a conversation with Galerie Utopie

"The designers and artists, represented by Utopie were at the beginning of a success, showed their pieces all around the world, connoisseurs and international museums invested in their art - almost nobody knows them today as this production is totally drowned in a huge ocean called "Design." - Edouard Bernard

Edouard, of Galerie Utopie, Paris, surround by
Jean-Louis Avril works
in the storage room for Galerie Utopie

"A sliver of the sun will surely appear with time."

Some YHBHS conversations take months to unfold and reveal themselves. In the midst of a Los Angeles winter 2011, I received an email from Charlotte about Galerie Utopie in Paris, and their selection of 60s/70s/80s objects, furniture, art, and graphic documents. I wrote to Charlotte weeks later, inquiring if she would like to converse about Galerie Utopie. She wrote back, "I keep in mind and think about the idea of the conversation for YHBHS almost everyday. I talked about the idea of the conversation between me and Edouard and he's happy with this idea, as he's almost happy with all the ideas actually. I will speak with "Edouard my partner, he is the head and mind of Utopie as I'm only the legs!"

I later asked Charlotte about herself, to which she replied, "I was born in the middle of the eighties, grew up in the Pyrénées mountains, and I'm now Parisian and fashion editor since couple of years. I met Edouard 2 years ago in his past galerie, by chance. And we became friends, by chance."

And so, it is the middle of summer here in Los Angeles, 6 months after our initial conversation began. This is Charlotte's conversation with Edouard about objects, contemporary art, and more. Looking forward to visiting them on my trip to Paris, where our conversation will continue. - David John

above, anonymous lamp
below, Boris Tabacoff armchair

utopie: (plural utopies)
utopia: imaginary society in perfect harmony
utopia: unattainable ideal

David John:
Charlotte, how did you meet Edouard?

Charlotte: "I used to walk often in a small street in the posh neighborhood of Champs Elysees and Faubourg Saint Honoré, in Paris, on my way to work almost two years ago. I discovered a gallery I've never seen before showing children furniture from the 60's and 70's. I was really curious to see more, but it was closed each time I found myself in front of the window.

I was a bit afraid to reach out via the email address to make an appointment to see the gallery when it was open, as I was afraid to meet an old gallerist with an only wish to sell his art pieces at an expensive price, thanks to this area known for this snob way of life.

I took the risk. I went there with all my prejudices to finally meet Edouard, who was 30 years old, looking and smiling. He was speaking with love and enthusiasm about all the pieces shown at his gallery, which was then named Edouard Edwards (his first name and the surname of his partner bracketed together).

I was agreeably surprised. I went there a couple of times then, joined him and his partner at their last opening show. As this time we didn't know that it would be the last exhibition at the Galerie Edouard Edwards. For some reason, the space of the gallery was not available anymore, and Edouard Edwards closed this past summer.

Summer. Time for holidays.

September, time to find a new way to keep the gallery alive. A name found, Utopie, no space yet but internet as an alternative and the wish to continue and for me to start the adventure. Edouard, the mind and me, the legs; I designed the website for him, with patience and without any knowledge about the internet or website specifics. It's not perfect but we will try our best to make it better.

A work in progress. - Charlotte

an anonymous luminaire from Galerie Utopie
below: Olivier Mourgue flower lamp

The conversation between Charlotte and Edouard

Charlotte: Why did you choose this name, Utopie ?

Edouard: It's a short word, cheerful, with positive/negative meanings in the same word. It was for me the perfect summary of the period I'm showing, full of success and disillusionments with one common axis: the arrival of new materials in the furniture industry and design.

This name is a wink to the magazine called "Utopie" created and edited by Hubert Tonkas in 1967, where town planners, architects and sociologists were involved and who pleaded for a "sociology of the city".

Why do you collect those pieces ?

Edouard: These periods, from 1965 to 1985 are faraway from us, and really close in the same way. We need to have a look and understand this crosscurrent production and creation, against the ambient classicism of the time, talents from these periods are totally forgotten nowadays. Contemporary to their productions, the designers and artists, represented by Utopie were at the beginning of a success, showed their pieces all around the world, connoisseurs and international museums invested in their art - almost nobody knows them today as this production is totally drowned in a huge ocean called "Design."

What is the piece from your collection which you are most proud of ?

Edouard: I would say, not any specific one. I will be proud of these pieces that I collect when the whole furniture production where they are from will be, once and for all, shown at more scientific and serious exhibitions with clear-sightedness.

But if I still have to name just one, it would be my cardboard chair of Celloderme designed by Jean-Louis Avril. I found it on Rue St Honoré in Paris during a rainy night 10 years ago. I was 22 years old and this was the trigger!

Imagine the Edouard Edwards Gallery as a sinking boat, hurry up ! Which are the pieces from the collection you are saving to go to Utopie ?

Edouard Edwards Gallery was a rowboat that came alongside the beach but it never sunk. But let's imagine the winners :

-A Marc Held desk A Boris Tabacoff armchair
-A Jean-Louis Avril "Lune" lamp, and my
-Taon Derny motorbike designed by Roger Tallon in 1957

Roger Tallon Taon Derny motorbike

Marc Held desk

Charlotte: Let's make a list with utopist ideas for 2012, a beginning at least.

Edouard : -To open a gallery that will not be a simple gallery, -To clone the real connoisseurs and collectors as they are becoming more an more rare, - To ask to our kind french sponsors and establishments to buy more with their eyes than with their heard guidance.

Chairs by François Arnal for Atelier A

David John: "To clone the real connoisseurs and collectors as they are becoming more an more rare." Why do you think they are becoming more rare?

Edouard: I think today, people are buying art as everything else, it's a merchandise, it's a way to be known as scholar, powerful and rich beings with good taste. In reality, Art in general, but especially the field of Contemporary Art has taken a shape of a shopping mall where no one buys with any real knowledge.

Actually, it's quite an obviousness as there is no art critic anymore, almost !

David John:
Are there any other design stores or museums
in Paris you can recommend?

Charlotte: Christian Sapet, 7 rue Alexandre Bachelet, 93400 Saint Ouen. And the Musée de la vie Romantique & Musée de la Chasse & Musée Bourdelle as well as the database of Centre Pompidou website.

a Limousin document from Galerie Utopie, see more documents here.

Utopia Gallery aims to represent the mood of an era, three decades of prolific creation, the year 60/70/80. The choice of significant objects, but also more sensitive they are from the furniture, graphics, automotive and more broadly of art. Specialist of the following artists, Jean-Louis in April, Marc Held, Marc Berthier, Etienne Fermigier Boris Tabacoff, Sara Holt, Space Group ...

visit Galerie Utopie here.