Modern Lexicon

A tablescape on the round wooden Starr table by French contemporary designer India Mahdavi includes a lamp and ceramics by French midcentury ceramicist Georges Jouve, and a small wooden sculpture (far right) by French midcentury designer and artist Alexandre Noll.


On the mantelpiece in the living room are an African tribal art figurine and three ceramic vases by French midcentury ceramicist Georges Jouve. The yellow artwork is by German 20th-century artist Bernd Berner.


A space for work or dining is discreetly tucked into one side of the living room. The granite-topped table and Standard Chairs are all by French modernist designer Jean Prouvé (find re-editions of Prouvé’s work at Vitra, vitra.com) and the wooden stool is by Charlotte Perriand. The table lamp is by Georges Jouve, as are the white ceramics; the blue vase is by French modernist ceramicist Suzanne Ramié. The artwork on the wall above the table is by German contemporary artist Frauke Eigen.


This urbane and intimate Paris pied-a-terre is filled with a collector’s choice of the finest midcentury modern furniture as well as contemporary design and art.

The apartment is designer Emmanuel De Bayser’s base when he comes to Paris for the shows that make up the cities seasonal fashion weeks, and it’s a place where, he says, he “works intensively”.

“I love a big international city in which you can walk wherever you need to go,” says Emmanuel de Bayser, who divides his time between two such European locales – Berlin and Paris. In Berlin, de Bayser runs his fashion and design store, The Corner Berlin, and when in residence here in his Paris apartment, he spends his time working intensely on selecting the very best in current fashion, design and décor for The Corner.

Homeowner Emmanuel de Bayser designed the built-in bookshelf in the living room. The rare vintage Visiteur wood and metal chair is by French midcentury designer Jean Prouvé, and the wooden shelving unit is by Jeanneret. The colorful ceramics are by Georges Jouve and the gray artwork is by German 20th-century artist Bernd Berner.


The black standing lamp is by Serge Mouille, the small wooden stool is by Charlotte Perriand, and the coffee table with the reflective surface is by Israeli industrial designer Ron Arad.


The apartment is de Bayser’s base when he comes to Paris for the shows that make up the city’s seasonal fashion weeks, and it’s a place where, he says, he “works intensively.” In a typical month he spends about 70 percent of his time in Berlin, and 30 percent here in Paris. Asked if he could choose between cities, he demurs, explaining that each one offers such a different experience. “Berlin looks to the future – it is always becoming something – while in Paris, one has such a clear sense of what its history and culture are all about.”

De Bayser’s pied-à-terre in Paris is situated in a building 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 constructed a number of years after the legendary city planner’s death in 1870. Originally each floor of the building was a single luxurious home, but these very large spaces have been gradually divided over the years and this apartment was subdivided from the larger residence next door.

It’s a small space – just 775 square feet in total – but 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 to allow light to move through the space. Accentuating the feeling of luxurious roominess is wall-to-wall carpeting in a cream wool, and all of the apartment’s rooms look out over an elegant Parisian park, for fresh air and views of manicured greenery.

For 20 years, De Bayser has been collecting (predominantly but not exclusively) French midcentury design, furniture and collectibles and so he has a refined view of the history of modern design and the principles that inform it. “This genre of design is timeless, and also mixes so well with the architecture from periods before it was created.” He adds, “It has a patina and a lively character that somehow both contrasts and fits with other styles.”

De Bayser’s Paris home is proof positive of these assertions: in this neoclassical apartment, pieces by iconic midcentury 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 colorful ceramics by Georges Jouve, a collection of African tribal art figurines and a final layer of contemporary artworks and books.

Emmanuel de Bayser’s Paris apartment is situated in a grand neoclassical building, typical of the structures created under the guidance of Paris city planner Georges-Eugène Haussmann.


In the bedroom, boldly patterned bedlinen by French contemporary designer India Mahdavi combines beautifully with the room’s original neoclassical details, a wall mounted lampshade by French lighting designer Serge Mouille and a pair of Mahdavi’s wooden Bishop stools, which are topped with a wooden tray to form a bedside pedestal. The dramatic artwork above the bed is by Peruvian contemporary sculptor Aldo Chaparro, and the two sunburst mirrors are by French midcentury designer and jewelry maker Line Vautrin.


The tribal figurines are a relatively small collection, but a very special one that was begun when de Bayser received the first piece as a gift. For him, these artworks link back to the history of modern art in France, with their influence on artists such as Constantin Brancusi and Pablo Picasso having been well documented. Like his ceramics collections and his books, these works bring a unique and personal feel to the a partment that, de Bayser comments, is very important to him.

A born collector, de Bayser readily confesses to being in constant pursuit of pieces by his favorite designers and artists. And of course, he also needs new points of focus now and then: his large collection of ceramics by French midcentury ceramicist Georges Jouve was begun in part, he laments, because “I had no space anymore for furniture.”

De Bayser also masterfully articulates what makes a variety of midcentury 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,” continues de Bayser.

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 time. It’s an ideal base from which to savor the finest things the City of Light has to offer.

Photography Courtesy of Greg Cox.

Styling by Sven Alberding.

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