The Flavour of the French Riviera

The Flavour of the French Riviera

It’s the time of year when we decamp to the continent, further afield or take some time in the garden, but why must the holiday feel disappear once we’re back on home soil?

This summer’s most stylish spaces are channelling French Riviera chic and extending that feeling of freedom, effortless fashion and a laissez-faire attitude into the coming months with an easy, breezy air that captures the essence of summer in Cannes, Nice or Marseilles.

Elegant-yet-casual, the Riviera look comes from the affluent holidaymakers who flocked to southern France (and Italy) in the 1920s searching for a stylish slice of sunshine. The aesthetic spans pale greys and blues mimicking the rugged coast, oh-so crisp whites found on whitewashed walls as well as the finest hotel suites, and an earthy palette with splashes of blues and greens which speak of the bucolic backdrop.

Rooms are airy and uncluttered ready for guests while furniture is oversized, statement pieces which carve out space for socialising when yet another sunny day fades. Rich ocean blues? Tick. Wickerwork? Tick. Modern takes on Breton? Tick. Wanderlust? Absolutely.

Time for a tête-à-tête

Borea Outdoor Dining Chair by B&B Italia

Borea Outdoor Sofa by B&B Italia

French Riviera spaces focus on two things – socialising and lounging. Be this on the patio, sundeck or living room, turn away from technology and remember the good old days of conversation. Create comfortable space for engagement and allow your furniture arrangements to hint at the making of new acquaintances, with sofas and chairs create enclaves facing inward (don’t even think about angling towards a screen) and plenty of surfaces for drinks and hors d'oeuvre.

Colour-wise, keep it simple and natural to blend into the glorious backdrop. B&B Italia’s Borea and Ribes outdoor sofas go one step further with a tonal stripe which nods to Breton style while adding a jaunty feel.

Au naturel

Bohemian '72 Collection by Gubi

Bohemian '72 Lounge Chair by Gubi

When the sun hasn’t got its hat on, turn indoor spaces into homages to the Riviera by sticking to its iconic, less-is-more design principles: walls should be a bright, by-the-beach white; eschew vivid shades in favour of the natural and invite plant life inside.

Imagine this is a space to shelter from the baking sun, somewhere to unwind, take a breath and gather yourself in. Somewhere that soothes the soul.

Gubi’s Bohemian 72 collection of seating lends itself the Riviera look with its high society feel, laid-back vibe and shapely rattan curves, a sculptural nod to nature which breaks down boundaries between outdoors and in.

Breton 2.0

Round Mirage Rug by Patricia Urquiola

Round Mirage Rug by Patricia Urquiola

The chicest of sunbathers lining the French Riviera were clad in hints of the Breton stripe, a classic pattern our homes can easily embrace. While inviting geometrics into the home can often be fraught, the simple French stripe is incredibly easy to live with. Follow the rules of fashion and keep the rest of the space simple, with lashings of white and accenting neutrals to let the stripe both take centre stage as well as not overwhelming the eye.

Round Mirage rug by GAN takes the stripe and twists it, transforming the renowned design into something more bold, attention-grabbing and adventurous – très contemporary Riviera cool.

Light it up

Twiggy Grid Outdoor Floor Lamp by Foscarini

Twiggy Grid Outdoor Floor Lamp by Foscarini

À la the Riviera, make the most of every square centimetre in the home creating convivial spaces for gathering in groups big or small. A walkway becomes somewhere to sit and whisper secrets. A piece of patio hosts dinner or drinks. An overlooked corner welcomes sun-kissed snoozers. All you need is the right furniture and a dash of je ne sais quoi.

Turning any humble spot into a space to see and be seen in, the iconic Twiggy lamp by Foscarini oozes French cool with its subtle extravagance and monochrome shade, delicately engineered to casually happen across an area in need of illumination and do the honours.

Greek chic

Aurae Sofa by Maxalto

Aurae Sofa by Maxalto

The Riviera look is also known for taking inspiration from classical Greek tropes, the era enjoying a revival in the early 1900s. Thus, should you be in possession of sky-high ceilings, decorative plasterwork, and ancient(-ish) stone statues, they can play into the just-got-back-from-Saint-Tropez mood. This more formal style channels five-star hotels with its bleached palette of bright whites and gentle greys, with decorative textures making furniture stand out from the walls and inviting lazy, languorous days.

A de rigueur combination of relaxed and precise, the Aurae sofa by Maxalto combines formal, high-fashion-worthy tailoring with dive-into-me softness with bounteous plump cushions.

The blue hue

Paola Lenti Collection | Discover

Paola Lenti Collection | Discover

There’s only one colour that narrates the story of life on the French Riviera in both fashion and design – dazzling, oceanic blues. For a bolder more up-to-date take on it think tone-on-tone, and layer various shades to create a textured space with visual depth. To more conventionally recreate the Cote d'Azur, mix in neutrals and whites to invite in the holiday feel.

Paola Lenti’s colbalt collection speaks of sun dappled Mediterranean buildings, cloudless skies and the deep sea, its Move sofa coordinating and slightly contrasting surrounding shades to create a melee of tactility, richness and joie de vivre.

En plein air

Nest Small Outdoor Footstool by Cane-Line

Curve Outdoor Lounge Chair by Cane-Line

The reason the crème de la crème converged on the French Riviera? For escapism, to serenely bask in nature and to look good doing it. Natural materials both outdoors and in physically summon the surrounding landscape, with materials such as rattan and wicker create a casual feel while harmonising with the exterior environment and palette, standing out against the prerequisite white-walled backdrop while letting the eye relax.

Cane-Line’s Nest and Curve seating encapsulate that bucolic, water-side feel with their organic forms, soothing shades and enticing shapes. Pair with all white so the sculptural silhouettes become the main attraction, or add a splash of blue to summon the sea.

Ready to recline?

The Secret Garden Sunbed by Poltrona Frau

The Secret Garden Sunbed by Poltrona Frau

A piece of furniture that epitomises a South of France sojourn has to be the sun lounger. The most elegant way to furnish a garden – pool or not – this will be your base for the season, where you’ll recline, read and really relax. It should be generously cushioned, made from peaceful natural materials, and a traditional stripe or touch of blue doesn’t hurt either.

Case and point is Poltrona Frau’s The Secret Garden Sunbed, a simple, smooth solid teak frame bedecked in catwalk and beachfront-worthy streaks in deepest blue. Oh là là.

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