THE BERLIN TOWNHOUSE EMMANUEL DE BAYSER
Emmanuel de Bayser is co- owner of The Corner Berlin, an internationally renowned design store. Since opening in 2006, it has partnered with major art galleries, auction houses, artists and collectors. De Bayser’s own apartment, which he has decorated in a similar style to his store, is located in a late 19th-century building in the same square. Expansive white walls offset his collection of mid-century furniture and design (thecornerberlin.de).
How does a retailer’s eye help when it comes to decorating a home?
The store has a signature look and this is carried over into my apartment. Whether it’s a book, a shoe or furniture, I want every piece to stand out, so the background has to remain calm and neutral. That said, the shop is permanently changing – each season brings new colours and prints – whereas my apartment is deliberately more timeless. I don’t believe in decorating an apartment in just two months: a home should grow organically over the years. This apartment was conceived as a space in which I can relax; the approach is different from the shop in that respect because it requires a different pace. What is your favourite piece? I love the curvy, comfortable form of my 1940s Jean Royère sofa and chairs (above). There’s a beautiful contrast between the high ceilings of the apartment and the low curves of the seating. I call the sofa ‘the polar bear’, because it’s covered in furry fabric. It’s very tactile. For me, this sensuality is really important. The first thing customers do in my store is stroke the beautiful fabrics they see: it’s instinctive and soothing.
How do you make a space filled with gallery pieces look homely?
The pieces I collect are very modern but not dramatic – I’m not a dramatic guy! The same applies to the store. I want our customers to buy investment pieces, not just ephemeral ‘fashion’ items. I find that dramatic pieces can break the balance of an interior. They work in a museum, but they can be overpowering at home. Do you have any tips for using gallery pieces at home? If you have the opportunity to borrow something before you buy it, then do so. Many gallerists are open to this. You need to be humble enough to admit when a piece simply doesn’t work. Remember, you have to be able to live with it, and you want the thing to function. I once struggled with a beautiful freeform Jean Prouvé side table. It was just too big and it overpowered the room.
What would you say to someone who wanted to buy a gallery piece, but was worried it might be too fragile or impractical?
You have to adapt your collection to the lifestyle you lead. You can’t invest in expensive ceramics if you have children running around. A steel Ron Arad chair might be a better investment.
Is what you have in your own home similar to what you have in your store?
Yes, from time to time I take things out of the apartment and display them in the store, and vice versa.
Have you ever come across a piece that was too challenging for everyday use?
There are always things I love that I simply don’t have space or use for. Usage is extremely important to me. I could never put things in storage. If I buy something, it’s for a precise purpose. The pieces that I have at home, I enjoy every day. ➤
LIVE-IN EXHIBITIONS CONTINUED...
‘Be humble enough to admit when a piece doesn’t work. Remember, you have to be able to live with it’