Filled with refurbished globes, parched leather club chairs, and industrial accents, Jean Camille Bianic’s eclectic antiques studio has that certain je ne sais quoi. Trained as an artist in France, Bianic worked as an art dealer across Europe before settling in sunny California, where his thriving Los Angeles shop and HighBoy storefront specialize in French Art Deco finds.
When did you first discover your love for antiques?
When I was a kid growing up in France, I would visit my grandparents and spend hours looking through their basement for old treasures—things that they’d discarded or forgotten about in storage. I vividly remember things I found, some of which I still have. There was an old book about the Paris World’s Fair published in 1901, and one of those magic lanterns that you put slides in to see pictures and movies. I loved learning about where things came from and when they were made.
How did your background as an art dealer prepare you for working with antiques?
I think it taught me to appreciate good design first and foremost. I never buy things for their monetary value; I buy only what I think is interesting and unique. I think that’s a very artistic approach.
What drew you to French Art Deco antiques in particular?
For me, it was really just because they were pleasing to the eye. I’m not attracted to anything mid-century because they can appear cold when used alone, and many antiques from the 18th century can be too decorative or complex, which makes them difficult to use in a lot of homes. Art Deco works with everything—they bring warmth to mid-century homes and make traditional homes feel more modern.
Where I grew up, on the north coast of France, it’s extremely cold and windy, and I’d always dreamed of living somewhere with palm trees and sunshine. In California, you leave your windows open year-round and much of the time you’re hanging outside in the garden. It’s a very casual way of living.
Has the California lifestyle influenced your taste in antiques?
Absolutely. I’ve adopted the philosophy that antiques are for living with, not just for showing off. I don’t want people to be afraid to use my home because everything is perfect and on display. I incorporate antiques into my everyday life—a club chair in the living room or an industrial Jumo lamp from the 1940s on a desk.
Speaking of your home, is there a piece you currently have that you would never part with?
I’m not sure I would never part with it, but I have a small 19th-century wooden side table that I picked up on my first trip ever to Paris as an antique dealer 20 years ago. I brought home several things from that trip that wound up in my home, but nothing has lasted except for that piece. The design of it is just so beautiful.
Do you have a dream acquisition?
If I had my way, I’d own an entire collection of Jacques Adnet furniture. He was a French Art Deco designer from the 1930s through the ’70s, and his pieces are pure artistry. The other thing I get most excited about is finding something that I’ve never seen before. The most interesting part of dealing antiques for me is studying them: reading books and searching the Internet until I find some little detail on the piece that leads to the designer.
Are there any great designers you’ve discovered recently?
One of my favorite finds lately has been Henry Perichon, a French jewelry designer who handmade elaborate pieces from a type of plastic called “rhodoid” in the ’40s and ’50s. There were very few people who made jewelry like this, so it’s kind of out of the box. I’m also just beginning to learn more about French tapestries from the 1950s. The designer Jean Picart Le Doux was great at mixing antique processes with modern designs.
Make the most of Jean Camille’s keen eye: Shop Style French Antiques on The HighBoy today!
1. French Modernist Aubusson Tapestry by Jean Picart Le Doux
2. Pair of French Modernist Low Armchairs by ARP | 3. Vintage Henry Perichon Necklace, c. 1950
4. 1920’s Johnston 12″ Terrestrial School Globe
5. French Art Deco Desk or Dining Room Table in Brazilian Rosewood
6. Pair of French Modernist Industrial Task Lamps by Jumo
Photography by: Nelson Brazil