For over 20 years, the Reims natives behind Maisonjaune Studio have been ploughing their own furrow in the world of interior decor, with a unifying theme of warmth, light and blonde tones…

We step inside a beautiful old house in Reims. “One of the few – a handful – that were still standing after the bombings of the First World War”, explains the lady of the house. It isn’t a bourgeois residence, or one of the famous “particuliers rémois” (long, narrow townhouses); rather, it’s a house with a fairly rugged exterior that doesn’t try to hide its age – it must be about 200 years old – but has the calm serenity of a place that has withstood the test of time. Inside, what is striking is way the interior has been given over to the rustic simplicity of the materials, an elegance, a warmth, a softness, which undoubtedly have much to do with a particular idea of comfort. It’s not at all ostentatious, although one suspects that the use of high-quality materials and fittings comes at a cost, but there is an obvious sense of harmony. All around are objects and furniture that seem to have lived a thousand lives. Light wood, blonde tones, rattan, a few muted colours: ochre, navy blue, the vintage red of the floor tiles… It looks like decor straight out of a magazine, with everything, right down to the switches, seemingly carefully chosen, but unlike those glossy images, everything here exudes life. You feel that this house – a family home – is lived in, in every sense.

We are in the home of Élodie and Julien Régnier, founders of Maisonjaune Studio, the name under which they combine their work as antique dealers, what could be described as “artistic directors of spaces” and, since recently, furniture producers. 

Julien was born into the business. He used to hang around his parents, themselves antique dealers, and later worked with them. Bargain hunting is clearly second nature to him. After a year at art school, and plenty of youthful dreams of theatre design, music and art, he was bitten by the family bug. The truth is that, from getting a bit of pocket money between sales to having a near-professional business bringing in enough to sustain him, it was just one – very small – step for this born trader. And he certainly has a nose for it. His instincts are very reliable. There’s no intellectualising things: it’s all about intuition. He has a feel for a piece’s potential, for recontextualising it and revealing its hidden beauty. Legal expert Élodie’s path was less direct. She was initially destined for a career in town planning law, before meeting Julien and making a complete switch to something that until then had only been a hobby: bric-a-brac, decor and antiques.

Together, they started their first company, EJ Régnier, in 1999 and very quickly opened a boutique at Marché Paul Bert (a flea market in Saint-Ouen), the hub for everything that was happening in the antiques world at the time. “It was kind of the pre-Google for antiques”, adds Julien. If there was a question about a piece, many an answer could be found at Paul Bert. And most importantly, it was there that everything was bought and sold. It is still a very significant and undoubtedly major trading location today, but now the internet has come along.

They already had their own style, and sold pieces that were part of a very clearly defined world, consisting of pre-industrial-style furniture, oversized 18th-century garden decor items, contemporary art works along with classic portraits, and so on. This was in keeping with the trends of the time (the industrial wave of development), but with plenty of distance, personality and character. Going back to the apartment they lived in at the time was really a bit of a culture shock, and the somewhat rock & roll personality of the two occupants added that little bit more spice to the journey.

As professionals, they made no mistake and their business, which worked a lot with foreign galleries, particularly American ones, was going very well until the fateful day of 11 September 2001. This brought things to a complete standstill, and the company was still rebuilding when the 2008 crisis delivered a second crushing blow. This time, a more fundamental reassessment was needed. Élodie’s role was to drive and structure the project, alongside the more artistic Julien: now, they needed to sell not just objects, but a vision, a world. 

They also felt that times had changed and began to take an interest in more recent furniture, from the 40s to the 60s, with a few forays into the 70s. The age of the objects, or the fact that they belonged to a particular movement, became less of a focus than how they fitted into a world that was becoming more and more clearly defined. It was at that point that furniture began to appear in their boutique that was made from the materials associated with them today: brass, rattan, light-coloured velvet, off-whites, biscuit porcelain, sheepskin, light, warmth, blonde tones, the sun, summer… And the ideal opportunity to deploy this vision arose in 2010 when they took over the boutique they still occupy today. Located on a very busy thoroughfare at Marché Paul Bert, it was no longer just a simple stall, but a real little house. A yellow one. 

With the change of scale came the creation of a new company: EJ Régnier became Maisonjaune (yellow house) Studio. This move coincided with the pair asserting their style, which began to generate a new type of collaboration. People still went to them for those great finds that were their trademark, but now they also asked them to adapt those pieces to a particular place, to bring them into line with the style of other items of furniture, to make a group of pieces into a coherent set, and even to create a piece from scratch to form the missing link between vintage furniture and family life. Little by little, they learned this new trade and how to employ artistic direction that always fitted into the real world. Spaces designed for living in.  

They quickly realised that some of the pieces they had created for a specific place could also have a different life elsewhere, and decided to reproduce them – so now they were producers, too. The first, in 2017, was their “Dune” mirror, instantly recognisable with its huge intertwined ovals and rattan frames. This was followed by the “Parme” and “Rome” lamps, the “Delta” stool with its triangular metal base, and the “Flamme” lamp with its pineapple-esque biscuit porcelain base. The Maisonjaune Studio catalogue now includes about a dozen pieces that have taken on a life of their own and become a real part of their economic operation.

These production activities have undoubtedly strengthened confidence in the quality of their judgement. And since 2018, they have been entrusted with completely fitting out premises including the Lexperience and Le Lion de Belfortrestaurants in Reims, where they contributed to almost every step requiring artistic direction, from furniture design to background music. They were also involved in the creation of the Sacré Burger restaurant, which has become an unmissable part of life in Reims. 

They are currently working on more projects, and the two of them will continue to do things their own way. They’re a long way from those highly technical firms with 3D projections and ultra-precise plans. First and foremost, it’s about feeling, empiricism, perception. And rather than computerised precision, they tend to offer a good dose of charm. It’s one of their greatest assets, and such a big part of their character that it is as important as the economic argument.

And their success continues. The pair have just produced a buttery sofa in two parts. They will be attending the upcoming PAD fairs, which bring together the crème de la crème of antique dealers, in London and Paris. And most importantly, they are opening a new boutique on Rue de Seine in Paris, in the inner sanctum of the antiques district. It’s hard not to see it as a kind of culmination of events for the kid who hung around with his dad at dawn, unpacking, and, a little way away, the smart student chasing a life worth living. 

Maisonjaune Studio
Marché Paul Bert
Stand 145, Allée 3
96, rue des Rosiers
93400 Saint Ouen
42, rue de Seine
75006 PARIS
Text and pictures : Benoît Pelletier