Eclectic mix of old versus new and East meets West
For French designer Isabelle Lovisi Bruere, a spacious city apartment provides the ideal setting to show off to friends an array of custom-made furniture and a well-curated collection of arts and crafts.
Bruere has lived in the 250–square-meter apartment on Huating Road for eight years with her husband Philippe Bruere and their daughters Paola and Livia.
Following her husband’s job relocation, as chief financial officer of Hermes China, Bruere moved to Shanghai in 2011. It took a while for her to find the right apartment for the family of four.
“We were living inside a lane house on Yuyuan Road but it turned out to be dark and humid without enough natural light that is essential for me,” the 50-year-old said. “After a year, we moved to the one we live in now. I had a crush on this apartment because it has everything I love: a spacious open-plan living and dining room, the floor-to-ceiling windows bring in abundant sunlight and we have the impression of being in the middle of nature but in the center of the city.”
Tucked inside Huating Road, the apartment overlooks lush trees and old buildings, and a rare charming sight of downtown Shanghai.
The moment Bruere saw the city from the window and how the big windows filled the space with light, she knew it was all she needed. And, because the location is in the heart of Shanghai, it helps the family live in the city in a more convenient, relaxing way.
The light-filled, spacious home gives full rein to Bruere’s artistic instincts.
“The existing situation was pretty ideal when we moved in. We didn’t change much apart from painting the walls in cream tones as a soothing backdrop for beautiful decorations,” she said.
The apartment is a perfect example of how a mixture of styles and colors can provide a far warmer, relaxed and more livable home. Softness and comfort are key and it is a place where people feel welcome.
Bruere furnished the space with simply designed sofas, Art Deco-style chairs, antique Chinese cabinets and, because the overall look is relaxed, she feels free to alter the details whenever it takes her fancy.
She loves to add new treasures to a wall display propping up a new discovery on a shelf, or display a bold carpet so that the interior is always evolving and something the family will never tire of.
“I love mixing different styles in the interior with colors, the warm textures of wood and a touch of stone and steel. I brought home what I love and I don’t have a precise idea of style. I had previously lived in France, Gabon and Cameroon so the clash of Chinese, African, French and tribal items works through unexpected pairings: a balance of old and new, East and West,” Bruere said.
She loves to approach the space as a decorator and curator. The French woman played with the colors and chose a warm shade palette with dominant blue and green hues to stimulate the imagination and elevate a feeling of coziness.
The big living room is organized into three sections with a flowing layout permeated by natural light. The blue-colored sofas combined with textiles and African stools to create the main living area while the pair of upholstered Art Deco chairs and a piano on the other side is an ideal spot for reading and music.
The long dining table with red-colored Chinese cabinets and a wooden board hanging on the wall provides a lot of Oriental character to the interior.
Bruere injects her own sense of individuality into a room by introducing one or two things she is passionate about — maybe an exotically colored fabric or a richly textured throw — without spoiling the looks’ characteristic unfussiness.
“When I fall in love with one piece of fabric, I like to make it into a cushion cover, an upholstered chair or display it in an unexpected way,” she said.
The passion of searching for unique textiles over the years had finally inspired Bruere to launch her own brand MuMu.
“After quitting my previous job, I have been dedicated to my own brand and created an atelier inside my home. It is the room I spend most of my time in at home, playing with hundreds of textiles and patterns to create a collection of beautiful accessories from handbags to table mats,” she said.
“I dislike the idea of ‘trendy’ and ‘must-have’ but value things not ‘mainstream’ with strong personal aesthetics. You can find many surprises from my collection.”
Ask The Owner
Q: What’s the best thing about living in Shanghai?
A: Everything is possible and its great energy.
Q: Describe your home in three words.
A: Cosy, colorful, bright
Q: What’s the first thing you do when you get home?
A: I change my clothes to put on something more comfortable.
Q: How do you unwind?
A: I sit on my sofa facing the window and look outside.
Q: Where do you spend most of your time at home?
A: My atelier
Q: What’s the view outside your window?
A: Trees and buildings
Q: What’s your favorite object in your home?
A: My carpet
Q: Where do you source furniture?