has also played a role. French and foreign retailers have contacted us. bubble is now sold at more than 70 points of sale in France and abroad. We also have an online store where everyone can customise their jewellery. In the same way, my role at Martine Leherpeur came about from a meeting with Sandrine, the head of the agency, and Bénédicte, the head of prospect research. I was touched and fascinated by these talented women who are forward-looking yet anchored in the present and who advise huge companies with great respect for people.
You seem to love photography. Can you tell me a bit about it?
My husband introduced me to photography. When I met him, he was already collecting photos. I began to take a serious interest in it during a weekend in London in 2006 when I fell in love with a photo from the “Sleeping by the Mississipi” series by Alec Soth, which was being exhibited in a small gallery. I was ready to break the bank to buy it, but the photo had already been sold when I finally made up my mind. I swore that I would never hesitate like that again, especially because the artist’s reputation has since exploded! So now when we find something we love, we trust our judgement and if we can afford to, we invest. We’re also seizing opportunities to expand our collection. We were lucky enough to be photographed by Martin Parr in 2011 when I was expecting Ysée at an event organised by the Magnum agency. The same thing happened with Rip Hopkins in 2013 at a meeting organised by the Fnac and the VU agency. Even our wedding photos were taken by our friend Guillaume Grasset – I really love his work! Our family and friends are involved too. They were the ones who bought us THE photo for our wedding: “Chichen Itza” by Martin Parr.
What are your favourite objects?
In actual fact, my favourite thing isn’t an objects or a work of art – I love how they all look together, how the layouts of different groups feel like a graphic photo. I particularly like the following “frames”: the railing made by a metalworker from Montreuil, the alcove in which the sculpture by the visual artist Betty Hanns and the 3 Caravaggio ceiling lights fit perfectly. I also love it when I’m sat on our sofa. I can see our kitchen with our glass wall, also made by the ironworker, with our 6 translucent, colourful Buddhas brought back from our round-the-world tour, our 3 ceiling lights and our wall of baskets made from old mats which Véronique Damart made for us.
I like items with a poetic side, while Romain prefers a more street feel. If I left him to it, all the doors would be tagged by his friend Nebay.
Where do you find furniture for your home?
Everywhere, I love going to Le Bon Marché and the Conran Shop. I also tend to look at Selency and Instagram for bargains. When I’m looking for inspiration, I’m always pleased to get advice from Emilie Bonaventure – she’s opened her shop right by my house. Despite an incredibly busy schedule, she always takes the time to discuss and research things. She finds rare pieces and you can always rely on her taste. The renovations at Rose Bakery, the Belle Maison restaurant: that’s all her!
An object or work of art that you’d love to own?
My first answer would be: I don’t want any more things, I want more space! A terrace, a garden… every Parisian’s dream. Or a cabin by the sea in a secret spot. But if I really had to choose one, it would be the famous photograph by Alec Soth!
A recommended address in Paris or elsewhere?
Several! The Foodbarn near Cape Town in South Africa for its amazing chef. Wolwedans for its unique view of the Namibian dunes. Comptoir 102 in Dubai to enjoy a breather whilst visiting that extraordinary city. And for a weekly treat: the restaurant at Merci. Because it’s rare to find a place which offers consistently high quality and where the welcome is always warm – even when we come with our children!
Photography & Text: Eve Campestrini – Translation: TextMaster @thesocialitefamily