SECRET DE MAISON – A range we describe as Romantic Vintage Industrial.
The look and feel of the Secret de Maison brand is described as Romantic-Vintage-Industrial furniture. That may seem like a bit of strange description for a furniture brand, but we feel it describes this innovative and eclectic collection to a tee.
The creator and owner of the brand is a Frenchman who also underwent his own evolution and growth in the years leading up the creation of the Secret de Maison brand. As with many people in his field, the owner starting out working with some of the well known traditional French furniture movements that we know and love.
The Louis XIII movement of the mid 1500’s to 1600’s, marks a period where the middle classes became wealthier and the furniture styles popular in the cities were made in a rustic fashion for the more relaxed style of living in the country, and hence, the French Provincial style of furniture was born. The trestle table, with its thick plateau tabletop and graceful trestle legs, is an example of this inviting style.
The Louis XIV style is the epitome of luxury and opulence and was popular from the mid 1600’s to the early 1700’s. The furniture of this era is characterized by intricate marquetry, heavy carving and gold leaf decorations of scalloped shells, lions and of course, the sun and its rays.
The Regence style, popular for a short period during the early 1700’s, was inspired by mythological themes and by the Orient. Flowers, shells and dragons were predominant decorations. Shapes became more bowed and round like the distinctive “bombe” chest. Chairs were also narrower with deeper seats. Caning was introduced and marble accents were used throughout. Pretty and romantic, this style of French furniture became enormously popular in Europe very quickly.
The Louis XV period was from the 1720’s to the 1770’s, and during this time the asymmetry and heavy ornamentation of the Regence period was made even more lavish through the use of extravagant wood veneers and marquetry. All kinds of lacquers and hand painting were also important, especially Oriental lacquers.
The Directoire style, popular from the late 1700’s to the early 1800’s, reflected the transition away from the flamboyant monarchy. Themes of antiquity and nature were still evident but much more subdued. Marquetry was abandoned in favour of more austere decorations. Geometric patterns were prevalent but less extravagant than before, often integrating a Grecian urn into the designs. The caryatid form was also used. And for the first time, Egyptian motifs emerged. Furniture sometimes included carvings of sphinxes in the bronze hardware detailing.
During the rule of Napoleon, from 1804-1814, the furniture silhouettes became grander and more substantial, with a more defined structure. Gone were the delicate carvings and round romantic shapes. Bold and formal, the Empire style was defined by architectural elements like columns, pilasters and bronze work. The pieces were commonly made from heavy woods such as mahogany and ebony with dark finishes. Marble tops were popular as were Egyptian motifs. Continuing the tradition of Directoire style, artisans used sphinxes, griffins, urns and eagles to decorate their work.
In terms of furniture and decoration, the Restoration period of the early 1800’s, meant the creation of a softer version of the Empire style. Craftsman continued to use the strong geometry of the period but they added a touch of whimsy and fantasy. Musical instruments were carved into the legs of small tables and desks. Woods were lighter in both colour and density. And the art of marquetry returned with decorative flowers, garlands and rosettes, and detailing that highlighted the architecture and geometry of the pieces.
The influences of all these bold and important periods of French furniture are still evident in the Secret de Maison brand today, and as the success of the owner increased so did his ability to travel the world and make observations into furniture design outside the realm of those which he had previously experienced. Success at furniture fairs and shows across Europe and Asia brought customers from all over the world, and with them came other new ideas and concepts. Research and sourcing trips to continents and countries like Africa, Europe, India and Thailand allowed ethnic and intrinsic furniture design influences from those locales to percolate into the brew.
So with an extremely solid basis in the French furniture of various important movements, combined with diverse cultural references from all over the globe we see the resulting amalgam in the pages of the Secret de Maison’s catalogue.
The hub of Secret de Maison’s operations is now the Central Java factory, which started in a small shed 16 years ago, and has now expanded to a premises of over 8000m3. The French owner has an experienced team of expats and local Indonesians in supporting roles to his leadership, with a total workforce of around 400 people.
There are highly trained craftsmen to produce the wooden furniture from kiln dried Mahogany and Mindi, using both traditional hand skills and modern machines. This is where the experience and vision of the owner really come into play, combining elements from all those areas of influence previously referenced into combinations that just work. For example, taking a leg from here, a profile from there, a proportion from somewhere else, adding a tasteful and perfectly executed carving, and the result is pure furniture and decorative magic. Handmade brass hardware provides the finishing touches to this furniture, and the styles and the forms of the handles and other hardware is carefully chosen to fit in with the character of the individual furniture pieces. Cabinetry and tables and chairs in all sizes and configurations are made and this way. Occasional items, mirrors and other decorative pieces also.
When it come the finishing of the wooden furniture, the experience and the creativity of the owner come to the forefront. Traditional lacquers finishes in a variety of rich brown hues are popular, and custom mixed colours such as “light honey mahogany” add an individualistic flavour to the selection that is available. Careful quality control and diligent sanding in multiple grits make sure all the furniture has the best preparation before any of the finishing processes start. The bulk of the wooden furniture is finished with some kind of paint finish, which requires a true artists touch to make it stand out in today’s market. While the colours used are mostly simple off whites and various tones of grey, the way the paints are applied requires a great deal of experience and talent to create the fantastic results we see in the catalogue pages. The latest trend within Secret de Maison itself is for more bright and bold paint colours to be coming through in the latest designs, so make sure you stay up dated with the latest offerings from the design department.
While wood has been the predominant material in the past, more and more steel items are coming through in the newer developments. The steel items lend themselves strongly to the “Industrial” part of the brands description, and the steel undergoes a finishing process whereby it takes on an aged patina, and also protection from rust. Galvanised steel items and components max out the Industrial look, and still retain the finesse and style of Secret de Maison. Furniture items available in steel include coffee tables, side tables, shelving and bookcases.
The fabrics used in Secret de Maison’s furnishings continue the overall natural and subdued tone of the collection, and natural fibres are the main choice. Cotton, linen and jute in beiges, greys and off whites are the mainstay colours, and the textures of the fabric are rather bold and coarse while maintaining softness and comfort. Polyester fabrics feature where extra strength and hardwearing are needed. Sofas and lounge chairs from the collection are supportive and comfortable, and a profusion of cushions is usually included to make for plush, cocooning seating. Fully certified fireproof foam is used throughout all soft furnishing, and solid wood underframes provide a rigid base to anchor the upholstery to.
Locally tanned goat hides are used for upholstering some items like stools, foot stools and some chairs. With the hair still attached to the hide, items upholstered with this material are natural looking and soft. Cushions can also be covered with the goat hide and the great skill of the tanners means that the comfort and lushness of the goat hide can be enjoyed for many years.
The range of accessories available for purchase from the brand is almost mind boggling. Lamps, lamps and more lamps made from many different materials and in models ranging from standing lamps, desk lamps, table lamps and wall mounted lamps, give you the ability to alter the mood of your living spaces with warm and subdued lighting. Mirrors in all shapes, sizes and styles in wood and metal, and clocks large and small, simple to ornate, give you the ability to adorn your walls with decorative pieces and fill up those plain empty spaces. Also available are art pieces of all shapes and sizes to simply decorate your home and provide the finishing touches when renovating.
For those of us not familiar with the French language, “Secret de Maison” means “The Secret House” and while the secrets within have remained so in the past, they are now revealed to everyday Indonesians as never before. For those people out there who are ready to benefit from the tremendous combined talents of the creator of Secret de Maison, and the skill and care of his experienced team, follow this blog and take a wander through the Secret de Maison catalogue pages on W Home.