Florence Donne

If inspiring women and inspiring interiors are the stuff that Nettement Chic is made of, who better to work with on a series of new interviews than Westwing, the online interiors site founded by Delia Fischer, ex-Elle Decoration journalist turned tech entrepreneur.

For our first interview we visited Florence Donne, the founder of online “story store” Ring the Belle. A newly established web entrepreneur (the project will celebrate its first birthday in September), her site combines interiors, fashion and culture in one beautiful, inspiring place. Her passion? “Lifestyle”, a word that appears anything but clichéd when she explains the origins of her site.

  • Why did you decide to create Ring the Belle?

    For a little while now, I’ve felt that I could no longer find inspiration in the magazines that I was reading. I was convinced that it was more the women I saw at the school gate, the girls in the street - just real people - that were inspiring me. So I decided to create an online platform where you could browse to find inspiration and to purchase items, a place that unites everything that I like about lifestyle: travel, fashion, culture and interior design, all based around real people.

     

    How would you define your style?

    I think it is very feminine and soft. I like things that add a touch of poetry to everyday life. For example, I don’t think there is anything more beautiful than flowers in a home. They add colour and movement. Although I am a real city girl, a true Parisian in fact, I love it when nature finds its way into an apartment.

  • I would also say that my apartment is very refined, light and bright. You will find touches of colour such as green, pink and a bit of blue, but white prevails. However, if a room is naturally dark I take the liberty of playing with darker colours, for example in the kitchen. 

    Lastly, I would say that I like to mix and match styles. In terms of décor, I am not at all influenced by “brands” rather by a whole “design sphere”. I don’t like to go to a one-brand shop; I prefer places where you can find many different types of objects in different styles. For example, I really like bargain-hunting at the Saint Ouen flea markets on the outskirts of Paris.

     

    What are your influences in terms of interior design?

    Travel. It is impossible for me to come home from a trip empty-handed. I like evocative pieces that make your mind wander and take you back to a moment in your life.

     

  • I also love beautiful books and interior design magazines. I’ve just discovered the German publisher, Gestalten, for example. As for magazines, I read Vogue Living and Living Etc from cover to cover, as well as Est Living’s website.

    I would also say that I am influenced by artistic expressions in all of their forms, from photos and paintings to sculpture. I spend a lot of my time wandering around galleries and visiting exhibitions. For example, I loved the recent Lalanne retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. 

  • Lastly, nature inspires me. I surround myself with things from the land and sea such as shells, flowers, stuffed animals, stones and fossils. 

    What are your design tips?

    1/ Compositions

    I believe that we can add a poetic touch to an interior with lots of small details. It’s the little things, the unique pieces that reflect one’s individual personality, that will give an apartment or a house its soul. I really like creating compositions, a mise en scène, with very simple objects: two shells, the cover of a beautiful book and a piece of jewellery, for example. This type of presentation can be just as stunning as an expensive work of art.  

  • 2/ Accumulation

    Accumulation works really well. An average piece all alone will always be average, but an average piece multiplied by ten can become very pretty! You just have to look for the natural graphic elements in objects: food packaging for example, or bottles. With everyday items you can do wonderful things!

  • 3/ Books

    Books are the best way to add culture and personality to one’s interior but remember to consider them as decorative pieces too. They bring colour and a graphic aspect through their presentation, the way they are stacked or they can even act as a starting point for a composition.

     

    4/ Be original

    I don’t like things that are expected. I’m always trying to look through a fresh pair of eyes: a kitchen that does not necessarily look like a kitchen because of the choice of a painting or picture; a bathroom with luxurious wallpaper; a children’s bedroom that is not so childish. For example, in my son’s bedroom, a former dining room, there is black wall paper with a crocodile print. You wouldn’t expect it to be in a child’s bedroom but it really works! It’s just like with fashion – everything that you put on black stands out brilliantly. 

  • 5/ Flowers

    I love wild flowers to bring a bucolic touch to an apartment. Once you have finished your main bouquet, you can make up lots of little ones with the remaining flowers.

     

    6/ Harmony of colours 

    Harmony emerges through colours and tones. In the living room, for example, even if I didn’t think I was buying everything in order to create a specific colourway, I can see an interplay of colours. This is very important. The cushions, or even the curtains and rugs, can help to create links. Le Monde Sauvage and Maison de Vacances are my trusted suppliers!

  • 7/ Mix the ordinary with the precious

    I like to place items that are a little more special onto raw materials or less-than-interesting pieces of furniture, such as the chest of drawers in my bedroom or the wooden bench in my living room. For example, a sculpture of a head, a candlestick, some ceramics… This goes hand in hand with my desire to find one-off pieces; I’m feeling more and more drawn to craftsmanship and savoir-faire. 

  • What is currently on your wishlist?

    A Pierre Jeanneret armchair, a piece to hang on the wall by Californian artist Heather Levine, a Floris Neusüss photogram, a Mud chandelier that was handmade from clay in South Africa and, lastly, some more of the Maison de Vacances cushions that I collect!

  • What’s next for Ring the Belle? 

    A new version of the site. Soon…

     

    Florence’s addresses:

    For interior design:

    At the Saint Ouen flea markets: 

    Objets en transit, Marché Dauphine, Stand 80, 81, 122 & 123

    Guilhem Faget, Marché Serpette, Allée 6, Stand 11

    Katia Apelbaum et Arnaud Volfinger, Marché Serpette, Allée 3, Stand 23

     

    In Paris: 

    La Galerie Anne Jaquemin Sablon, 34 rue Coquillière, Paris 75002

    Design et Nature, 4 Rue d'Aboukir, Paris 75002

     

    For photography:

    Galerie Bendana-Pinel, 4 rue du Perche, Paris 75003

     

    For flowers: 

    Vincent Rosebud, 4 place de l'Odéon, Paris 75006

    Hervé Chatelain, 140 rue Montmartre, Paris 75002

    L’Artisan Fleuriste, 95 rue Vieille du Temple, Paris 75003

     

    Online:

    For impulsive shopping straight from my mobile I love Westwing and especially its incredibly well designed app.

    Discover more photos from Florence Donne’s home on Westwing here