A few weeks ago I had the great joy of spending the day with the talented French designer Jacqueline Morabito. We have a good friend in common, namely Marie-Christine Cavaglioni, stylist for Coté Sud and owner of the Château de Moissac.
The three of us met late morning at St Paul de Vence: lunch on the village square, bright and lively conversation and then off to visit Jacqueline’s atelier and her store in the nearby village of La Colle sur Loup.
How can I define Jacqueline Morabito? … The lady who invented white …. A renaissance woman whose talents have proved their point again and again, from fine jewellery, to soaps and lotions; to utilitarian objects for the home; to garden design and even complete houses.
It was a privilege, and great fun, to spend time with her, and observe her in her home.
Jacqueline grew up in Nice and in this part of southern France. She could have left the South and headed for Paris where she most certainly would have made a bigger name for herself, but she chose to stay in Provence and to reinvent daily living: respecting age old traditions, while creating pure and contemporary living environments.
In her atelier she has the space to show her larger pieces of furniture such as the clean cut marble and oak tables and chairs.
Across the tiny street is her little store, a treasure trove of beauty and design, that the innocent passer by would be surprised to discover behind the old fashioned façade. This is where she shows her smaller items. Her own range of minimalist packaged food range, named La Petite Épicerie, and many other items for the home, including her divine candles.
Besides designing these small details, she also creates interiors for clients across the globe, and even designs whole houses.
My heart beat a little faster as I parked my car and walked down the carefully traced stone path, between perfectly trimmed boxwood topiaries, and finally reached her home.
The house is ‘planted’ on sloping grounds, with views onto St Paul de Vence, and the Mediterranean sea in the distance. There have been olive trees on this land for hundreds of years, with the traditional ‘restanques‘, or low stone walls punctuating the slope and creating beautiful terraces that allow the trees to grow and the property to retain beauty and functionality.
On this land, Jacqueline designed and built her white cubic home, whose façade provides the perfect backdrop and counterbalance to the gentle silver greys of the Provençal landscape all around. When I visited, the garden was all green grass and jewel-like blue anemones, but Jacqueline actually prefers the summer months when the grass dries out and its parched colour provides a more gentle and subtle setting for her home.
Indoors the cubic design is still apparent in every room, with an amazing play of light, as the sun comes in and reflects off the white walls. White is of course the dominant colour, with the occasional touch of 18th century textile or furniture.
Even the communicating doors between rooms are totally white, and in fact are simple slices of wall, cut out and hinged to swing open – the effect is fascinating.
Jacqueline believes in the importance of combining the traditional arts and knowledge of the Provence artisans, with modern innovation. Central heating is hidden underground, her kitchen is state of the art, but her curtains are simple linen panels that can be hooked or unhooked as required.
Upstairs her room and bathroom are flooded with light, and a gallery room provides a plunging view onto the living space below.
I left Jacqueline’s home at the end of the day, in awe of her vision and passion for design. She is inspiring, and full of energy and joie de vivre; proof again that living creatively is rewarding and fulfilling – the important thing is to find the right path to follow.
If you wish to see more about Jacqueline’s work, or contact her for a design project, the best thing is to visit her site, right here Jacqueline Morabito.
65 rue Yves Klein, 06480 La Colle sur Loup