Veteran interior designer Christiane Lemieux’s new “Lemieux et Cie” collection breathes warmth and personality into minimalist home décor.
Over the course of 2020, the term “shelter in place” has transcended its original meaning of staying in and staying safe. If we have to spend more time working and playing at home, it makes perfect sense to invest in furnishings that make one’s home an inviting sanctuary, retreat or destination. For a home makeover to be successful, however, it has to go the way our wardrobes did this year—less about trends and fashion and more about comfort and personal style.
Decor is highly personal, and therefore, unlimited in how different people can personalize it for their respective home spaces.
Furniture designer Christiane Lemieux, who established herself in 2000 with high-end furniture line DwellStudio and launched her new namesake brand (Lemieux et Cie) with long-time retail partner Anthropologie, has come full circle as the public’s view on interior design has also evolved. Her first U.S. collection under the new banner is called “Artisanal Modernism,” capturing a customer base opting for stylish substance that readily adapts to different residential architectural styles, geography, personal taste and life experience.
“We all have had more time to sit in our home environment and interact with the space. Sheltering in place has forced many people to have a dialogue with their personal space. And they’re realizing that how the space makes them feel is as important as what it looks like. As these personal dialogues continue with different rooms around the home, how to change things up has shifted in focus from what’s in style to what makes them happy,” Christiane Lemieux said.
“We live in a time where we truly have to live in our own spaces, and this is why (it is important to recognize) what colors, textures and objects bring us joy and make us feel good. I think about designing for the home as a 360° exercise. Ask yourself how a room makes you feel, and consider everything from lighting to aromas, textures and so on.”
Although some design forecasters and interior designers predict home style will shift from minimalism and Mid-Century chic to maximalism, she debunks this notion by stressing that there’s more to a perfect room than how it looks. Lemieux insists that no matter what a shelter magazine says about what’s coming into fashion, minimalists will always be minimalists and maximalists will always be maximalists.
Decor is highly personal, and therefore, unlimited in how different people can personalize it for their respective home spaces. If a homeowner prefers open spaces, she won’t be putting up walls and breaking the house or condo down into smaller spaces.
“I take a more personal and holistic approach to design and décor. I predict that the 2020s will be the decade of home and personal style within the home space. How people will choose furniture and define their space won’t be shaped specifically by trends, but what makes that space feel like their home,” the household goods designer said.
“People will be more inclined to work into their living space what pieces speak to them directly. Many will gravitate towards a collage approach, mixing and matching different elements and colors that make them feel good. Honestly, red makes people feel good and yellow makes other people feel good.”
Christiane Lemieux, who attended Parsons School of Design in New York City to study fashion design, said she takes an academic point of view when it comes to using certain shapes and silhouettes when conceptualizing individual pieces that make up a collection. Ideally, each individual piece should integrate form and function, be sculptural and look great on its own…but also look good when combined with other pieces from different eras and design genres.
In developing the debut “Artisanal Modernism” collection, she said she was particularly influenced by the European 20th century artists’ ateliers from the likes of Jean Arp and Brancusi, along with timeless 19th and 18th century standbys such as Thonet and Windsor chairs.
Rather than a showroom sheen associated with the Mid-Century revival look from a few years ago, the household goods designer’s goal was to instead make pieces stylishly lived-in through the use of raw materials, sun-bleached accents, dry finishes, neutrals and antique metals, intentionally distressed leather and other hand-applied finishes. However, her pieces will reflect the owners’ desire for high quality, workmanship and finishes that work with previously curated personal items.
If you think about what pieces you will be selecting for your home in a thoughtful way, the whole look will come together. One should consider how a piece of furniture will age and hold up as you live with it.
“If you think about what pieces you will be selecting for your home in a thoughtful way, the whole look will come together. One should consider how a piece of furniture will age and hold up as you live with it. As we look at our homes and spaces, all areas will have to be more flexible in terms of people being less rigid in how a space is used and what defines it,” Christiane Lemieux said.
“A living room can also be an office or a boardroom for small meetings or even a gym. When you approach space in a more holistic way, you think about it differently. It will be more fluid rather than static. Even in an open space home, its owners will carve out different uses and activities for various parts of the space.”
With Christiane Lemieux’s emphasis on melding form and function, she points to a couple of signature pieces that are necessary for flexibility in the home environment. Her “Rouen” sofa, which takes inspiration from the work of Royer and Vladimir Kagan, is a rounded, sculptural sofa that almost appears to float above the ground.
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The signature piece from her most recent collection is the “Navier” table, a graceful and multi-level rolled oak coffee table. Geography will also be a factor in what pieces customers choose, as there are certain relationships between indoor and outdoor spaces that vary by the region of the country.
“In places like Los Angeles or Phoenix, climate not only allows one to decorate your interiors but also expand some of those ideas outside, especially as more people in these regions are entertaining outdoors in a safe, socially distanced way,” Christiane Lemieux said. “In 2021, there will be a greater appreciation for the exterior space surrounding the home, especially in the warmer climates. As homeowners occupy and live on the patio in ways they didn’t before the pandemic, it makes sense to treat it as an extension of the house rather than a stand-alone space.”
In terms of enhancing function while maintaining personal style and the aforementioned “dialogue we are having with our homes,” Christiane Lemieux also predicts that high-end modularity will take hold in 2021. She thinks along the lines of a coffee or cocktail table made up of three pieces of plaster or wood that could go together or be pulled apart, as well as furniture pieces with multiple uses within one room or the indoors and outdoors.
Flexibility has been a constant in Christiane Lemieux’s career, as she went to work for a home furnishings company after completing her studies (heavily focused on textiles) at Parsons and becoming a household goods designer.
After fully investing herself for a year, she left to start DwellStudio in 2000 and branched out as a designer covering a variety of décor categories, from furniture and bedding to lighting, rugs, textiles, baby and kids. In 2007, her company received an invitation from Target’s corporate headquarters to design the moderately priced DwellStudio for Target through 2011.
Looking for a change of pace and an opportunity to learn the in’s and out’s in 2013, she sold DwellStudio to Wayfair then joined the executive board to learn as much as she could about consumer eCommerce.
“Under Wayfair founder Niraj Shah, I learned a ton about the inner workings of e-Commerce,” Christiane Lemieux said.
“In 2016, I took that knowledge and applied it to starting a direct-to consumer company called ‘The Inside,’ and later, my own brand, Lemieux and Cie this year.”