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Spatial designer Camille Peignet weaves architecture and interior design into her work
Growing up in Nantes, France, a cultural epicenter with countless museums and a locale that serves as the home of the Machines de l'ile and Voyage a Nantes, spatial designer Camille Peignet was privy to a range of artistic initiatives from an early age. Peignet saw first-hand the effect art and design had on the people around her, and it sparked something inside of her that would lead to her future career in spatial design and French architecture.

Today Peignet is a critically-acclaimed and well-known spatial designer at Red Dot Studio, a multi-award winning architecture and design firm who's stunning and innovative work has been featured in the industry's leading design magazines, such as Dwell and California Home and Design.

"What I like best about Camille's work is her ability to look beyond style to design an underlying feel. When Camille thinks about design she thinks about human emotion in the space," explains Karen Curtiss, Red Dot Studio's Principal Architect. "Camille is a quiet force.  She is both extremely easy to work with and uncompromising in her design approach. Other studio members seek her out for design advice."

Coming from France, Peignet was tapped to join the well-known California based design studio due to her widespread skillset and her unique approach to designing spaces-- much of which comes from the strict standards the French place on a profession. While in the United States her degree may only confer her with the title of interior designer, Peignet explains that her role in designing is truly spatial encompassing all aspects of the built environment. In France, her training is "an elevated science" that falls far closer in technical requirements to interior architecture. The key difference between French-educated practitioners and those who call themselves interior designers is the intense immersion the French place on advanced structural and architectural design concepts.

"Interior architecture and spatial design are processes of understanding people's needs to iterate spatial solutions," Peignet described. "It requires research and time to develop a proposition that will fit a project's individual needs and uses, but which will also be feasible, both technically and economically, as well as reliable, sustainable and beautiful."

In France architecture is treated and taught as a corequisite discipline alongside traditional interior design, and this added knowledge has definitely set Peignet apart from her contemporaries in the industry internationally. After earning her bachelor's degree in Spatial Design, Peignet went on to complete her master's degree in Mutation of the Built Environment from the famed and exclusive L'Ecole de Design Nantes Atlantique design school. Since graduating from the renowned institution, Peignet has accrued quite the portfolio. Among her early projects is the stunningly sleek Mill Valley, California home which she designed soon after being hired by the San Francisco-based Red Dot Studio. The firm had previously worked with the homeowners and set a high bar for Peignet to meet. Even then, on her first project with Red Dot Studio, it was apparent that Peignet was a natural fit.

""The couple and their two children's way of life is driven by humility and simplicity. Loving and natural, their daily life is without artifice. It was important for all of us that their house reflects this with honesty," Peignet recounted. "The clients asked Red Dot Studio to redesign their main home as a part of the second phase after their backyard building was transformed into a second living room, library, office and storage area. They wanted to have a new main space that would better match their needs… The goals of the remodel were to arrange a better distribution of the light in the house, to create a more functional, modern and minimalist kitchen, living and dining rooms and the two bathrooms of the house, and this ended up changing the whole impression of the house."

In her signature minimalist style, Peignet designed the entire project literally from the ground up. She painstakingly considered every minute detail of each of the rooms she designed, right down to designing the perfect drawer handles. Keeping the client's needs and budget in mind, Peignet designed every drawer, shelf and cupboard to match the lifestyle of the home owners. Much of the love Peignet has for her work, and her ability to deliver top notch design projects, stems from the manner of her upbringing.

"My parents always enjoyed making things by hands, whether it be cooking, gardening, tinkering, fabricating toys for me and my siblings, making soap, sewing, and so much more," Peignet said, recalling her early immersion in the creative world. "I totally loved the idea of always trying to make new things, and testing new techniques. I believe that's what helped me develop my creativity in the first place. They taught me the taste for discovery and the value of patience and [perseverance], how to find inspiration everywhere, and how to learn from failures with [humility]."

Every lesson Peignet learned from her parents as a child served to hone her creative instincts and drive. As she grew, so did her talent, passion and skill. Years before she began her formal education as a spatial designer she would spend countless hours designing and illustrating the homes of her dreams.

"I remember sitting down at my desk during free afternoons and sketching plans of possible houses. At night, I used to imagine myself or other people living in these houses and falling asleep. The day after, I was often updating my drawings to make them more appropriate to the life I was imagining in those spaces," recalls Peignet.

Through all those hours and days spent designing the perfect homes to fit those imaginary lives, Peignet was unknowingly sharpening a set of skills which today are her most valuable assets. As she experimented and nurtured her boundless passion and imagination, she taught herself a critical lesson — beyond the drafting table, in the real world, no two people are the same. Years before she entered the industry professionally, she realized the importance of the individual to the art of spatial decision-making. Peignet makes people, not houses, the foundation of her entire process by taking time to fully understand the essence of the individuals for whom she designs a living space.

"Whenever I start a project, it's in a little window in the back of my head day and night. Sometimes a simple pattern I see or a simple word I hear will make that window pop and give me an idea for the project," Peignet explained. "I like to start designing a space with an abstract shape or illustration, or some artwork that symbolizes the essence I want to give to the project design. I find the inspiration for this exploration phase in the people I am designing for, and in the discussions we have together and what I interpret from them."

Peignet's practice of approaching the process as both an art and a science have earned her a shining reputation within the industry. By combining her understanding of the future homeowners, her years of rigorous schooling, and her finely-honed technical skills, Peignet expertly brings imagination to life. Drawing from the early inspiration she received from her parents, her strong creative instinct drives her to design living art.

"What I look for in my design is a minimalistic style that highlights the space's natural qualities, eases use and human connection, and reflects the inhabitants' best personality traits," Peignet described. "I like to focus on the essence of the space and its intangible feeling more than I like adding different details to it."

Aside from leading the Mill Valley project for Red Dot Studio, Peignet was integral to the renovation of the Laidley St. Urban Cottage project, which earned the prestigious honor of being selected to be a part of the AIA San Francisco Living: Home Tours last year, as well as the 2018 Best in American Living Award in Remodeling Category 31: Entire Home with a budget of over $750,000. The project also earned the National Homebuilding Award for Best Remodel.

Another project where Peignet's unique style and gift for design proved vital was on the Twin Peaks project for Red Dot Studio, a high-end renovation of an almost 5,000 SQ FT house that offers a magnificent view of Northern San Francisco.

Karen Curtiss explains, "We have had a long term relationship with the client for a home in Clarendon Heights in San Francisco.  After the project and program goals for the site changed, Camille came into the project fresh and was in charge of a 'modern' redesign for the home's interior."

Peignet used her skill to uncover the outdated home's full potential, modernizing the structure, making it altogether more efficient and imbuing it with a level of sleek minimalism that allows for the stellar view to be showcased the second anyone walks in the home. The tangible success of Peignet's work on the Twin Peaks project can be seen by the fact that the two-story single family home is now on the market for upwards of $12 million.

Peignet's work as an interior architect and spatial designer has given her the tools and resources to turn her lifelong passion into a career. Imagination, artistic vision, and a comprehensive understanding of the principles of structural design are necessary traits for anyone in her line of work — traits which Peignet has in abundance. With virtually unrivaled expertise, Camille Peignet skillfully transforms sketches into structures, spaces into places, and houses to homes.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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