WORDS Robyn Alexander PRODUCTION Sven Alberding PRODUCTION Greg Cox / Bureaux
An urbane and intimate Parisian pied-à-terre is filled with collectable Mid-century modern furniture, as well as contemporary design and art.
Emmanuel de Bayser is lucky enough to divide his time between two of Europe’s great locales: Berlin and Paris. In Berlin, he runs his fashion and design store, The Corner Berlin – and when in residence in his Paris apartment, he works intensely on selecting the very best in current fashion, design and decor for The Corner.
Emmanuel’s Paris pied-à-terre is situated in a building that’s typical of the neoclassical style in which Parisian dwellings were constructed during the time of Georges-Eugène Haussmann’s famous “renovation” of the city in the 19th century – even though it was actually built a number of years after the legendary city planner’s death in 1891.
It’s a small space – just 70m2 in total – but it feels spacious and expansive. This is the result of the building’s elegant “bones”, which include high ceilings that make for light-filled rooms, and interconnecting doors with original glazed panels that open up the space and allow light to move through. Accentuating the feeling of luxurious roominess is wall-to-wall carpeting in cream wool, and all of the apartment’s rooms look out over an elegant Parisian park, which means that fresh air and views of manicured greenery abound.
As a collector of French mid-century design, furniture and collectables for the past 20 years, Emmanuel describes that genre of design as “timeless – it also mixes so well with the architecture from periods before it was created. It has a patina and a lively character that somehow both contrast and fit other styles.”
His Paris home is proof of these assertions: in the neoclassical apartment, pieces by iconic mid-century designers Jean Prouvé, Pierre Jeanneret and Serge Mouille seem perfectly at home, while items by contemporary French designer India Mahdavi add sophistication to the mix. And then there are colourful ceramics by Georges Jouve, a collection of African tribal art figurines, and a final layer of contemporary artworks and books.
The tribal figurines are part of a relatively small collection, but a special one. For Emmanuel, these artworks link back to the history of modern art in France, with their influence on artists such as Constantin Brâncusi and Pablo Picasso having been well documented. Like his ceramics collections and his books, these works bring a unique and personal feel to the apartment that is very important to him.
A born collector, Emmanuel readily confesses to being continuously in pursuit of pieces by his favourite designers and artists. He also tends to need new points of focus now and then: his large collection of ceramics by French mid-century ceramicist Georges Jouve was begun in part, he says, because “I had no space for any more furniture.”
Emmanuel also masterfully articulates what makes a variety of mid-century modern designs special. For example, speaking of French lighting designer Serge Mouille, who created the wall-mounted and standing lamps that feature in the apartment’s interiors, he explains that Mouille’s work has a very industrial feel (it is made of cast metal and features angular supporting arms), yet the shapes of the lampshades are subtly curved and have a softer touch than many other industrial-style pieces. The result is “something much more sensual and interesting”, says Emmanuel.
This petite and perfectly considered Paris apartment is a true pied-à-terre – a “foot on the ground” second home in which its owner spends a limited amount of time. And it’s an ideal base from which to savour some of the finest things that the City of Light has to offer.
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