The history of wicker furniture and baskets is deeply rooted in that of Vallabrègues in Provence, but it took Anthony Watson and Benoît Rauzy to revive this wonderful tradition. We invite you to join us once again in the latest episode of our DIVE series. Dive in!
In our bi-weekly DIVE series, we descend into the murky waters of Instagram and bring you some of the accounts worth following.
Instagram accounts showcasing fascinating interiors have been hugely popular lately, but the average Instagram user rarely looks beyond the exterior to discover what’s behind it, missing out on stories like that of Atelier Vime.
The adventure began in 2014 when the two founders of Atelier Vime, Anthony Watson and Benoît Rauzy, decided to move to the village of Vallabrègues in Southern France. Soon after, the couple came across the house that would change their lives forever. The Hotel Drujon mansion is a magnificent 18th-century Provençal-style building with a vast courtyard flanked by a distinctive Uzès-style façade. Incidentally, the site was also found to have formerly served as a wicker workshop, like many other buildings in the area in the 19th and 20th centuries. The atmosphere of the area and the gravity of the region’s past drew Anthony and Benoît in almost immediately, even though they initially only wanted to renovate the house.
Although Benoît had formerly been working as an environmental consultant and Anthony as a stylist, two years later they were trading antique wicker and rattan pieces and had started to create custom-designed furniture, with the help of none other than Raphaëlle Hanley, former creative director of leather goods at Yves Saint Laurent.
Benoît and Anthony wanted to preserve the heritage of the house and the entire region, where since ancient times, wickerwork has been essential for the inhabitants of the peninsula on the Rhône River between Arles and Saint Rémy de Provence. According to an 18th-century survey, at one point no fewer than 450 inhabitants of a population of 1,800 were employed in the wicker industry. Nevertheless, when the duo arrived, this ancient tradition had long since disappeared, its memory preserved only in certain corners of the estate, such as the three soaking pools reserved for freshly made wicker in the old days.
“The relation between the life of this village and the environment, and these plants... This kind of harmony is something we have to explain to show that it’s possible, that it’s not lost forever. There’s still time to act. When we do things, we do it to produce long-lasting products, in a sustainable way. And things that you will pass to your children, or maybe to your own grandchildren. It’s important,” Benoît Rauzy explained the project’s mission.
To dive deeper into the world of Atelier Vime, check out the House&Garden YouTube channel and soak up the lyrical atmosphere of Provence.
In two weeks, we’ll be back with the background story of another Instagram page. Until then, dive into the previous episode of our DIVE series, in which you can take a closer look at the 36 Days of Type initiative.