If Margaux Keller’s objects seem so familiar, it’s because, like Proust’s famous madeleines, they conjure up memories through their elegant, now iconic curves.
Through such pieces, Keller has created a delicate, joyful design universe based on her own experiences.
Chair SWIM Margaux Keller for Bibelo ©L.Melone
Born in Marseille, she studied design at the Ecole Boulle before cutting her teeth at Philippe Starck under the helm of Eugeni Quittlet. Then she left Paris for a one-year residency at Fabrica – the laboratory-school created by Benetton – under the aegis of Sam Baron.
“That’s where I really understood the importance of creating an identity of my own. My encounter with Sam was especially instructive in this regard because he insisted on the need for designers to find their own style in order to stand out from the crowd.”
Back in France, Keller barely hesitated when it came to choosing between the capital and her native city. She had a strong desire to add to an already distinct design identity ‘some sunshine, the Mediterranean, the mistral and cicadas’. So she set up her eponymous studio in Marseille.
Shelf PINÈNE Margaux Keller for MK Collection ©L.Melone
There ensued prominent collaborations with firms including Habitat, Roche Bobois, Bibelo, La Chaise Française and made.com, either creating objects and furniture for them or acting as artistic director, and with brands such as Cartier, YSL and Dior, for whom she designed perfume bottles.
From here it was a short step from design to interiors, and Margaux rapidly found herself ‘building the shell’ around the objects she designed. From hair salons to boutiques, interior design projects followed one after another, and though all were unique, each had at its heart the sinuous aesthetic so dear to the designer.
These very different but elegant works radiated to spread the southerner’s reputation far beyond her own region. And if the sun shines more in Marseille than in most of the rest of the French hexagon, Margaux Keller has shown herself determined to highlight the other treasures of her country through objects imbued with melodious accents.
Meeting Anaïs Fretigny, another confirmed Marseillaise, was a turning point. Fretigny encouraged her to go into business with her, and their brand, Margaux Keller Collections, was launched by the two young women in 2019. Its pieces shine a light on the nobility of the materials worked on by local artisans, together forming narrative collections largely inspired by the culture of the Midi. ‘Vue mer’, ‘Mistral Noir’ and ‘Pin Parasols’ draw on the designer’s most meaningful memories to honour archetypal forms drawn from objects or from landscapes that played a large role in her childhood.
“IT ANNOYS ME WHEN IT IS DESCRIBED AS FEMININE. I LOVE CURVES BECAUSE, IN MY OPINION, THEY INSPIRE EMOTION AND FEELINGS OF CONNECTION. BUT WOMEN DESIGNERS DON’T HAVE A MONOPOLY ON CURVES!”
Mirror GARIBABOU, Limited edition Margaux Keller for MK Collection ©L.Melone
From the Piou wine carafe, designed with the help of a local sommelier and revisiting the traditional beaked carafes that her grandmother loved to use at the table, to the Parasols glasses that form a stylish hybrid of run-of-the-mill water glasses and the sophisticated champagne coupes of the Années Folles, Margaux Keller Collections – through colours and/or subtle curves – revive classics of yesteryear by adding an unexpected dose of soul that raises them to the rank of must-haves in contemporary interiors.
While waiting to launch her own home scent next January, Margaux Keller continues to enchant diners by creating a first-rate peppermill.