Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cycles...change or cyclical?

Back to our monthly "By Invitation Only" post under the helm of Marsha Harris of Splenderosa. Frankly, it is a gorgeous sunday morning, I am still totally sore from kayaking with my sons all day Saturday, and have little in me to address any deep heavy topic. I am getting ready to go to Maisons et Objets in Paris, to check out anything new and interesting, so I feel a design theme is in order.

My first recollection of design is a little blurry but I recall a very specific episode when the family house was redone, refurbished, out with all the beautiful antiques, in came in the new design furniture. New houses were built on our family compound to accommodate guests, with daring open floorplans and furniture that even in my then very young age, I would qualify as hideous, with strange configurations. I missed the old huge armoires in which I would hide during games of hide and seek, the creaking floors, the stone fireplaces... My family had embraced the new age of the fifties. Our guest house was designed by a french architect, very much inspired by Saarinen's Miller House

Icon architect of the 50's: Eero Saarinen

image from Moderndesign.org

Interior of the house with its sunken living room

Living Room By Jean Prouve
Image from Galerie Patrick Seguin , Paris

One of my favorite piece by Charlotte Perriand, single bed 1956-59
Image from Galerie Patrick Seguin

Let's move on to the 60's

As an adult, it took me a while to warm up to the 60's style, as a child, these were my very first years in nursery school and "cours preparatoire" when I started to learn how to read and write. I have been an avid reader ever since, never without a book by my side. The 60's brought us innovative materials and furniture, moulded plastics, bright primary colors, an introduction to the age of space discoveries.

Escher-Saarinen Hyperdimensional Transport Terminal

photo by Sam Rohn

Menrad residence by architect William Krisel, Palm Springs
image via Flicker

Most recognizable icon of the 60's: Panton's Chair a one piece cantilevered design has been in production since 1967

image arcspace.com

My favorite 60's pieces whose re-editions I use in my design projects: Saarinen Tulip table and Norman Cherner 's chairs

image via Flickr

70's.. Catholic boarding school, became a little rebellious, learned how to fly, to drive,  wanted more out of life, wanted to see more, wanted more adventures, wanted to escape the normality of french bourgeoisie, in the last year of that decade I moved to London, then to school in Boston.

Icon of that decade: Pierre Cardin

His famous Palais des Bulles, designed by architect Antii Lovag with its thousand portholes was built in 1975 and constantly evolving until 1989. It recalls of the Jetsons cartoons age, but to pierre Cardin this house evoked the sensuality of the woman's body. 


image: Ken Sparks photography

image: Ken Sparks


The good old 80's...these 10 years are a blurr...business school, parties, falling in love...marriage...my first house, a 1668 saltbox my husband and I restored. I fell in love with American history, the William and Mary style. Meanwhile the world of design brought us the do-it-yourself spirit, as well as the London based designers Tom Dixon and Ron Arad. The flamboyant kitsch post-modernist was brought to us by Ettore Scottsass from Milan and France gave us Philippe Starck.

This period of furniture design focuses primarily on the industrial sector. 
This is the age of shopping malls, restaurants, hotels are starting to pay attention to design. Perforated metal became very popular.

La Pyramide du Louvres by IM Pei, the most controversial architectural project ever. France was in an uproar!

image via Flick

Tom Dixon armchairs

image: regalbeagles.blogspot.com

Example of what I view as bad 80's design...lots of black bathrooms, kitchens with not much appeal

In the nineties, I was involved in the world of fashion , traveling constantly between Europe and the US.I was, however spending more time reading interior design magazines than fashion magazine. When the opportunity arised, I grabbed it and Interieurs started.

 Italian designs flooded the US market and contemporary Italian showrooms opened throughout the country, B and B, Minotti to name a few.
Meanwhile american interior designers were still draping their interiors in chintz, styles were mixed, from traditional english, anything Louis french, contemporary italian. Our store Interieurs brought in a new, curated approach to the New York retail scene and we started  our own trends, from French distressed country furniture to sophisticated parisian style in ebonised woods.
The new  age of minimalism affected drastically architecture and design.

image: netinteriors.net



And now we enter the new millennium. I feel that this millennium celebrates designers. The designer creates his or her own style. They become celebrities  and clients hire a designer for their particular look. I would name just a few, Amy Lau, Vincente Wolf, Steven Gambrel, Clodagh, Chritian Liaigre, Aurelien Gallet.... the list is quite long.

It all brings back to CYCLES... some of the highest prices fetched at international auctions are mid-century, such as pieces by Jean Prouve and Charlotte  Perriand. The fifties, the sixties are re-introduced in our present decade.

Life is a cycle, life and death, ice age and warming cycles. the importance is how to embrace the cycles, re-energized the best of a period.

I will end with a few images of my latest projects which best reflect my design and life philosophy... perfect imperfection

A Bientot,



  1. What a wonderful 'Cycle' post for our BIO topic Francine. So interesting and beautifully illustrated and it brings back many 'interior' memories.
    In London there is the Geffrye Museum which is a collection of furnished rooms going from Georgian times ( If I remember correctly although it might start before then) to the present day and, you can see how each decade takes ideas from previous generations hence the cycle.
    A gorgeous post and much more informative than mine !!!! haha XXXX

  2. Brilliant choice of images Francine...
    I do love the cycle of interior design... and perfect imperfection... well that is... perfection... isn't it? xv

  3. Interior - definitely 'cyclical', Francine!!

    It proofs that good design will always come back! Although I'm an antique dealer I always liked - and still do - special and outstanding 20th century design pieces, needless to mention the designers to YOU. And - doesn't they mix so well with a or some real genuine antique pieces....here and there....

    I'm more than pleased to see and read your 'design-cycle-post'! Just simply good.

    Amicalement and greetings from the Périgord,

    p.s. would be lovely to meet you one day....or.... :)

  4. Amazing, amazing, amazing! Not only did I love learning while seeing how you learned, I especially appreciated seeing how it has all come together for you today. It is fascinating to see what repeats and what comes back in a different form--especially for those of us not in your tough but beautiful industry.

    And how is it September already?! Does that mean that you are still planning on coming down to Provence?

  5. Beautiful images, Francine...interesting to learn a little more about you through the decades ;-)
    I adore the Tom Dixon armchairs, fabulous!
    Have a wonderful week.

  6. Love the image with the tulip table!!

  7. Love, love this post...and so glad that you ended with your magnificent work that I have not seen...Fabulous...absolutely fabulous!

  8. I absolutely adore your design work, Francine. Everything, to me, is so perfectly balanced, hip, with-it, sleek and clean it makes me drool. Lovely post, my friend. I really appreciate your take on "cycles" as we have all learned something important here. So happy you are a member of our international group, as you are certainly an "international" woman. xx's

  9. Wow...I love your post Francine! An incredibly exciting post and What a pictures!
    Thank's for your pleasant comment on my blog!
    Wish you a lovely day!


  10. Wonderful post! I found your blog via Vickie Archer.
    I, too, am a fan of mid-century design, Charlotte Perriand and, especially, anything Parisienne. I'm currently using the Saarinen Tulip table and Norman Cherner chairs in a design project at school.
    Wishing you a wonderful trip to Maison & Objet... I'm hoping to attend next year.
    xoxo, B

  11. Fascinating. And your design work is spectacular, absolutely spectacular.


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