A Fashion Fairy Tale pix
Once upon a time, François Muracciole designed a Bonpoint children's boutique in Paris—pure magic
Ian Phillips -- Interior Design, 11/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
An acrylic fresco by Soledad Bravi enlivens the front room at Bonpoint, a Paris children's boutique by François Muracciole Architecte.
A pendant fixture with a brass-and-velvet shade illuminates the area devoted to teenage girls.
In the front room, painted plywood boxes frame clothing vignettes.
Flooring in the front room is concrete and laminated steel.
The section for girls age 2 to 6 features real tree branches, attached to an oak structural column, and a cabin built from salvaged wood and sheet metal. The parquet is vintage oak.
The cabin's rug dates to the 19th century.
The nursery section is fitted with iron-framed acrylic cribs like the ones found in French maternity hospitals; here, the cribs are lined with astrakhan.
The teen space features a banquette made from acrylic-painted mattresses. The pillows are covered in Bonpoint fabric.
In the boys' area, part of the floor is vintage oak; the rest is rusted sheet metal. Lighting combines swing-arm lamps in steel and aluminum with channels of indirect fluorescents.
The custom shelving unit is painted pine.
In the section for girls age 6 to 10, a custom mirror-topped table sits under a faux-flower chandelier from which hang standard bulbs on painted-steel arms. Organdy lines the walls.
Pendant fixtures with repoussé aluminum shades hang above a custom pine chest.
A reclaimed chimney protrudes from the cabin.
Cotton covers the cushions and pillows of the room's 33-foot-long banquette.
The smallest box holds the store's unofficial terrier mascot.
A 20th-century dressing table and a 19th-century oak chair anchor the teenage vignette.
|In the front room at Bonpoint, a children's clothing boutique in Paris, the floor riffs on traditional French flagstones, with concrete slabs arranged in a cabochon pattern defined by steel strips. The break with convention comes not only from the modern materials but also from the oversize scale. "It's a touch of Alice in Wonderland," architect François Muracciole says.
Wonderland is a fitting word for the 6,500-square-foot boutique, which overflows with whimsy. "The best thing possible for kids is a dimension of fun," Muracciole continues. On the front room's fantasy flagstones, for example, sits a shiny pink Vespa hooked up to tow an equally shiny pink trailer. A sidewall is emblazoned with a cartoonish mural of a family with three children, each carrying a goldfish, a cat, or an iPod. In another room, a cabin made from reclaimed wood stands in the "shade" of a structural column sprouting branches like a tree. An enormous bouquet of fake flowers blossoms from the ceiling of yet another room.
Most important to owners Marie-France and Bernard Cohen, who launched Bonpoint in 1975, was that the boutique feel more like a home. That's the philosophy behind all 60 of their stores—the label is considered the epitome of children's chic by savvy parents worldwide. (Annie Leibovitz recently photographed Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes's newborn daughter, Suri, in a white Bonpoint dress.) Bonpoint has also expanded into the teenage girls' market with YAM, an acronym for the French equivalent of enough already.
The Cohens had first commissioned François Muracciole Architecte to design a much smaller store for another of their children's labels, Bonton. "It's a simpler, more modern version of Bonpoint," the 44-year-old Muracciole explains. At that point, four years ago, he'd been on his own for a decade, never having worked for a big firm. His portfolio 'included lofts and a tearoom in his native Paris—but nothing like Bonpoint. Still, the Bonton project convinced the Cohens that he was the man for the job. "Style-wise, there's nothing superfluous with him," Marie-France Cohen says. "He can create something modern without discarding the history of a space."
History is something the Bonpoint premises have plenty of. The earliest part dates to the 15th century. Since then, a number of different buildings have been added, and tenants of all kinds have made their mark. The Marquis de Brancas, a lieutenant general of Louis XV's armies, acquired the property in 1763. Later, it was an equestrian academy. Later still, an aunt of the Empress Joséphine hosted a famous literary salon there. In the second half of the 19th century, a doctor who'd treated Napoléon himself for syphilis had an office on the ground floor.
The most recent occupant was the Institut Français d'Architecture. Ironically, Muracciole recalls, "They massacred it." The courtyard windows were blocked up, the floors and ceilings painted black, and the space split up into a warren of corridors and offices.
The Bonpoint boutique's eight rooms occupy five adjoining buildings, and Muracciole's aim was to re-endow each with its original proportions and identity. The mansion's onetime stable is now the front room where the Vespa is parked. Behind that, an enclosed part of the courtyard and the house proper have become the younger girls' and babies' sections. An 18th-century addition, farther back, is devoted to the teenage line. Next to that, boys' clothing is sold in a 20th-century brick-and-concrete structure.
To demarcate the separate areas, Muracciole installed different flooring: The concrete cabochon gives way to vintage oak parquet, white-painted boards, and rusted sheet metal. He also inserted a slit window at the points where one building meets the next.
Every zone acts as a virtual Best of Clignancourt, with antique crystal chandeliers sparkling above precious onesies and a vintage child's bike propped up near racks of sturdy dungarees. In the front room, flea-market finds form complete vignettes framed by white-painted plywood boxes. Each of the four larger boxes functions as a snapshot of a Bonpoint collection: baby, girl, boy, and teenager. The fifth box—much smaller than the rest—houses a stuffed terrier, the label's unofficial mascot.
As much as Muracciole has created a fun house for children, he didn't forget their parents. While waiting for their offspring to finish playing with the dolls in the cribs or staring at the papier-mâché polar bear's head, grown-ups can lounge on the 33-foot-long banquette out front or sip a cup of tea in the café—and contemplate living happily ever after.