Where I Work: Isabelle Dubern-Mallevays of The Invisible Collection
For this month’s Where I Work, we’re (virtually) heading to Paris, France for a closer look at where Isabelle Dubern-Mallevays has been living and working. Like many, the The Invisible Collection co-founder had to rethink her workspace when the pandemic hit, which meant halting travel to her London place and carving out space in her open, light-filled Parisian flat. Previously, Dubern-Mallevays was a journalist and lifestyle editor of Bloomberg, creative directive of Dior Maison and artistic advisor at Diptyque, all prior to launching the online platform with Anna Zaoui, where her passion for interior decor and artisanship perfectly align. Now, she’s sharing how she brings it all together while staying in one place with inspiring views.
What’s your studio/work environment like?
I can work anywhere – on an early morning train, in a noisy café, at home on the sofa with music or a podcast…
At home, I like a more organized and tidier space. I spent 10 years in boarding school, so I’ve kept a taste for clean and tidy places for myself, however I love maximalism and some level of disorder in my friends’ homes.
How is your space organized/arranged?
I have a small study that I share with my husband, but since being confined to one space with all the calls that ensue throughout the day, I have settled on the dining room table in the living room. It faces the lemon trees on my terrace, the roofs of Paris and is very close to the kitchen.
If you could change something about your workspace, what would it be?
My dream study would be facing the ocean with a library, a desk and chair by Pierre Yovanovitch and a beautiful Alexandra sofa by Charles Zana (two of the many talented designers on our platform), and the laughs of my children…
Have you had to make any adjustments to how you work because of the pandemic? How do you see things changing in your workplace moving forward with COVID-19 now a part of our reality?
Of course. Since the beginning of the pandemic and for the last year, the work has changed a lot. The days are tunnels of Zoom and Teams calls, but I have found it extraordinary how it has streamlined our exchanges throughout this time. With our team, it allows us to communicate more efficiently than previous meetings in heavier formats.
I am delighted to go back to the office, see the designers again, but I have been grateful for the unnecessary travels that have been saved by this new means of communication. Not to mention, I have loved working in the same space as my husband and children.
Do you require music in the background? If so, who are some favorites?
I love podcasts which focus on artists, business, health, lifestyle, etc. And classical music – Bach, Beethoven, Shubert.
How do you record ideas?
Always in my Smythson notebooks, which I keep in a variety of colored leathers (and monogrammed).
Do you have an inspiration board?
Books, books and more books!
What is your typical work style?
I enjoy my alone time as it allows me to take a step back and think clearly. I often have very long days, so if possible, I like to take trips to different settings like Rome or the seaside in Greece, the Galignani library in Paris – all which also provide inspiration for me.
What is your creative process and/or creative workflow like? Does it change every project or do you keep it the same?
To be able to create, I alternate between phases of reading and consuming a lot, going on walks, sleeping/dreaming and intense phases of work and exchange with our craftsmen and my teams.
What kind of art/design/objects might you have scattered about the space?
Books, a frame in Fortuny fabric and a Murano glass with a photo of my children.
What tool(s) do you most enjoy using in the design process?
Books. A few favorites of mine are Stefan Zweig’s The Invisible Collection (as it inspired the name of the platform), Pierre Yovanovitch’s Interior Architecture (the first designer on the platform) Charles Zana’s The Art of Interiors (also a designer on the platform) and photographer Francois Halard’s Francois Halard: A Visual Diary.
Let’s talk about how you’re wired. Tell us about your tech arsenal/devices.
I do everything on a MacBook Pro.
What’s on your desk right now?
I don’t often work from my desk as I find a change of scenery and the view from my sofa much more natural and inspiring. All I need is my laptop, music playing, and a few books scattered about for inspiration.
Is there a favorite project/piece you’ve worked on?
This small flat in Paris with its lemon, olive tree and aromatic plant-lined terrace overlooking the rooftops of Paris.
Tell us about a current project you’re working on. What was the inspiration behind it?
The Invisible Collection has a lot of plans in the works from a pop-up in the Hamptons this summer, a beautiful mews in the Marylebone area for a new showroom in the fall, working with artisans to curate a large exhibition…We are also in an exciting phase of building our portfolio and adding new designers to the platform.
Do you have anything in your home that you’ve designed/created?
I have kept some very nice pieces that I created (or co-created) during my time with Dior Maison and Diptyque Decoration – some blue and pink plates, ceramic cups, magic painted or engraved glasses from Lobmeir for Diptyque and Dior, candleholders designed with Osanna Visconti, a prototype vase designed with Jeremy Maxwell for Dior, wonderful, embroidered bedlinen… I wish I had bought everything!