For anyone who’s remade their life in a new city, the process is familiar: pack the past into suitcases, free-fall for a time until the unfamiliar becomes the everyday. Often, wherever one lands can define the course of what’s to come. But when it came to discovering the perfect milieu within her adopted hometown of Paris, Kym Ellery knew better than to rely purely on chance.
“When I moved to Paris two years ago I wasn’t in a hurry to find an apartment,” explains the Ellery designer, who had her first show in the French capital for Spring Summer 14. “After all of the years of travelling to Paris for work I felt that I knew the different arrondissements well, but not well enough to choose just one. So essentially when I arrived I spent a good year moving around, staying in different neighbourhoods because I wanted to see how it felt to be a local in each.
“I wanted a space that I could be creative in, something that had good vibrations.
“Eventually I was drawn to the Marais and, luckily, through a friend, found this wonderful apartment. The building is really close to Bastille, the very ground where the French revolutions began. When I moved in I really felt that deep history in the space.”
“I adore my neighbourhood ... It takes me 25 minutes to walk to the studio each day ... I feel so close to everywhere that I might need to be.”
True to her Australian roots, it was the sunlight kissing white walls and parquet timber floors in the main salon that drew Ellery in. And true to the tradition of classic Parisian apartments, “all of the evening light comes from my mismatched collection of vintage lamps”.
They are part of a collection of found and loved pieces that populate the space. Explains Ellery: “I don’t really ‘decorate’ so much as just collect special pieces that speak to me when I come across them ... I then throw everything together in the same mix and hope that they get along aesthetically. It’s kind of a non-curated curation; however, because I am drawn to the same kind of materials it usually works.”
“I usually find pieces on my travels and have the challenge of finding a way to get them home.”
Books are one of Ellery’s great loves, and tall, beautiful stacks attest to a voracious affair. Gratitude by Oliver Sacks is the one she’ll always come back to. The art on the walls is the best kind: created by friends. “Benjamin Barretto’s rope-weaving tapestry hangs above my bed and Jedda-Daisy Culley’s painting across from it, the first two things that I see when I wake.”
Having found these good vibes, Ellery has been inspired to share them. “Ever since I have moved to Paris I have loved to entertain. It is so fun to invite friends over and curate a cool mix of people who I think should know one another.
“My favourite dish to cook is parmesan pasta, which I serve out of a half wheel of parmesan cheese ... In winter, however, I love me a raclette party. I guess I am just really into cheese. My choice of wine is usually a funky macerated orange wine, although lately I am also very much into a fresh Sancerre.”
“I am obsessed with tea. To me there is nothing better than drinking a warm brew on the couch whilst listening to vinyl. I also love to sit in the salon and play my guitars.”
The mood is set by records from her collection. “A lot of my friends are musicians so I usually let them run wild with the music choice. Often the evenings end in a jam session, egg shakers and all.” That’s what happens inside; outside those windows lies one of Paris’s most iconic neighbourhoods. But for Ellery, the greatest joys can be found in simple pleasures she’s made routine: walking to the studio through her favourite park, Place des Vosges – “I love to stop past the boulangerie and walk to work listening to music and chewing on my croissant” – and a friendship with the staff at the fruit shop below her building. “They love my Australian accent ... I love to wave bonjour to them each day and yell ‘Ça va?!’ from across the street.”