The Art of Chic

The ideal recipe for eclectic chic and 21st-century style? Combine the classic details of an Hausmannian apartment with owner Emmanuel de Bayser’s eye for the finest mid-century furniture and design objects—plus a growing collection of contemporary art. Parfait!

When boutique owner and collector Emmanuel de Bayser outgrew his former Paris apartmen—a pied à terre used mainly when he was in town to attend fashion weeks and select items for his store in Berlin—he and his partner knew they wanted to look for a place that would allow them to stay in the same part of the city. Emmanuel explains. “I like the Parc Monceau area very much, and it is ideal for our dog, so I was very pleased when I found this apartment—just 200 metres from where we were before.”

The area’s famed parks were not the only attraction, of course. As Emmanuel says, this part of Paris features many of the hôtels particuliers (grand townhouses) that are so typical of the famous 19th century city planner’s designs. “This part of the city makes me immediately feel like I’m right in the heart of Paris, and what it offers—architecture, monuments, museums, galleries, restaurants, shops—is a permanent source of inspiration.”

Situated on the étage nobile, De Bayser’s coveted second floor apartment in a Haussmann-style building has three-metre-high ceilings, classic wooden panelling, and beautifully detailed interior mouldings. “Living here “gives me a wonderful feeling of belonging each time I enter the building. And privacy as well. It is like entering a world of its own, full of charm and promises.”

Asked which three words he would use to describe his interior style, Emmanuel says, “peaceful, eclectic, and chic.” 

 

“Each time I walk up the stone stairway complete with wrought-iron bannisters and adorned with carved elements and, pass through the doorway into a spacious entrance hall, I’m drawn into a veritable cocoon of elegance.”

All the original wainscoting and wall panelling, the triple-height interior doors, and the wooden skirtings and cornices are perfectly preserved; and all are painted plain white against walls in a slightly warmer, creamier shade, which has the effect of subtly emphasising and celebrating their refined visual appeal. Floors are mainly original oak parquet, topped by large natural coir rugs. And similarly, the window coverings are luxurious yet minimal: cream ceiling-to-floor curtains and, where required, plain white semi-transparent window blinds for additional privacy.

So far, so classic—and yet, what takes these interiors to another level is not the urbane appeal of the “bones” of the building or the sublime simplicity of the backdrop created by floors, windows and walls. Rather, it’s the fact that all of this functions as a supremely elegant frame for the eclectic and very chic furniture, objects and contemporary art that catch and hold Emmanuel’s discerning eye. 

The furnishings here include a number of pieces by mid-century designers Jean Prouvé and Pierre Jeanneret. Items from the latter’s substantially chunky yet sleek Chandigarh lounge seating collection take pride of place in one of the two living spaces here—accompanied by an über-collectable pair of stone and bronze sheep by Francois-Xavier Lalanne—while a multicoloured mix of Prouvé’s iconic Standard chairs and tables grace both the dining room and the study-cum-library space. 

 

To a collector, of course, furniture can become less of an attraction than objects and artworks, quite simply because furniture tends to take up a great deal of space! As Emmanuel says, “Once the apartment is furnished, there is very little you can add except objects and artworks. But an apartment should never be finished; it has to live and grow… so in a way I usually start as a minimalist and with the years end up as a maximalist.”

In the past, Emmanuel has collected ceramics by Georges Jouve and André Borderi, sunburst mirrors by designer and jeweller Line Vautrin, and sculptures and decorative pieces by Alexandre Noll. Currently, he says, he is especially interested in contemporary art and archeological collectables. And chief among the artists he’s keeping an eye on are Miriam Cahn and Ugo Rondinone, both of whom are Swiss. Also, he adds, “I recently acquired two pieces by Austrian sculptor Josef Pillhofer, who used to work with Brancusi and is currently a favourite of mine.”

Asked about his favourite room in the apartment, Emmanuel says he enjoys them all—taking time of day and one’s chosen activity into consideration—but does admit to a special penchant for “the entrance hall, because when I open the main entrance door, it is what I see as I immediately feel home and safe.” 

At the far end of the hall, double doors open left and right into two living areas; and beyond each of these are the dining room, the kitchen with adjacent breakfast nook, the study and library, and a bedroom with en suite bathroom. 

The living room on the right-hand side of the entrance hall leads onto the library beyond. In the living space, a red occasional chair by Jean Royère (maisonroyere.com) and a yellow wingback chair by Danish architect Flemming Lassen (bylassen.com) face a pair of cream armchairs. The rectangular wooden occasional table in the foreground is by French sculptor Alexandre Noll, while the coffee table is by Francesco Balzano (francescobalzano.com). The carved plaster floor lamp by French mid-century artist and designer Serge Roche contrasts with a blue and white cylinder artwork by contemporary sculptor Anish Kapoor; the small figurative painting to its right is by Swiss artist Miriam Cahn.

Packed with books ranging from novels to art and design monographs, and riotously colourful due to both their bright spines and the bold shades of the furniture pieces selected for it, the library and study is another noteworthy space. “I cannot imagine a place in which one lives without books. Hundreds of books!” says Emmanuel. 

Asked which three words he would use to describe his interior style, Emmanuel says, “peaceful, eclectic, and chic.” This living space leads onto the kitchen on one side and the dining room on the other, and features a pair of stone and bronze Francois-Xavier Lalanne sheep sculptures, as well as a suite of lounge furniture by Pierre Jeanneret. The white standing lamp is by French designer Pierre Paulin (pierrepaulin.fr), the black metal standing lamp is by Alberto Giacometti, and the red, black and yellow artwork is by German painter Günther Förg. The round metal occasional table by Rick Owens (rickowens.eu) is topped with a Georges Jouve ceramic piece, and the coffee table with the reflective surface is by Israeli industrial designer Ron Arad (ronarad.co.uk). A circular green and white artwork by French artist Daniel Buren is the perfect complementary piece to a three-legged stool by French modernist designer Charlotte Perriand, and the sculptural table lamps are also by Georges Jouve—as is the small square mirror on the wall between the windows.

 

With its unusual combination of visual stimulus and a genuinely restful quality, the aesthetic of this charming space is emblematic of the peaceful yet eclectic atmosphere most of us can only dream of. 

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