Meet Guillaume Cuiry, Art Expert in 20th Century Design & founder of La Galerie Nationale (Alserkal Avenue, Dubai). His love affair for art furniture was developed at a very early age, and it all started when his parents decided to set up his study room with the very coveted designer pieces of Joe Colombo.
Guillaume’s interest in the world of vintage pieces was further ignited by his best friend Jacques, a collector of 40’s and 50’s antiques. Seeing a shortage for genuine antiques in Dubai led Guillaume to set up La Galerie Nationale in 2011. The gallery represents a whole list of prominent designers including Jean Royere, Jean Prouve, Pierre Guariche, Chatrlotte Perriand, Mathieu Mategot, Marco Zanuso, Alexandre Noll, Geoffrey Harcourt, Max Ingrand, Serge Mouille and Warren Platner.
I had an intruiging chat with Guillaume a few days ahead of his gallery’s Dubai Art festival. He is a true encyclopedia on furniture art! Read on to learn more about coveted furniture pieces, and how you too can build a sought-after collection of your own.
- Furniture is often regarded as an everyday necessity. What differentiates everyday pieces from “furniture art”?
For me, vintage art furniture pieces are unique and special. They have a story to tell, they have a soul, they have a spirit, a technique, and of course an aesthetic, and it is these characteristics that keep my love affair with 20th century design alive.
After a long time in Europe and many business trips to the Middle East, I could not understand why this region was totally forsaken by the Art Furniture market. I meet so many lonely design lovers with no other choice than to buy mass market furniture to embellish their homes. This is the primary reason why I decided to open my first gallery in Dubai, La Galerie Nationale, which is 100% dedicated to vintage art furniture and antique genuine art design. I did it of course with the great and friendly support of my friend Jacques.
The art industry also needs creative leaders. My work consists of promoting original vintage art to help inspire new comer designers and fight against the copyists.
Decades ago when I started, just a few people liked design and vintage design. Now it’s really fashionable to mix different periods in your home decoration. Galleries like mine are also at the origin of re-edition of iconic furniture by famous world companies. But re-edition is not the cup of tea of our clients. They want THE original piece.
- Please tell us more about your personal collection of “furniture art”. What is your most treasured piece? Who created it? What makes it so extraordinary?
I have a fascinating collection of original vintage art furniture designed by famous designers such as Marco Zanuso who was one of a group of Italian designers from Milan shaping the international concept of “good design” in the postwar years. There is also Jean-Pierre Laporte who designed the “Esox” chair, the first iconic piece he designed in the early 70’s. As all high level design this armchair combines comfort and aesthetic. One is at the Beaubourg Museum in Paris. JP Laporte was very surprised when he discovered that the other is in Dubai. We also represent Alberto Giacometti who designed the Sculpture which is one of my favorite art pieces as it is the first and last stone furniture sculpture ever made in the world by Giacometti. Giacometti’s work of the 1930s represents probably the most important contribution to Surrealist sculpture. Some were influenced by primitive art, but perhaps most striking were those that resemble games, toys, and architectural models. They almost encourage the viewer to physically interact with them, an idea which was very radical at the time.
- How was La Galerie Nationale created? Why did you choose Dubai as an art destination?
Coming from a traditional family, my love for designer art furniture started when my parents, lovers of 18th century decoration, set up my study room with Joe Colombo pieces. Later, my very best friend Jacques, who is into antique furniture, exposed me to 40’s and to 50’s antique pieces. It was indeed my friend Jacques who became a source of inspiration, which led me to dedicate my free time studying the 20th century design and designers and eventually setting up my own galley in the UAE.
I chose Dubai because of its young, vibrant and energetic vibe. Dubai is a cosmopolitan city of diversity and contrasts which is at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa. This city is a lively and unique destination, combining variety and excitement with excellent infrastructure and first-class hotels, as well as tourism, dining, shopping and entertainment facilities. I felt that the art scene in Dubai has great potential – you can see the energy in the bustling souks, the pulsating ambition to build bigger and better towering skyscrapers, the old charm of the vast desert. Dubai is an ideal location for me to impart my knowledge and grow my passion for vintage art design.
From what I see, expatriates in Dubai are a fan of vintage and antique design but now a lot of young Emiratis are changing their interior decoration ambiance as well after their trips around the world. With their global exposure, they are keen to invest in genuine pieces created by the 20th century designers.
- Please tell us more about the Art Dubai exhibition at La Galerie Nationale this month. What will we get to see?
I am delighted to present the brilliant works of five contemporary artists during my ‘Face to Face’ group art exhibition at the gallery. Art aficionados are welcome to join us for the opening night of the exhibition which will be held on March 14, from 6pm to 9pm during Alserkal Avenue Galleries Night. I have carefully chosen five contemporarry artists who I admire most. These are Lebanese artist and painter Katya Traboulsi, Belgian sculptor Arnaud Rivieren, and French artists Philippe Pasqua, Fred Kleinberg and Pierre Marie Lejeune. The exhibition of these prominent artists at the gallery is open to visitors from March 15, 2016 and lasts up to May 14, 2016. Please come and visit us!
- Any tips for someone starting off a personal collection of rare art? Where can one begin?
I would like to suggest for a first timer to go on the web and study the work of 20th century designers and leaders such as Jean Royere, one of the most prolific creators, Jouve for the elegance of his ceramics, Jean-Michel Frank and Dupré-Lafon for the quality of details, Serge Mouille for the design (r)evolution he did in the lighting like Raymond Subes, Max Ingrand or Jacques Biny. They can also research closely and consider famous tryptic masters Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perri, and Jean Prouvé as the great promotor of industrial design. From Mathieu Mategot to Raymond Loewy, Roger Tallon or Willy Rizzo, it’s impossible for any design lover to find a style with great character. From here, you can also visit galleries such as La Galerie Nationale and see and interact with the artworks. We as curators will be most happy to share our knowledge and help you in your journey to discover rare vintage art furniture.