Every day we examine the many photos that one after the other scroll across the screens of our mobile phone. Our eye knows what it is looking for. It knows that, amongst the mass of images, one in particular will stand out; a scene signed Nomibis, the adventure in antiques, eccentricities and decoration founded by Fabienne Nominé and Pascal Bisson. For lovers of detail, to visit the couple’s Instagram page is a pilgrimage. A Mecca of delights where the patina of 18th century furniture mingles with works that touch on the 1980s. Impossible to list all the treasures that this couple from Reims have acquired. Every one is different… just as their days have been, for the last 20 years. During this time the miles have added up. The hours spent searching, too. But today, everything has brought them back here. To this interior decor that may seem familiar to some of you; their home. It’s in this sitting room that the settees take their place one after the other, on this staircase that an André Billen oil painting is patiently waiting, in this courtyard that chairs are joyfully reseated or that a siesta can be enjoyed on a folding metallic bed piled high with cushions. In the Nominé-Bisson’s home, no distinction is made between private life and professional life. Swept up by the outreach of their unique world, the family has made room settings their speciality. That’s not so surprising when, as they say, “We buy what we ourselves like… then if by any chance a piece doesn’t sell, it can find its place in our own home”.
Fabienne, Pascal, you are at the helm of the Nomibis adventure, an online flea market that has been a tremendous success. What’s the story behind it? And what’s yours?
The history of Nomibis is very closely linked to ours. The two go together very well. There is real interaction between our life choices and our professional goals. This is what allows us to be passionate about our profession, and to share our adventure as a couple and as a family. There’s no division between our personal life and our professional life. And that’s what we love. It’s a real luxury. We feel more as though we’re sharing a hobby than working. We’ve been in antiques for 20 years now. Either second-hand dealers, or decorators, or treasure hunters, or set designers, or interior designers… Whatever the terminology, our profession has so many facets and we explore them at will and just as we please. We’ve had physical shops for a long time, one at the Paul Bert Market and the other in our own city, in Reims. And then, seven years ago, we created our website, driven by a desire to work differently, at home, and with a high degree of freedom. At the same time, we discovered Instagram, without realising its immense potential. And then came this incredible enthusiasm from a joyful and responsive community. Even today, we’re still amazed by this window open to the whole world, 24 hours a day, which offers stimulating interactions and inspiration that is continually renewed, an offer that is both superabundant and unique. We’ve had so many amazing encounters through this process!
How is your daily life in the antiques business organised? What do you like best about it?
We don’t have a typical day, and that’s a great privilege. Our daily life is punctuated by the search for beautiful objects and by the desire to offer exciting things to our customers. In my opinion, this is the most exciting aspect of our profession, the one that is always full of surprises and encounters, the one that generates strong feelings. So nothing limits our quest, neither the hours nor the miles. Where we go is very varied, the landscapes as well as the finds And then, there’s also the question of showing the things we’ve found on our travels! So we set out the objects at home, take photographs and post them on our website and on Instagram. That gives rise to lots of interactions, lots of questions from people who like to be told the story and hear where the objects come from. And we’re delighted to talk about Louis XVI, to summon up Charlotte Perriand or to explain a cabinet-making technique.
How do you select the furniture, objects and accessories you sell? What makes the difference between one piece of furniture and another?
Absolutely all our purchases are guided by our taste and desires. It’s always a story of sensitivity, sincerity and fidelity to who we are. We buy what we love. This harmony is essential to us, we need this coherence. So, if by any chance, a piece didn’t find a buyer, it could live at home. Totally legitimately in aesthetic terms! We’re sensitive to trends, of course, but we love so many things that it’s impossible for us to stop, to limit ourselves to one style or to focus on one era. We blend all sorts of styles at home. But you have to be careful, you shouldn’t think that everything can be married up with everything else. There are styles, colours and materials that rebel against each other. It is good to be bold, but you have to understand the rules, and you need a good eye. That’s the whole problem with taste.
What are your – or your – most beautiful find(s) since you started doing this?
I can’t possibly say what my most beautiful find was, given my love of objects. Each most beautiful find is very quickly knocked off its perch by the next one. It’s endless, and that’s the joy of this adventure. One thing’s for sure, the feeling you get from the beauty of objects is not related to their market value.
When did you discover the extraordinary potential of your own decor in highlighting your findings? What does it say about you?
We discovered the potential of our home environment by chance when I started amusing myself on Instagram. I hadn’t considered the power and scope of sharing photographs. As soon as we posted the first photos where you could see our home, people asked if it was possible to buy things from us. We quickly realised that Instagram could be the answer to our dream of work differently, by showing our selections in situ. This shows how much people want to be able to identify, to share, to be inspired, and to be confident in a relationship that breaks free of the commercial framework of a shop and that favours intimacy and proximity. We show our world, snippets of our lives, we interact, we share. For some, the connections have been there for a long time. There is genuine loyalty. There are very powerful elective affinities.
Does your interior change frequently as a result?
Our world changes with what we find, yes, but the tone remains the same. Our children and friends are used to the turnover of the sofas in our living room! And sometimes there’s no sofa at all, so we drink our aperitifs sitting on stools! On the other hand, there are some pieces that we’ve bought for the house that are never offered for sale, such a our large kitchen table and its untransportable marble top. And it’s true that we like a change of scene! We also like to know that our things carry on with their lives elsewhere, that it doesn’t stop. There’s no built-in obsolescence when it comes to antiques, it’s just the opposite!
Like your business, would you define its style as “flea market”? What sort of things do you have there?
You’ll find very diverse things in our home, essentially old things, from the 18th century to the 1980s. You’ll also find souvenirs of our travels, creations by artist friends that we love, and some contemporary pieces. What they all have in common is each object has its own reason to be here in the house. Each object has been chosen. We accumulate quite a lot, but we don’t know how to do anything else Aesthetics are paramount, and we attach great importance to details. The details are so important. They are the true and quintessential part of decoration. I’m a bit obsessive with details, it’s probably a pathological thing! The art of living is a whole. We cook, we dress, we make love as we decorate! The interior is so revealing, so I don’t trust minimalist interiors! (Laughs) I’m kidding, I love everything!
How about the piece you dream of and still haven’t found?
Our current obsession is a very easy piece to find since it’s been re-issued. It is a true classic that, in particular, fits in with older things very well. It’s an Akari light sculpture by Isamu Noguchi (the BB3-33S model). A dream in its lightness and elegance. But I would like to point out that we might change our obsession next week…
What is the current “trend” for you?
The trend is towards pushing everything into the same mould, and that’s a pity. There is so much choice, so many beautiful things, so many interesting ideas, both in antiques and in contemporary design. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t find it reassuring when an interior looks like the one next door. It’s the same for decoration as for fashion, you have to come to terms with the rules to be able to free yourself from them. Recently, there has been a shy but present wind of freedom, which tends to favour panache, singularity and diversity. All the better, it’s much more fun, even if decoration is a very serious business!
You like beautiful things above all, so what do you recommend that we absolutely must do the next time we visit Reims?
If you’re in Reims, come in and have a drink and sample the products that Aline and Eric have selected for their epicerie, a delicatessen, wine and food bar. The place is called Au Bon Manger, and we redid it for them last year. The great big tables welcome those w the good life, it’s a place filled with laughter, and the natural wines are exceptional!
Photography: Valerio Geraci – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily