French interior designer Aurélie Desmas has lived and worked in France, London and New York, but has recently settled in Pärnu, the summer capital of Estonia, and works with OCCO, which offers full interior furnishing solutions for homes, offices and public spaces. The brilliant interior designer shares fresh impressions of her life in Estonia and observations about the unique homes of Estonians.
“New York was inspiring in its own way: it’s a very vibrant and dynamic city,” says Aurélie. She graduated from the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York. “At the same time, I have found inspiration in Estonia’s peaceful, practical and nature-friendly way of life. Such a sustainable and non-wasteful lifestyle has been an inspiration to me for some time now.” Thus, when Aurélie’s spouse, who has Estonian roots, offered that they could locate to Estonia together, she immediately agreed.
Interior design by Aurélie Desmas in Brooklyn, New York.
Photos: Brad Stein
“Estonian homes are rather minimalist in style,” says Aurélie, discussing the home furnishings of Estonians, “but in minimalist homes the interior design has been thought out to the last detail and it is a very demanding style.” Aurélie appreciates the practical and timeless interior design of Estonian homes: “One can see that people have dedicated a lot of time to their home solutions and have also thought about whether they will like the design in five or ten years.” According to her, the environmental awareness of Estonians is also evident in the fact that more and more old industrial buildings are being revitalized. “In my opinion, the most interesting projects are the ones where you can give new life to the building.” At the same time, Aurélie thinks that the stereotype that Estonians do not like to use colours in their interior design solutions is not quite true. “Although Estonians may not overwhelm the whole wall with bright colours, bold tones are still included in the form of small details, such as interesting ceramics,” says Aurélie.
Gigantic brick loft in a former building of the Federal Brewing Company. Interior design by Aurélie Desmas.
Photos: Brad Stein
How does the interior design of Estonian homes differ from, for example, French and American homes? “Old but luxurious design styles and family heritage play a major role in the interior design of French homes,” says Aurélie. Thus, for example, it is often the job of an interior designer to create an interior around a certain detail that has been kept in the family for centuries. When it comes to American homes, however, it is the abundance of space. “Why do they need so many different living rooms and lounges – I don’t know,” Aurélie amuses. Estonians are much more compact. “I am currently trying to learn Estonian and the language reminds me a bit of the interior design of Estonian homes – it’s straightforward. There is no need for anything superfluous!”
Tudor-style house tucked away in a wooded area. Interior design by Aurélie Desmas.
Photos: Lauren Zillinger
Aurelie is currently working with the interior furnishing company OCCO, which offers full solutions starting from the concept to its implementation. “I like my job, because although I am a freelance interior designer, I can also work in the office, where I can learn and ask my colleagues for help, as well as experience a pleasant team feeling.” According to Aurélie, it is also important to work with a company that already has all the necessary contacts in Estonia, which would be difficult to obtain as a foreigner. She also appreciates the possibility of working with OCCO in foreign markets in the future. Currently, for example, Aurélie is working with OCCO on a project for an Australian client residing in Estonia, whose dream was to get a Wes Anderson-style apartment, complete with a bright pink kitchen! However, the next project is to redesign a villa in Pirita. In short, the work of an interior designer will never get boring and the exciting wishes of clients are an interesting challenge for the interior designer.
OCCO collaborates with a wide variety of talented interior designers and interior architects. If you feel that you´d like to create the home of your dreams but you don´t know how to get started, feel free to contact us and we will be very happy to help you!