LIgHT HEARTS ON WINTER GARDEN

Stéphane and Olivier - Olhão, Algarve

Par: Aurélie ROUTHIER

As it is often the case in life, it was unlikely that these two destinies would ever cross paths. These paths, which met by chance in Algarve, a land beaten by the winds, became intertwined. Stéphane, freshly arrived in 2019 from Burgundy, in Tavira for a seasonal job, immediately fell in love with the region. A year earlier, Olivier was leaving Bordeaux and his job as a dental technician to return to his parents' country and change his life.

Together and nourished by the creative energy of Portugal, they sealed the pact of beautyand an art of living as simple as it is rich. Their playground is their splendid house in Olhão. And light is the common thread.

Tell us about this land at the end of Europe that you have made your own, Olhão.

Imagine a labyrinth of cobbled streets with cubic whitewashed houses with coloured azulejos facades. The contamination of the past with Africa is palpable in every corner. You almost feel like you are in a medina in Essaouira. It is a "real" city in which the Portuguese soul still reigns, as Arthur Pastor photographed so well in the 1940s.

And above all, it is atown that does not live by tourism alone, but first and foremost by fishing. You can smell thegrilled sardines at any time of the day.

And then of course the presence of the sea, powerful and comforting at the same time, which we pass by at weekends to go to the marvellous islands along the coast.

Stéphane, you are one of the "souls" of "Zé e Maria", what is the spirit of this shop?

Our shop has existed for five years. Olivier founded it with Claudia Lichtensteinen. Since then, it has evolved in its offer over the years. Initially, we offered furniture, decoration and lifestyle. Today we also offer a real service by taking care of home decoration projects from A to Z.

The common thread in everything we do is the promotion of Portuguese know-how and craftsmanship through very contemporary objects or projects with multiple influences. "Zé e Maria"  is much more than a shop, it is a place for exchanges and encounters with local artists that we are keen to promote.

I hear you love to stay at home , we would love too with such a house! Tell us about it.

It's a bourgeois house from the beginning of the last century, with an ornate facade with traditional azulejos, very high vaulted ceilings, and typical mouldings on the wall that have been left intact.

We fell in love with it as soon as we entered the living room: volumes, soul and light, everything was there to seduce us and allow us to bring our personal touch. For example, the height of the ceiling is such that we can afford a headboard that is not horizontal but vertical.  

The Comporta rug at the head of the bed is original!

Its blue is hypnotising! Just like the sea. When you look at it, it's almost meditative, you're in another place between sky and sea.

A lot of white, blue in touches, but also green! In your work, plants have an important place both inside and outside.

Yes indeed, first, in the living room there is this large fresco (Ananbô) which plunges us into a tropical and romantic distance expressed by a cameo of greens. Then there are all the real green plants, starting with the large palm tree in the house. The presence of the plant associated with the sand-coloured waxed concrete floor blurs the lines between the outside and the inside.

This idea is embodied in the patio which opens onto the living room. And that's why we like to call our house a "little garden in the city".

Your definition of beauty

Stéphane: a detail, an unforeseen event.

Olivier: elegance and chic, but also simply something that provokes an emotion. Like this goat in the painting by Meinke Flesseman, a Dutch artist who lives in the Algarve. Yes, because every time I look at it, I am moved by this animal that seems to want to come out of it.

What is your favourite SAUDADE rug?

Perhaps the one in our bedroom, the saffron Tavira, because it seems to have been made to measure for this room. Our bedroom has a terracotta coloured wall. The Saffron carpet is a perfect match for it. In the end, the whole Algarve is expressed in this room: the white of the walls, the terracotta of the floor and the yellow of the sun.

Where does your rug take you?

S: The Balearics, Menorca. Finally, a sunny place that looks quite similar to here. A passion for the Mediterranean!

O: In the Middle East, on the dunes of Jordan. I admit, I have a passion for sand!

Lady carpet or mother cushions?

Mother cushions! We're homebodies so cushions are cocoons. We are always surrounded by mountains of cushions on our sofa. Cushions are super interesting objects because they allow us to easily play with the decoration, to change colours when we feel like it according to the moods or the seasons!

Are objects important to you?

They are important because they tell a story, a moment in our lives, present or past. In our house there is a large corridor where we have made three bookcases on which we find these objects of the heart.

An object that best represents the saudade in your home?

O : the "Goat painting" always! Goats are my childhood, the times I spent here in Portugal with my grandfather. The saudade is something that follows us all the time, in a positive way of course. I hope that this goat will follow us as long as possible!

In your pantheon of inspirational people, who would you put?

S: Anna Westerlund, a talented ceramist from Lisbon. Her work is really refined, mixing ceramics, fabric and beads for unique decorative pieces. She inspires me a lot in my desire to create. I have launched my first collection of jewellery that we sell in the shop.

O: My friend Claudia, with whom I started the shop, was a great inspiration to me. She introduced me to the soul of this city, told me the fascinating history of this unique architecture, the legends that come from it and this had a lot of influence on the renovation of our house.

The eye of the artist, the hand of the craftsman.
The eye of the artist, the hand of the craftsman.
Materials to live by. Facing the Ocean
Materials to live by. Facing the Ocean
The art of weaving the living
The art of weaving the living
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