For Valérie Bouvier, the Puces are before all else a family affair. It began with her mother in antiques, and then her brother Jean Baptiste who supermoderne gallery ended up merging with Valérie’s to form Remix Gallery. With its omnipresent family heritage – firmly established in the Paul Bert Serpette Market of Saint Ouen – it has been given over time a very undeniable style: the style of 1980’s. Their shop has a name that many know and love. Remix Gallery. Not bad for a stand that brings together huge names of design, spin-off Ikea editions, unique pieces and popular objects of an “irreverent and sometimes outrageous era!”. Like her home, Valérie Bouvier gives pride of place to compositions, assembling them according to interesting finds and encounters that resemble each other. Not necessarily coherent but far from trivial. She lives in a world she could talk about for hours. That’s just as well, considering it’s her job. With her characteristic humour, her bewitching banter quickly captures the little world of Parisians hurrying home. Hearing her laugh, you quickly understand why. Allow yourself to be immersed in this colourful life, braced against the current of conventional collectors, and get lost between unedited prototypes, Memphis furniture and kitsch pin-ups.
Valérie, can you introduce yourself?
I am a very young woman, who is 40, I live in Paris, I lived in Cherbourg, Strasbourg, New York, Porto and Bry-sur-Marne. I am 1m59, short-haired since I was 15. I only wear sneakers, I am an artist, antique dealer, lecturer, I am funny, in love, naive, I love art, furniture, red lipstick, people who are a bit crazy, animals, children, skies, musicals, Jacques Demy, red wine, chocolate, gas smell, the noises of fridges at night and rails.
How would you define your style in terms of decoration? Do you prefer period furniture?
I don’t really have a style, or well, I’d say my style is me! I set my space according to what I find and who I meet. I mix a lot (like during parties…) of vintage from de ‘50s with furniture from the ‘80s, Ikea, family objects, contemporary creations: actually, everything I like! I don’t want to create something coherent at home, even if with time and experience, it eventually is. Which is not the case for my boutique – Remix Gallery – in the flea market of Saint-Ouen, where I choose methodically the pieces of furniture and objects. I’d say my style is fun, cool, coloured and mixed.
What was your design training?
When I was 15, I went to see an exhibition by Niki de Saint Phalle at the Modern Art Museum and, when I went out, I thought: “I want to be Niki de Saint Phalle”! Two years later, I started studying in the Arts School of Cherbourg to become an artist. I then went to the Decorative Arts School in Strasbourg and I have studied singing in a jazz school for two years.
What’s your typical day at the flea market of Saint-Ouen?
I don’t have a typical day since we are led to do 10.000 things in the same day; but weekends always start by a coffee and give someone a kiss! After that, I open the shop, chat with my colleagues, sing and laugh a lot and I go bargain-hunting. In the evening, I close the shop and go have a drink. I have always lived on a different rhythm. I have always worked on Saturdays and Sundays. My weekend is on Wednesdays and Thursdays, when everyone is working! That said, when I think of it, I also work on these days…
Who is your typical customer?
We are lucky enough to have customers in love with design, who are specialist. They are about our age: 35/45 years old, very nice and rather cool. They mostly come from the world of contemporary art, fashion, music or cinema. Actually, most of our customers could be friends. Some of them became our friends.
What does inspire you?
My inspirations come a lot from art, English sculpture, artists such as Richard Fauguet, Tony Cragg, Thomas Hirshorn and Eva Hess. But also older ones, such as Giotto, Caravaggio, Monet and of course the ogre Picasso, who deeply upset me. They all changed my way of seeing the world. There are also American musicals and Jacques Demy’s cinema. It was a shock the first time I saw The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and Singing in the rain definitely convinced me I absolutely needed to be happy.
Do you particularly love a designer?
It’s hard to answer because I love a lot of them, but if I had to choose just one, I’d say Philippe Starck. His work in the ‘80s is fantastic, sometimes mystic and so radical.
In your place, where do you spend the most of your time?
I work a lot and have a crazy tempo, but I’m a thwarted lazy person! So, when I’m home, I spend a lot of time working on my Togo sofa, on my carpet or on my cat (poor him…)!
What’s your favourite piece of furniture?
My table by Alessandro Mendini. Because it’s beautiful, big, because 8 people can dine on it and because it rocks! But also because it’s unique (it’s a prototype from Studio Alchimia), because it was love at first sight and because it was very hard to bring it home!
The object of your craziest dreams?
I am in love with objects, so there are a lot I would like to have, but I’m a great fan of the ceramics by Jaime Hayon, at Bosa, glasses by Ettore Sottsass and the “Illusion” table by Starck. But I think the object of my craziest dreams would be one that used to belong to Marie-Antoinette.
The colour of the moment?
Black. For a bit more than one year, the furniture I have chosen for Remix Gallery has been less eclectic and more radical. Black is a colour (or not!) which represents a part of French design in the ‘80s. I like its absence of narration. Black is not chatty, it’s self-sufficient
What’s missing in your place?
Would you recommend us a good restaurant?
Le Cosi, at Olivier Andréani’s, in the 5th arrondissement of Paris. There you can eat Corsican food, the seven hour lamb is delicious and the owner hosts you as if you were friends.
Photography: Constance Gennari – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily