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Portrait | APRIL 25th - MAY 25th


From April 25th to May 25th, Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche highlights the cooperation between India Mahdavi and Vitra which happened in 2016 at the VitraHaus, dedicated campus to creation initiated by the Swiss design brand. The interior architect was inspired by Alice in Wonderland and reinventend iconic furniture and decoration accessories from the most mythic designers of Vitra.

Her multiple and mixed inspirations rose over a childhood spent travelling influenced her creations, which put in the home-design limelight colour, curves and forms and a new approach of happiness. Since the 1990s India Mahdavi creates interior architecture projects with the most prestigious names of hotel business and luxury such as Ladurée, the Monte Carlo Beach Hotel, Red Valentino or Sketch, the most instagrammed restaurant in 2017. Everyday one of her iconic stools Bishop is sold in her Rive Gauche headquarters, rue Las Cases.

Let's talk with India Mahdavi, who exclusively gives to Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche little stories about her creative process and decoration advice.

India Mahdavi © Claire Israel

When we think of the "India Mahdavi touch" we can't help thinking of pink, velvet and curves. Yet your creations have something almost virile. How do you create this contrast between feminity and masculinity?

I tend to bring through my work honesty, joy, the sometimes dangerous match between colours, poetry of a curve, the balance between masculinity and feminity. I guess that's why you can feel contrasts - this feeling is the expression of who I am, polyglot and polychromatic. I am an architect by profession and I like to give structure to the places I draw while colour just reinforces or contrasts it.

When Vitra gave a free rein to you, you chose to revisit Alice in Wonderland at the VitraHaus. Was it a way to give life to the dreamworld we create when we're kids?

I suggest creating a double contrast to Nora Fehlbaum (co-CEO of Vitra): tinting all these creations made by essentially male designers, from Charles and Ray Eames to Prouvé or the Bouroullec in pink and fully feminizing them. And I liked the idea of giving a dreamlike approach to this furniture which we often see in impersonal areas!

Alice au Pays des Merveilles, VitraHaus © Courtesy of Vitra

What did inspire you about Vitra?

In the first place it was the building of the VitraHaus, designed by Herzog and Meuron, which is very thoughtful. And the 4th floor room is extremely inspiring thanks to its setup and all the windows that show the pleasant landscape of the Swiss-German border: you're already in a semi-dream and completely in the clouds! But all Vitra collections are iconic.

Which Vitra pieces first inspired you to create this story?

I was inspired by many iconic pieces such as the Eames' Wire Chair,the Bouroullec's Alcove Plume sofa or Jean Prouvé's EM table, but also by the ones which could have a pink or pastel pink declination. Let's not forget the objetcs that had curves and could be related to Alice's dream, like the Eames' Elephant. The strength of a scenography is to carry an object into a new story.

Alice au Pays des Merveilles, VitraHaus © Courtesy of Vitra

The strength of a scenography is to carry an object into a new story.

For the very first time we can find your mythic Bishop stool at Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche. What are the origins of this item?

It history is funny: in 1999 I designed a higher version for a nightclub in New York City, and I loved it so much that I made a wood and lower version. For a hotel project in Mexio in 2003 I wanted to adpat the Bishop to an outdoor use: that's how was born the ceramic version. It's not completely a stool, not completely a pedestal table either, with no proportions: the Bishop now exists in 18 colours. It's one of our bestsellers with one stool sold per day. In 2017 it officially was inducted into the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris!

One of your last projects was Sketch in London: it was in 2017 the most instagrammed restaurant and we can see on pictures that many clients dressed up to match the place. Do you think that there is a true relationships between design and fashion?

My first desire in Sketch was that everything became pink-tinted. In this place every space has its own rythm and that's what had an influence on my creative process. Since, pink became a very trendy and fashionable colour and people wear it all over. I still think though that home-design and fashion can't be pooled even if they have a close relationship linked to their same vision of the time.

The Bishop stool © Courtesy of India Mahdavi

How did digital influence design and interior architecture? In other words does an interior architect have to think "Instagram friendly" places nowadays?

As an interior architect I can not ignore this digital context. Instagram is truly important and social networks naturally contributes to the renown of a name like mine. However the danger is to reach the saturation point of images which have nothing to do with my idea of architecture and design: a 4D job where the idea of comfort, touch and face-to-face has to be valuable.

How do you do to make us feel comfortable in the places you arrange? What's your secret for a cosy living space?

Each time it's a new encounter. A place is for me like a person to whom I'd like to share and offer the best of joy and happiness.

What are your projects for 2018?

Everything I haven't done yet - then I'll have the feeling to discover new territories.

Restaurant Sketch © Rob Whitrow

A place is for me like a person to whom I'd like to share and offer the best of joy and happiness.