Hidden away in a picture perfect Parisian courtyard is Antoinette Poisson, a company made up of three friends from college who all share the same passion; revitalising the beauty and intrigue of 18th century wallpaper, patterns and objects.
We caught up with Julie, Jean-Baptiste and Vincent to find out more about this long-lost love affair and their studio.
How do you know each other?
We came together whilst studying; Vincent and Julie were at the Institut National du Patrimoine and Jean-Baptiste was at the Sorbonne, both of which are in Paris. Our courses overlapped on occasions so we gradually saw more of each other. Though JB was at the Sorbonne, we all graduated in the same year; 2006.
Have you always been interested in interior design?
Most definitely, yes! Previously, we all spent time working in historic houses and museums. Each day we would find ourselves being drawn to the beauty and intrigue of historic objects and the buildings they’re kept in; from tables and chairs to fire surrounds and the wallpaper. Gradually, we built up quite a grounding for what we liked, what inspired us and what we didn’t like. Whilst we weren’t visiting museums and historic houses we loved going to flee markets and discovering lost treasures. Each time we’d come home with at least something. We also started collecting furniture and small works of art.
How did you get involved in paper conservation?
All of us have long been interested in graphic design and art. We are also fascinated by paper as a material and work of art. This combined interest and flair for colour and style led us to specialise in paper conservation and the restoration work we do now. Previously we worked as a team of freelancers for a wallpaper conservation company but soon realised that we loved working together and that we could benefit from this special bond and work ethic.
Talk us through your design process; how long does it take to hand paint your designs? Does just one person work on a project at a time?
Our design process takes many, patient hours! We are perfectionists and love to take the time to create something that’s beautiful and true to form. We have adopted traditional techniques from the 18 th century and though they achieve beautiful results, are much lengthier than those used today. We start by taking a print that has been crafted on a block of wood. This is printed onto handmade French paper and worked over the top with traditional paints. Every step takes time and every mark tells a story in itself. Only one of us will work on a wallpaper at a time as we are able to control paint tones this way and create a piece that’s unified throughout.
When designing your wallpaper, what inspires you? Does a particular period in history, colour palette or pattern spark your imagination?
Naturally, the 18 th century has been a great inspiration to us. We are taken by the colours, painting, architecture and even the fashion of the era. We find great beauty in simple but charming objects and seek to translate this into our work. Each piece of wallpaper has a rustic charm to it; we have been collecting historic Domino paper for a number of years now and find these hugely beneficial, the colours, patterns and textures all strike a chord with us as well as the way in which they are printed using traditional wooden blocks.
You’re based in Place de la Bastille in Paris, tell us about your studio. What made you choose this spot?
During the 18 th century, the neighbourhood of Faubourg Saint Antoine was the place for wallpaper manufacturing. Later, it became a decorative interior design hotspot so naturally, when choosing the location of our studio we were drawn to the heritage of the area. The studio is located in a small courtyard which oozes quiet Parisian charm. We love this location; it is rich in heritage and we find it incredibly inspiring. Though quiet, it is the perfect place for us to work and create modern day masterpieces which reflect the colourful history of the area.
If you could renovate any building or space, what would it be?
We would love to renovate a 17 th century gentilhommière made of brick, or a pigeonnier (dovecote) in the Périgord Noir area.
Do your designs feature in your own homes?
They certainly do! When we first started we needed a place where we could display our work and showcase the adaptability of the designs; from grand palaces to more modest residencies. JB and Vincent have a selection of wallpaper, cushions and boxes within their homes and Julie collects cushions, upholstered and framed domino paper. All of our parents are lucky enough to have Antoinette Poisson patterns throughout their homes too!
What’s next for Antoinette Poisson?
This year we’re celebrating Christmas with a special event at Le Bon Marché in Paris (Dec 12-13, 19- 20). We are also attending Maison et Objet in January 2016 and will be showcasing our new collection of patterns and objects.