Have you ever been to a restaurant or hotel and fallen in love with the decor? Or even spotted a hotel or restaurant online and wondered where they got their decorative accessories or furniture? This happens to me ALL THE TIME. Granted, a lot of the time I can spot the brands immediately, god knows I spend enough time researching and writing about this stuff to recognise it. But occasionally, I will see something amazing and have no idea where to get it or who makes it.
Luckily, this is where Maison Flaneur comes in. Founded by Dionas Sotiriou and now run with his university friend Gabriel Moukhbat and school friend Marie Winckler, Maison Flaneur is “the destination of choice for travellers and home enthusiasts looking for a unique and ever-evolving collection of homeware products curated from the best hotel, restaurant and hospitality experiences across the world.”
Curious as always, I wanted to hear the story directly from the horse’s mouth, so I drew up some questions for Dionas and he kindly agreed to answer them for me.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
Since I can remember I have always had a passion for travelling – this feeling of going on an adventure, meeting people from different walks of life, different cultures, has always been my main source of inspiration. I have had quite an international upbringing being Greek-born in Brussels. I moved to the UK at the age of 17 and have been here ever since. I am very lucky that my work still enables me to carry on this passion.
What were you doing before you founded Maison Flaneur?
Before Maison Flaneur I was working in Asset Management for five years. It was very formative and enjoyable, but I always wanted to do something more creative. Maison Flaneur started as a side weekend project but quickly became an obsession.
Can you tell us the story behind the name?
Flaneur embodies the philosophy behind our vision: “the ability to wander detached from society”. We travel the world to find amazing products and stories that our audience seek but do not have easy access to.
The name finds its roots in french literature and has been widely used by several authors of the XIXth century in France. Honoré de Balzac described flânerie as “the gastronomy of the eye”. But my favourite quote is from Charles Baudelaire: “To be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home.”
What was it that prompted you to set up Maison Flaneur?
I remember this very vividly. I guess all entrepreneurs do. I started thinking of Maison Flaneur after visiting one of my favourite Korean restaurants in Soho and found myself wanting to buy this beautiful jug they had. The waiter had no clue of the brand and neither did the manager. Conclusion? I am still looking for it.
Who does Maison Flaneur appeal to? Who is your ideal customer?
Maison Flaneur is for travel & home enthusiasts, looking for something more than just functionality in objects. People that see their home as a reflection of themselves and life experiences. What has been amazing since we launched is how different all our customers are.
How do you choose which hotels you want to partner with? How do you find them?
That’s the best part of the job. We meet so many interesting and fascinating people. We always tend to look for the human factor in a hotel. Every single hotelier we are working with has a true passion and it transpires when they host you, not only in the service but also in the attention to detail and interiors.
What do you look for in a hotel that is fit for a flaneur?
The unusual and quirky piece/story that only a true observer (read flaneur) gets to discover.
Where is your favourite place in the world and why?
A place I love coming back to, at risk of sounding very chauvinist, is the Ioanian islands in Greece. The island of Paxoi is a one-of-a-kind destination.
Of all the hotels/restaurants you have visited, which is your favourite and why?
There are far too many to mention but the El Fenn in Marrakech is quite a unique experience. In terms of design, I have rarely seen such an amazing place. Everything from the service to the design is tailored to make your stay memorable. A true Flaneur destination.
Can you describe your own personal interiors style?
A home needs to look alive. I like a varied interior with a mix of several styles. I guess Maison Flaneur is a reflection of that in a sense. We do not have set line, the catalogue is ever-evolving with styles and crafts from all around the world.
What is your favourite item in your own home and why?
Plants! Such an important element in making a home livelier. You can easily move them around and change the dynamic of your space. For a good bargain visit Columbia Flower market.
Any exciting developments that you have coming up at Maison Flaneur that you can tell us about?
We want to offer our customer more than just an e-shop. We believe Maison Flaneur to be more than just an online experience, after all, we are dealing with physical spaces everywhere in the world. In the months to come, our followers will be able to attend offline events where they will be able to discover our universe. Regular events focused on travel and interior design.
Thank you Dionas Sotiriou for those insights. I’d love to hear what you guys think. Have you ever spotted a must-have item in a hotel or restaurant and been unable to trace its origins? Do you think Maison Flaneur will come in handy next tie this happens? Drop me a comment below.