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November 25, 2011

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Comfort the key to French couple's home

ISABELLE Donadieu and Buno Roussel have turned their two-floor villa hidden in a compound in Qingpu District into a refuge. The French couple's lifestyle is humble, unassuming and above all, cozy.

Visitors walk in and feel immediately at home. Creams, browns, soft yellows and reds create a warm palette. The colors work with the thoughtful mix of furniture and contrasting textures.

The couple has lived in Shanghai for eight years and moved into this villa two years ago. After their kids moved back to France for university, they wanted a smaller place for themselves.

"When I first saw this house, the space was what I expected. I felt comfortable. The layout was good," Donadieu said. "I need both well-designed day space and night space for different living functions."

Downstairs houses the spacious living and dining room, the kitchen, the sun room and attached garden. These rooms are the daytime areas where the couple eats, reads and spends time with friends.

The second floor has three bedrooms and a study. All the windows feature views of the greenery around.

The couple has focused on adding cozy touches throughout their home. And the beauty of this house is that everything seems to have been refurbished years ago.

The couple didn't change much when they moved in. They just moved in their furniture and mixed it around to fit the space. It took only a month to finish decorating.

During the years they lived in Hong Kong, the couple started to purchase different styles of furniture. They have a mix of French and Asian furniture.

"We don't specifically go looking for Chinese antiques. When we like something, we buy it," Donadieu said.

She said she likes white walls because it makes artwork and furniture stand out better. Peony flower patterns are used in different parts of the home like on fabric or thermos bottles because it adds a splash of color.

Living room

The living room features neutral shades and is blessed with a lot of natural light. The white walls and floor make everything else stand out. Over the years, the couple has built up a collection of treasured pieces. The highlight in this room is a brass temple bell sourced from a shop in Thailand.

Master bedroom

Color is injected in this peaceful bedroom with cushions, bed throws and painted wooden furniture. Green bed sheets are reminiscent of the greenery outside the bedroom window. With a splash of light pink and different shades of green, a calm atmosphere is created.

The corner in the living room

A French-style desk is placed in the corner of the living room with an oil painting mounted on the wall. The combo gives the room an East-meets-West feel.

Sun room

The sun room is a nice extension to the home that is wonderful in nice weather. Donadieu added texture with a rug, bamboo shades, cushions and a big basket as a table. This has created a relaxed, rustic vibe where the couple can read, have coffee and relax after lunch. Donadieu said they spend most of their time in the sun room because it is comfortable and has abundant natural light. Red is the main color in the room since she loves peony fabrics.

TV room

The TV room uses red and purple as the main colors. She loves to watch TV here at night and ironing clothes in the room during the day. Donadieu is involved in a charity organization that helps orphans and handicapped people in China. She spends a lot of time in this room ironing the clothing items received for different charity projects.

Peony collection

Donadieu loves peonies. She has a colorful collection of thermos bottles and tea sets with patterns of her favorite flower.


Who is he?

Kotaro Nishibori is a designer and the fifth master of traditional Japanese wagasa umbrellas. Nishibori was born in Shingu city, Wakayama prefecture in 1974. After graduating from high school, he moved to Canada and lived there for two years. After returning to Japan, he chose to become a Japanese umbrella maker in order to take over as the fifth president of Hiyoshiya Ltd Co in 2003. Since then his hard work and unique styles have resulted in many international design awards, including Japan Shop Award (2006, 2008), Good Design Award special prize (2007), Japanese Modern 100 Collection, (Japanese Design Award 2007), FORM 2008 (German Design Award), Good Design (2010) and German Design Award 2011.

Tell us some of your works and name the one you are most proud of.

I use traditional skills for transforming a traditional art craft into contemporary products such as Kotori and Moto lights and new style umbrellas like Ryoten. Some of my most recent work includes a traditional umbrella tea house tent and a mobile tent called Casa.

I am most proud of the Moto light. It is able to change shape and thus changes the amount of light given, adjusting to the ambiance of the environment. The Moto light has won so many design awards from around the globe and I feel it represents tradition and innovation.

Are you currently involved in any projects?

I am currently working on lots of hotels, restaurants and shop projects in Japan, as well as various hotel and shop projects with Cocon on Anfu Road.

Describe your design style.

My style is very much based on tradition. My design philosophy is tradition is a continuation of innovation. I use traditional materials, skills and beauty with modern design ideas in order to create unique products for daily life. Even though my inspiration and my methods are traditional, my designs represent a beautiful mix of modern style with tradition.

Where are you most creative?

I am most creative when I am at home, sharing good times with my loving family.

What does your home mean to you?

I feel my home is the most important place. I want to be with my family and must protect them. All my work is for them.

What do you collect?

Traditional items which give me inspiration for more products.

Where would you like to go most in Shanghai?

I heard so much about the Bund area and when I went there for the first time I could understand why. The Shanghai skyline is simply magnificent, especially at night with all the incredible lights.

What will be the next big design trend?

I think fusion, which mixes design styles from different countries and cultures, is going to be the next trend. The world is getting more global. I am trying to take ideas from Chinese design and I think it is working well. The new Kotori light has some traditional Chinese elements such as porcelain and qipao.


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