Brigitte Macron, wife of French president Emmanuel Macron, was perusing architect and interior designer Thierry Lemaire’s collection of furniture for the historic Mobilier National, when she was taken by his sleek K Desk. Crafted out of wenge wood, brushed with matte satin, and with leather and polished copper detailing, it now graces Salon Doré, the president’s office at the Macrons’ official Paris residence, Elysée Palace. “The president uses the desk every day, in a room where other presidents of this country sat before him. This is something that we are so proud of,” says Lemaire.
Lemaire has spearheaded projects across Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, and has designed for brands including Fendi and Holly Hunt, but there is something particularly alluring to him about collaborating with a government agency that has long been intertwined with France’s rich decorative-arts heritage. The Mobilier National, established in 1604 by Henry IV and later overhauled by Louis XIV, is responsible for conserving and acquiring furniture and objects for the likes of royal residences and embassies.
Mobilier National director Hervé Lemoine was already familiar with Lemaire thanks to a lamp the designer sold to the organization some 10 years ago. Lemoine approached him about adding more of his sculptural furniture to the repertoire. That it resonated with the Macrons in particular was serendipitous. “Mrs. Macron, she picked a few different things for Elysée Palace,” says Lemaire, who met with the first lady several times throughout the remodeling process. “She wanted pieces that felt French and were comfortable and elegant.”
Lemaire’s upholstered blue-and-brass Garment sofa now sits in dialogue with his Hellmet bronze pedestal tables and large SR ottoman, fashioned out of fabric and metal veneer in the Aides-de-Camp salon. There’s also a custom edition of his Niko sofa, a voluptuous, oversize white crescent that embodies Lemaire’s bold style, resting upon a vivid blue rug in the Salon Pompadour reception room.
More Niko seating melds with the embossed bronze Jeruk coffee table in the Salon de la Cartographie in the private wing of the Hôtel d’Evreux. This shrine to modern French artists dates back to the 1970s, when former president Georges Pompidou commissioned artist Yaacov Agam to cover the space in colored glass, a kinetic installation that has since moved to the Centre Pompidou. Brushed bronze Beaune lamps and a bespoke version of Lemaire’s glossy lacquered aluminum Twist console are also found in Elysée Palace. A chair, designed specifically for Mobilier National that is slated to appear in Macron’s office, is forthcoming.
Lemaire’s furniture, set against the 18th-century backdrop of gilded chandeliers, mirrors, and intricate moldings, adds an energetic and contemporary spark to a fabled French institution. “Mr. and Mrs. Macron love France,” says Lemaire, “and just like Pompidou did, they want to promote French art and design around the world.”