COL­LEC­TOR’S EDI­TION Em­manuel de Bayser’s Ber­lin apart­ment is a Mid-Cen­tury Mod­ern trea­sure trove

Like many ded­i­cated shop­keep­ers, Em­manuel de Bayser lives above his store. But The Cor­ner Ber­lin is not your av­er­age shop – and its owner is a con­nois­seur of Mid-Cen­tury Mod­ern de­sign

House and Leisure (South Africa) - - Contents - TEXT NOREEN JOHN­SON STYLING SVEN ALBERDING PHO­TO­GRAPHS GREG COX/BUREAUX

Si­t­u­ated in Ber­lin’s bustling Mitte neigh­bour­hood in the old East of the city, you’ll find The Cor­ner Ber­lin, an ex­clu­sive life­style store that was started 12 years ago by Em­manuel de Bayser and his part­ner Josef Voelk. In­tended to be ‘a plat­form in Ber­lin for the best in­ter­na­tional de­sign’, as Em­manuel puts it, The Cor­ner Ber­lin is one of the city’s top des­ti­na­tions for those look­ing for some­thing well made and out of the or­di­nary. Four years ago, Em­manuel bought an apart­ment in the same build­ing in which the shop is si­t­u­ated. It’s a grand, im­pos­ing ed­i­fice dat­ing back to the early 20th cen­tury, with pe­riod fea­tures such as a vin­tage lift clad in in­tri­cate cast iron­work that soft­ens the neo­clas­si­cal lines of the ar­chi­tec­ture sur­round­ing it.

That bal­ance of the lin­ear and struc­tural with cur­va­ceous and play­ful el­e­ments con­tin­ues once in­side the front door. To the left of the en­trance hall is the li­brary-cum-study, which boasts a bank of win­dows on one side of the room and a se­lec­tion of breath­tak­ingly chic items by French Modernist icons Jean Prouvé and Char­lotte Per­riand, Dan­ish ar­chi­tect Philip Arc­tander, Swedish de­signer Axel Ei­nar Hjorth and mas­ter French ceram­i­cist Ge­orges Jouve. A mere glance at this sliver of a space in­stantly as­sures any vis­i­tor to Em­manuel’s apart­ment that its owner is a Mid-Cen­tury Mod­ern de­sign con­nois­seur.

Move through to the pol­ished open-plan liv­ing and din­ing area, and that im­pres­sion gets a fur­ther boost. Here, wall-mounted and stand­ing lamps by Prouvé and French in­dus­trial de­signer Serge Mouille hint at Em­manuel’s dis­like of di­rect light­ing, and il­lu­mi­nate a pair of sheep ‘art fur­ni­ture’ cre­ations by French sculp­tor François-Xavier Lalanne that ‘wan­der’ amid a field of de­signs by French sculp­tor Jean Royère, Art Deco de­signer Paul Frankl and Per­riand.

Dur­ing the day, the space is flooded with nat­u­ral light thanks to the pres­ence of nu­mer­ous win­dows, and high ceil­ings add to the airy feel. This light makes the area per­fectly suited to show­cas­ing all of Em­manuel’s se­ri­ously covetable pieces of 20th cen­tury de­sign and art, such as a colour­ful art­work by French-Ger­man artist Jean Arp, wooden ves­sels by French sculp­tor Alexan­dre Noll, a wall-mounted book­shelf and a side­board by Per­riand, sev­eral sun­burst mir­rors by French artist Line Vautrin, and ceram­ics by French pain­ter An­dré Borderie.

Em­manuel con­fesses to be­ing con­tin­u­ously in pur­suit of pieces by de­sign­ers he loves, both on the in­ter­net and in brick-and-mor­tar an­tiques stores – in short, ‘ Wher­ever I can find them!’ And hav­ing col­lected for 20 years, he tends to need new points of fo­cus ev­ery now and then. His ac­cu­mu­la­tion of Jouve ceram­ics was be­gun, in part, be­cause ‘I had no room for any more fur­ni­ture,’ he says.

As with all con­nois­seur-col­lec­tors, Em­manuel’s re­la­tion­ship with his pieces is a highly per­sonal and

con­sid­ered one. Speak­ing of the ceram­ics, for ex­am­ple, he says that he finds them ‘med­i­ta­tive… I love to look at them, to make new group­ings based on colour or shape’ and adds that they ‘give an­other layer of life to the fur­ni­ture’. And when asked why his col­lec­tion is fo­cused pre­dom­i­nantly – although not ex­clu­sively – on French de­sign, fur­ni­ture and col­lectibles from the mid­dle of the 20th cen­tury, he re­veals, ‘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, Em­manuel gave the 160m2 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, while the floor­ing, built-in cup­boards and ceil­ing de­tail were all re­stored rather than re­placed.

In the bed­room, Em­manuel added wood cladding to the walls, a de­tail that ‘warms up’ the spa­cious room and feels as if it should have been part of its orig­i­nal de­sign. The bed­room is per­haps even more fan­ci­ful and en­gag­ing than the more pub­lic ar­eas of the apart­ment, and fea­tures lots of bold hues and col­lectibles, as seen in the vi­brant Jouve ceram­ics, sev­eral white pieces by Borderie and a quirky sidetable by US fash­ion de­signer Rick Owens that in­cor­po­rates a deer antler.

Af­ter the pops of colour in the bed­room, the en suite bath­room is cool and calm. Although it has been com­pletely re­done – apart from the floor­ing, which was kept in­tact – it re­tains its al­lur­ing Modernist spirit. The dou­ble van­ity and stor­age unit was de­signed by Em­manuel, and it has a sim­i­lar feel as the func­tional ‘space age’ de­signs of the ’50s, as well as a touch of the an­gu­lar, clean-lined aes­thetic of the ’30s about it.

In spite of the fact that Em­manuel’s apart­ment and store are si­t­u­ated in the cen­tre of one of the busiest his­tor­i­cal dis­tricts of Ber­lin, 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. thecorner­ber­lin.de

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In­ter­est has been added to a cor­ner of the bed­room with an art­work by Arp and a Se­nate Com­mit­tee chair up­hol­stered in coral fab­ric by Swiss ar­chi­tect Pierre Jean­neret. A wooden ta­ble by Per­riand and Jean­neret is topped with a white ceramic by Borderie and just one of many books from Em­manuel’s ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion, 500 of which can be found in the li­brary-cum-study’s built-in shelv­ing that he de­signed.

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In the din­ing area, an­other work by Arp crowns a side­board by Per­riand that is adorned with cur­va­ceous wooden pieces by French sculp­tor Alexan­dre Noll as well as colour­ful ceram­ics and a ta­ble lamp, all by Jouve. Sun­burst mir­rors by French de­signer and jew­eller Line Vautrin re­flect Em­manuel’s love of the whim­si­cal; the orig­i­nal kitchen was care­fully re­stored and up­dated rather than sim­ply re­placed, giv­ing it an au­then­tic vin­tage feel; through­out the apart­ment, not an inch of space has been ne­glected, as seen in this small seat­ing area with its Stan­dard chair by Prouvé, lamp by Jouve and art­work by US artist Scott Reeder.

The bed­room is per­haps even more fan­ci­ful and en­gag­ing than the more pub­lic ar­eas of the apart­ment, and fea­tures lots of bold hues and col­lectibles.

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‘Pri­mary colours are time­less, I find,’ says Em­manuel – and as his bed­room shows, he’s right. Here, a vin­tage 1950s lamp in blue, yel­low and red by Ital­ian de­signer Gino Sar­fatti merges seam­lessly with a fur­ther se­lec­tion of Jouve ceram­ics in pri­mary hues that have been placed on a round wooden Guéri­don Bas ta­ble by Prouvé, while a graphic art­work en­ti­tled ‘Won­der­bread’ by Mid-Cen­tury US artist, Ro­man Catholic nun and ed­u­ca­tor Corita Kent adds to the space’s sense of fun. The bench at the base of the bed and an­other Se­nate Com­mit­tee chair (this one cov­ered in green ma­te­rial) are both by Jean­neret, and the Per­riand stool matches those that have been used in the liv­ing-cum-din­ing area. Off­set­ting the vi­brant colours are mono­chrome ad­di­tions that are no less strik­ing than their lively coun­ter­parts: the white Clam chair is by Dan­ish ar­chi­tect Philip Arc­tander, the white ceramic ves­sels are by Cham­bost and Jouve, and the black wall sconce along­side the bed is by Mouille.

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