Neighbourhood Series: An Interview with Owner of Raphaelle Designs
French designer Anaïs Guennoc sat down with us to discuss how her career moved from rebuilding Ōtautahi to opening her own interior architecture studio, where she draws inspiration from and what she loves most about Christchurch.
After obtaining a master’s in civil engineering from Blaise Pascal University in France, Anaïs Guennoc moved to Paris to kickstart her career as a structural engineer. After working in the French capital for five years, she decided it was time for a change of scenery and uprooted her life to Aotearoa in 2014.
She recalls meeting some students the day she arrived in Ōtautahi who were presenting the vision for the city following the devastating earthquakes in 2011. Inspired by the potential and the way the community came together during such a difficult time, Anaïs secured a structural engineering job in Christchurch and applied her skills to rebuilding the city for a few years before her career took a creative pivot.
“While I love so many aspects of structural engineering, I later discovered that I was really longing for something more creative in my career. In 2018, I enrolled at Ara Institute to study the theory and practical aspects of interior design, obtained my diploma and then decided to open my own interior architecture studio.”
While some see structural engineering and interior design as contradictory, Anaïs explained that the relationship between the two disciplines actually complement each other quite well. “The more engineering advances, the more imaginative architecture can get and vice-versa, creating a fantastic dynamic for design. I find they mutually enrich answers to so many of the philosophical questions I can’t help but keep asking myself – how do we inhabit in the space, and why? What does make us feel safe? What connections do humans need with their natural environments? And so many more!”
Raphaelle, the name of Anaïs’ Christchurch-based studio, covers all aspects of interior architecture. From the initial planning stages to deciding what decor works best for a particular space, Anaïs leverages her strong artistic eye, creative design approach and technical skills to transform a space into something that’s safe, functional and aesthetically pleasing.
Regardless of the type and size of the task, she explains that trust and communication are key to building strong client relationships and delivering the best possible projects. “As a designer it’s my job to ask the right questions, draw out the brief from the client and find out exactly what they want for the space. Along with understanding their expectations upfront, I always try to learn more about my clients, their personal lives and how they intend to grow into the space so that I’m creating a fit for purpose space and something that they’ll truly connect with.”
She loves the fact that every day and every client is different and enjoys adapting her services to her clients’ needs and problem solving while on the job. “It’s a very rewarding career. I’m always learning and looking forward to taking on new clients and tackling new projects.”
You can learn more about Anaïs’ interior architecture studio at www.raphaelle.co.nz.
Living in Ōtautahi for over seven years now, Anaïs says that she’s still in awe of the city. She loves the positive vibes of the people, being surrounded by so much natural beauty and witnessing all of the cool new places that keep popping up.
As a big advocate for supporting local, Anaïs shared a few of her favourite places that she visits often in Ōtautahi.
Go to shop
Favourite furniture shop
Most visited place
This series is brought to you by our Creative and Digital Partner, Publica.