Batistin Spade was born in Marseille in 1891. His father was an upholsterer and tapestry maker, and, as a young man, Batistin worked in his father’s shop before enrolling in the l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts.
Through its lessons in drawing and sculpture the school kindled Spade’s fledgling interest in the arts. After winning the first prize in a school competition for his sculpture, “Indian Bacchus,” this interest was cemented. Even after becoming a famous decorator & designer he would continue to sculpt in his free time, his passion undiminished.
In 1908 Spade settled in Paris, reinventing himself as a decorator. In 1910, with the support of his brother, he opened a workshop in the Latin Quarter where he could execute his own furniture designs. This single room also served as a shop—and yet, despite the rough nature of this arrangement, Spade’s furnishings became wildly popular. He quickly developed a reliable clientele—patrons hungry for a bridge between modern and classic 19th & 18th century aesthetics.
By 1914 business was so good the brothers were able to move to the wealthier 16th arrondissement. The move catapulted Batistin to the top of the industry, giving him an entre to the Paris elite. By the early 1930s, while others were struggling, the Spades’ business was in full swing. They made a final move, consolidating all of their craftsmen for textiles, lacquers, carpentry, and cabinetry into a single a large warehouse, and separating their design offices into a stylish building near Trocadéro Square.
In addition to notable private commissions throughout Europe and the Americas, Batistin Spade executed projects for maritime and aviation companies, for banks and insurance companies, and for governments and their ministries. The Mobilier National commissioned large furniture collections for its ministries and French foreign delegations—for the Ministries of Labor and Finance, for the Merchant Navy and the PTT, and for embassies in Ottawa and Warsaw. The DeGrasse, Ile’de’France, Liberte, Flandre, the Normandie, are just a few of the thirty ocean liners Spade was commissioned to help decorate.
Batistin Spade worked until 1958. Upon retiring he left his business to his sons. He died in Paris in 1969.