Sunday, October 26, 2014

IR: Green, the color of freshness, of nubile elegance, free of gender, and synonymous with nature. Adding a little green is never a bad decision, whether it's in a room with few colors or many, the color adds an organic shine. As a hue, we never tire of green, from lime, to kelly, to forest, and so it's always a pleasure rolling out a green piece (pun most certainly intended)! The natural hue brings life into a room that no other colors can rival.

Art Deco desk 'SAFARI' (available here) has both class and wit in an emerald green a flapper gal would envy. There's a plethora of inspiration for the use of green furniture, and don't even get me started on the infinite styling options. I could drone on and on about how you can pair green with black and white, natural wood, a rainbow of colors, metallics or leathers... but rather than that, we thought we'd just getting the ball rolling with some inspiration! Photos sourced from The Kept Life, attic., Plateful of Love, and Plascon Trends.

At Mignonne love to hear from our friends and customers! If you have any questions about any of our projects or services, or would like to get a conversation started on a custom piece of your own, just shoot us an email at

xoxo mignonne


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

IR: We love statement pieces. In fact, we love them so much we spend our days designing, building them, styling them, and putting them to market. And here's why: though design isn't always synonymous with art, we see the art in every piece we put our hearts into.

Owner and designer, Johnelle, personally has a major role in every design, artistically leading all projects undertaken here, and started her business designing and restoring furniture for the love of it, in addition to, of course, her uncommon knack, a talent and eye for it. Her artistic aesthetic is where the Mignonne brand came from, and with a background in fine arts, she creates pieces with acute attention to detail, as well as designing broad and cohesive interiors.

Our dazzling 'LA PAZ' chair, upholstered in hand-picked, one-of-a-kind textiles, like the Bolivian aguayo cloth and the well worn leather of a vintage jacket, is a stand alone piece, and a shinning example of furniture as art. Or is it art as furniture?

The upholstery, a collage in a color palette of Kahlo-esque vibrancy. The pink, effervescent, double-welt piping draws the eye around the hand-carved, art nouveau wood frame with stark contrast, while the smooth and daring ebony leather simultaneously compliments it.

'LA PAZ's charisma lies not just in the bright colors that she dons, but in the combination of class and spice. She's outstanding, maybe even a bit shocking, but never is she offensive. Evoking emotion with soft and hard sides, this chair is a piece that can converse with all the ages. And I don't just mean by the appeal to the nubile, and those who've seen a few more seasons alike. In a classic room or a modern one, she's one chica who knows just what to do. All together empathetic and inspirational, and we just can't get over her and her show-stealing charm.

'LA PAZ' is available now in our West Berkeley storefront!

Along with shop pieces, we relish our collaborations with customers. Designing something that can bring you joy is why we do what we do! We even offer a free one-hour design meeting for clients upholstering with us. To schedule a consultation in upholstery, revamping or for help with any of your miscellaneous interior design needs, shoot us an email at:


Sunday, October 5, 2014

You may or may not know of our sister shop in Brantôme, France. Regardless, you're about to learn more! 

Kim Mancha (seen in the bottom right photo, standing to the left of Johnelle) owner and proprietor of The Bohemians. She has been living and working in Brantôme since 2007 when she upheaved her life, leaving behind hometown and a career, but not her two darling pups. 

She's been inspired by french culture all her life, and beginning with her school days, dreamed of, as one could say, a bohemian life in France. After years of dreaming, sending her children (Mignonne owner and lead designer, Johnelle Mancha and her brother) to Berkeley's French American school, Ecole Bilengue, and eventually making numerous trips (only after both her children had a chance to go, she adds) she began searching for a vacation property. With the help of Johnelle, Kim found what would turn out to be her year-round home, in no less than her favorite area.

Her shop there specializes in all things beautiful, from home decor to hand-made clothing lines. She sponsors young artists and craftspeople locally and internationally, and takes pleasure in fostering creativity in all people, hosting monthly workshops in furniture restoration and design guidance. Kim especially loves supporting female owned and operated companies, and carries a clothing line as well as a artisan paint line owned and run by inspiring and talented women; La Fiancee Du Mekong of France, and Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan out of England.

Unfortunately, so far, I only make it to the South of France every 15 or so years, and won't be due again, by that logic, for a long while. So, although it would have been [much] better to chat in person, alas, I was left only to communicate with my interviewee over long distance. Nevertheless... I had the opportunity to correspond with Kim, and had such a fun time listening to her take on life, art, culture and business, in the South of France. 

IR: So Kim, as an American transplant living in the town of Brantôme, France, can you tell me where that is, and a little about that area?

KM: Brantôme is in the Dordogne, which is a department (kind of like county) in the Southwest of France.  France is kind of funny in that an area can have more than one name/ designation... so while it is in the Dordogne, it is also in the Aquitaine Region and also part of the Perigord (divided into four parts... confused yet?! I still am). The area is dripping in history; the Dorgone and Aquitaine has been fought over between France and england for centuries. It is an area with rich agricultural activities and known for all of its many delicacies such as truffles, cepes (mushrooms), nuts, wine, duck and everything associated. The cuisine is rustic and delicious. Normally, we have four distinct seasons, which I really like and is very different from the California Bay Area where I was born. 

IR: How often do get to explore the area with daughter, and owner of Mignonne, Johnelle?

KM: Johnelle has come every year since I moved here and usually manages to stay 3-4 weeks. We always find time for a new adventure when she is here. 

IR: When packing for a traipse throughout Southern France, what items would you say, are essential to your quest?

KM: Mostly just an empty suitcase, to bring back all of my treasures acquired on the road, and a camera to capture and share it all. And the odd little black dress never hurts for those spontaneous special soirees.

IR: Are there any do-not-miss sights that compel you during your periods of traveling and antiquing? 

KM: France is chock full of amazing markets, both food and antiques/vintage treasures. I especially love the old covered markets, which are not only beautiful (usually with lots of light and glass), but remain the same from years gone by, with specialists in meats, cheeses, fish, bread, fresh vegetables, spices, pastries, on and on! And they are always beautifully presented.

IR: When scouting, often there are special indicators of value or unique attributes in a piece that make it compelling, what kinds of qualities details do you, Kim, and Johnelle keep an eye out for when looking for décor items?

KM: I watch for intentional details that make an item stand apart, whether that's unique embellishments on a piece of furniture, some extra details, or special touches on a clothing item. What is the back story or inspiration to a handmade piece of art? 

I am big on color, so when looking at a furniture piece: does it offer enough interesting form or detail that I can highlight with color? Paint is transformational, but I still need the bones to make it happen!

Lastly, durability and functionality. Here in my little corner of France, I have to keep a sharp eye on pricing, because pockets aren't that deep, everything I sell must offer quality and usability as well as beauty. My customers have high expectations when they shop with their limited disposable income. 

IR: Do you have a favorite story from your and Johnelle's travels in the country you now call home?

KM: Oh gosh, I am sure I have forgotten more than I remember. I could share more than a few related to getting stuck somewhere because I forgot that on this certain day or time, the store or bank or gas station was closed. Adjusting to a more balanced style of life where everything isn't open 24/7 just in case you might want to buy a donut at 3 am. One time, I had tickets for a Sunday concert and all the gas stations that accepted cash were closed and my American card didn't work in the machines. So there I was out in the middle of the French Countryside, driving on fumes because I decided to risk it, when putt putt putt... and then nothing. Luckily it was summer so sleeping in my car, until it could be sorted the next day, was an option. 

Needless to say, I got better at planning and anticipating, and realizing that life would go on if I couldn't shop for whatever silly thing it was at 10:30 pm.  

Folks here work to live, not live to work. Family, friends and quality of life vs. things, are their essentials. They work to have enough, and enjoy sharing the richness of their life with others. 

IR: And to finish off: When someone you know is visiting France, what is it you believe they absolutely must enjoy before they leave?

KM: Stop by and see me for the list! Slow paced hunting for whatever your 'treasure' might be, good food, good wine, good music, history buffs, flea market finds... more than happy to help you do it. 

If you have any questions about Mignonne's services, including but not limited to upholstery, restoration, and interior design, please feel free to email us at

xoxo mignonne


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