blog.php-932 Eric Philippe in his gallery in Paris
Image: Barnebys

You opened your gallery in 1979, what was your background before this?

I went to law school, but I quickly left because it was not for me! I entered the workforce through various internships in fashion, photography and decoration. Along with this, I explored my passion for design, visiting flea markets, working in libraries, buying material to gain more knowledge. I then I settled into a large loft at Buttes-Chaumont, and that's how it all began.

I designed this design gallery in a modern way, the same way as a modern art gallery or contemporary art. At the time there were many antique shops with things everywhere, it was very busy. My idea was contrary: to present one or two things in a room and it immediately attracted a clientele. In 1979, we held an exhibition for the opening of our gallery in the Palais-Royal district. In 1980 we held our first exhibition dedicated to Jean-Michel Frank. Since his death in 1941 there had been no exhibition of his work; we presented the first version of Jean-Michel Frank of Editions du Regard and organised an evening at the Palace.

We have always worked in this direction, either focusing on an artistic movement or an architect or designer, or a collection in which we had a mixture of objects put together and accompanied by a small catalogue. We focus on a good design story - which is still the backbone of the gallery.

Image: courtesy Eric Philippe Image: courtesy Eric Philippe

What is the artistic drive of the gallery and how it has evolved in the past four decades?

Since 1980, what we show has evolved. At the beginning we offered a lot of French Art Deco, but always with a selection that was different to other galleries. Then from the mid-1980s, we started to look for international objects, which gave an interesting aspect to the gallery. Customers come here to see things they did not know existed.

Today, with the internet, we must gain speed in the way we work. The dynamic of the market has changed and this has also guided our work, but I have always favored the knowledge to determine what I want to show.

Image: Barnebys Image: Barnebys

Are you a collector yourself? If so, do your tastes influence the choice of works presented by the gallery?

Image: courtesy Eric Philippe Image: courtesy Eric Philippe

My tastes, these are pieces that attract me, that intrigue me and that I have not seen elsewhere.

Some galleries will say that the Scandinavian design works very well, for us, we see Scandinavian design in another sense, we present it because we love certain things about it, otherwise we would not do it.

Hans Wegner for example, we love his work, but we do not do business with his work. When the market becomes too flooded with a designer it does not interest me and I'm already looking elsewhere.

Can you tell us more about the "collections" presented by the gallery and cataloguess you publish on these occasions?

For a long time we published these catalogs to record all the collections we have exposed.

It is a pleasure for us to work on these catalogues, I have always been fond of books and very interested in beautiful publications.

Who are your clients? What is your relationship with them?

Image: courtesy Eric Philippe Image: courtesy Eric Philippe

We did not really have collectors who come to us, but interior designers or individuals who are inspired by a room and in turn are interested in buying from us.

With regard to nationality, it is very varied. We sell to Europeans (English, French, Belgian, Irish, Swiss, some Scandinavian and some Italian ...). It is very diverse in ages too! Right now we have a number of new young clients.

What is the reception for Scandinavian furniture from French collectors?

Scandinavian design is now featured in all auctions, the French see it absolutely everywhere. This worries me a little for the audience who see pieces not in a exhibited format.

With the gallery we have always been very active in presented Scandinavian furniture, this sparked interest among many clients, including French clientele.

Is a design suitable for the new generation of collectors? If so, what advice would you give to young collectors who wish to acquire their first pieces?

The advice I give is to read, to study, to learn to get an idea of ​​what they like. Visit exhibitions, explore the galleries, go to fairs ... then budget will orient the possibilities.

There are two behaviours, there are those who want to collect furniture and there are those that furnish their apartment. We have customers who have several homes and who imagine this or that piece in their home.

Sometimes we fully furnish an apartment or a house, which is a very interesting challenges.

Image: courtesy Eric Philippe Image: courtesy Eric Philippe

Are you exhibiting at FIAC next year?

FIAC is highly anticipated by modern art galleries and contemporary art. They decided to stop the design exhibition at FIAC in 2010. But maybe they will reintroduce it, we would participate there as we like this French fair and it was a success.

Image: Barnebys Image: Barnebys

Has the introduction of design into the mainstream (, Ikea, etc.) brought you a new type of customer or damaged business?

That's life, the industry makes money with what works, and we can do nothing against. It's the same with industry the fashion industry. Obviously the original piece is always more interesting.

I'm still happy to see that people with limited means can afford pleasant things at reasonable prices.

How do you use the web?

I use the internet every day. Especially to search for pieces all over the world, for research and to communicate with my clients.

The Internet is the new flea market. For twenty years I have not set foot in a market in search of coins!

I add, that actually seeing pieces is always better, I sometimes make the decision to travel a bit more now, internet is the be all and end all.

What do you think of Barnebys?

Barnebys is an elegant site, clear and easy to see, which is very important from the user's perspective. As more and more websites are emerging every day, everyone is pressed for time and must quickly be able to find the information you want.

Do you have another passion outside of design?

I have a secret garden, I practice for twenty years a Japanese sport that is called Shintaido. I practice and teach every week, so I escaped to a completely different world. This practice is very beneficial and helps me face new challenges.

Eric Philippe, 25-Vero Dodat gallery, Paris 1st. See here for more information.