21 / 01 / 2014

Jessica Venediger, Au Vieux Panier

Jessica Venediger, Au Vieux Panier

Following on from my post about Claire Leina, I want to tell you about an amazing find in Marseille’s gorgeous Panier district.

It was in 2009, in the heart of this buzzing neighbourhood, that Jessica took over a dilapidated 17th century building and turned it into a very original and hip B&B. Every year, the B&B closes for a period of time to allow different artists to redesign the interior from top to bottom. But that’s enough from me, let’’s let Jessica tell us about her gorgeous B&B.

Jessica's website:

Hi Jessica. First of all, tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Jessica Venediger. I’’m 32 years old. I was born in Marseilles, grew up in Aix and now I’m back living in Marseille.

Vieux-panier 1

How did you get to where you are now?

After a tough few years at high school, I left to go and study and really enjoyed it.

I began by taking a Higher National Diploma in Tourism management and marketing (1 year in Cannes and then Toulouse). Then I went to the Inseec Business School where I spent a year in Bordeaux followed by 1 year in Paris.

After that, I was lucky enough to go to Berkeley College in California and finally EAE Business School in Barcelona where I obtained two masters degrees, one in Entrepreneurship and the other in International Business Affairs.

Once I had finished my studies, I started my own company.

Quelle est ta relation avec Sessùn?

À l’époque pour m’habiller je chinais des vêtements de garçon en taille XS et c’était un véritable challenge matinal pour moi d’essayer de garder un peu de féminité malgré mes baggies, mes baskets Airwalk, bref l’adolescence en recrudescence, j’avais 12-13 ans. Puis dans la garde-robe de ma grande soeur, mon modèle, apparurent petit à petit des vêtements féminins: Sessùn. Je me souviens encore du pull à capuche vert en laine à grosses mailles.

Mon constat, la marque me plaisait à 12 ans, elle me plaît toujours, 20 ans après. C’est simplement féminin je ne me pose pas de questions, j’y vais les yeux fermés. Il y a cette constance, une certaine jeunesse intemporelle. Le hasard fait que chaque année la magie opère et je me retrouve dans ses lignes.

Forcément c’est aussi affectif car “mes grandes soeurs” côtoient Emma François depuis toujours.

Puis au-delà de la marque, dans la vie professionnelle nous nous retrouvons sur certaines dimensions, des collaborations avec des personnes communes comme Clément Jolin ou encore Claire Leina.

How did the idea for a B&B in the Vieux Panier district come about?

Over time. I knew that I wanted to work in the hotel business as I’ve always enjoyed travelling and meeting new people. I’’m a globetrotter at heart and I adore travelling. When I was younger I wanted to work in tourism, but I wasn’t quite sure how, why or where. I come from a family of entrepreneurs so I suppose it’s in my genes. I’ve never had the chance to tell Emma François this before, but her career has always been an inspiration to me. Emma is a friend of my big sisters, so I’ve known Sessùn ever since the very beginning. Over the years Sessùn has helped inspire me to start my own business.

Ever since 2000, I’’ve been interested in ecotourism and wanted to show that tourism can be responsible and respectful of the environment whilst remaining in synch with a certain style of living. This was one of the reasons that made me decide me to go and travel several months on my own through Asia, to find ideas and I even thought about living there.

Then, as time went by, I came up with the idea for a hotel; a hotel that would be part of the whole travelling experience, as important as the choice of destination, the country, or the city. A happening in itself.

At the time I was very into the whole skate-snow-surf thing, as well as streetwear and contemporary art. Some friends of mine were working with different artists to create one-off designs for skate brands like Logo and Volcom. I decided I wanted to work with artists too, but I wanted them to design hotel rooms instead of skateboards.

My idea quickly seemed like the right one. I wanted to give artists the opportunity to work in a unique context and to give our hotel guests a unique experience: the chance to sleep in a work of art._

Chambre La Dame noire

How did to turn your dreams into reality?

When I was living in Barcelona I thought that that’s where I wanted to live. At the time, I was travelling backwards and forwards between Barcelona and Marseilles every couple of weeks. I got to know Marseilles again. It’’s a great city for people in their thirties. It’s a very genuine, charming city. My friends were slowly moving back there and my family all lived there too. It felt like Barcelona did when I first moved there. There was also Marseilles 2013 — the European city of Culture — on the horizon.

One evening I was having dinner at Les Buvards with my sister and my brother-in-law, Matthieu Garnet (managing director of Kulte) and I came to the conclusion that instead of travelling the world, I could move back home where everything was ripe for the picking.

I made the decision to move back and that was when I came up with the idea for “Au Vieux Panier”.

The historical Panier neighbourhood was my first choice, but quite a few people in Marseilles tried to put me off. I loved the area, but it did still had a bit of a dodgy reputation. In the end I didn’t let that put me off. It took me a while to find somewhere, but I finally came across an exceptionally rare property dating from the 17th century. It still had the original wooden shop front with the inscription “Au Vieux Panier”. The best bit was when I saw the roof terrace with views of the Mediterranean: I found what I had been looking for!

Chambre AV Exciters

Whilst we were doing the renovation work, we welcomed artists in passing to use the space a bit like an upmarket squat! I was far too impatient to wait for the official opening. I got the idea while having a drink with my brother-in-law and Jeanne who was also working for Kulte. Matthieu told us about the Demolition Party at the Royal Monceau Hotel in Paris. We were laughing about it and imaging the same without Johnny Depp. All in all we had 52 artists coming through in the space for four months!

How do you go about choosing the artists to redesign the rooms?

Every year, in September and October I launch a call for proposals, and then choose which projects will be given the go ahead.

Chambre Milène Guermont

How do the projects for each room come about? Do the artists have carte blanche?

Yes, the artists have carte blanche but they must keep in mind that the guests will sleep in a work of art”. Once we have studied the artist’s proposal in detail, we allocate an Artistic Director who studies feasibility and scenography. My aim is to encourage the artist to work within their given space, without any creative limitations whatsoever. We try our hardest to fulfil all the artist’’s wishes with the means we have at our disposal.

Chambre Mist

Which has been your favourite project to date and why?

I can’’t really say to be honest. I think it depends on the mood I’’m in.

What did you want to be when you were little?

Apart from wanting to be a secret agent like James Bond, I wanted to invite my friends into a beautiful house and take care of them and I think that’’s what I’’ve done.

One last question. What are you working on at the moment?

The next step as the saying goes, great oaks from little acorns grow.

Terrasse du Vieux-Panier