Art & Culture

A Peek Inside Interior Designer Vincent Darré's Surrealist Imagination

Ahead, the enfant terrible of Paris's design scene talks fashion and interior decor—and why they're different.
Reading time 4 minutes

 Photography by Christos Katsiaouni 

Vincent Darré’s work is notorious for its eccentricity, which the interior designer describes as midway between Jean Cocteau and Cecil Beaton. His designs blend baroque with surrealism, in which Darré always inserts a certain playfulness and humor. Beginning his career in fashion, working for the likes of Karl Lagerfeld at Fendi, Moschino, and Ungaro, he launched his label Maison Darré in the early 2000s from a Parisian apartment, which doubled as an office and a showroom. His first collection Ossobucco, which featured furniture made of bones and vertebrae structures, established his quirky decorative style. Today, Darré, affectionately known as the enfant terrible of Paris’s design world, counts fashion houses Schiaparelli and Christian Louboutin as clients, and he’s recently released an art book with Rizzoli to compile most vibrant design exploits. We caught up with the French dandy to chat about his distinctive style, his early days in the design industry, his childhood memories that have impacted his work today, his newest collection Renaissance, as well as the collaborations that have shaped his career.

Photo: Christos Katsiaouni

With a vision that can be seen as distinctly inspired by Baroque, Renaissance, and mythological art and architectural, how have you been able to fuse these different art movements together to create a style that was much your own?

I like the sense of surrealism in Baroque. These monsters and chimeras rub elbows with arabesques or intertwine with the surreal to create extraordinary architecture. I reinterpret this decorum by accentuating the metaphysical side with a touch of humor.


What was your objective for your Renaissance collection?

My goal with the Renaissance collection was to collaborate with great French craftsmen like gilders, marble workers, and pay tribute to the crafts that only France has, such as marquetry and stained glass, as well as a return to the Decorative Arts. In the nobility of the object, all the furniture is stamped by our two signatures.


You have often touched upon your childhood memories traveling throughout Rome. What sort of influence has this had on you as an artist?

As I explain in my book, my work is inspired by all my childhood memories, First, the memories of my intellectual leftist family, but also trips with my mother, who made me discover Bomarzo’s Baroque Gardens in Rome, along with his mythological creatures, which were a real shock. Later, meeting my artist friends also influenced my work.

What has collaborations with friends such as Eric Schmitt done for your style and vision as an interior designer?

At Rue Royale, I wanted to reproduce the Parisian salons of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, where artists, writers, musicians rubbed shoulders, creating new energy. My friends give my life meaning, and I wanted to mix my furniture with the work of other designers, painters, and sculptors, to express a new approach to furniture. I like introducing people and creating an interaction that goes beyond decoration and becomes a way of life.


How did you first get into fashion? Was this a childhood passion or something you developed through adolescence and early adulthood?

Through fashion, I learned the meaning of colors, fabrics, change, and to listen to the tune of the times. Fashion is an eternal restart, which gets tiring.  However, in decor, the relationship with time is different, as things must last and can’t go out of fashion as quickly as clothing. But there is still fashion in decor!


How do you believe you have grown as an artist from your first furniture collection, Ossobucco, to where you are today as a notable fashion and interior decorating icon?

I left fashion to retrieve my sense of the subconscious, which I lost after so many years in different fashion houses. I wanted to retrieve a childlike spirit and to create in a more personal way. Ossobucco was my first almost-experimental collection, which allowed to make a name for myself. The objects were presented as a cabinet of curiosities. Then, my collection A l'Eau featured a lobster dresser,  as a tribute to Dali. I find it amusing to imagine that in a few years, someone will discover these pieces at flea markets and wonder who designed them!

Are there any artists in particular whose aesthetic you have been particularly influenced by?

My references are as varied as my universe. I can find inspiration from architects such as Carlo Molino, Gaudi, and Joe Ponti, or decorators like David Hicks, Emilio Terry and Tony Duquette. I’m also inspired by film sets from Godard, Fellini, Minnelli movies, and obviously surrealism and Dadaism.

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