Five years ago, Anthony Watson and Benoît Rauzy bought a grand 18th-century townhouse overlooking the Rhone River in the village of Vallabrègues in Provence. During the course of an extensive historic renovation, the couple discovered that their place had once been the headquarters for a rattan business, one of many in the area devoted to making baskets and furniture. Thanks to its abundance of palm and willow trees and location on the river, where reeds can be soaked, Vallabrègues, they learned, was at one point the biggest basket producer in France.
The rise of synthetics had all but put the local craft industry out of business when Watson, a British-French stylist, and Rauzy, a water- and energy-use consultant, came along. In the short time since, the two have become celebrated rattan revivalists. Atelier Vime, the workshop they founded in 2018 with help from Paris-based designer Raphäelle Hanley, specializes in selling primo examples of vintage rattan as well as Atelier Vime Éditions, their extensive collection of new designs, from pendant lights to curtain pelmets, made by area wicker workers.
More recently Watson and Rauzy were able to buy the house adjacent to theirs—the two structures were originally part of the same compound. Another preservation-minded overhaul ensued, and the now completed villa is home to La Maison Vime, a summertime “art de vivre shop” set up as a home. Browsers get to wander from room to room furnished with an exhilarating mix of new and old rattan pieces, area ceramics and glassware, and books, all of which happen to be sale. Come see.
Photography courtesy of Atelier Vime (for their latest designs and vintage finds, follow them on Instagram @ateliervime).The latter was sold to another family, Watson explains, “after the arrival of plastics, when the company lost its wicker clients and went out of business.” The place hadn’t been touched in 60 years and required a year of remodeling to upgrade the plumbing and electricity not to mention revive “its Provençal atmosphere.”
Wondering about the difference between rattan and wicker? The two are often used interchangeably, but technically rattan is a type of climbing palm vine, and wicker is the technique used to weave it.
The colors of each room are replicas of the originals found under four layers of wallpaper—peruse @ateliervime to see the process. The Wicker Basket on a pedestal is part of Atelier Vime’s signature Medici collection.
More by Pate: see his Painterly Tiles for Balineum and his Fabric and Wallpaper Inspired by a Year in Paris.
The shop is located at 24 Quai du Rhône, 30300, Vallabrègues, France; it’s open Tuesday through Saturday until the end of September.
See Watson and Rauzy’s house in Rattan Revival: New and Vintage Wicker from Atelier Vime.
And here’s a DIY idea with pinecones from their 18th century farmhouse in northwestern France.
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