AO Journal

From Paris to Stockholm: A Tale of Two Galleries

28. March 2019

Call them vintage antique dealers or modern design gallery owners but these purveyors of art, antiques and design and international tastemakers are so much more. Here is what makes their galleries stand out and why it’s worth your time to visit when in Paris, Stockholm or simply peruse online at ArtOrigo at your leisure.

Galerie BSL Avant-Garde Meets Antiquities

Located in the stylish Saint-Germain-des-Près district of Paris, Galerie BSL has been both a source of interest and innovation in the art and antique world since 2010. Founded by the uber-chic Béatrice Saint-Laurent, the contemporary design gallery separates itself from its competitors with unique art exhibits that spark interest, arouse emotions and give new meaning to the term cutting edge. 

Perhaps Galerie BSL’s success lies in the fact that Saint-Laurent’s design aesthetic is in her DNA.  “I grew up in a family that valued contemporary art and design,” notes the Parisian gallerist, “and my father Paul was an architect and Shiro Kuramata, Mies van der Rohe, Alvar Aalto, Le Corbusier and Florence Knoll were some of the designer’s names (and furniture) I grew up with. I remembered they offered me a kid-size Harry Bertola Diamond chair at the age of four.” Her illustrious career included a position as an editor of contemporary visual arts communications at the ministry of culture and a speechwriter for two French foreign ministers before she found her true passion.

Seeing a gap in the collectible market in 2008, the Parisian gallerist notes, “There were fewer design galleries than art galleries and I saw an opportunity. What most interested me was the idea of production, that I could play a stronger more active part in the creation of objects. I liked the idea of working as a research laboratory, not only as an exhibition space, and being part of the creative process in a constant dialogue with artists-designers about the unique pieces or very limited editions they could create for my gallery.”

Saint-Laurent also details that Galerie BSL is “not a shop, we do not buy to sell and on the contrary, we commission pieces and participate in the creation and the production to express something that I think is avant-garde and bring in something new to the market.” This translates into gallery exhibitions such as German artist Pia Mari Raeder’s “Sea Anemone” collection or Carol Egan’s minimalist twisted wood designs that have both a timeless elegance and iconic quality. 

Sculpture wall light of clear glass rods by Ayala Serfaty

Kuramura Pollock  armchair, 2019 by Ayala Serfaty

Charles Kalpakian crescent sofa

Arche desk by Charles Kalpakian, 2018.

For the discerning collector, Galerie BSL certainly speaks their language, offering something for every budget. “The majority of the pieces that we propose range between 20,000 and 50,000 euros with some pieces costing four or five times more,” says Saint-Laurent. Other pieces, such as the "Lightweight Porcelain” collection of stools and benches by Dutch artist Djim Berger range between 1,500 and 4,000 euros and limited edition with eight to ten pieces. 

The distinction lies in the fact Galerie BSL only produces and offers contemporary collectible design pieces.  “A contemporary design gallery and vintage furniture one are two types of galleries…a vintage gallery means being able to find rare pieces the value of which is already validated by the market. A contemporary design gallery means being able to produce qualitative design that is avant-garde and challenging. “

If you find yourself in Paris this April, you can see Galerie BSL at the PAD Paris show or pop in for a visit at their 14, rue des Beaux-Arts location or view the collection at ArtOrigo



Modernity: 20th Century Scandinavian Design

While it started as a hobby for Scotsman Andrew Duncanson, a passion for vintage design coupled with “meeting and falling in love with a Swede” (his partner Isaac Pineus) gave birth to Modernity in 1998. 

The internationally renowned gallery of furniture, ceramic, glassware and jewelry crafted by some of the 20th century’s most talented Scandinavian designers, Modernity is in the heart of Stockholm’s design district. Their collection is a proverbial “who’s who” of design luminaries ranging from Hans Wegner, Finn Juhl, Alvar Alto, Arne Jacobsen and Alex Salto and Eero Saarinen.

As the owner and director and CEO respectively, Duncanson and Pineus’ gallery is favored by international collectors and museums alike. Case in point: New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) acquired the iconic Arne Jacobsen’s famed Egg Chair and Hans Wagner’s Flag Halyard chair while the Milwaukee Art Museum purchased Gerrit Rietveld’s one of six Zig Zag chairs from Modernity. The Wolfsonian in Miami, Los Angeles Country Museum (LACMA), Copper Hewitt Museum in New York and Philadelphia Museum of Art are also frequent gallery customers.

Josef Frank's "Flora" cabinet on stand, 1930s.

"Pernilla" chaise lounge by Bruno Matthsson for Karl Matthsson, Sweden, 1944​​​​​​

Sleek highback red leather sofa by Frits Henningsen, Denmark, 1936

"Funkis" sofa by Axel Einar Hjorth for Nordiska Kompaniet, Sweden, 1932.

Known for its minimalistic lines, functionality, superb craftsmanship and a calm and serene quality that the style evokes, it’s no wonder Scandinavian design continues to be popular since its inception in the early 20th century. Favoring its enduring aesthetic, Duncanson details, “The style had its heyday in the 1920s to early 1930s and Sweden won 36 awards at the 1925 Paris exhibition second only to the host nation of France,” and believes it will continue to attract attention, particularly the work of Danish designers such as Peder Moos or Kaare Klint and the lighting designs of Hans-Agne Jakobsson. People will say there is a trend towards Scandinavian design but the trend has been there for the last twenty years. It doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, in fact, if anything, it’s more attractive.” 

Whether you visit online at ArtOrigo, the Stockholm store or one of their various exhibits at the design, art and antiques shows in London, New York and Paris, it’s both a history lesson and shopping experience you won’t forget. And if you find something you cannot live without, no worries – they ship to all five continents.

Rare lacquered aluminum ceiling lamp by Hans Agne Jacobsson, 1960's, Sweden.

Alvar Alto "Beehive" ceiling lamp for Valaistustyo

“The Flag Halyard Chair” designed by Hans Wegner

Alvar Anderson for Hyresgästernas Möbelaffär, Sweden 1927-1932