This month, we catch up with Gaelle Rioualen, Project Manager for Atelier Tristan Auer, Wilson Associates Paris
You came to Wilson Associates from Louis Vuitton. Tell me about your experience there.
I graduated from a French architecture school in 2008, and during my studies, I did an internship in the architecture department at Louis Vuitton, as a project manager assistant on Japanese projects. Right after graduation, I did an internship at the Ateliers Jean Nouvel, where I worked on a retail space project as well as a master planning project for Paris.
Right after this internship, I got a proposal from Louis Vuitton to join them as an Architect Project Manager within the team dedicated to American projects. I worked on about 20 stores in 5 years. Then I moved into the Europe, Middle East & Africa team and worked on projects located in London, Istanbul, Johannesburg and Moscow, for almost 2 years. After this experience, I joined another department called “New Activities” to manage the architecture part of this team. I worked mainly on temporary stores, pop-up stores, and development of new concepts, like concept and roll out for the LV collection of fragrances launched last September.
My very first project for Louis Vuitton was a Louis Vuitton Store in Seattle, Washington (U.S.). The project had been launched just when I joined LV so I had a chance to follow this project from the beginning until its completion. I finally saw the store in person when I completed a site visit for the punch list, 2 days before its opening. That was my first experience of seeing and experiencing something that I designed!
When did you know you wanted to be an architect?
In high school, I was studying in a section more dedicated to sciences and mathematics, which was my favorite subject, but at the same time I recognized that I had been very interested in arts since secondary school. I thought studying architecture was a good combination of both.
Tell me about your projects: what is a project you’re especially proud of? What are you working on right now?
One of the most interesting projects I had the chance to participate in was an art installation design in collaboration with the American artist James Turrell at a Louis Vuitton store in Las Vegas. Also in my previous experience at Louis Vuitton, I had a special inclination for two stores in particular, both of which were small projects: the LV Bellagio in Las Vegas and the LV Hilton Hawaiian store in Honolulu.
Since I’ve recently joined Wilson, I’m happy working on a variety of interesting projects, one of them being the Carlton Cannes, which is an iconic place for its history. It was the central location for the Hitchcock film, “To Catch a Thief,” and is an icon on the French Riviera.
I also recently started to work on a project which happens to be located where the first Louis Vuitton store was built in 1871 at 1 Rue Scribe. Everything is connected it seems!
Horse-drawn carriages delivered to the first Louis Vuitton store trunks that were made in Asnières.
You are quite the globe trotter! What can you not travel without?
I manage to travel all over the globe every time I can, just by myself sometimes. I have been often traveling to far-off places, particularly Asia, but I have not yet traveled a lot through Europe. I’d like to discover more about Europe now, specially Italy and Greece. But at the end of the day, every destination interests me.
My thing is to buy the Wallpaper City Guide of all the cities visit. It is a very small guide but there are always good places in it and there is an Architour section that I love!
What is your favorite restaurant?
I don’t have a favorite restaurant but I like to eat everything that is Italian and I like to taste new things. Besides, I like after-work drinks with friends, especially if there is wine and a plate of cheese and charcuterie. A real cliché for a French person!
Are there designers or artists who inspire you?
I really like art related to lighting. James Turrell is one example. In general, I like when art is about perception of senses and there is no explanation needed. In regards to design and architecture, I very much like the work of Louis Kahn, Frank Lloyd Wright and Adolf Loos.
In contemporary work, I like Philippe Starck’s sense of humor in his design.
Gaelle “paints” with light in an interactive light exhibition, “Prelude”, during a visit to Dallas.