This explains why, in her role as Designer of the Year at the Maison et Objet trade fair in Paris this week, González is creating a functional cafe, rather than designing an exhibition stand full of beautiful objects. The designer wants visitors to not only familiarise themselves with her exuberant style, but to immerse themselves in it. “When I think of a project, I imagine it in my mind as a whole, with furniture, details and finishes,” she explains.
It is this holistic approach that has led González to design eclectic interiors for hotels, bars, restaurants and nightclubs across Paris. Although she took a traditional route into architecture, studying at the École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture, she made it clear almost immediately post-graduation that her interests were more in the contents of buildings than the buildings themselves. After setting up her practice Pravda Arkitect in 2008, González’s first major project saw her transform Parisian rock club Bus Palladium through a surprising mixture of vintage furniture, bold textiles and – no joke – 35 different wallpapers.
The projects that followed all showcase the same mix-and-match approach when it comes to references, styles, colours, materials and patterns. For González, there are no clearly formulated rules when it comes to furnishing a space. “I have no boundaries in my inspirations,” she says, naming architecture, fashion, literature and travel as influences. “I know exactly what I don't like but I can be open to everything else.”
Among the designer’s latest projects is the revival of Rive Gauche restaurant Lapérouse, a venue formerly frequented by the likes of Victor Hugo, Marcel Proust and Ernest Hemingway. Along with the original Venetian mirrors and restored period frescoes, González added Pierre Frey silks and rococo furniture.
She looked to art-deco influences for the chic Brasserie La Lorraine, while the various boutiques she has created for Cartier reveal her love of crafts such as marble masonry and glassblowing.
While many would describe González’s designs as maximalist, she sees them as sensitive. González says that she isn’t trying to shock, but rather has a natural curiosity and love for many different strands of design history. “Sensibility is everything,” she explains. “It allows you to understand what you see, and that leads to new creations and reinterpretations. That is why my style can be so eclectic sometimes.”
For many people, Maison & Objet will be their first experience of González’s work. Almost all of her projects over the past decade – bar a few boutiques – have been in Paris. But with her reputation growing, the designer is at last exploring opportunities abroad. Hotels are now in the works in Italy and South Africa, as well as Cartier stores in New York and Shanghai.
But for her role as Designer of the Year for Maison et Objet, she is creating something markedly French. Her installation, called Café Signature, will be serving up treats from French pastry chef Pierre Hermé in a setting filled with bright colours and geometric shapes. She is taking the opportunity to assert, in her words, “the Parisian stamp that I try to keep” on a new audience.