A unique Rive Gauche gallery is specialized in the ancient art of decoupage in Paris.
You’ll find Siècle in the 7th arrondissement (district) at 24 rue du Bac. It is just around the corner from the office of 56Paris Real Estate.
A treasure trove of a boutique, it’s managed by Philippe Chupin and his wife Marisa.
“Siècle is the company that my wife Marisa and I set up 28 years ago, specializing in tableware, linen, home accessories, and gifts. We were both trained at the Louvre School, so we are decorators first and foremost, and we have a taste for the decorative arts in their most creative form,” he says.
Their company preserves a repertoire of techniques that belong to the European decorative tradition. “But we incorporate contemporary variations, making use of light, color, and original images,” says Philippe.
“In 2008, we won the coveted Living Heritage Enterprise label. This prevents counterfeiting and protects our decorating technique known as decoupage.”
Reviving the Art of Decoupage in Paris
The word decoupage comes from Medieval French ‘decouper,’ meaning to cut from something. Decoupage is the art of decorating an object by gluing paper cut-outs in combination with special paint effects, gold leaf and other decorative elements. Each layer is then sealed with coats of varnish so that the result resembles inlay work. The traditional technique uses 30 to 40 layers of varnish. These are then sanded to a polished finish.
Siècle uses the traditional art of decoupage in Paris to create unique pieces of tableware or jewelry. It does this by applying cut-outs to glass or metals such as bronze to show off this fascinating and beautiful art in its finest form.
“Another of our specialties is the technique of painting on glass (also used by Matisse and Marie-Antoinette, for example), which has earned us a longstanding reputation in the U.S., Australia, Germany, Russia, and South East Asia,” adds Philippe. “We design cutlery and ornamental door handles, using enamel, engraving, and wrought metal. And we create jewelry out of stones that we buy and mount ourselves.”
Siècle opened its doors in 1992. It displays its tableware (cutlery, porcelain, glasses, linen) and jewelry on two floors. Most of the pieces are handcrafted at a workshop located south of Fontainebleau in a little village in the département (county) of Seine-et-Marne.
It is located in the art and antique dealers’ district known as the Carré Rive Gauche. The shop benefits from a prestigious position as well as the proximity of the surrounding museums. It’s a neighborhood that’s steeped in art and creativity.
“We’ve an international clientele,” says Philippe. “We’ve always made more than half of our turnover from exports and we benefit from the tourist market. But we also have a loyal French clientele, who come to us regularly and have done so for a long time.”
Philippe and Maria also work with decorators on commissions with a particular theme. “It’s to our advantage to be able to create timeless objects that have a French character evoking the past, but which also fit perfectly in a contemporary interior,” he says.
Every arrondissement in Paris has a distinct character and Philippe loves the 7th for its history, authenticity and charm. It has changed in the sense that the residents have become more international, he says, but the small shops remain. It’s a delightful and appealing quarter.
If you’re looking for a truly original art object for your home, we recommend you take a look at the wonderful work at Siècle. And if you’re interested in buying a property in this unique neighborhood or elsewhere in Paris, do drop in to our office or contact us for more information.