Caroline Gayral, the Parisian Carpet Hunter
“My interior style is very eclectic. But there is one important element for me – I must have a connection with the object: I am sentimental”. Caroline Gayral left her career as a lawyer behind to follow her passions – interiors, style, travel. On one particular visit to her beloved Morocco something clicked for Caroline – what if she could turn her love of the country and it’s style into a business? Today Caroline is known as the ‘carpet hunter’ and runs Fragments, sourcing beautiful rugs and objet into a chic curation for the style set in Paris and beyond.
Caroline’s Parisian apartment is a true reflection of her tastes and outlook on life – delicacy and chic restraint mixed with a hint of kitsch and whimsical touches. Everything tells a story with Caroline… and there are some great stories: we talked to Caroline about career change, travel, everyday life in Paris and inspirations…
In another life, I was a lawyer. I loved this job. I wanted to do journalism school but I started at law school. In the absence of being a journalist, I specialised myself in media and copyright.
When I had my daughter and during an umpteenth trip to Morocco, I stopped in front of one of Azilal’s carpet. I began to dream: what if I invent my own job? An activity fueled by my passion (I have always loved the Moroccan culture, the art of living, the light of this country that I have known since I was 19), a certain freedom by being my own boss and evolving in the universe of decoration, a field that I have enjoyed for a long time.
It has now been four years that I have worked on this project, 2 years since I created Fragments and 18 months since I opened my showroom in the 7th neighbourhood in Paris.
On changing career
I took advantage of the opportunity to take parental leave. It is a real comfort. Obviously, there was a risk to take but I also considered it as a chance to seize. I didn’t take an enormous risk, I started from home, with a small stock of carpets. I was lucky: the press immediately followed me. I also organised myself to be able to regularly go to Morocco to find different carpets. My husband and especially my mum were keys to the success of Fragments. It is important to trust oneself even if it’s not obvious every day! One tip: do not look too much at what others are doing, find your own path!
My daily working life
I go to see customers, I have appointments in the showroom and every two months I go to Morocco for 10 days. I go to the ateliers for the follow-up of tailor-made carpet orders, I source extensively and I look for inspiration.
I visited the apartment when my daughter was only ten days old, more than five years ago. We have moved after seven months of works. We completely redesigned the organisation of the rooms but the apartment was exactly what we were looking for: in the heart of the 9th neighbourhood, a beautiful view of a courtyard and a magnificent mansion, calm … but at the same time being in the heart of Paris.
When I left the 6th neighbourhood I thought it won’t be better anywhere else and yet I actually prefer the 9th neighbourhood. It is a neighbourhood that resembles me and it’s also nice to live: there is a lot of small shops, bookstores, florists, good restaurants. And I’m next to Drouot, which used to be my dream!
My interior style
Very eclectic. But there is one important element for me – I must have a connection with the object: I am sentimental. So most of the things we have are related to a trip, a souvenir, to someone close to me. I still have a weakness for the modern 1950s objects but I also love the Wabi Sabi or “cabinet of curiosity” elements. It’s so difficult to choose a particular style! One constant though: I like apartments full of objects. Minimalism is really not for me. I even have a weakness for kitch (my husband does not share this passion with me!), I like not taking things too seriously.
Favourite part of the day
Breakfast with my family.
My fashion style
Definitely 1970s style! I find the outfits of this time elegant, feminine, not too sophisticated and then there is something sentimental for me: it makes me think of my mother. Despite that, I’m not really constant in fashion and I love to change: one day with Roseanna’s prints and the next day APC sobriety. When I was 17 years old I thought I was looking for my own style, but being 40 years old, it’s always the case: I just love the variations!
I love being surrounded by colours. I could not live in a black and white apartment for example. At home we chose warm tones, pink curtains to warm the atmosphere of rooms.
Living in Paris
I am very Parisian and definitely urban: I could also live in London, Milan or Los Angeles. Even my country house is in a city!
On my walls
Photos of Masao Yamomoto, le Promenheur artist who paints street scenes on cardboards, Pierre Boncompain and many family paintings. And then I go to Drouot, right next to my daughter’s school. Often several times a week. I bought a lot of things like lithos of André Brasilier or old mirrors.
A colour photograph of Jaques-Henri Lartigue or a collage of Matisse.
On my bookshelves
Novels, photos, my engagement souvenir from Tangier, handbags, candles, objects, opium pipes, boxes … it’s a big mess!
On my coffee table
A bouquet of flowers and a burning candle.
The thing that signs an interior
The paintings and carpets, two very decorative elements that bring character and soul.
By reading Milk magazine, passing time at galleries like Émilie Bonaventure’s gallery, or exhibitions. But also by watching movies, recently “Planetarium” with its very inspiring Art Deco world and the excellent series “The Knick” by Steven Soderbergh, my favorite since “Mad Men”. I would have liked to be a deco director.
My best moments
My travels, the satisfaction of my clients or when the City of Paris wrote me to congratulate me: a beautiful reward! And I love being in Morocco, in contact with weavers. There is a strong ‘pleasure’ dimension in my job. Even only for this I could never go back.
My ‘Slow Life’ thing
My weekends in Normandy or having a fireplace in Paris.
To have fun. It’s primordial.
My next challenge
Kilims made with wool, hoping that my customers will like them as much as my other carpets and especially to collaborate with brands that I like to amplify the orders of carpets on measure and thus, the financial independence of the weavers and the economic growth of their town.
To read more about Caroline and her journey creating Fragments and her chic home, visit Ring The Belle…