Inside Zèbres: A Parisian Shop Of A Different Stripe

by Alice Garbarini Hurley:

The Parisian shop Zèbres – French for zebras, the exotic, eye-catching animals – is so named for a good reason.

“Zebras are indomitable and brave. Their stripes make each and every one of them unique,” explains Antonin Gatier, owner of the new shop in an 18th-century building in the historic Le Marais district. “They are a symbol of diversity and community, freedom, balance and individualism. We like to think that our selection of objects and art is, to some extent, a zebra.”

“Everything is from different time periods and locations, brought together in a harmonious space,” he adds. Expect vintage luminaires (lamps); plum furniture finds; and maybe, if it’s still there, a burnished silver Champagne bucket that whispers of toasts gone by. Gatier even stocks hard-to-find senteurs, or scents.

“But the second reason for the name is more linguistic,” adds Gatier. “Zèbres represent people we used to call surdoués, the word for gifted children. It’s about having a different approach to the world. This is the way we like to see and do things here.”

Zèbres “c’est une histoire d’histoires” – or a tale of tales, notes the owner. With two floors to explore, Gatier also lives on the second floor in a studio apartment connected by a shared kitchen.

“It’s this homey boutique in the daytime and an actual house in the evening!” he exclaims. “A dream setting where you can discover objects, talk about them and stay for a while, as at a friend’s house.”

Gatier says he is attached to the Marais, near the Seine River; his grandfather worked on its reconstruction after the war.

“I grew up surrounded by the love for old stones and French architectural heritage,” he adds. “Opening a store here was by chance, but not only. I believe there’s a reason I ended up setting up this project in these particular streets.”

The store opened in early 2018. Interior architect Alexandre Janssens transformed “ugly partitioned premises” in administrative offices into a bright and comfortable open space with exposed wood beams and a larger, more modern take on the traditional Parisian “tomette” tile flooring.

Gatier began his career working for Chanel, but “always kept in mind the idea of having more individual, personal projects in fashion and interior decor.” Most of the artists he works with are French.

“The things we sell, contemporary or antique, are the result of a crush, a love at first sight. We loved the work as soon as we saw it,” he adds.

Gatier says he is proud to carry work by major French artists Jacques Ousson (paintings) and Christian Astuguevieille (chairs, tables, sculptures). You can buy a small gift or redecorate your living room. Inventory includes placemats, teapots and Baccarat crystal glasses.

Zèbres fans are far-flung; Gatier is able to ship goods from this Parisian shop around the world.

Photography by Yann Deret.