For a long time no one could enter. You had to stick your nose to the bay window to see a few objects of curiosity, skateboards, hanging photos, bins filled with LPs... Rami Mekdachi only opened his studio-office to his teams and some friends. Since this winter, the situation has changed. Every Saturday, from noon until 6 p.m., you can push the door, like that, without warning, come as you are and discover the environment of the founder of Lola James Harper. What is that ? The assembly of two first names found by the children of Rami Mekdachi and the translation of "harpist" in English, chosen by his wife, to baptize a brand dedicated to "lifestyle". Here, the “lifestyle” is not a catch-all, all-purpose word, a so-called “coolness” or other boho-trendy semantics. When Rami Mekdachi speaks of "lifestyle", it is a way of seeing, knowing, moving, traveling, listening, touching, feeling... All the senses are awakened. All punctuated by the cross roads that he has surveyed and still surveys. The four months of school holidays are devoted to travel. Preferably in the United States, with a different hotel each evening and stages on university campuses.
“Lola James Harper is a universe” says Mekdachi who was born in Beirut, raised in Paris. Behind the scenes, the teenage fan of music and photography creates a punk group, sets up a rock festival, receives his first cinematic shock with Paris Texas, which he sees when he leaves in 1984. From punk, he kept the want to entrust a guitar to non-musicians. From the Wim Wenders-Sam Shepard duo, he has retained a taste for the road and wandering. If he appreciates road trips, “because I like driving while listening to music”, trains inspire him just as much. Last summer, he criss-crossed Italy using the rail network. “In the train, we look to the side. A way of saying that the scrolling landscapes are part of his vision of “lifestyle”. What does he prefer? “Fly elsewhere in a day. Translation: leaving Paris in the morning, having lunch and hanging out in London in the afternoon, going back to bed in Batignolles, “my village”, where he has lived for twenty-five years.
When asked what he does for a living, Rami Mekdachi answers “archivist”. Just walk around his studio to understand. Because it is here that he poses and stores all his lives. Former photographer at Rock & Folk, the walls are covered with his images. Musician and composer, guitars and drums are available. Creator of candles and perfumes – “they have notes, like in music” – you can smell all of his fragrances. Starting with those created, at the dawn of the 2000s, for the Hôtel Costes and the concept store Colette. Then he lifts a glass bell and the smell of the earth of Beirut escapes, another bell and we are live from Big Sur... Director, his film With, a journey to the slow life, awarded five times, is projected on the big screen… It opens everything, shows everything, like a kid who invites people to come to their room and share their toys with their friends. Moreover, Rami Mekdachi places friendship above all: “It is a supreme value. The studio mixes poetry, fantasy, a touch of nostalgia and heaps of memories. When it opens to the public, everything that is placed, exposed, is for sale. Like when Lola James Harper had her 300 m2 space at the Bon Marché, with concerts and other musical improvisations every weekend. The adventure lasted seven years with the department store on the left bank. Until the first confinement.
Today, Rami Mekdachi receives in an annex of his home. That's how he sees his studio. With an exclusive tea from Dammann Frères and a coffee, also concocted for its HQ, by Terres de café. Here, no capsule: the cup waits for it to pass… Optimistic despite the health context, the founder of Lola James Harper combines projects, including a film devoted to basketball. Some hoteliers are also starting to ask him to immerse themselves in his universe and duplicate it in small touches in bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms... Already present, in particular with his candles, in some 400 points of sale around the world, Rami Mekdachi also develops a clothing line. He tells all this to the rhythm of the 33 laps of Stan Getz or the Cure, which he turns over every twenty minutes. Another notion of time, which we do not see slipping by in this hidden space, rue Nollet. Here, no posture, no imposture. Only true and lived by a citizen of the world, doped with "the energy of cities". “And when there is nature, it is the sea,” he confides. To meet Rami Mekdachi is to dive into a broth of cultures. And, for him, “changing culture means traveling”.