Once you step inside Frédérique Picard’s Paris apartment in the 10th arrondissement it’s easy to see that she knows a thing or two about collecting art. Almost every bit of wall space, nook, and shelf is adorned with paintings, prints, and sculptures. “When I got my first salary at 21, I didn’t buy a pair of shoes,” Frédérique says, “I went to an auction and bought my first sculpture, which was 80% of my salary.” The piece, two halves of a violin in gold copper that sit in her living room, was just the beginning of a lifelong passion.
As the director of the long-established French women’s footwear and leather goods brand Carel, Frédérique is constantly thinking about art and design. Both the shoes and her home can be described as classic but full of energy and youth. “My collection has to do with boldness,” she says. “The same energy is in Carel.”
Right past the front door, a large yellow and white painting takes up nearly an entire wall. Like an ideal host-museum docent, Frédérique can share a number of details about the artist—Claude Viallat—the backstory, the Supports/Surfaces movement in the 1970s, and the material—industrial tarp. “I like the art to be not too formal or not too straight. Not too determined—I like improvisation,” she says.
The furniture throughout the apartment consists primarily of flea market finds that are striking in their own ways—many pieces are made of solid wood and neutral colors—yet don’t detract from the art. In the dining room, for example, a massive painting of a park plaza at night perfectly interacts with the parquet floors, the large wood table, and sturdy wood chairs. The large work, by the young artist Joël Degbo, was one that Frédérique spent years thinking about. “Joël is one of the best diplomats of the Beaux-Arts [school] in Paris,” she says. “I met him five years ago and had a crush on him. He made the painting and it was too huge, so I said I’d get in touch again when I moved.” Sure enough, when she moved into her apartment, Frédérique called him up. Joël brought the painting in a roll and set it up directly on the wall.
“I love young artists and painters,” Frédérique says. “I’m very keen on going to each graduation of [École des Beaux-Arts]. They are the talent of tomorrow.” Of course she still loves going to auctions too. “I like the atmosphere,” she says. “You can be into the sales and forget to say no—you have to be steady on your [feet]… A lot of people are afraid of the auction, I love the thrill.”
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest