An exotic combination of 18th century French and Arabic culture blended beautifully in Dubai when Old Century opened, what it claims is, the first genuine French antiques showroom in the UAE.
Abdullah Jaleel Ibrahim Fashakh Al Rukabi performed the official opening ceremony and owner Sylvie Gauthier told guests: "I have been attracted for a very long time by the Middle East. This evening I am delighted to be here among you and hope to contribute in bringing the two cultures together through our 18th and 19th century antiques, which will continue to be a part of history here in the Middle East."
Gauthier brings two generations of experience of the French antiques market, having taken over from her father who is well known as one of the premier antiques dealers in France boasting four showrooms in Lyon where Old Century has developed a faithful and growing clientele, including many customers from the Middle East and royal families from across the Gulf particularly from the UAE, which was the inspiration behind the move to Dubai.
Gauthier and her partner, Jean Laurent, arrived in Dubai in January 2009 and immediately fell in love with the UAE and launched themselves into researching the market and looking for the perfect Showroom, which they found in Jumeirah Beach Road, a new property with an authentic Arabic style. On taking over the property, they flew out their French tapestry expert to stretch fabrics onto the walls, perfectly complementing the antiques.
Old Century specialises in antiques from the 18th century including Louis XIV, XV and XVI and regence and directoire styles as well as the 19th Century; first empire, Charles X, restoration and Napoleon III.
All the furniture is lovingly restored by qualified specialists who are highly-trained in each specific product type. The furniture is sourced in France by Gauthierís father Jean, restored to its original splendour then wrapped, boxed and shipped from France to the UAE in refrigerated containers.
When the Gauthiers buy the furniture, they buy as if for themselves, involving themselves in the whole process of purchasing, restoring and selling-on to a new owner.
Sylvie Gauthier is passionate about the antiques and would like to pass on her knowledge and passion to those buying the furniture, willing them to realise they are buying a part of history. "You have to love it, live it; it is an art of living, a luxury, a part of history. You live with it, pass it on to your children, in order that they too can continue to be a part of history and appreciate the increasing value of the pieces of furniture," she said.
As well as fine furnishings, the Old Century product line includes: paintings and frames which have been restored by specialists; cleaned, polished and restored marble, bronze and porcelain; restored and functioning clocks and chandeliers.