Nicole grew up, and still resides, in the South of France. This experience, coupled with her well-traveled childhood and pursuit of quality, continues to define her products. The toiliteries — bath milk, soap, fragrance, body creams and lotions instill relaxation and the sense of luxury. And what we all long for: time. Almond, amber, cotton, fig, grapefruit, old rose and orange blossom are just some of the scents and tactile pleasures that lure you into Nicole’s world of ease and charm.
Similar to beauty, the home products: dishware, candle stick holders, bedding and linens — to mention a few, are made around the world with the finest raw materials and by the best craftsmen. Perhaps Nicole said it best, “Côté Bastide draws its inspiration from forgotten lessons. The profound desire to reawaken our dormant senses, to regain lost sensations, and to captivate our marvelous souvenirs.” Essentially, to remind us of the simple pleasures in life. To enjoy a Côté Bastide product transforms one’s world. If only for a moment.
Mood of Living: Q&A
NH: Nicole Houques
NH: Aix-en-Provence, France
MoL: What is your current location?
NH: In Aix-en-Provence’s countryside. My house is surrounded by olive trees in front of the wonderful Ste Victoire Mountain (famous thanks to Cézanne).
NH: Creator & stylist
MoL: Occupation Description?
NH: Designing for interior mood / decoration & bath products
MoL: Before your current occupation you were?
NH: Full-time mom
MoL: In 10 years you will be…?
NH: In Toscana and in Pouilles Country, Italy coming up with inspiration for new creations.
MoL: What inspired you to become a creator and stylist?
NH: My father graduated from art school and my mother had a vineyard property, so I was bred in an artistic and natural environment.
MoL: Where did you learn your craft?
NH: Like my father, I studied at art school. We travelled a lot when I was young. It gave me the opportunity to discover and appreciate cultures with so many natural resources, how nature can be different and so wonderful, the color sense and the beauty of raw materials.
MoL: What makes your product unique?
NH: The choice of my craftsmen and their know-how. For example, fragrances exclusively for Côté Bastide in collaboration with perfumers of Grasse, the world-famous town. The use of raw materials research from several countries to find quality fabrics that could match with things I imagine. A special attention in the selection of bottles and labels, specific for each range, so that the finished product is also unique. Another important fact that makes Côte Bastide’s collections unique is that all packaging, boxes, etc., are handmade by an Italian craftsman.
MoL: Where do you look for inspiration?
NH: Everywhere, especially in Italy and in India where I feel myself in perfect harmony.
MoL: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you could really do this?
NH: I am still in my “aha” moment!
MoL: Do you have a hobby?
NH: My job is one of my hobbies, but I also enjoy museums, art exhibitions, reading and traveling to discover the world and people.
MoL: What do you keep on the bedside table?
NH: A Côté Bastide iron lamp, old books (as decoration). The books I am reading at the moment: “Kaboul’s Kites” written by Khaled Hosseini and “Riders” by Joseph Kessel – so magical and beautiful landscape descriptions! A dream!
MoL: What was the most important moment of your life?
NH: The birth of my children.
MoL: What makes you laugh?
NH: My grandchildren, holidays with all the family and some life moments.
MoL: What makes you cry?
MoL: Who is an influential figure in your life?
NH: My father, many painters like Monet, L.de Vinci, William Turner…Mozart, Vivaldi, Paola Navone, Christian Lacroix, Tadao Ando…the list could be so long!
MoL: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
NH: Expect nothing from anyone and rely only on yourself.
MoL: From whom?
NH: My father (again!)
MoL: If you could have a conversation with any living person, who would it be and why?
NH: Christian Lacroix for his know-how, his creativity and his humbleness.
MoL: Words of wisdom?
NH: Serenity. “Live each day as if it were your last, do not shake, do not sleep, do not pretend,” by Marc aurèle.
MoL: What is your favorite quote?
NH: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” Leonardo de Vinci
MoL: Where do you go for peace of mind and spirit?
NH: A place in a country where silence reigns. It’s a country around Aix-en-Provence and is so beautiful, but there are so many peaceful places in the world. I often go to the beach in the country where I grew up, near Bordeaux at the “Bassin d’Arcachon.” It has sand dunes, sun, nobody around and waves crashing.
MoL: We find that people who make beautiful things are more likely to lead an artistic lifestyle. Do you spend much time creating a beautiful home? Do you entertain? Do you cook?
NH: Everything! I often used to change rooms in my home to create a different mood — each must be like a painting. I do not like cooking, but I do when the whole family comes on Sundays and for birthdays. I very much enjoy decorating the table. My children and grandchildren love that!
MoL: What advice can you give anyone interested in starting his or her own business?
NH: Perseverance, passion, patience and rigor.
The olive tree that inspired Nicole