Interiors expert Francois Lemaitre talks to Liz O’Reilly about design principles and gives his top tips on getting the best from your home.
Francois has been in Bahrain a little over a year, but Daniele Décor, where he is head of design, has a history going back 30 years and has been associated with high-profile clients such as the Four Seasons Bahrain Bay, Bushido, Le Meridien and many more, as well as high-ranking individuals.
A French national, Francois was Paris-based and has several years of Middle East experience, having worked with the likes of design icons Alberto Pinto and Jacques Garcia on projects across the region.
He says: “I took the chance to move to Bahrain because I feel that in Europe, particularly southern Europe, though there are a lot of possibilities, the design is very set. You don’t have the kind of simplicity you find here. Yes, you might come across some difficult clients but the people are very gentle and open.
“Alberto Pinto passed away four years ago and he was like my mentor – he was always open to new ideas and encouraged his design team to go out and look for new styles, finishes and furniture which I feel is very important.”
And this is an approach he brings to meeting new clients.
“Before doing a design, I take a psychological approach to the client to know how they’re living, what they like and don’t like. It’s like putting them on the couch to get them to tell us the way they live – it’s like being a hairdresser! Because, in design, you can do a house or a home. A house is very easy to do, but creating a home is much more difficult and, for me, more interesting.”
Surrounded by beautiful fabrics, exquisite carpentry and a whole team of artisans – while I was there a team were painting huge canvases for a private home in Miami, a project which has been ongoing for five years and highly skilled workers pass their trades rom generation to generation – it would be easy to expect Francois’ own style to lean towards the ornate.
But he is actually, like his mentor, very open. He says: “For me, there is no bad taste. Everyone has their own style and there are good things in all styles. Personally, I don’t like it when a space is crowded. For me, design is infinite, there’s no beginning or end – you can find beauty in all things by taking a psychological approach.”
Francois’ Styling Tips
The light is the most important thing in a project – it can shut down a design if it’s not well thought out and appropriate. Test the light at different times of the day and night to see how your scheme will look (a way to test colour is to paint the inside of a box and check how it catches the light at different times).
This season’s colours are about naturals, the colours you would find in linen – beige, grey, taupe and light blue. Taupe is a very modern interpretation on this kind of scheme and it cools the perception of a darker shade.
Add deep colours as accents which can be adjusted to give the room a fresh look whenever you like.
The current trend in furniture is for natural woods, such as oak and walnut, and a more industrial feel. It’s a kind of New York Soul look rather than just going for the standard Italian/Lebanese look that’s quite common. Sometimes, when you can see the beauty of a curve, you realise less is more and, though that is my personal opinion, it’s one that’s shared by many top designers.