Moissonnier symbolizes tradition passed down through generations. The name of a family of cabinetmakers that morphed into a company and brand, it has come to signify the quality of Made in France. In 1885, Emile Moissonnier set up his small cabinetmaking workshop in the quaint town of Bourg-en-Bresse in southeastern France. Today, a member of the fourth generation, Christine Duval, directrice générale for Moissonnier, continues on in the custom of her forebears. In Vancouver for the opening of the new showroom dedicated to the company—the 3,000-square-foot Yaletown space is Moissonnier’s first in North America—Duval sees the location as being a good entry point to Asia and North America. “Vancouver has culture—a mix of influences,” she says.
The Moissonnier Vancouver showroom is partitioned as a home is, with living room, dining room, master bedroom, and library vignettes. There is one additional room—outdoor living—that will be redecorated seasonally. “You don’t sell only one chest,” says Duval, commenting on the physical makeup of the showroom. “You sell the entire design concept. People want to see the entire look.”
Husband and wife architects and interior designers Nader and Mana Mobargha partnered with the family-owned Moissonnier, which they have worked with for the past decade, to open this North American outpost. A first encounter with Duval at Maison&Objet in Paris led to them doing a roster of projects together, the bulk of them in Azerbaijan, where the Mobarghas were residing prior to making Vancouver their home base.
Seeing a Moissonnier piece up close is necessary to fully comprehend it and to truly appreciate its beauty. The wood, the carved embellishments, the ornate handles, and the colourfully painted scenes are the work of the exceptional hand and passionate heart of a craftsperson. The workshops are still located in Bourg-en-Bresse, where 50 artisans handcraft cabinets, chests of drawers, tables, desks, sofas, bookshelves, and mirrors. “We are a mix between the past and the future. A connection to the essence of wood along with modern finishes,” says Duval. At the crossroads of historical styles and avant-garde aesthetics, Moissonnier furniture breathes new life into tradition with a set of rare varnishes and finishes inspired by contemporary art and fashion.
Each year, Moissonnier releases a collection of roughly 200 models, with each product being realized to “just before the step of the finishes. Then ornamentation is completed to the client’s taste.” It’s Moissonnier’s bespoke work, however, that makes up more than 50 per cent of the company’s sales and where the company demonstrates its know-how through the command of lines and proportions, varnish, and sculpture. Each designer is a talented painter and sculptor, conceiving each item as a unique piece.
Looking ahead, Duval says she is focused on creating the “extraordinary”, and by this she means “very big dimensions. We just completed an American villa, so a very XXL sofa” (in her French accent, the word XXL sounds chi-chi). Another oversized feat is an 18-foot-long by 6-foot-wide table housed in a château in Cannes.
Moissonnier is part of a coterie of centuries-old firms that have become bastions of French luxury. “We are a family of artists, not just cabinetmakers,” notes Duval. And perhaps that distinction is what makes each Moissonnier piece a bona fide work of art.
Moissonnier 1028 Mainland St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2T4.
Photos courtesy of Kim Bellavance Photography.
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