A sophisticated, contemporary space filled with an exquisite collection of mid-century furniture and art

"I love a big international city where 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 The Corner, a luxe concept store focused on fashion and design for men and women. Whenever he is in Paris, however, he spends his time working intensively on selecting the very best with which to stock his elegant establishment.

The Paris apartment is de Bayser’s base whenever he comes to town for the shows that punctuate the city’s seasonal fashion weeks. In a typical month, he spends about 70 per cent of his time in Berlin, and 30 per cent in Paris. Asked if he could choose between the cities, he demurs, explaining that each one offers such a different experience. “Berlin,” he says, “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 Paris pied-à-terre is located in a building that is typical of the homogenous urban architecture of the mid-19th century when Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann was tasked to “renovate” the city under the command of Emperor Napoléon III (Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte,) though it was built several years after the legendary city planner’s death in 1870.

Originally each floor of the building was a single luxurious home, but these expansive spaces were gradually divided into smaller, more manageable allotments over the years. In fact, de Bayer’s apartment was subdivided from a larger residence next door.

Despite this downsizing of sorts, the smaller space—just 70 square metres in total—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 again allow light to move through. The feeling of luxurious roominess is accentuated by cream-coloured wall-to-wall wool carpeting. In addition, all of the apartment’s rooms look out onto an elegant Parisian park, which brings in fresh air and also provides magnificent views of manicured greenery.

For the better part of 20 years, De Bayser has mostly collected French mid-century design, furniture, and objets d’art. “This genre of design is timeless, [mid-century] mixes so well with the architecture from periods before it was created,” he says. “It has a patina and a lively character that somehow both contrasts and fits [in] with other styles.”

His charming apartment is a positive proof of these assertions: in this expertly curated space, items like a rare Visiteur wood and metal chair by the iconic mid-from a lounge set by Swiss modernist Pierre Jeanneret, and a black standing lamp by Serge Mouille seem perfectly at home. Boldly patterned bed linen crafted by contemporary French designer India Mahdavi adds a nice sophistication to the mix. There are also colourful ceramics by Georges Jouve, a collection of African tribal art figurines, and an excellent selection of contemporary artworks and books, many of which share space on a built-in bookshelf made by de Bayser himself.

De Bayser’s pied-à-terre is located in a building typical of the urban architecture of the mid-19th century when Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann was tasked to “renovate” the city

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. These pieces serve as a link 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 pieces bring a unique and personal feel to the apartment which, according to de Bayser, is very important to him.

A born collector, de Bayser readily confesses to being in constant pursuit of pieces from time to time by his favourite designers and artists. Naturally, 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, because “I had no space for any more furniture,” he admits.

The smaller space... feels spacious and expansive. this is the result of the Building’s elegant ‘Bones,’ which include high ceilings that make for light-filled rooms

De Bayser 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 with 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 de Bayser.

A true pied-à-terre, this petite and well-thought-out Paris apartment is a ‘foot on the ground’ second home for whenever the owner pops into town for a limited amount of time. It makes for an ideal base from which to savour some of the finest things that the City of Light has to offer.

  • StylingSven Alberding / Bureaux
  • PhotographyGreg Cox / Bureaux