A passion for beauty, eclectic design and convivial sapces led Si Mazouz to found her successful home design blog “French By Design,” an inspiration for countless designers and decor lovers. Using her expertise and position as a French expat in San Francisco, she has recently written How the French Live — a book that explores modern French style through the lens of 14 different French families living in the U.S. and abroad.
We sat down with Si to talk about defining her signature style, her new book and what “Frenchness” means to her.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and where you’re from?
I am French (on my mom’s side) and Berber Moroccan (on my dad’s), so I grew up influenced by these two cultures. I currently live in San Francisco, California but have been blessed by the opportunity to live on three continents, which helped define my signature “French By Design” style: bohemian, homemade décor that embraces the “less house, more home” philosophy.
What did you most miss about France when you moved to the U.S?
I missed the language and the food (the cheese in particular!) the most, but I was mesmerized by the American way of life, the new energy around me and the difference in scale… Everything was so much bigger compared to Europe!
What are the key points of French art de vivre that were ingrained into your design aesthetic?
The French have a particular affection for the old and antique. While living in Provence, I would spend my weekends at flea markets scouting treasures, so my eyes are always on the lookout for hidden gems.
You will rarely see matching sets in a French living room, but rather an antique sofa with a Scandinavian modern armchair or an ethnic rug. It’s this quirky mix of elements that make French art de vivre so unique. But I always like to challenge myself and often find lots of happy accidents when I design a space!
Your book How The French Live goes into the homes of families in France, Morocco and the U.S. What common threads did you see amongst the 14 houses you visited?
Each home I visited for How the French Live told the story of the family that lives in it, where they came from, where they had traveled to and what they enjoy doing individually, as well as together. Overall, each one showed a “living” house, where each room served a purpose with practicality and beauty.
These French interiors were all centered around usability, highlighting individual pieces that tell a story, creating spaces for family gatherings, especially around meals. Design focuses on accents and practicality, with no strict rules!
How do you define “Frenchness”?
In décor, “Frenchness” is eclectic, happy, quirky, daring and curious, with a sense of casualness. For me, it’s a “liveable chaos,” filled with beauty, simplicity and a constant invitation to enjoy the space.
How the French Live by Si Masouz is available now.
Photography by Siham Mazouz for French By Design