Home Tour: Emmanuel De Bayser's Mid-Century Modern Home Above His Shop, Corner Berlin
Located in Mitte, Berlin’s bustling central borough which is considered the city’s museum hub as well as a centre for historical architecture, The Corner Berlin was conceived as a platform for the best in international design: fashion, interiors, books, and more. Created 12 years ago by partners Emmanuel de Bayser and Josef Voelk, the store has become one of Berlin’s top shopping destinations, particularly for those looking for exquisite objets that go beyond the ordinary.
Four years ago, de Bayser bought an apartment in the same building where the shop is located. The building itself was built in the early decades of the 20th century, and has survived both the Second World War and the subsequent period when East Berlin was communist territory. It is a grand, imposing structure with elegant period features that include a sweeping staircase and a vintage lift clad in intricate cast-iron that softens the neoclassical lines of the surrounding architecture.
As one steps through de Bayser’s front door, that balance of the linear and architectural with softer, more playful elements continues. Immediately on the left of a compact entrance hallway that features a curvaceous marble table by Italian designer Angelo Mangiarotti is the library-study. Here, built-in shelving designed by de Bayser is packed with over 500 books from his collection, including several monographs on art, along with tomes on film, photography, and design. With windows along one side, the library-study is a room that makes one want to curl up in the Clam chair within and burrow deep into a book.
The room is also furnished with a selection of breathtakingly chic items that include pieces by French modernist icons Jean Prouvé and Charlotte Perriand, Danish designers Philip Arctander and Axel Einar Hjorth, and master ceramicist Georges Jouve. A glance at this tiny gem of a space instantly assures any visitor to de Bayser’s apartment that its owner is a mid-century design connoisseur.
It is an impression that grows stronger as one moves further towards the elegant open-plan living and dining room. Here, a charming pair of bronze and stone sheep sculptures by Lalanne seem to graze within a field of cool designs by Jean Royère, Paul Frankl, and Charlotte Perriand. These are lit by both wall-mounted and free-standing floor lamps by Jean Prouvé and Serge Mouille, accented with eye-catching pieces by Jouve and André Borderie.
On the opposite end of the room, a Pierre Chapo dining table is given a mid-century backdrop through the use of textured wallpapered panels. Prouvé chairs surround the solid wood table and a three-armed, wall-mounted light fitting by Mouille illuminates the area.
With high ceilings and windows all the way down one side of the room, the living-dining space is illuminated by ambient lighting in the daytime and feels airy and spacious. This also makes it a perfect place to show off some seriously covetable pieces of 20th-century design and art, including a wall-mounted bookshelf and a sideboard by Perriand; several gorgeous sunburst mirrors by Line Vautrin; exquisite wooden vessels by Alexandre Noll; and colourful artwork by Jean Arp.
De Bayser confesses to being constantly in pursuit of pieces by designers he loves, both online and at brick-and-mortar antique stores. “Wherever I can find them!” he declares emphatically. Having collected objets d’art for 20 years, he tends to need new points of focus every now and then. For instance, he started collecting Jouve ceramics in part because, as he puts it, he had no more space for furniture.
As with all connoisseur-collectors, de Bayser’s relationship with his pieces is a highly personal and considered one. Speaking of the ceramics, he says that he finds them “meditative… I love to look at them, to make new groupings based on colour or shape... they ‘give another layer of life to the furniture.” When asked why his collection is predominantly focused (although not exclusively) on French design, furniture, and collectables from the middle of the 20th century, he says, “This genre of design is timeless, and also mixes so well with the architecture from older periods. It has a lively character that somehow both contrasts and fits with other styles.”
When he bought the apartment four years ago, de Bayser gave the 160-square-metre space a sensitive renovation. This included retaining the basic layout of the rooms as well as keeping some of the finishes intact. The mid-century kitchen was upgraded, for example, but the original flooring, as well as the built-in cupboards and the ceiling detail, were all carefully restored rather than simply being replaced.
In the bedroom, de Bayser added wooden cladding to the walls—a detail that warms up the spacious room and also feels as if it should have been part of its original design.
Perhaps even more playful and engaging than the more public areas of the apartment, the bedroom features loads of bold colour including a gleaming green-upholstered chair by Pierre Jeanneret; a 1950s Gino Sarfatti lamp in primary blue, yellow, and red; and a boldly colourful artwork by mid-century US artist, Roman Catholic nun and educator Corita Kent. Adding to the sense of fun are a plethora of colourful Jouve ceramics, several graphic white ceramic pieces by Borderie and a delightfully quirky side table (incorporating an antler) by US fashion designer Rick Owens.
After the riotous colours of the bedroom, the en suite bathroom is cool and calm. It’s been completely redone—other than the flooring, which was retained—but very much in the modernist spirit of the original. De Bayser designed the double vanity unit and storage, which has a feel of the functional space-age designs of the ‘50s as well as a touch of the angular, clean-lined style of the ‘30s about it.
Despite the fact that de Bayser’s apartment and store are located in the centre of one of the busiest historical districts of East Berlin—surrounded by museums, restaurants, hotels, bars and parks—it must be very easy to find an excuse to regularly pop upstairs to enjoy his private design wonderland. Which just goes to show that living above the shop has some very obvious advantages.
This article was originally published in Philippine Tatler Homes Vol 24. To bring you all the latest interior trends and practical advice for styling your home, subscribe to Philippine Tatler Homes through here.
- Words(Additional) Marga Manlapig
- StylingSven Alberding / Bureaux
- PhotographyGreg Cox / Bureaux