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By Bénédicte Mahé
It was actually through my old job that I came across this bookshelf. I was working as a communication officer at Les Ateliers de Paris, an incubator for the creative trades that rents workspaces for emerging graphic/fashion designers and craftsmen in Paris. It was June 2013, not even a month after I started working there, and I was looking at the creations of previous residents when it popped up: the Branch!
I do not know what drew me to it. Maybe it was its clean lines, its organic shape… But it was love at first sight and it never left my heart. From that time on, I decided I would get it when the time came. It was a real investment so I had to save my money step by step.
The designer, Olivier Dollé, is a self-taught cabinetmaker from the Haute Savoie region of France. He spent a year at Les Ateliers de Paris and later opened his atelier not far from it, at the Viaduc des Arts, an old railway (very much like the High Line in New York), which has been transformed into a garden on the top and arched galleries on street level. The Viaduc des Arts starts at the Bastille and is worth visiting. You will find unique and highly qualified craftsmen, some whose trades are incredibly rare and exceptional.
At the time I saw it, I was living in a new apartment but with my student furniture, which I wanted to replace piece after piece with more quality elements. The process of replacing my furniture started shortly after I saw the bookshelf and every item I bought was supposed to fit well with my (far) future purchase.
Since I was so infatuated with it I told my boss and Olivier that one day I would get it for my living room. Seriously, each time I was talking to Olivier I could not help myself and had to mention it. So annoying. But finally, the big day came. I went to Oliver’s workshop right before Christmas to order it. We still had to figure out which size would fit best and where it would go, so I had drawn a map of my living room. “Excited” does not quite describe how I was feeling and the fact that I was doing my Christmas shopping as well really gave that day a particular atmosphere. Lucky enough, Olivier had the right size and direction of the branch in store, so he did not have to make it by special request, which saved a lot of time (but clearly, after 20 months, a few weeks did not make much difference).
At the beginning of January, it was show time! I rearranged all my furniture to make room for the bookshelf, which Olivier came to set up. Again, “overjoyed” does not quite relate how I felt that evening. I was cooking in my kitchen to avoid being in the way of the installation but I kept popping my head through the door to see what was happening until I could not handle it anymore and started excitedly, (even impatiently), hopping up and down.
The 2m50-long shelf now fills my living room organically, gives it a slight Scandinavian feel as well as true atmosphere and personality.
I still need to change the decoration above my couch (I want to do a mix of frames), add a floor lamp on the right of my sideboard and switch my dining room table and chairs (it is never enough!), but my feeling of satisfaction is unbelievable. I honestly still giggle with excitement each time I look at it!
Needless to say, I annoyed all my family and friends with this interior design idea for a year and a half and, that not being enough, I keep showering them with my delirious joy since I received it. What do you think?
Olivier Dollé, 97 avenue Daumesnil – 75012 Paris, www.olivier-dolle.com
Les Ateliers de Paris, 30 rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine – 75012 Paris, www.ateliersdeparis.com
Le Viaduc des Arts, starts at Bastille, www.leviaducdesarts.com
Acknowledgements: Alyssa Noel, student of French and Italian, and Journalism at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities and English editor for A Woman’s Paris.
Bénédicte Mahé has studied abroad many times, speaks four languages and earned a Master of Management of cultural goods and activities, as well as a Master’s degree in intercultural communications and cooperation. She works in communication and international projects management. Among her interests are drinking tea, cooking (with or without success), reading, traveling, and—of course—shopping. She started her blog Tribulations Bretonnes in 2010 and has been updating it (more or less regularly) since then.
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Text copyright ©2015 Bénédicte Mahé. All rights reserved.
Illustration copyright ©2014 Barbara Redmond. All rights reserved.