SOME­THING WICKER THIS WAY COMES

Ate­lier Vime reignites the de­sign in­dus­try’s in­ter­est in all things wicker

Condé Nast House & Garden - - CONTENTS - TRANS­LA­TION PIET SMEDY PRO­DUC­TION LAU­RENCE DOUGIER PHO­TO­GRAPHS NI­CO­LAS MATHEUS

It is a funny thing, how quickly things can change and how some­thing that started as one thing ends up be­ing some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent at the end. Just ask anthony Wat­son and Benoit rauzy, two friends whose pas­sion-project ren­o­va­tion of a crum­bling hô­tel par­ti­c­ulier in Val­labrègues turned into a life-chang­ing busi­ness move. The small Provençal town was, for the long­est time, the big­gest pro­ducer of wicker bas­kets in France thanks to its lo­ca­tion close to the reed­lush banks of the rhône (the in­creas­ing pop­u­lar­ity of plas­tic put a stop to that, though the town still holds an an­nual fes­ti­val in hon­our of the wicker trade).

For anthony and Benoit there was a com­pul­sion to con­tinue the an­cient tra­di­tion. ‘When we ac­quired the prop­erty we im­me­di­ately felt like in­vaders,’ re­calls anthony. ‘small eigh­teenth cen­tury man­sions such as this one are dot­ted all over the French coun­try­side; they all have very unique char­ac­ter­is­tics. For this one, it was the three ponds in the gar­den where the har­vested wicker reeds could be soaked in wa­ter, the first step in the pro­duc­tion process. We knew straight away that to hon­our the house we needed to get it back up and run­ning.’

res­ur­rect­ing its 1878 wicker work­shop – and the an­cient craft that takes place there – was an in­spired bal­ance of old-world meth­ods meets mod­ern sen­si­bil­i­ties.

To­day their en­ter­prise, ate­lier Vime (a Frenchi­fied take on the Latin vi­men for a flex­i­ble twig or shoot), of­fers a range of col­lected vin­tage pieces – a 1950s gio Ponti arm­chair here, a cou­ple of 1960s Tito ag­noli easy chairs there – as well as their own in-house de­signed lights and mir­rors. The lat­ter be­ing a col­lab­o­ra­tion with raphaëlle han­ley that saw the de­signs up­dated to in­clude rope and In­done­sian rat­tan.

as for the house it­self, the faded, wist­ful ro­mance of the Belle Époque is al­most pal­pa­ble, with fur­ni­ture through­out be­ing a mix of an­tiques, re­stored pieces and cus­tom items by ate­lier Vime them­selves. To pre­serve the in­tegrity of the in­te­rior, anthony and Benoit turned to paint ex­pert

Elise Or­rier, who mas­ter­fully re­stored the pati­nated walls to their orig­i­nal blue while en­hanc­ing that je ne sais quoi feel­ing of his­tory. Step out­side and it’s a tour de force of bu­colic charm. There’s a stone basin by Hardy Toule­monde nes­tled away in the shadow of bougainvil­lea, weighed down by their pro­fuse ma­genta blooms, and seat­ing takes the form of 1950s braided rush arm­chairs with Pierre Frey cush­ions.

It didn’t take long for the de­sign world to take no­tice and within its first year, Ate­lier Vime had be­come ev­ery in­te­rior de­signer’s best kept se­cret. From Pierre Yo­vanovitch, who com­mis­sioned a mas­sive light fix­ture for a project in Tel Aviv, to Amer­i­can names such as Vir­ginia Tup­ker (she’s got her eye on one of the

Jean Royère high-backed rat­tan chairs) and Frank de Bi­asi, the de­mand for high­end wicker has cap­ti­vated the style co­terie. ‘More and more, we are col­lab­o­rat­ing with in­ter­na­tional dec­o­ra­tors who have fallen un­der the spell of wicker,’ says Anthony.

Per­haps the suc­cess of Ate­lier Vime is down to his­tor­i­cal de­ter­min­ism. On the other hand, it could be the ge­nius loci of that once ram­shackle coun­try­side manor house. Or maybe it’s the global zeit­geist around ar­ti­sanal craft. One thing is cer­tain, this labour of love was meant to be.

‘More and more, we are col­lab­o­rat­ing with in­ter­na­tional dec­o­ra­tors who have fallen un­der the spell of wicker’ THE FADED, WIST­FUL RO­MANCE OF THE BELLE ÉPOQUE IS AL­MOST PAL­PA­BLE

A LARGE BED­ROOM IS FUR­NISHED IN VIN­TAGE RAT­TAN CHAIRS, A COF­FEE TA­BLE AND MARQUETRY CABI­NET, AVAIL­ABLE FROM ATE­LIER VIME. THE SUZANI IS FROM TAJIKISTAN

‘CONE’ BAM­BOO PEN­DANT, R2 250, PIL­GRIM­AGE SPA­CES KNOLL ‘SAARI­NEN’ OUT­DOOR HIGH DIN­ING TA­BLE, R58 870, LIMELINE

‘ZAM­BEZI’ CANE LOUNGE CHAIR, R5 500, DE­SIGN STORE

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