From the Marais to Saint-Germain-des-Près, The Vision Behind Galerie BSL
Since opening in the Marais district in May 2010, Paris’s Galerie BSL has drawn collectors and curious passersby into its chic design boutique on rue Charlot—which includes a gleaming architectural interior designed by Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance—and its presentations at international design fairs including PAD, Design Miami/, and Collective. This fall the gallery reached a new milestone, expanding its reach within Paris to the Left Bank; with a new location there, the BSL firmly establishes its influence on both sides of the Seine.
Headed by owner Béatrice Saint-Laurent, a former executive at the French Ministry of Culture, Galerie BSL takes a dauntless approach to contemporary design, keeping innovation and fine materials at the fore, and fostering designers who seamlessly blend beauty and utility. Its rich, diverse roster ranges from the high-tech, futuristic carbon fiber furniture of Studio Cogitech to glass light sculptures resembling sea life by Ayala Serfaty, to the creature-like clocks inlaid with hard stones by Nacho Carbonell.
Now in the midst of their inaugural exhibition at the new space on rue Bonaparte—featuring works by Taher Chemirik, Faye Toogood, and Carol Egan, among others—we caught up with Saint-Laurent to learn about her vision for the new gallery and the advantages of Rive Gauche.
Artsy: What prompted you to open the Rive Gauche gallery?
Béatrice Saint-Laurent: Actually, it was really an opportunity that I seized. “Location, location, location,” as you say in English. Even though our market is global, and even though Internet art platforms are increasingly important to a gallery’s goals, gallery space remains important in terms of image and selling opportunities. Rive Gauche and Saint-Germain-des-Près are Paris’s hub for design galleries.
Artsy: What opportunities does this neighborhood offer? What makes it different from the Marais?
BSL: A portion of our customers in the Marais are contemporary art collectors, due to the gallery’s proximity of top art galleries. Rive Gauche offers new opportunities. First, Saint-Germain-des-Près is an important historical district in Paris, frequented by an interesting international clientele. Second, the area gathers most of the French design galleries, specialized in vintage, historic decorative arts, or contemporary design. This proximity makes it easier for interior designers and architects to visit our showroom and bring clients.
Artsy: What is your vision for the new gallery?
BSL: At least for now, the Bonaparte space will showcase group shows, whereas the space on rue Charlot will be devoted more to solo shows. I want to present Rive Gauche with our full vision of the contemporary object, characterized by stunning aesthetics, innovative research on materials, and exclusive productions. This goes through the dialogue between works that all build Galerie BSL’s strong identity and universe—daring pieces that question and retain the viewer’s gaze, pieces that bring together poetry and joy, and that arouse sensibility beyond the mere functional side.
Artsy: What occupied the space before? And what changes have you made to the space to open it as BSL?
BSL: This space has been a gallery for the last twenty years. More precisely, three very well-known Parisian galleries started in this space, and successively they moved to larger locations on rue Bonaparte. Once you open on rue Bonaparte, you never leave!
Casey Lesser is Artsy’s Creativity Editor.