04 Oct An Inspiring Interview with Emilie Bonaventure
The soft and serene spaces of French interior designer, Emilie Bonaventure, are a direct result of her background as a trained art historian and curator. Using natural light as her guide, Emilie elevates design through the unification of art and architecture. Her designs tell a story, and we are all ears.
What is your background in design?
When I was a child, my mother introduced me to forms and materials. I thus very soon got highly interested in Art and Design. After graduating from l’Ecole du Louvre, I worked for Antique dealer Antoine Broccardo. He was a mentor for me who introduced me to the world of European Antiques and Design of the 20th century, and to the necessity of setting up a dialogue between the objects themselves and their environment. I then closely worked with Chahan Minassian before opening my own agency in January 2005.
Having designed award winning stands at PAD Paris and PAD London, (as well as many restaurants since 2005), what has been your proudest moment as a designer?
I have many stands I am proud of. I love the three generations of booth décor I designed for the Gallery Modernity. We presented the last generation of booth for the 1st time and had the great surprise to win the prize at MASTERPIECE London 2017. I always try to create an environment for the pieces that builds a story that creates a dialogue between the creations exhibited.
These booth designs can sometimes be very radical and contemporary, but always in compliance with architectural references linked to the objects. For example, I designed for PAD Paris 2007 a booth entirely covered with white tiles (floor, walls and pedestals) for Jacques Lacoste Exhibition called “modernism”. It had a strong visual impact, very radical, but very relevant at the same time if you have in mind some of interiors designed by Robert Mallet Stevens. You know, a good stand has to be balanced and harmonious. It is the one that sublimes the pieces, instead of occulting them.
Simplicity of material is featured in many your designs. As an expert in ceramics and as someone who frequently uses natural light and organic materials in your spaces, how does the use of materials affect your design?
An authentic and qualitative material furnishes satisfaction of your senses. It is strongly linked to pleasure and comfort. Moreover in our modern way of living where efficiency and fulltime connection has become the norm. It is good to bring back some natural organic or mineral elements in our home, that reminds us that nature has it own rhythm and we are still very closely linked to it. I do also consider light as a material: the same room can be perceived so differently, depending on the display of light, its temperature, and the design and materials of the light fixtures.
In your apartment, you have many pieces from the flea markets of Saint-Ouen. Are there any pieces in your collection that holds a significant meaning?
My favorite piece of all is a neon artwork La Lumière Parle (trad. The light speaks) by Eric Michel. As previously mentioned, I do consider light as one of the most important element in human environment. I love that piece so much, I want to enjoy its sight as much as possible. I love to contemplate it when I am relaxing, even if these opportunities have become too rare these last past few months.
Much of your design work has been in the culinary industry. Why do you think you are drawn to these spaces/that industry?
This focus on gastronomy comes from my family history. My parents were restaurateurs, both “gourmet and gourmand”. I thus taste gastronomic tables since I am 3 years old. I was 9 when my grandfather brought us in Marc Veyrat’s first “Auberge de L’Eridan”. At that time, he was not as famous as he is today. The food was unbelievable so I asked to see the Chef! He came to the table and sat with us. This remains one my most beautiful and unforgettable childhood memories.
Do you have a favorite space you have designed?
Since I am a passionate gastronome I specifically like my projects of restaurants. These projects are always challenging, in terms of ergonomics, appearance and technical issues. I do always try to design the restaurant in accordance with the Chef personality and tastes. Frenchie Covent Garden has been an important step. Together with Greg and Marie Marchand, we worked hard during one entire year to achieve the project. We are very proud of the result, and so happy of its success and what it has become so quickly: a must for Londoners who loves Gastronomy.
I am currently designing the new Italian bistrot of Chef Denny Imbroisi. It is located close to Le bon Marché in Paris and will be open in October this year. My dream project next year is to be in charge of the interior design of an entire hotel. That would be an amazing playground for my creativity to explore.