Claire Bétaille, of fine silhouette and glowing unadorned complexion, is one of those beings that are said to change everything they touch into gold. Not the metal gold, but rather gold in the sense of an exploration of potential, the transformation of materials and forms, of personal enrichment and wonder. As a child and teenager in her native region near Bordeaux, she tasted life by savoring with infinite pleasure the metamorphosis of materials that she made to dance in her hands. And in so many domains: drawing, painting, sculpture, collage, textiles, jewelry, cooking, and gardening, with a deepening of perceptions and creations without limit. In this way, without realizing it, she tasted, feasted on and developed an enormous capacity for concentration and research, self-discovery and her inner talents.
Then, after the pure pleasure came the need for a delicate choice of studies. What to do? “I wanted to evolve in the midst of all of this art in all its forms, because this was what nourished me. I also wanted to understand the relativity of things in their perception at a such and such a time, and why we created them in this way. What we may call the cultural history of mentalities, of which art history is an element. My choice was directed towards the École du Louvre. Initially, I hoped to become a curator, attracted as I was by museography, painting and sculpture. This was for two reasons: that of sharing with others the richness held in the museum collections, and also that of enjoying the rather egotistical chance and joy of having access to unique, exceptional and extraordinary works. I was tempted by restoration of cultural heritage, however it did not sufficiently offer me my vision of exchange and sharing, and even of creativity.”
After obtaining her diploma in three years, the young art historian turned to the École Camondo, where Martine Bedin, member of the Memphis Group, was teaching. Created in 1981 in Italy, it fascinated Claire Bétaille with its innovative colors, patterns and materials. Part of the Les Arts Décoratifs cultural institution, this school offered a five-year course in interior architecture and design that would attract Clair Bétaille for the continuation of her training. The new diploma obtained in 2006 inaugurated her definitive entry into the world of architecture and design. Initially working as a freelance, she then created her own organization and successfully completed several private residence projects. Very quickly she realized that she was missing something essential to her: sharing and exchanging with others. Although enriched and fulfilled by the explorations she carried out alone during these first years, she now aspired to shared projects and discoveries.
A decisive encounter was to strongly influence her professional journey, that with Bruno Moinard. The talented and famous architect, scenographer, designer and painter Bruno Moinard welcomed her into his company 4BI and in 2007 invited her to contribute to the development of the concept and boutiques of Maison Cartier, a faithful client of the agency.
Claire explains, “The projects were located all around the world, in very different contexts. It was necessary to understand and identify the local specificities with regards to the new concept of sales spaces and company values. I applied myself to this work of apprenticeship and contributed to the creation and personalization of boutiques over the course of three years.”
In 2010, 4BI undertook a very major development in Asia.
“ The richness of exchanges and fruitful collaborations convinced Bruno Moinard to invite me to become his associate, which happened in 2012. I have to say that we share this common passion for learning, discovering, taking on challenges, and for giving one’s all. I am very fortunate to have an activity that gives me such immense pleasure and joy. Of course, it takes lots of energy. It’s athletic, but Bruno Moinard and I have lots of energy to give! We are very complementary in our way of working. Bruno Moinard is someone who never imposes, but rather proposes solutions. It’s impressive to see him work, to learn with him and be able to communicate my own suggestions.”
This complementarity was noticed one day in China by a client, after an energetic and passionate discussion by Bruno Moinard and Claire Bétaille to explain and argue the force and originality of the project with patience and finesse. The client concluded by directing a compliment to the duo: “Fundamentally, you are both like the Ying and Yang. Bruno is brown and Clair is clear.”
Claire Bétaille and Bruno Moinard are now partners in the development of the agency, now known as 4BI & Associés.
“For me, it is an extraordinary education every day, of insatiable curiosity. This has also brought me to constantly adapt, to evolve according to the needs of the clients and the cultural codes. I would add that, more than the urban environment, it is people in their immediate situation that interests me, the places of life, the objects, and the design. There, I feel that I am better able to “touch”. It’s the closeness of the daily life of each person or of a family that inspires me. The sense of touch as well as that of sight, beauty, contemplation, the art of living felt differently by each person.”