Let’s play pretend for a moment, shall we? We’re in Paris strolling around and run into graphic designer and stylist Fifi Mandirac who so nicely invites us back to her home and studio. Her world is so colorful we can’t help but linger… in fact, we find it hard to say goodbye. Must be her joie de vivre. One cup of tea turns into another… Her home is filled with nooks of artfully arranged things – things we know that if owned by us they’d most likely not be in such fine arrangement. Fifi has that magic touch, unique and quirky, honest and joyful. Look around and see for yourself…
But before we go any further I have a question — I’d love to learn about YOUR first impressions — when you think of the overall French design aesthetic, what do you imagine? Do you see this? Or something else?
I see lush, smoky interiors with rich colors like plum and red, lots of texture (especially velvet for some reason), and very ornate decadent things from drapes to wallpaper and furniture. On the flipside, I imagine country French design too. Bright sunshine and lavender fields. Lace on windows. Toile, yellow, red, blue, soft ocean tones and rustic. I also imagine some French design to be a bit quirky and graphic and I guess that’s where artists like Fifi fall in to place for me. I think of tastemakers like Nathalie Lete and Ateliers LZC in this mix. And of course children’s characters like Barbarpapa come to mind too.
This, of course, is based on living outside of France my entire life — unless you’ve really lived somewhere I think your impressions of an area may be partially influenced by outside factors and not based solely on personal experience within that culture. So again I ask… when you imagine France and modern day French design, what do you see?
After you’ve thought about that for a moment, maybe you can share those thoughts here with me. There is no right or wrong answer. Now back to the charming Fifi Mandaric who lives in Saint Denis (northern suburb of Paris about 6 miles from city center). As a side point: all of these photos are from her former apartment in Paris and her current one in Saint Denis. While visiting with Fifi let us ask her a few questions, because we can’t possibly visit someone else’s home without inquiring as to their tastes and inspirations.
What inspires your decor? “I gather a lot of vintage stuff, it can either be family heritage or flea market finds. I particularly like vintage toys using them in my decor like I would do with sculptures. To add a more modern feeling I also have major design pieces from Knoll or Eames. Actually, everything inspires me ! I use things I like without thinking if it works together or not, and most of the time it works.”
What do you love about being born and raised in France? “Tough question… I would say the rich artistic background. Very young my parents took me to museums and I have great memories discovering Paris with my grandmother. Is it because of my family or because I am French ? I don’t know but this is how I was raised.“
What are you most proud of about your life and why? “I am proud because I always knew what I wanted to do and I managed to do it even if it was not that obvious… I also feel lucky because I manage to keep the balance between my family life and my work. Having different spaces (a big studio in the back of the garden) for both makes that possible.”
Do you ever feel stuck in a creative rut and if so, how do you get out of it? “When I feel a creative rut is falling upon me, I quickly quit my studio work for a walk in Paris. Or if it’s a moody rainy day, then I make myself a steaming cup of tea, and I read design and decor blogs… But every now and then, I can feel tired and this is when I need to travel. My trips to India and Mexico for example were very inspiring. When I travel like that I always take an empty suitcase with me (which makes my husband crazy!), so that I can bring back plenty of new stuff that will end in my home decor and will inspire me all year long.”
What are your favorite colors and why? “I need colors like I need a beam of sunlight. I love pure colors like grassy green, sunshiny blue, warm yellow, bright pink… And I also love red! Recently I painted a wall in my garden with red, and it makes a real statement. Actually, I love all colors! It is more a thing about assortment. I don’t feel comfortable with “half tones”, those you can’t tell if it’s gray or green for example. I don’t mean I don’t like it, but I don’t know how to use them.”
What are some things in your home that you cherish? “I love the dressing table that my grandmother gave me when I was a child, the old 50’s refrigerator that was in my grand parents house for years, I saved it from trash and I use it now as a cupboard. And I also like my dining table which was in my other grand parent’s house. It’s a Danish table from the 60’s with a nice design and it’s great to have many friends for dinner. I bought Eames chairs to go with it and I just love it! What I cherish the most is objects which have great design and memories at the same time. I never keep an object I dislike even if it is useful. For example, I put my washing-up liquid in a nice bottle so that it looks nice. I know I am a little bit obsessive.”
Pretend it’s Saturday, you have some extra money in your pocket, no work to do, the sun is shining and a friend asks you to spend the day together. What will you do? “If the sun is shining, I don’t need anything else to have a great day ! But I will have breakfast in the garden and spend some lazy time with my husband and my daughter. Later we will work on the wood house we are currently building for her, unless some friends will come by to have a drink under the shade. At the end of the afternoon I will put on a dress and a fancy pair of shoes and go to Paris. After a little shopping session which I like on my own, I will meet friends to have diner in a nice restaurant with a terrasse of course (maybe at Le Saut du Loup?).”
If you’d like to see more of Fifi and her work, please visit her blog. If you have any questions for her, please ask them below.
Merci beaucoup Fifi for allowing all of us to visit your world today on decor8!
(images: Fifi Mandirac)
Ever wonder how some of your favorite bloggers live? Let’s visit design blogger Kirsten Grove from Simply Grove today and see how this blog star has decorated her home. I love her color scheme since it’s mostly neutral so it allows her to add color in as she wishes. She can have a red dining room one week and a cobalt blue one the next – this versatile decor is just great I think. I want her LOVE poster shown here in the dining room, anyone know where to find these? Kirsten can you reveal your source!? :) I’ve asked this stylish lady to answer a few questions for us and to show a bit of her home located just outside of Boise, Idaho since she recently redecorated it.
In addition to blogging, what do you do for a living? I’m a mommy, youth minister and Interior Decorator.
What inspires your decor? Nature, destinations and my children.
What do you love about your city? My most favorite thing about Boise is that we have 4 distinct seasons. Our summer right now is gorgeous!
What are you most proud of about your life and why? My 2 children Ethan and Eden. We adopted both of them at birth. I wake up every morning feeling beyond blessed that they are in my life.
Do you ever feel stuck in a creative rut and if so, how do you get out of it? Absolutely! I was just in one:) All it takes for me is to go to my local Barnes & Noble and pick up a few European magazines and I quickly get a burst of inspiration.
What are your favorite colors and why? Hmmm, yellow is my all time favorite color. It feels so fresh and clean. I also love white and gray. And on occasions I am in the mood for a little robin egg blue.
Can you define your aesthetic? Vintage modern glam.
What are some things in your home that you cherish? I purchased 2 antique floral trays at a barn sale that I could stare at all day. I also found silouettes of first President George Washington and first lady Martha Washington at an antique shop that were cross stitched. I’m not quite sure how old they are but I would love to find out. I love how they look in my dining room.
Pretend it’s Saturday, you have some extra money in your pocket, no work to do, the sun is shining and a friend asks you to spend the day together. What will you do? Wake up early, grab a iced grande Chai, head down to our local street market, purchase fresh vegetables and a bouquet of Peonies, head to a few antique shops and look for unique pieces, eat some sushi and then end the afternoon at Barnes & Noble… Mmmmm.
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and what kind of house would you live in? I recently visited Sydney and loved it. Having a second home there would be a blast! I would have to run with there architecture and get something modern. I also dream of having a ranch outside Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I would run with a Swedish rustic look.
What three things should every home have? Piano, fresh flowers and a high thread count sheet set.
Thank you for sharing your beautiful space with us Kirsten and for debuting it on decor8 — I’m honored!
By the way, I love the touch of olive in her bedroom. I think olive just may be an “it” accent color this Fall, what do you think? I’m starting to see it popping up and since it’s a neutral you can pair it with gray and black for a strong rocker girl decor or you can soften it with pale blues and greens for a calming by-the-sea vibe.
(images: kirsten grove)
I’ve been working on this interview for a few days after seeing German artist Carolin Samson comment on my blog recently. I clicked over from her comment and viola! I discovered her blog and Flickr photos. Upon noticing her flea market addiction, I knew I had to write to her to learn more about her life and work. Here’s what I found out after chatting with her.
Carolin lives in Regensburg (Bavaria) with her husband Lutz and studied art, German literature, textile design, philosophy and public relations (bio here). A few years ago she relocated from Hamburg to Regensburg where she works in public relations and as a blogger for a finance company. In Hamburg, Carolin taught art and had a gallery there called Kunst Leben.
In Bavaria she offers art classes on her day off and is working on some fun new creative projects with other artists in her local community which include a food/art event and a pop-up store showcasing the work of up-and-coming young artists. She also has a blog called Day Date that I just discovered last week, it’s great! Would you like a glimpse of her home? In addition to pretty photos I’ve also asked Carolin a few questions about her decorating and inspirations as well as life in Germany.
Hi Carolin! The first question I have for you is this: what inspires your decorating choices? I collect knick knacks for years at flea markets, during my travels or in nice design/decoration stores. I love these often kitschy objects and love to have them around me every day, so that it’s important to me that the knick knacks are kept in special places. All the other things I love are placed around them.
How many rooms is your apartment? Four – 1 room for me, 1 room for my husband, 1 living room and 1 bedroom, and we have also a bathroom and a kitchen.
What do you love about Germany? I love the creative places you can find in almost every city. If you want, you can realize here all your dreams. Germany offers you a lot of opportunities.
What do you like to do for fun in your city? We have a lot of places here in Regensburg to visit like the historical part of the town with the bars and cafés. And an art scene were you can find many exhibitions and new galleries.
Do you travel much, if so where do you go for vacation? I traveled the world with my parents when I was young. I also studied in Paris and Venice. Then I lived one year in Mexico teaching art. Now my husband and I travel often, at least until we have kids ;-)) . Last year we went to Malaysia, Finland, France, Africa, Los Angeles… and in six weeks we will go to New York and then to the Maledives. I love to travel. It’s the most inspiring way to live.
Where do you shop for most of your interiors items? At flea markets.
What trends do you notice in German decorating right now? The German creative scene loves the mix of classic design like Bauhaus, new design and stuff from the flea market. Habitat and IKEA is very important for the basics, especially for the students. But you can find more and more independent design shops with lovely things from all over the world (for example – ok-ok versand).
What are some of your favorite magazines? Oh! I’m addicted on magazines. I read almost everything about decoration, lifestyle and fashion. My favorites are at the moment: Blonde and cut. But I read also every issue of Vogue, Elle, Elle decoration, Casa Deco, Elle bistro, Decoration and Häuser.
It was nice to meet you Carolin and thank you so much for sharing bit of your apartment today! :)
(images: carolin samson)
Oh Sweden, what you do to me! Doesn’t it seem to be one of the most stylish countries on the planet? I’ve only been to Stockholm so I’m not sure about the rest of the country but I was so impressed by the design there that I’m thinking it’s hardwired into their DNA to have exceptional taste. Like when you are born in Sweden you automatically will love the color gray, desire a base of white with pops of color in your home, and be slim, gorgeous and friendly. You’ll also know how to perfectly cozy-up a space in a way that seems almost effortless. See?
This home, a seven room house just north of Stockholm, belongs to a graphic designer and busy mom that I interviewed for Cookie magazine online (posted here). Helena Schaeder Söderberg and her family (husband, two toddlers and two cats) have a home that is absolutely charm-filled – she’s a total domestic goddess. I love all of the wallpaper accents and the JOY that I feel when I look at these images, don’t you? It’s so welcoming and positive. View more photos here.
I interviewed Helena so I hope you’ll take the time to read it because her answers are great — especially her decorating tips. I also found out how she made those charming birds shown above in her daughter’s bedroom – she used a free pattern from the Spool sewing blog called “bird pattern” (see left column of this blog under Free Patterns). You can view more of her softies here but warning, you may feel a wee bit intimidated by her sewing awesomeness…
(images:Helena Schaeder Söderberg)