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The Invisible Collection : unique objects and exceptional design for everyone

Founded in 2016 by Isabelle Dubern-Mallevays and Anna Zaoui, the ecommerce website The Invisible Collection is revolutionizing the exceptional furniture designed by interior design stars and young talents.

At the beginning, there is a story of friendship and a crazy common dream. Isabelle Dubern-Mallevays, former artistic director of Dior Maison, and Anna Zaoui, a former actuary turned homemaker, collector and patron, are both passionate about beautiful things, architecture, contemporary art, and the decorative arts. Noting that the unique pieces that are imagined by artists and interior designers for private building sites are not accessible to the greatest number of people, they decided to launch a site to offer design enthusiasts around the world pieces and objects created by the talents of contemporary decoration. Thus was born The Invisible Collection, named after the short story by Stefan Zweig. Lily Froehlicher, a digital native with an international profile from the luxury goods industry, joined the two founders, and the three entrepreneurs also opened a private showroom in London to complement the site. 

From Charles Zana to Vincent Darré, via Emmanuelle Simon, Lison de Caunes, Pierre Yovanovitch, and Francesco Balzano, there are more than a hundred designers and artists, French, European, and Brazilian, whose unique pieces are available on the site. The Invisible Collection also offers official and authenticated reeditions of the essential masters of the 20th century, from Jean-Michel Frank to Oscar Niemeyer. The customer can choose fabrics, materials, and sizes with a strong commitment to eco-responsible practices. The Invisible Collection offers custom-made furniture by refusing mass-production and ensuring the sourcing of the noble materials used, such as wood from certified forests. The site quickly met its public and this innovative and disruptive model was a real success. 

We met these inspiring and inspired entrepreneurs to find out more.

How did the concept of The Invisible Collection come to you ?

Isabelle Dubern-Mallevays : I dreamed of acquiring Pierre Yovanovitch’s « Papa Ours » armchair. I talked about it with Anna, who had chosen this architect to design her flat in New York. She then offered to commission this piece for me. We realized that these wonderful pieces of furniture were created only for private projects… The Invisible Collection, in homage to Stefan Zweig’s short story, was then born to offer these confidential pieces to design lovers and collectors all over the world. 

How do you proceed to select the proposed pieces ? 

We rely on our common favorites ! 

What are they ?

Anna Zaoui : The first decorator we fell in love with was Pierre Yovanovitch, followed by many others : Charles Zana, the Bismut brothers, and the young talents Chloé Nègre, and Jean Roger, Osanna Visconti, and many others.

What guides your choices ?

Isabelle Dubern-Mallevays and Anna Zaoui : The beauty of the pieces and their realization by craftsmen of excellence. We look at everything, we never work according to trends. 

How did you convince the big names in design to follow you ?

Isabelle Dubern-Mallevays and Anna Zaoui : By communicating our passion for their creations and the decorative arts. The first three were Pierre Yovanovitch, Thierry Lemaire and Bismut & Bismut Architects.

How did the three of you come to work together ? How do your backgrounds complement each other ?

Isabelle Dubern-Mallevays : We were friends before we began the adventure of the site, and we are now more than ever. Anna came from the world of art, Lily from luxury, and I from luxury and design. These are three perfectly complementary backgrounds and networks. I met Lily thanks to my children, she is part of the family ! There is a family atmosphere in the office even if the pace is very fast.

Anna Zaoui : In our case, it was friendship that marked the beginning of this adventure. Nothing will ever happen between us that could spoil a precious friendship : we work in such a way that we don’t create tensions by accepting our differences of point of view.

What are your prospects when it comes to opening showrooms ? 

Isabelle Dubern-Mallevays : We opened a private showroom in London because we lived there. But we have also had a digital model since day one.

Do you plan to open a showroom in France ? 

Of course, we hope to open one day ! We love Paris, the most beautiful city in the world.

A large part of the designers you represent are French : is this a deliberate choice on your part or is it a coincidence ?

We find that the craftsmanship and creation are extraordinary and incomparable in France. 

What impact has the period of confinement had on your activity ?

We continued to work hard and even recruited !

What are your best-selling products ? 

There aren’t really any.

What are the major current trends in decoration ? 

We don’t follow trends at all ! 

Who are your customers ? 

Isabelle Dubern-Mallevays and Anna Zaoui : Decoration lovers from all over the world. We have requests from far away, but our biggest markets are the United Kingdom and the United States.

Have customer habits changed since you started ? 

Anna Zaoui : Yes, and both individuals and professionals have integrated digital technology into their habits, more so with the two successive confinements.

What are the main differences between the English and French audiences ?

Isabelle Dubern-Mallevays : For the English, comfort is very important. The French like to take the time to furnish their homes.

Can you give three decorating tips for furnishing a French-style country house ? And the English way ? 

No rules ! You just have to understand the architecture of the place and follow your desires.

In your opinion, are there any specific qualities needed to be a female entrepreneurial spirit ? Is this more difficult in your sector ?

Probably daring.

What advice would you give to women who want to embark on the adventure of entrepreneurship ?

Surround yourself well and don’t hesitate to ask for advice.

Your recipe for success and motivation ? 

You have to be optimistic and work hard. 

What were your apprehensions at the idea of setting up this project ? Did you believe in the success of your project at the beginning ? 

Nothing can be taken for granted…