Each passing moment in the company of Constance Baudeau is punctuated with anecdotes and fascinating stories gleaned from a rich and varied life. Constance‘s career began in the world of Advertising, firstly in Paris and briefly in London, before she established herself in Kaboul. These years in Afghanistan would alter the course of her life. Constance met her husband and lived though a whole host of experiences, that left an impression on both her personal and professional life. We sit and listen with incredulity. Then her story returns to Paris. In France’s exciting capital, she decided to embark on a totally new adventure. With a vast reserve of cultural references, a desire to give back and the encouragement of a friend, Constance created a platform called Gallery Democratic. The idea: quite simply to facilitate the purchasing and selling of furniture design and antiques. Amidst the fabrics, furniture, lighting and small decorative objects, you’ll discover an unbelievable range of authentic pieces bearing the names of Pierre Paulin, Ettore Sottsass and even Nathalie du Pasquier. Constance takes great delight in telling stories, whether they’re about designers she loves or about the latest trends and fashions. Today, her story centres on the ‘folie douce’ of Piero Fornasetti and the ‘return to essentials’ movement that inspired Wabi Sabi. Come with us on an awe-inspiring voyage of discovery.
Constance, tell us your story?
My story is about a little girl who grew up in the countryside, discovered Paris as a teenager, and travelled the world as a young woman. After my literary studies, I changed course to business school. I worked for 12 years in advertising, in Paris, London and Kabul! I really enjoyed it. It combines the magic of words and images, the people are passionate, funny, and often irrational! Like many, when I became a mum I had to make a choice, since it was impossible to keep the rhythm and to be as present as I wanted to be for my children.
In what way did your experience in Afghanistan influence the way you look at life?
That’s an enormous question, but to answer it straight, everything changed when I met my husband. I saw the magnificent landscapes and also terrible scenes there. I met people with whom I had absolutely no language in common, and people who were genuinely a little “mad.” Since then I’ve travelled in lots of other countries. But in brief, I would say that it was here that I acquired a certain type of compassion, and every day I count my blessings that I was born in France and live here today.
How would you describe the style of Gallery Democratic?
Gallery Democratic is a marketplace for high-end and pre-loved furniture and home furnishings, open to individuals and professionals. There you’ll find beautiful antique pieces and modern home furnishings, second-hand and sometimes exhibition furniture. Our wish is to make beautiful things as accessible as possible, in terms of cost (we’re very careful about the sale prices of our objects) and in terms of logistics (to enable ease of purchase) and in terms of Culture (expertise). The Design World can be at times a little snobbish. It’s impossible to know everything about antiques or contemporary design if it isn’t your job. Our aim is to help our clients understand this culture, to teach them a few things about the object they buy.
Do you have a favourite designer?
As soon as I met Hubert Le Gall I had huge admiration for him and his work: his joyful designs are executed in the pure Arts Décoratifs tradition. In a totally different style, I also really like what Nendo does, especially his tables made for Glas Italia. His designs are clearly from a certain era, but the crossover of lots of different influences.
Where to you draw inspiration? Do you have a female icon? Or a favourite era?
I’m inspired by my travels. My femmes iconiques are Camille Claudel, the one and only, Sonia Delaunay, Alexandra David-Néel … she was the first western lady who, in disguise, entered Lhasa. My favourite era: our’s!
Can you give us an example of what the Gallery Democratic offers?
An item you dream of owning?
In my dreams… glassware by Ettore Sottsass or a rug from A+A Cooren for Chevalier Edition.
Which are your favourite items in your home?
Our artisan-made Totem blown-glass vases and our ceramic vase hand-made by my friend MVW Kraft. Photos of Afghans bought in Afghanistan. They were taken in the era of the Taliban when photography was forbidden. People went in secret to get their photo taken and a photographer painted and retouched the photos my hand.
How do you reconcile family life and beautiful deco?
Increase our storage, let the children freely express themselves, and keep the beautiful object out of reach. Marius and Jacques chose how they wanted their bedroom to be decorated.
Where do you spend most of your time?
Around the table of our dining-room, sharing moments with the children and friends, chatting or working.
An address you recommend we visit?
Philippe Guegan‘s is a real treat for the eyes, it mixes C.18th French furniture with Art Contemporain. The Frossard workshop for framing. They have a real eye! I Ghiotti, Italian restaurant. It’s Tuscan and it’s Sicilian, in addition to excellent pasta they have very good wines.
Credits: Eve Campestrini @thesocialitefamily