High Art with Florence Guillier-Bernard & maison parisienne
Join us for a peek inside the empowering and inspiring world of Florence Guillier-Bernard, founder of the exceptional nomadic high art gallery maison parisienne. With a passion for celebrating French savoir-faire, a unique eye for talent, and how to nurture it, Florence and maison parisienne serve as a dream connector for artists and collectors. Read on and be inspired by Florence Guillier-Bernard in this edition of the Lh Empowered Women Empower series. And when you are done, be sure to explore more about four (of the many!) artists we love at maison parisienne in Vol. 6 of LHM Print.
Be Empowered by Florence Guillier-Bernard, Founder of maison parisienne
Love Happens: As our name and the tagline of our publisher, KOKET, denotes, at Love Happens, we are firm believers that you cannot achieve any level of success without love. When did your love affair with French savoir-faire begin? How did it make you feel?
Florence Guillier-Bernard: I have always been passionate about art, artists, and their studios. My grandfather was a leather craftsman and saddler. I spent many hours of my childhood watching him work in his studio. I had my first artistic shock when my schoolteacher showed me the painting Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh at the age of 8. From there, I was only interested in museums. I enrolled in classes at the Louvre on Thursdays, and at the end of the sessions, I would stay and get lost in the museum…
Lh: Tell us a bit about your past and what led to your founding of maison parisienne?
Florence: When I started my career in the art industry in 2006, I wanted to offer something unique to the French and international art scene, which, at the time, was not really interested in the art of high craftmanship. I decided to establish my own gallery in Paris as I was meeting various artists, potential partners, and personalities from the art world, with a goal of highlighting artisans as well as bringing a contemporary component to the world of French design and craftsmanship. It took me 18 months to organise my first exhibition called “Magie Blanche” in 2008 at the royal suite of the Plaza Athénée in Paris, presenting nearly 70 artists. Since then, I’ve organised over 60 events in Paris and Europe.
Lh: What inspired your decision to be a nomadic gallery versus one with a traditional storefront space?
Florence: I decided to create a nomadic gallery to offer something far from the traditional notion of traditional and contemporary art galleries present at the time. We wanted to offer a luxury level of service and comfort that is often found in the Houses of other industries. Thus, maison parisienne offers a personal service by travelling to meet the art collectors. And staging exhibitions in prestigious places—London, Brussels, Monaco, New York. We also host our exhibitions in Parisian apartments by appointment only in order to welcome our clients, collectors, decorators, and architects into an intimate and privileged setting.
Lh: Where do you find the artists and designers you represent?
Florence: I have always been immersed in art, so I spotted the artists I represent at competitions, fairs, and exhibitions, or they were introduced to me by mutual friends and intermediaries. For instance, I met Simone Pheulpin through mutual acquaintances. She had already been practicing her art for 35 years but was still unknown to the public.
Equally, I was also going to meet new talents at students’ final-year project presentations. That’s how I met Pierre Renart at the age of 21, and we’ve been working together for 12 years now!
Lh: How does maison parisienne empower its artists?
Florence: One of the founding philosophies of maison parisienne was to provide outstanding artists of French savoir-faire with a House worthy of their work and to provide them with exceptional places to showcase their creations like jewellery cases (such as Plaza Athene, Hôtel Solvay, Meurice, etc.). Additionally, we nurture all our artists—we follow them very closely, provide them with artistic direction and support to “build” their careers as well as look after their relations with institutions.
I’m continually challenging them on their technique, the aesthetics of the pieces, and their finish. Like my artists, I’m keen to present exceptional works with perfect finishings. The artists work in a vacuum, and I offer them an external perspective and feedback from collectors about their work. I exchange ideas with the artists I represent on a daily basis.
To continue the example of Simone Pheulpin, she was already advanced in her creative journey. But her exceptional art was not known to the general public. Today, the artist has a monographic book and is part of the permanent collections of the world’s most renowned museums, including the MAD Paris, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
In contrast, Pierre Renart had only just graduated from the École Boulle when we met. And maison parisienne enabled him to exhibit his first creations. Today, his furniture is part of the permanent collections of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and the Mobilier National in Paris. I guided him on an exceptional project at 22 Bishopsgate in London. And supported him with organised exhibitions, solo shows, fairs, proposals for acquisitions by museums, etc.
Lh: What empowers you?
Florence: I feel empowered when my artists are acknowledged by the public and the art world. My interest in the arts is endless, and above all, the relationship with the artists is very human. There is a very strong emotional element in the artists’ creations. They put their experience, knowledge, technique, and especially their passion into them. I am the link between the artist and the collector. My interactions with our artists allow me to gain insight into their work which I use to describe it and tell its story to collectors. I am able to achieve a sale and provide a living for the artists through sharing our common passion—it is a dream.
Lh: What do you consider your greatest achievement, either personal or professional?
Florence: I consider myself to have three greatest achievements in my life.
The first one is my family. My two children and raising a united family since the beginning, when I met my dear husband.
Then, the creation of maison parisienne gallery.
And finally, to see the evolution that I have inspired in my artists as they enter international public and private collections. As well as the rewarding result of helping them to win prizes and awards: Loewe Craft Prize (Simone Pheulpin), Villa Koujoyama residency (Gérald Vatrin), 22 Bishopsgate Project (Pierre Renart).
Lh: If you could give one bit of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Florence: Be patient, hard work always pays off. Believe in yourself!
Lh: Do you have any mottos or favorite quotes you like to live by?
“Tout arrive à point à qui sait attendre”Closest English phrase: “Good things come to those who wait”
Lh: What is next for Florence Guillier-Bernard, and for maison parisienne?
Florence: maison parisienne gallery will be celebrating the 15th anniversary of its first exhibition in December. It will be an opportunity to present exceptional works in an equally exceptional and historical place in Paris.
The venue will showcase the work of our artists. And I’ve asked them to create even more extraordinary works than usual. The artists will outdo themselves, and I’m also working on a book for the occasion. We’ll be celebrating this wonderful anniversary properly!
Learn more about Florence Guillier-Bernard and explore all the high art and craftsmanship of maison parisienne at maisonparisienne.com.
Feature Image: masion parisienne exhibition | Photo Courtesy of maison parisienne