Detail of terra cotta, custom brick pattern, and curtain wall glass at UO Tykeson Hall.

Need to Know: Sarah Lavoine of Maison Sarah Lavoine

"Interior design is not limited to decoration. It’s about psychology, lifestyle, well-being."

"Interior design is not limited to decoration. It’s about psychology, lifestyle, well-being."

Here at The List, we’re ever-curious about the culture of design, so who better to survey about the field’s current state than those currently working at the top of it? In Need to Know, we pick the brains of best-in-class creatives to find out how they got to where they are today—and to share an insider’s perspective on the challenges and highlights of their particular perches in the design world. 

It’s quite a rare and special thing to have your own color. Famously, Yves Klein, had his beautiful trademark blue. So does interior designer and burgeoning brand steward Sarah Lavoine.

Lavoine’s particular shade of green-touched blue is a bit more relaxed than Klein’s and perhaps a tad more functional. It goes along well with a career that began with creating comfortable interiors for private clients and transitioned to sitting atop a large and highly usable signature collection of housewares, furniture, and decorative elements, Maison Sarah Lavoine.

As she’s told us before, Lavoine is focused on home elements that bring happiness and comfort to her clients and customers—nothing fussy or pretentious. Of course, getting to that place of easy, educated luxury isn’t quite the snap it looks to be. Below, Lavoine chats with us about her history, how a background in psychology has informed her practice, and what’s next.

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I’d love to hear about how you got your start in the industry.

I grew up in design, it was always all around me. At first, I studied acting, still being in the arts. Once I got involved with interior architecture and after improving with the help of Sabine Marchal and François Schmidt, I decided to open my own studio in 2002. I started by working in private architectural projects, [followed by] the opening of my two stores, Rue Saint-Roch and Rue du Bac.

How did your upbringing influence the way you think about or experience design?

Being Parisian has a big influence on my style and it might be a little different for foreigners. For us, the typical Parisian style is a mix that gives an overall casual yet elegant look to a place or even an outfit. We are not really formal, so we can blend vintage inspirations and contemporary pieces. My mother, being an interior architect, gave me the sense of decoration, aestheticism. I think it’s been in myself since maybe I was 10 years old to organize and design my room.

What was your first collaboration for the Maison, and how is it indicative of your brand’s overall ethos?

With Maison Jars, a French maison that makes matte and enameled ceramics. It shows a passion for handmade creation and a real craftsmanship.

What aspect of your brand are you most proud of?

The people who make up my brand, our team. I can say I’m very proud of the group we are and the work we do together.

What advice do you have for young professionals in the field?

Interior design is not limited to decoration. It’s about psychology, lifestyle, well-being. You have to take everything into account in order to create an interior that will please its owner. I studied psychology back in the days, I think that’s what helps me the most.

New projects we should know about?

We’ve just launched the Blue Collection for the summer. This collection is exciting to me because it includes my first chair ever, the Double-Jeu. Drawing a chair is not an easy exercise—it’s the ultimate design piece, so it was a challenge! We had to find a line that corresponded to the DNA of our brand, find our codes, but also propose something new and timeless at the same time.

Do you have a dream project you’d love to work on, but haven’t yet?

Hostels imagined like a real house in the style of our maison.


(Photos: Courtesy Maison Sarah Levoine)

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