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Thierry Barbier-Mueller, a Passionate Design Collector

Published on , by Oscar Duboÿ

We had talked to the art and design collector about his passion for chairs, some of which are on display in Lausanne. His sudden death on January 24 put the interview into a darker light.

Thierry Barbier-Mueller© Olivier Vogelsang Thierry Barbier-Mueller, a Passionate Design Collector

Thierry Barbier-Mueller
© Olivier Vogelsang

After your grandfather Josef Mueller and your parents, Jean Paul and Monique Barbier-Mueller, you represent the third generation of collectors in the family. Is collecting a genetic trait? It’s certainly not an accident. I grew up around things. That’s the difference with going to museums. I don’t want to imply that one is better than the other, but a museum is a place where you go to spend time looking at and seeking to understand things, whereas at home, they were just part of the everyday environment. What is the first thing you fell in love with? At the age of 20, I visited the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, which was headed by Adelina von Fürstenberg. It was the early 1980s, a time when the New Fauves, Baselitz, Kiefer, Penck, Middendorf, etc., were coming into their own. A watercolor by Penck caught my fancy. I bargained for it through the mother of a friend, who was on the center’s board. With hindsight, it clued me in to my attraction to works on paper, especially watercolors. But I wasn’t conscious of collecting: I…
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