Interview with Sébastien Caron
Talking about interior architecture inevitably raises the question of the style of the interior designer. What is “their” style? Will they understand what I like, what I ask for? How will I be able to make my needs and constraints, especially budgetary, converge with the necessarily personal style of the chosen designer? Is entrusting my project to an interior architect giving him carte blanche? Will we be able to assert our tastes, our expectations, our needs?
Sébastien Caron and Vincent Bessière, the firm’s two partners, played the Q&A game.
Sébastien, how would you define your style?
If I were a little provocative, I would say precisely that I have no style! Let’s say that I certainly have preferences, including a real predilection for unexpected combinations of periods, colors and materials, but my approach is not defined by a predefined style. On the contrary, it would seem to me quite invasive to impose my style on my clients, they are the people who, in the end, are going to live in the interior that we will have created together. I don’t start with “this is my style”, but rather with “What is your story and the one you would like to tell? How do you live in your interior on a daily basis? You can summarize by saying that I have an eclectic style with no preconceived ideas, but rather than style, I prefer the word approach.
Then, what’s the aim of your approach?
The goal of my approach is to find the best way to enhance the space according to the personality, objectives, and of course, the owner’s own tastes and constraints. Not to impose anything, but to make people discover and propose, that seems to me a good approach for an interior designer.
How do you integrate your own vision of the place?
Do you have any preferences?
Of course, I quickly get a clear vision of how to enhance a place, and of course, like everyone else, I have my tastes, my leitmotivs, such as the mix of colors and materials, the ways of emphasizing the architecture of a place, of dramatizing it. The approach consists precisely in proposing things that provide added value, new ideas with the personality of my clients, otherwise what’s the point of hiring an interior designer?
What about a hotel or a restaurant?
The process is very similar with additional constraints such as a strong sense of hospitality, the flows of people, clients and staff, while ensuring the theatricality of the place, and of course security constraints. I spend a lot of time talking with the customer to propose the atmosphere that best suits both the target clientele and the place, by definition a convivial place. The choice of materials is also essential because they must be aesthetic, resistant and functional at the same time. When I was in charge of architectural projects at Printemps Haussmann, I designed spaces that welcomed several thousand visitors a day and believe me, such flows do not allow approximations.
No operating instructions or compulsory figures?
Not at all, because every place is different, every customer is unique. I like creativity, the unexpected, restoring a lost atmosphere, or keeping the soul of the place alive…
Looking at the studio’s projects, you love colors though!
Yes, absolutely, color is the forgotten aspect of many interiors, which are too often white. But all colors are interesting, and depending on the light of the place, can be combined to bring depth, to sculpt contrasts. Of course, I love colors, but I will not impose red on someone who only wants white! To someone who wants white, I can propose to marry several whites, or to marry whites with one or more tones that will precisely highlight the white. It’s all a question of dosage, and the goal is to respect the personality of the residents and the place. On the other hand, I once had an apartment painted without a touch of white, and the result was really striking. There is no limit other than the client’s request.
What are you looking at first?
I look at the volumes, the architecture of the place, especially from the entrance because it sets the tone of an interior. Understanding the volume and its often-hidden potential is essential, and having a creative vision of the whole is just as essential because it is the alliance of architecture and decoration that will reveal an atmosphere down to the details of a skirting board for example. A smaller surface area does not preclude beauty, and the same goes for budgetary constraints. Today, a lot can be done with inventive solutions.
Do you also like the mix of materials?
Yes, there are no limits. Adding moldings, a panoramic wallpaper, or adding material, relief, using unexpected shades while being harmonious, confronting styles and periods… Sometimes you can create a new atmosphere with little, simply by playing with one or more materials.
What do you like / what don’t you like?
I don’t like the expected things. I like that the place is personal, that it surprises at first, but that in the end, you say to yourself: “it’s unexpected, and finally totally appropriate”. I like to surprise! A place that leaves you unmoved is a bit of a flop…
Two partners, two complementary profiles:
Sébastien Caron is the artistic director of the Caron & Associés firm. He is a graduate in Interior Architecture and Design from the Institut Supérieur des Arts Appliqués in Paris, where he graduated at the top of his class. For nine years, he managed architectural projects for Printemps department stores, including the luxury spaces of the Boulevard Haussmann store in Paris. Since 2016, he has been dedicated to the studio’s clients, putting at their service his ability to understand their expectations and to make his requirements for beauty converge with the needs of the clients.
After a career in the banking sector in Paris and London, Vincent Bessière found in Caron & Associés an opportunity to combine two of his multiple passions: a passion for beautiful interiors and his passion for carrying out entrepreneurial projects. He is a graduate of HEC Paris and NYU Stern.