Slow liv­ing in Lis­bon with Hélène Fulchi founder of Mi­nois Paris

Milk Magazine (English) - - LIFESTYLE - Text: Emma Swin­scoe – Pho­tos: Karel Balas

The Ta­gus River looms up at the end of the cor­ri­dor. A grey-blue line shim­mer­ing on the horizon be­neath a ray of sunshine. “The river is part of our apart­ment and in­te­rior decor,” Hélène Fulchi an­nounces straight­away. “Our liv­ing room is ar­ranged around it. With its bal­let of sail­ing boats and lin­ers, it gives us a unique view. It’s a con­tin­u­ous spec­ta­cle in its own right. Such a sooth­ing view as this is an in­cred­i­ble source of in­spi­ra­tion.” The founder of Mi­nois Paris, the chic brand of nat­u­ral cos­met­ics for chil­dren, dropped an­chor on the west coast of Por­tu­gal with her fam­ily nearly two years ago. “With this city turned to­wards the sea and bathed in sun­light, it was a case of love at first sight. We were cap­ti­vated by the sense of open­ing and cre­ative free­dom that reigns here. We wanted to live amidst this ef­fer­ves­cence and dy­namism.” The tim­ing was also per­fect. Her hus­band, Ni­co­las Bar­bier, cre­ative di­rec­tor of the men’s cloth­ing line, Dra­peau Noir, man­u­fac­tured part of his col­lec­tions in north­ern Por­tu­gal. And their daugh­ter, Paz, had just turned two, so school­ing didn’t have to be taken in ac­count yet. For this cou­ple of en­trepreneurs, in search of some­thing new and a dolce vita, Lis­bon seemed like the place of their dreams. That their apart­ment, perched atop the hill in the Lapa district, so pret­tily em­bod­ies the sweet­ness of Por­tuguese life, is hardly an ac­ci­dent. Start­ing with the set of black ce­ramic swal­lows – Por­tu­gal’s tra­di­tional sym­bols of home, love and loy­alty – hang­ing on the hall wall. Th­ese mi­gra­tory birds are also found in white this

As in her prod­ucts with min­i­mal­ist pack­ag­ing and the most nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ents, “less is more” is Hélène’s maxim.

time on one of the walls in Paz’s pow­der pink bed­room. A shade of pink that re­calls the one used by the Mi­nois Paris brand and the colour of the sky here at night­fall. The apart­ment is lit­er­ally in­un­dated with the fa­mous light that pleases Lis­bon res­i­dents and vis­i­tors so much. This heart-warm­ing light fil­ter­ing through the home from sun­rise to sun­set and the sight of the Ta­gus on the blue horizon are the dom­i­nant fea­tures of the stream­lined in­te­rior decor. As in her prod­ucts with min­i­mal­ist pack­ag­ing and the most nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ents, “less is more” is Hélène’s maxim. “We brought very lit­tle with us when we left France,” she tells us. “I like the idea of re­newal and of work­ing my in­te­rior decor around the place where I am liv­ing; tak­ing the time to choose beau­ti­ful ob­jects made by lo­cal crafts­men and re­cre­at­ing a space.” Each new item was thus se­lected with pas­sion and care. Take, for ex­am­ple, the sec­ond-hand 1950s arm­chair found in the Marvila district, where for­mer ware­houses have been con­verted into art gal­leries and vintage goods shops, and where the cou­ple like to wan­der and have brunch at the week­end. Thus dot­ted through the fam­ily home are ar­ti­cles care­fully crafted in Por­tu­gal: a rug de­signed by an artist work­ing for the brand Gur; an il­lus­tra­tion from the let­ter­press print shop Artes & Le­tras; and an el­e­gant hand­made bowl from Cír­culo Ce­ram­ics. Sim­ple, dis­creet ob­jects that all tell part of a new story. “Be­fore we moved to Lis­bon, I dreamt of do­ing a trip around the world. I wanted to step out­side our com­fort zone,” ad­mits Hélène. “I like tak­ing risks. Other­wise I get bored. But I can see us liv­ing here for a long time. I don’t see how we could ever grow tired of this view open­ing onto in­fin­ity.”

Cé­line and Pier­ric have made a home for their re­com­posed fam­ily in a pretty lit­tle house in the sub­urbs of Paris. Lov­ingly ren­o­vated by them, this is where the cou­ple and their five chil­dren meet up ev­ery other week.

In this ex­tended house, the mem­bers of this re­com­posed fam­ily hap­pily co­habit and like to gather round the long din­ing ta­ble or wood-burn­ing stove.

Push­ing open Cé­line and Pier­ric’s small black gate, vis­i­tors find them­selves in a de­light­ful lit­tle court­yard. The shel­tered deck at the back, be­side an olive tree, is an in­vi­ta­tion to loung­ing, laugh­ter and din­ners among friends on long sum­mer evenings.

The tone is in­stantly set: this is a place where peo­ple are into home decor, love to browse at flea mar­kets and sal­vage goods. There’s also a lean-to for Pier­ric’s rac­ing bikes and DIY tools. Were he not an event de­signer for Chanel, he might have been a car­pen­ter or fur­ni­ture de­signer. One only has to walk through the door to re­alise that much of the fur­ni­ture in the home has been hand­made or repaired and re­vamped af­ter be­ing found in the street by this DIY fiend who has a real knack for un­earthing trea­sures. When she met him three years ago, Cé­line, who works in pub­lic re­la­tions for the French es­tate agent web­site De Par­ti­c­ulier à Par­ti­c­ulier (, al­ready had a fond­ness for un­treated fur­ni­ture and au­then­tic ma­te­ri­als. She has, how­ever, com­pleted the in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tion of their new home: her bo­hemian tex­tiles, table­ware and fam­ily paint­ings, have, with the odd splodge of colour, added a soft fem­i­nine touch.

The bed­room for the boys, Léo, Louis and Eliott, was built in the for­mer at­tic by Pier­ric, who di­vided it into three al­coves, so that they would each have their own hide­away. The girls, Camille and Blanche, have their own rooms, too. In this ex­tended house, the mem­bers of this re­com­posed fam­ily hap­pily co­habit and like to gather round the long din­ing ta­ble or wood-burn­ing stove. Har­mony is a word that seems apt here. To de­scribe both this new fam­ily and the house in which they live.

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