Jeannie Fraise, Principal Designer
Over the past 14 years, Jeannie's design projects and former Hayes valley boutique, both under the umbrella of Lotus Bleu, have showcased her distinctly livable and playful approach to design.
embracing the work of ARTISANS WHO INFUSE TRADITIONAL TECHNIQUES WITH A uniquely MODERN flair, she is known for cleverly layering richly colored, graphic patterned textiles and furnishings in original And surprising ways.
Inspired by her frequent and extensive travels abroad, international family, and art history background, Jeannie has been designing, coordinating and styling small and large interiors alike, from individual to complete interior design schemes and kitchen and bathroom remodels to full-scale renovations and new construction. Completing projects in San Francisco, Marin, Lake Tahoe and France, she has worked with highly distinctive architectural firms, contractors, and workrooms, and has in turn received numerous accolades from both regional and national sources.
Now having traveled to over 50 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas, and the Middle East, Jeannie initially caught the travel bug after her first voyage around the world during an abroad program during her junior year in college. Meeting her husband Christophe, a French national from Madagascar, on the program, they have spent over 25 years exploring the world, learning about different cultures and gaining invaluable design inspiration. Yet their very most important voyages to date, however, have been to bring home their beautiful children: Kai from Vietnam and Tulla from China, who have become veritable world travelers themselves.
With a background in the arts, Jeannie studied abroad on Semester at Sea, in Florence and Berlin for her degrees. Graduating summa cum laude from college, she came to the Bay Area to study at Stanford University: receiving an M.A. (1998) and Ph.D. candidacy (2000) in art history. At Stanford, her dissertation focused on Florine Stettheimer, an artist who created innovative portraits, interiors,and stage sets commenting on the burgeoning modern art world and museums in New York City during the early twentieth century. Jeannie herself worked at two of the main ones featured in her art: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Whitney Museum of Art, while living in New York before moving to the Bay Area.
While researching her dissertation, Jeannie tackled her first full-scale interior design project with the three-story Victorian fixer-upper, she and Christophe bought and gutted from top to bottom, in the Liberty Hill Historic District. The final result was featured in Better Homes and Gardens in 2007, and after a complete makeover of the formal living spaces for life with children, The San Francisco Chronicle featured it in a two full-page spread in December 2014. With this experience gained designing their home, Jeannie was given the opportunity to redo the apartment of the modern art curator for which she was working at Stanford's Cantor Arts Center, and soon afterwards, Lotus Bleu was officially launched.
One of the things clients appreciated about Jeannie's style from the start, was the unique finds she brought back from her travels and incorporated into her designs. The interest grew and with it, she opened her own boutique and adjacent office in the heart of the burgeoning and soon-to-be über hip Hayes Valley neighborhood in San Francisco. Displaying her signature playful style and exclusively carrying sought-after and customizable brands like Madeline Weinrib, Oomph, Jon Robshaw, Dunes and Duchess, and international ones like Casamidy, Tulu, Skinny laMinx, and Muskhane, Lotus Bleu soon became a one-of-a-kind home décor destination attracting a loyal clientele for over 12 years.
A great success, the boutique consistently garnered features in regional and national magazines, newspapers, and blogs alike including Elle Decor, Anthology, California Homes + Design, C Magazine, 7 x 7, Sunset Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, Design Sponge, Apartment Therapy, Houzz and more. Many of these same sources featured Jeannie as a “Stylemaker” and “Tastemaker” and/or have given awards to her interior design projects. She participated in the 2011 San Francisco Decorator’s Showcase, led a seminar at the San Francisco Design Center in 2012, and was nominated as a finalist for a "Designer of Distinction" award in 2014 by a blind jury of Sand Francisco design industry leaders.
In 2013, Jeannie received California Home + Design magazine's coveted award for the “Top Residential Space over 3,000 Square Feet in California” for a ranch she completed in the rolling hills of West Marin with Turnbull Griffin Haesloop Architects and Redhorse Constructors. Two years prior, one of her bathroom designs made their annual “Top 5” list. And in late 2014, Jeannie finished her second largest project to date, an approximately 8,000 square foot home in the exclusive community of Martis Camp in Truckee with BAR Architects, receiving the 2015 “Outstanding Home of the Year Award” by regional magazine Tahoe Quarterly.
After juggling two business for so many years, Jeannie decided to trade their 1,000 square feet of boutique space for 1,000 of design studio space above a charming tree-filled, outdoor courtyard nestled in Potrero Hill near the San Francisco Design Center. Designed like a two-bedroom apartment and outfitted in different styles and price-ranges of wall coverings, window treatments, flooring, furnishings, and more, in each of its five rooms and deck, the formerly dreary "stock-office" was transformed into a light-filled space perfect to make clients feel at home and continue her design team on a creative roll.
Immersed in art and music lessons from a young age, Kaoru has cultivated a deep appreciation for the creative process and it's this passion that propelled her to gain experience in the design field throughout her 15 year career.
Through her art history studies at Mount Holyoke College and internships at prominent art institutions in New York City, she learned how to think critically about art. Born and raised in Tokyo, then having studied in the United States and Italy, she has developed a unique global perspective on what art and design mean in different cultures. Having an international background sparked a love of exploration, which led her to eventually take a year off to travel across the globe, visiting museums across Europe and ancient archeological sites extensively in India.
Professionally, Kaoru has held marketing and sales positions with several major design contributors in both the retail and to-the-trade markets, starting with Design Within Reach just after its inception as a startup, and most recently being a top salesperson at the renown San Francisco trade showroom de sousa hughes. There, she gained invaluable knowledge in product design, materials and manufacturing process through countless hours of training from reputable makers of luxury furniture and textiles from both the United States and Europe.
As Associate Designer at Lotus Bleu, Kaoru applies her years of creative training and her in-depth knowledge of product brands to create environments specific to the client's goals and aesthetic. Her strong project management skills, combined with her fun and professional nature contributes to strong and lasting client relationships.