How Merci Became a Home Decor Hot Spot

Paris's go-to shop for the most stylish mix of antique and modern pieces

The main furniture display area at Merci includes both vintage and modern pieces of furniture and accessories, including the Tolix chairs, a 1930s design still being produced in the same factory in France.
Photo: Francis Amiand

Bernard and Marie-France Cohen, founders of Bonpoint, the French children’s fashion company, sold their business in the mid-2000s and wanted a new venture. They thought that Paris needed a boutique that offered an enticing assortment of design, housewares, and fashion under one roof. The Cohens wanted to donate all of the profits to various charitable foundations in Madagascar, where they had produced much of their Bonpoint wares. The name they chose, Merci, was perfect. One of the couple’s first moves was to call Daniel Rozensztroch, then the creative director of Marie Claire Maison, a leading home design magazine, to help them realize their vision. “Marie-France asked me to spend a few hours to talk to her about it,” said Rozensztroch. The meeting turned into a full-time job as creative director—a brilliant move on the Cohens’ part.

The 1950s chair by Pierre Guariche, photographed in
Rozensztroch’s apartment, is an example of the type of finds he looks for in antiques markets, to be sold at Merci. Photo: Antoine Bootz

Rozensztroch has turned the three-story, 16,000-square-foot space, a 160-year-old former fabric and wallpaper factory in Paris’ 3ème arrondissement, into an international phenomenon, with its beguiling mix of antique wares, cutting edge and casual fashion, and the best of what’s new in product design and furniture. Rozensztroch also orchestrates special exhibitions, including a show and sale of vintage ribbons discovered in an old factory in Saint-Etienne, France. He confessed, “Merci is all about my life and my taste.” Sadly, Bernard Cohen passed away in 2010, and his wife decided to sell the store. The Gerbi family, founders of fashion retailer Gérard Darel, took it over. While now a percentage of the profits go to Madagascar, Rozensztroch explained that the sales volume of the store has grown so much that the sum donated is virtually the same as before. He is very happy with the new owners. “They are business people with wonderful ideas,” he explained. “The future is not finished.”

On the lower level, an enticing array of kitchen goods attracts
devotees from around the world. Photo: Francis Amiand
Daniel Rozensztroch

Daniel Rozensztroch Photo: Francis Amiand

FOUNDED

Bernard and Marie-France Cohen, to share a portion of their company profits with the people of Madagascar in 2009

ADDRESS

111, Boulevard Beaumarchais, 75003 Paris, France

DEPARTMENTS

Linens, Lighting and Furniture, Fashion, Dining, Bazaar, Reading and Writing Accessories

SIZE

Over 16,000 square feet, on three floors

EXHIBITIONS

Fifteen events curated at the store each year

PLACES TO EAT AT MERCI

Two restaurants, one café

NEW OWNERS

The Gerbi family, as of 2013

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