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Coté Art, Angoulême - Inspired by design

Coté Art, Angoulême - Inspired by design

If you’re looking for a special place to source decorations, the extraordinary Côté Art boutique in Angoulême is bound to fill you with inspiration... 

Laurent Dempure and Thierry Rouze have made a name for themselves in Angoulême. They began with a small florist, became better known, added more deco items, and then took a leap of faith. Now their store ‘Côte Art’, housed in a grand 19th century building in the centre of town, brims with inspirational home design and floral ideas. “There’s nowhere else like it,” Laurent explains. “That’s what gives us our identity.”

 

Cote Art  1

 

Topiary bushes in stone pots and small palm trees spill out onto a wooden terrace in Place Louvel; a step inside reveals a line of flowers in transparent vases, arranged according to colour. In the middle, a wooden walkway with lights along it leads to the deco and furniture area, the space opening up to reveal a second-floor balcony, with a zebra-print chair, statues and metallic ‘HOME’ and ‘LOVE’ signs crowded round. Natural light comes down from the glass roof, and gracefully hanging down in the centre is a gold-painted chandelier adorned with intricate twirls and candle-like lights. “Ah, there’s a story behind that,” says Thierry, smartly dressed in a black shirt and dark jeans. “We had it shipped over from New York. Our supplier in France delivered one that was too small, and the only one like this they had was in their showroom in America. We wanted that one and no other – we loved it and such a grand building needs something like that at its centre.”

Deco Trend

Today, the spacious building with white stone walls is a world away from its 19th century beginnings as an ironmonger’s, and yet it creates the perfect setting for the contemporary store. “Actually, this is very ‘now’,” Laurent says, as he taps on one of the building’s grand iron beams. “It works well because the current deco trend is industrial, English loft and vintage. There’s also a lot of English flowery wallpaper design and an 80s bobo (bourgeois bohemian) vintage, cool chic style, which I love. The current trend is to mix everything.”

And, in keeping with this trend, Laurent and Thierry source their objects from all over the world. Above the espresso bar and camel-coloured metal stools, an electronic map lights up with the time across the planet. “We travel a lot and gain inspiration that way. We go to ‘Maison et Objet’ fairs in Germany, Holland, Italy and Belgium and we have suppliers across Europe. Nowadays you have to be open to the world and get your ideas from everywhere.”

 

Cote Art 2

 

Each part of the store has a different feel – cosy, modern, classic. There are tables carefully and beautifully laid out in one corner, colourful candles and decorations in another, and at the back, a workshop where the floral creations are put together. “But we change every two months,” says Laurent. “We like change and it’s something our clients also appreciate.”

Flowers

The flowers also go through trends, but Laurent says that what clients go for comes down to personal choice. “We have simple natural flowers and more elaborate, worked ones, as people have a tendency to prefer one or the other. Personally, I have a thing for white natural flowers. Often, when someone buys a piece of furniture, I’ll give them some flowers to go with it, as the two go naturally together.”

As for the atmosphere they want to create in the store, it comes from the seasons and the regular changes that keep it ‘à la mode’. Now, with winter approaching, the pair is looking at creating a warm, cosy feel. “Towards Christmas, we’ll have either the traditional red, or red and white, as white is also a big trend. But we’ll also perhaps bring in purple, mauve or mercury – colours that are very ‘now’.” For Christmas decorations at home, Laurent recommends pairing the season’s colours: “Either white and mercury or red and white. Transparency is also a trend. And then, of course, baubles and beautiful traditional German candles, wooden stars and neutral ivory-coloured plates. As for flowers, hellebore – the Christmas rose – sells best at this time of year. White cyclamen and little branches work well too. And then for fabrics, velvets and embroidered cotton.”

Starting Out

After two years in the building, and with loyal clients and a happy staff, the pair exudes confidence and charm. But their first step was taken after much hesitation. “The building had been empty for a while, and at first we didn’t want to take it because it seemed like too pretentious a project,” explains Laurent. “This building is 300 metres squared – 900 if you count the office and workshop – compared to the 70-square-metre place we had before. We were afraid of taking that step; but, of course, we don’t regret it! We felt that our store needed to be in an old building, and here we have more choice, more objects and more space. It’s a timeless building – it goes with everything!”

Cote Art 3After studying floristry in Saintes, Laurent, originally from Niort, set up his first store in Angoulême in 1991. “I have always been interested in style,” he says. “It’s been a passion for a long time.” He met Thierry, who had moved to Angoulême from Paris, a few years later. Thierry concentrates on the management side – the couple now has eight members of staff – and on organising the decoration and flowers for marriages and events.
The pair greets each client personally and with warmth and banter. “You get a feeling for what someone will like,” Thierry says. And as Laurent begins arranging the flowers for the store’s next display, he looks bemused at the idea of giving his second name. “I’ll give you it, if you really want to know,” he says, smiling. “But to most people, we’re simply Laurent and Thierry.”

 

Originally published in Living Poitou-Charentes magazine December 2010 © All rights reserved

WORDS: Rebecca Lawn PHOTOS: Ian Wilson, Nick Felton

 

 

Côté Art details

Côté Art, 3 Place Francis Louvel, 16000 Angoulême. +33 (0)5 45 92 60 67

www.cote-art.com


Laurent and Thierry’s address book

Restaurant La Ribaudière

16200 Bourg Charente. +33 (0)5 45 81 30 54, www.laribaudiere.com 

Restaurant Le Terminus

3 Place de la Gare, 16000 Angoulême. +33 (0)5 45 95 27 13, www.le-terminus.com

Place Louvel in Angoulême

Festival de film francophone: www.filmfrancophone.fr

Comic book festival: www.bdangouleme.com