French-born interior designer Bruno de Caumont has wowed the Vietnamese design industry with his brave use of bold colours.
A peek inside his three-storey 1950s house, La Villa Verte in Ho Chi Minh City, reveals walls painted in stripes and chequered patterns, baby blues, bubble gum pinks, cornflower yellows and lotus greens.
A pink room in La Villa Verte. Photo: Bruno Caumont
‘Colour is a kind of language’ de Caumont explains. ‘The symbolism of colour sends out messages and speaks to our emotions. Colours give life to the people who look at it.’
De Caumont’s love of colour is particularly refreshing at a time when most interior designers seem to be playing it safe with neutral palettes.
‘Interior designers who always use white have nothing to say,’ he enthuses.
If colours are an indication of someone’s personality, then La Villa Verte is a prime example of its owner’s cheerful dynamism.
Design is in the blood
The passionate designer perhaps owes his love of bright bold colours to his ancestor Ange-Jacque Gabriel, the famous French architect who designed Mari Antoinette’s Petit Trianon in Versailles and the Place de la Concorde in Paris.
But it was only by chance that de Caumont came into interior and furniture. His original plan was to become a lawyer, but his passion for French historical furniture and his eye for beauty led him to become an antique dealer at Paris’s Marche Paul Bert flea market instead.
In 2001, he helped a friend design her home. This project was such a success that it was featured in Elle Decoration Paris and requests for de Caumont’s interior design services began pouring in.
A quirky orange living room in a Paris apartment. Photo: Bruno Caumont
He since found fame not only as an interior designer, but as a furniture maker too.
You can find examples of his lively pieces in the décor of prestigious hotels such the Hotel Bourgogne in Montana and the Mandarin Oriental Paris.
De Caumont now operates a factory from his base in Vietnam, where he produces his own colourful furniture, carpets and tiles.
His Annam collection in particular—an East meets West ensemble in glossy red, purple, orange, yellow and green—is an example of how he uses colour to bring Asian and European aesthetics together beautifully.
Colour comes first
When thinking about redesigning your home, it’s important that your interior harmonises with the history or character or the building that it is sited in, de Caumont explains.
‘You need to have harmony between exterior and interior for a home to have atmosphere. If I am designing an apartment in a 1980s building, I won’t put 18th century style cornices or paneling,’ he adds.
Light blue walls in a living room in Brussels. Photo: Bruno Caumont
He also advises to decide on the colour scheme before anything else.
‘I always use one cool colour, for example grey or light blue, and one warm colour, for example red or purple for contrast and to balance the room. I can then add details in other colours,’ he explains.
By being clever with the colour on the walls, you can create illusions with your space. A feature wall is one way of making a lasting impression on anyone who enters your room.
‘I once did a room with three grey walls and one purple wall, then added orange carpets and pillows,’ explains de Caumont.
‘Everyone who entered remembered the room as being orange even though the dominant wall colour was in fact grey.’
A black-and-white chequered floor in La Villa Verte. Photo: Bruno Caumont
Using multiple mirrors on the walls to make a room feel larger is another trick that he sometimes employs to transform a space.
He also uses textures such as faux crocodile skin, antique panelling or false fretting to add interest and change the atmosphere in the room.
A painted wall—hand-painted with textures and patterns—will really ensure you have a unique home that expresses your personality, de Caumont reveals.
‘Occasionally, I use antique wallpaper, but I prefer to hire artists and craftsmen to hand paint patterns and designs onto the wall,’ he says.
‘Hand painting ensures the uniqueness and exclusivity of the design, so my clients know that they have a truly original wall.’
For de Caumont, colourful walls evoke positive feelings in those who see them.
‘Good design is about designing a home that people want to be in, a liveable place that inspires one to linger,’ he says.
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Michele Koh Morollo has been writing about lifestyle and design for 20 years and contributes to titles such as Singapore Tatler Homes, Design Anthology, Dwell, Home Journal and Perspective Global.