The Finest French Antiques & Brocante: A Closer Look at Atelier De Campagne
We are in full planning mode for our 16th Annual French Flea Market happening on May 25th and 26th! We actually lost track of the number of years that we have been putting on this amazing French Flea Market, but to the best of our knowledge we started in 2003 in the backyard of our original downtown location at 153 West Napa Street. From there we moved to the parking lot next door as our number of guests grew. For this year’s event, we’ll be back hosting at Cornerstone Sonoma with an event that will be better than ever!
From the get-go we had only a handful of antique dealers who import from France on a regular basis. One of the original vendors who has been with us throughout the years is Atelier de Campagne. Owners Johan and Trino have been a Chateau Sonoma favorite and our flea market customers love them, which is why we love inviting them back year after year! They travel to France regularly to collect fresh inventory and have an amazing selection of vintage and antique treasures. They really know how to put it all together and their space at the flea market is always a showstopper. Even better than their gorgeous products though are their personalities–they are light-hearted, very personable and they know how to enjoy life.
We had a chance to catch up with the dynamic duo between shows and trips to France to ask them a few questions about how they met, secret places to shop in France and much more…
How did the two of you meet and then get started in the business?
Trino: Well…we come from very different parts of the world and career backgrounds. I was born in a small village in Mexico in the state of Guanajuato and came to the US at an early age. I studied here to become a teacher and ended up as a consultant and professional developer in education as well as mentoring new teachers all over the country. Johan grew up in Hooglede in the west part of Belgium and studied interior and furniture design. We met here in the US when Johan decided to come to America, enroll in school and take classes in desktop publishing and Spanish. In 1995, when he was here attending school, we became romantic partners and decided to become business partners as well. We discovered we both had a passion for antiquing and a love for design so we devised a plan to import European items. This also allowed Johan to stay connected to his homeland and care for his ailing Mother. Win, win and Atelier de Campagne was born!
How did you come up with the name Atelier de Campagne?
Trino: I purchased a small home in the country in Corralitos to store and fix up all of the vintage pieces coming in from Europe and we needed a place to design and make our own custom pieces. There is a workshop in the back of the house so we decided to name our company Country Workshop, but thought the name in French sounded so much more interesting. Thus led us to Atelier de Compagne!
What is your favorite aspect of the business?
Trino: For me it is the thrill of the hunt and for Johan, with his design background, is the display and always making our space at antique shows really stand out.
Where is your favorite place to buy fresh pieces in France?
We love the “debalages” in the south of France –they bring dealers from all over Europe and there is plenty of variety. Avignon, Montpellier and Bezier.
What is the most interesting object you have ever found?
Trino: My favorite was a baguette cart, the type that the vendors used to push around in the villages selling bread. It had a beautiful painting of a bouquet of wheat, and has since gone to a gourmet store in San Francisco.
Favorite French Meal?
Trino: Duck Confit. We had the best at our friend Karin’s, who writes the blog La Poullette. She lives near Perigord. She also happens to be an amazing antique dealer, but has since retired.
Favorite French Musician?
Trino: Edith Piaf and Jacque Brel
What keeps you motivated?
Trino and Johan: We get to do it together. Traveling together, experiencing new places together and during difficult times, we are always there to pick one another up.
Thank you Johan and Trino for your time and for being a part of our annual Chateau Sonoma French Flea Market for the past 16 years! We are so excited to see what you have in store for this year’s event!
Merci et Abientot,