A few of my favorite things with Karine Kong, Bodie and Fou, England.
Bonjour… I’m Karine, co-founder of chic online boutique BODIE and FOU and writer of the Bodie and Fou Blog. I’m visiting as part of decor8’s August guests series “A few of my favorite things” while Holly is moving to Europe. When I started working on this I never expected the result to be so personal, but I guess if you really spend some time thinking about the things that you love the most at home, then it is bound to become very personal. So this is it — I hope you enjoy it!
Some of my favorite things at home…
1. I like this photo a lot because it’s representative of all the things I love – my family, B&W photography and family portraits, colourful toys, crosses, vintage objects and inspiring books about interiors and design. So here is a little tour clockwise from the top left. The large B&W photo is a portrait of French singer/actress/fashion icon & Johnny Depp’s wife Vanessa Paradis, which I got when I was working at Universal Music International; a B&W photo of my sister Elodie, which I took when she was 15 years old. I bought myself the orange robot in Lille (north of France) because its shape and colour cheered me up and I thought it would be perfect to sit on my desk and send me good vibes each day. Next is a photo of my daughter Mila taken at the beach near our holiday home in France when she was two; beside this, are 3 orange notebooks which I initially bought for her, but which never fulfilled their original purpose because they just look perfect where they are! There are also four books from Paumes, the Japanese Publishing house which are the most inexpensive and inspiring interior books (we will have them on our website soon). Below these is a portrait a friend of mine did for me 20 years ago, a vintage French box of sweets I bought at Petersham Nurseries in London because I loved the colour; photos of Mila, my partner, Steve, and I, and a bunch of crosses I hung together – I have a thing for crosses, especially if they are very simple. Finally, in the apple crate at the bottom (the one you can’t see), I’ve stored interiors books.
2. This is a plaster head that my mum bought for my bedroom when I was 16 or so and which now sits on top of the shelves in Mila’s bedroom (out of reach of little hands). I’ve always thought it was beautiful and when I looked at the things my mum bought me when I was young, I realized that she had fantastic taste. Like most teens, I had a troublesome relationship with my mum but now we are extremely close and I can talk about everything with her. Now that I’m older and wiser & a mother myself, I realize that my mum would have fought like a tiger for us if she had to. It saddens me when I hear that people are not close to their family or siblings because, like anything, it takes work, understanding and forgiveness. My parents do things that still frustrate me and I know I drive them nuts when I go back to France with thousands of DIY projects in my head but I’ve learnt to accept that as parents you only do your best, nothing is written in stone and really you learn as you go along. I wouldn’t change any of the deliciously passionate, often funny and sometimes heated conversations we have when we are all together in France.
3. This is a photo of my dad (the one with the ball), taken by a professional journalist. My dad was a rugby hero in South West France in the 70s. I remember going back to school on Mondays after he had played on Sundays and all my friends would congratulate me on his game. I have another photo of him tackling the ball, which won the photographer the Pernod Ricard Prize for the best sports photo in 1971. My father still lives and breathes rugby. We’ve all learnt to switch off when he tells the same story over and over, but that doesn’t seem to bother him. He is an incredibly passionate person, especially where human rights are concerned. He is very much into the French ‘Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite’ and has no fear about speaking his mind even if he is going to upset people. He doesn’t really do the ‘politically correct’ thing and in fact I think he just enjoys provoking people. He used to enjoy challenging me about some of my own life decisions and I would react to it straight away, but then I eventually found out that he would tell other people how proud he was of what I had achieved, so now I just agree with him….
This is Mila!
4. These are Mila’s first shoes, I’ve also kept her first pink converse and anything small and cute she was wearing when she was a baby. I love her to bits. She is my first child and I hope that as she grows up, our relationship deepens and that she becomes a wonderful, balanced, healthy and happy young woman. She is only 4 and already bilingual which amazes me. She is very social and smart and always amuses me. She will hide things that she has broken at the bottom of her basket of toys where I will find them eventually or tell me to skype my grandmother who is 90 years old! She is in France at the moment on holidays with her 5 year old cousin Lily and neither of them are missing us! Each time I call, she talks for about 10 min, then tell me to count to 3 and ‘un, deux, trois’ she puts the phone down… no tears…job done!
5. These shelves are in Mila’s bedroom. I found them when we were relocating BODIE and FOU from our Bristol warehouse to London. It’s a mail sorting shelf unit and it fits perfectly in her bedroom. It looks a bit messy but it’s in fact super organised. At the bottom, there are Mila’s books and games. Then in the middle anything to do crafts: her pens, playdo, chalks, pearls and her kitchenware. The two top shelves are mine where I store notebooks & sculptures I did a few years ago or things Mila broke that I need to fix/glue. The family’s straw hats when we hang out on our roof terrace, a vintage globe I bought in London’s Bricklane, photo albums, interiors books & my collection of retro cars. Her bedroom is white with gorgeous, distressed white floorboards, white walls and the best natural light so these shelves are where colours, emotions & loving things go. It’s like a mood board in 3D!
This is a close up from things on these shelves I really like… A B&W photo of Mila at the beach in France (where obviously the water was far too cold for her), a wedding thank you card from my friend Mandy (Mila was her flower girl). I bought the plaster letters from a shop called Shelf in Bricklane to make up Steve and my nicknames. He is Vert (for Vertigo, a nickname I gave him after reading Paul Auster’s book) and I’m Fou (well I also need to fix the F there). Fou means mad in French and this was what Steve called me when we first met. Four years ago when Elodie & I were looking for a brand name for our chic online boutique, we decided very quickly that BODIE (which is what we’ve called Elodie since she was little) and FOU was perfect and personal. Last but not least, the 3 little feet are plastercasts that Steve made of Mila’s foot when she was a baby.
The things that inspire me…. are mostly visual things. I have the memory of a goldfish for mundane things, phone numbers or what I did 3 days ago but I’m a sponge when it comes to interiors, photography, design and typography. I need to be visually inspired and stimulated so I like going to places that have something to them like Story Deli in Bricklane, Daylesford Organic farm in the Cotswolds or concept store Merci in Paris and of course NYC, Amsterdam, basically anywhere I can go, discover new things and open my eyes. And it’s really not about expensive designer spaces or pieces. I need places that are going to make me feel something inside, something that I want to take with me and re-create in my personal life and sometimes it’s just a beautiful and inspiring way of displaying some objects, a decorative idea and other times, it is an emotion, it’s something that I want to become as an individual, as a mother to Mila, as a partner and as a woman. I cut out magazines a lot to keep my favourite shots, styling, interiors, page layout or font at hand and I take a lot of photos, mostly of my family because getting inspiration is also surrounding yourself with people you love.
Blogging and setting up my own interior shop have also been a tremendous source of inspiration and widely opened up my tastes. I think blogging nowadays is a huge haven of inspiration and creativity. I have come across so many stunning designs and talented designers from all over the world, which I may have never heard of if I was just reading interior magazines. And the people who inspire me the most in no specific order are: my sister Elodie – I can’t describe well enough how much I love her – her style, her outlook on life, her personality and how happy and proud it makes me that we have made our dream come true with BODIE and FOU. Steve the father of my little girl Mila and my soulmate but also the necessary pain in the bum who will tell me what to do, mainly to achieve balance between the business & our family! My mum for making my childhood full of holidays at the beach, flea markets and sewing, and for being liberal enough to let me do my own things and never pressurizing me into anything.
My design hero is French interior designer Jacqueline Morabito who always blends beautifully, contemporary interiors and furniture with vintage and antique pieces. Finally, although I’m not a star-truck person, my heart will always belong to Vanessa Paradis and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Two beautiful, talented French women that got it right from an early age, and are living their public lives on their terms and continuing to work with amazingly talented photographers, designers and musicians.
The favorite advice I’ve heard….. Well because of my ’selective/deficient’ memory, I can’t remember anything someone would have told me, but the things that worked for me are ‘never give up on something you believe in because friends/family don’t share your vision’ and also ‘don’t spend your time checking out the competition and freaking out’ - focus on your thing, your vision of what you want your business to be about and if you put your heart into it, people will follow. Finally, ‘be patient’. I’m not but I wish I had been the first two years of setting up our business because I would have probably enjoyed the journey as much as I love it now! -Karine
(images: karine kong)
A big thank you again to Holly and a a great weekend to everyone!