We met Romain Costa, founder of the Costa Bonnamour Architects agency, renowned blogger and instagramer, also nicknamed "the architect on a walk".
We went to the offices of his new agency to discuss his career as an architect-instagramer.
To begin, can you introduce yourself?
"My name is Romain Costa. I am an architect, a blogger and an instagramer. I come from Lille, and since childhood I wanted to become an architect or a designer. I learned to draw very early: when I was three, I already knew how to draw in perspective and find myself in space. On my father's family side, a lot of people had gone to Fine Arts school. He also did, and gave me his talent as a draftsman and his culture of the arts. My mother studied letters and gave me her curiosity. As a child, she was the one who took me to see exhibitions and visit museums. Both of them decided to make me join the Conservatory of Music, which immediately exposed me to creativity, to open up to many different disciplines - hence the choice of architecture.
After my studies in architecture, a period during which I worked parallellely in agencies, I decided to come and settle in Paris. When I arrived, I was looking for a job as an architect and was spotted by an agency that linked brands with people with a lot of followers on Instagram. This agency offered me to do fashion campaigns and trips. So I put my work search parenthetically. It was during this first trip that I met Evane, my partner today. We were chosen to carry out a story where she was a journalist and I a photographer.
It was in the summer of 2015 that I started my blog and, very quickly, I decided to really get started and assume my new profession of Instagrameur and blogger, because I like to write."
In an interview, you say that your Instagram thread is thought of as an architectural project…
"Yes, I think my Instagram thread exactly like I think an architectural project. If I am asked to post a photo of the day for the next day, it is not possible: I think of the combination of colors, shapes and lines. I think of it as an architecture model, like the showcase of a store that would give one the desire to check on my blog.
Since 2013, I have been sharing the same stuff on my profile. The difference is that today the brands ask me to create content and share it on my account. I share architectural photos, look photos and photos of me - always in the same way, with lines and the color blue. Blue came on my trip to Lapland with Evane: everything was blue. For a very long time, it allowed me to be identified right away. Today, I change color a little for fun and to diversify my fashion, but especially for the pleasure of returning to the paw of blue.
In 2016, Instagram decided to push my profile upfront of and that's where everything expanded for me. At the same moment, I meet each member of my group, "the nerds", and we decides to create our common Instagram account, The Nerds. Each of us has a different personality, a different profession and style, different audiences, but it was a great experience to start this job together and to be identified as a group, to be able to feel supported while this world is hyper individualistic."
Your community follows "the architect on a walk". Can you tell us about it?
"My community is made of people who are like me. They are in their thirties, often with creative occupations, almost as many men as women. This year, my community was renewed when I started speaking on LGBT+ issues. 20,000 people unsubscribed from my account because they did not want to see two boys kissing. It made it very clear that there is still a lot of homophobia. Homophobia trivialized, unfortunately, exists.
From this bad news / adventure, I created a new project with Marina, my collaborator: the project “James Dine”. It's a rallying project with a new LGBT+ community. Every month, we organize a dinner with an LGBT+ association - hence the word play "James dines". Few people know it, but James Dean is an LGBT+ figure. He is a myth and I like what he represents, his style. He is beautiful and stylish without really paying attention."
What is "Costa Bonnamour Architectures
"This year, I created my agency with Evane Haziza-Bonnamour, my partner. I find it interesting to put a team in architecture, because I like working in a team and I found in Evane a complementarity. I have always wanted to create things with people to share, enrich and develop my projects. The exchange is not done alone. "All alone we go fast, but many go far.” This is an African proverb that I like.
Together, we work on different scales: public, private, small and large structures. We restore apartments, restaurants, offices. At the moment, we are creating an apartment extension in Paris. Today we are working mainly on interior design projects. These are shorter but equally challenging projects, as we directly touch the lives of our clients."
Why do you think architects are so fond of the hollington line?
"In architecture, we create buildings that link good practice to aesthetics. We seek proportion, we seek to make the place pleasant by choosing the best possible materials, with neat details for it to be impacting. At hollington it's the same thing: you are looking for a practical, aesthetic, well-proportioned garment, the most adapted material... and hollington allows all that.
In my opinion, the best example is the shirt, which is very well designed, well cut with its fold of ease. I love the fact that you can wear it in your pants or outside, and I love the mao collar. In fact, hollington pieces allows one to work all day and go to dinner in the city at night, or to go to the opening of a building while staying cool and classy. The materials are well chosen, the lines are simple and effective - all that architects love in general."
How did you meet the hollington brand?
"I fell in love with the brand thanks to the lookbook of two years ago, and I fell in love with the brand trying clothes on. My three-piece denim suit is awesome. I can wear it in many different ways: people do not see it as something connoted, but more like a fashion product. Hollington pieces provide fun with fashion while keeping extremely well-cut essentials."
Have you ever rehabilitated, redesigned or created a clothing store at Costa Bonnamour Architectures?
You who have understood the philosophy of hollington, would you have any ideas, if you had to redo the store?
"Ahahah yes of course I already have a lot of ideas. The store must be representative of the energy of the brand. The team is great, the advice of the sellers are always benevolent, the products are beautiful and the silhouette is enough for itself. Today, the shopping experience is very important and the pieces must be highlighted both to express their longevity and also to explain their very well-thought out cuts.
The challenge for the architect will be to find the right formula to talk to the younger generation and the older generation, because the generational gap is important at hollington. I imagine a Japanese or Scandinavian architecture, which would be both warm efficient without doing too much, simple and refined, well chosen in the right place."
We warmly thank Romain Costa for his hospitality and the time he so kindly gave us.