Fashion designer Andrew Gn can't remember the exact age at which he bought his first piece of porcelain. Maybe he was 12, perhaps 16. He is also incapable of explaining his overriding love of ceramics in general. "I just feel good with them," he says. "It's like designing a collection. You don't ask yourself why you're doing orange this season. You just do it."
Gn's new apartment, in a late-19th-century building in the north of Paris, is packed with porcelain. Masks invoking Africa by midcentury master Roger Capron adorn the living room fireplace. The kitchen shelves hold vases by Jacques Blin, Robert Picault, and Pol Chambost, while the library is home to everything from a seventh-century Vietnamese urn to a vintage vase by Dutch sculptor Jean van Dongen. "He's basically the person who initiated Picasso's passion for ceramics," says Gn.
The capacious ground-floor space is not the only apartment he owns in the city. Gn maintains another close by (featured in ELLE DECOR in October 2011) that is decorated in a much more grand and classical manner. That one is full of gilded Louis XV furniture, chinoiserie vases, and tapestries lining the bedroom walls. He still sleeps there from time to time. "It's like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," explains Gn, whose boldly colored and richly patterned clothes are worn by Jessica Alba, Jennifer Lopez, and other celebrities. "It's the other side of me. I have a very eclectic nature."
He's certainly a voracious collector—a trait inherited from his parents, whose Singapore home was filled with mostly Asian art and antiques. He caught the bug at an early age, after accompanying them to salesrooms, and claims he's never seen anything he doesn't like. "I've always seen beauty in the ugliest things," Gn admits. He'll also happily buy objects even if he doesn't need them. "That," he adds, "is the scary part."
One of the things that attracted him to this 2,150-square-foot apartment was the opportunity to go on a new shopping spree. Another was the private garden in back, which he planted with ferns, Japanese maples, hydrangeas, and jasmine. "I've always dreamed of living with nature," he says. "It's quite rare in Paris. When you wake up and hear the birds, it's definitely pleasurable." He also longed for a more laid-back interior: "I wanted something that makes me feel like I'm on holiday all the time. So it's very calm and soothing."
The furnishings represent what he calls "a repertoire of what I like from the 20th and 21st centuries." He already owned a few pieces, such as the Josef Hoffmann daybed, which had been used in a guest room at his parents' house. "They bought it and didn't know what to do with it," he says, "as it didn't go with the rest of the decor." While the dining room is an ode to midcentury Italian design (a Gio Ponti table, Carlo di Carli chairs, and an Ico Parisi console), the rest of the apartment brings together a wonderfully diverse mix. A Vladimir Kagan chaise is upholstered in an Yves Klein–blue pony-skin; slender painted wood chairs are by Otto Prutscher. A 19th-century wing chair in the library has been re-covered in a vintage leopard print. "I disguised it as an animal," Gn jokes. "I like to sit there to take my nap or to look at the garden."
Among his favorite finds are the Georges Jouve femme à nichons ("breasted woman") vases in the bedroom, named for their anatomical forms. He bought them at auction last year, having fallen in love with the design in the early 1990s; he had spotted a pair in a gallery soon after arriving in Paris. "I like to think they're the same ones," he says. "That would be so romantic." He has also commissioned pieces from contemporary artisans, especially ceramists, such as the pair of deep-blue sculptures by the Paris atelier Les Dalo. "They worked very hard to get the color right for me," he explains. "I wanted it to be exactly the same shade as 17th-century Kangxi porcelain."
And while Gn continues to accumulate, he claims never to get rid of anything. "I only buy, I never sell," he insists. "I just put things in storage; I may like them when I see them again in five years." He has no idea how many pieces he owns but hopes to have the exact figure one day. "I've not done my inventory yet," he says. "That will be my work the first year I retire."
This article was originally featured in the October 2015 issue. To tour the entire apartment, click here.