Only with the help of a humble Frenchman could one find beautiful, authentic, foreign, vintage pieces of furniture right in San Diego County. Through hard work and determination, he’s been cleaning up the furniture market with clean-lined, mid-century modern design.
Well-deserved success has come to an unlikely San Diego businessman. Aymerick Rondeau, a French immigrant who came to America in search of a dream, has turned the mid-century modern game on its side. His extraordinary eye for quality, unparalleled professional ethic, great restoration skills, and devotion to customers has earned him a unique place in this streamlined possessions market. Wise consumers are flocking to him with orders they’re confident only he can fulfill.
People generally refer to him simply as Aymerick. Who is this one-moniker local celebrity? Now known far and wide, his name is synonymous with excellence. His newfound recognition stems from a combination of two things. The first is how he got to where he is today: through sweat and perseverance, starting literally from the ground up. The second is the star-worthy product he delivers, namely the biggest and best authentic, Scandinavian mid-century modern furniture inventory in all of San Diego! Now just 44 years old, his tale began decades ago.
As a young man, Aymerick sought jobs in the hospitality industry during tourist seasons. The globe-trotting French native spent time first in Paris, then St. Martin, Miami, Hawaii and San Francisco. It was during his second stay in San Francisco from 2004 to 2010 that the previously-itinerant man chose to stay put and expand his interest in period piece possessions.
Don’t miss the live podcast with Aymerick Rondeau and Local Umbrella’s Brad Weber. Link here
Always a lover of 1960’s automobiles, Aymerick became infatuated with interior design aesthetics from that period around the time his daughter was born in 2007. He started to collect and restore pieces, squeezing all of them into the small apartment he lived in with his family. Aymerick began adding signature specimens that lent “some sense of history to my home,” he says. “A lot of other options seemed dull. My casual fascination with 1950’s-1960’s flair grew into a full-fledged hobby.” He did this while still formally pursuing a career as a waiter, bartender, and maître d’ in fine dining restaurants.
With little money, he began his quest for “The American Dream,” He would define this aspiration as being able to solely manage an enduring business that he cherished, combined with the ability to sustain a nice lifestyle for his family through his efforts.
After five years in San Francisco, he moved his kin from the city to a place with a more family-friendly lifestyle in North County San Diego. It was not until around 2014, after relocating to San Diego, that he took his interest to the next level, and began pursuing furniture acquisition and sale as a side hustle. That year, he registered the business, called AYMERICK MODERN, with the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce, and just twenty-four months later, he began importing from overseas.
In San Marcos, Aymerick continued to toil as a waiter for several more years at the tony Mille Fleurs, Mister A’s and Pamplemousse Grille. He gradually reduced his workload as he turned his attention to his budding business. As public desire quickly became apparent, Aymerick jumped into the venture fulltime in early 2019.
With a personal love for this aesthetic, and a trust that consumers would share his predilection, Aymerick found himself at the cusp of an exploding business. It includes the acquisition, full refinishing, and sale of vintage Danish and British mid-century modern furnishings, properly imported from Europe, to an ever-growing local and nationwide clientele.
Aymerick operates from a 6,000-square foot showroom at 3208 La Mirada Drive in San Marcos. The space is set in an industrial area near a wholesale florist, microbrewery, and open air space (Sunset Park.) Today, it resembles a museum as much as it does a warehouse.
He describes his facility as a “Mad Men” set. That beloved TV series spurred even greater demand in all things from the 1960’s, including vehicles, home goods and style of dress. The desire has endured long since the program ended in 2015. Aymerick, who loves the aesthetics of this period, can be seen cruising around town in either his 1964 Pontiac sedan or his 1962 Ford van when he’s out making a local delivery.
What is it about this era of furniture that has fascinated Aymerick, as well as his rapidly growing clientele? Everything from that chapter of history, which lasted roughly from the mid-1930’s to mid-1960’s, has clean lines and minimal ornamentation. It is classic, graphic, understated and uncluttered. Sleek, geometric lines are juxtaposed with graceful, organic shapes.
Form follows function in this genre. Smaller scale, portability, maximum storage and comfort are key. Many Americans still favor these timeless attributes in their homes, which explains much of this style’s enduring popularity today.
Aymerick features in his shop many iconic architects/designers of the Scandinavian modern golden age, such as Hans Wegner, Ib Kofod Larsen, Arne Jacobsen, ArneVodder, Omann Jun, Johnannes Andersen, Folke Ohlsson, Eero Saarinen, and Niels Moller, to mention a few, and gladly accepts requests to seek out rare pieces from them that he may not already possess in his warehouse.
The term “mid-century modern” was first coined in 1984 by art historian Cara Greenberg. Le Corbusier and Bauhaus leaders were among its first supporters. It was based upon the ideals of simplicity, elegance, and functionality, and developed to be affordable to the average citizen. The movement prized the idea that good design should be accessible to all…a tangible, great equalizer for humanity. The ultimate idea was that it could better the lives of all the world’s inhabitants, not just the wealthy.
Aymerick today scours the world for classic, genuine 1960’s Scandinavian looks, importing the best from Denmark, Sweden, Norway and England. Categories including seating, tables, storage units, and larger collections. He seeks out one-of-a-kind exclusives that have documented history and provenance. One example is the recently-sold, same-model rocking chair that once graced Frank Sinatra’s 1960’s Palm Springs home. That seat was seen in an iconic Life Magazine story on the Rat Pack crooner.
He used to travel to Europe three times a year, filling industrial-sized containers with Danish delights. Trips to Scandinavia and England included meetings with multiple antique dealers/suppliers. But since 2020, with the cessation of international travel due to the Covid pandemic, he needed to rethink the way he did things in order to stay afloat. Currently, most purchases are done virtually and based on photos exchanged through emails, Instagram, WhatsApp, and the like. Aymerick looks forward to again circling the globe in search of treasures when world health concerns eventually subside.
To quote Aymerick, “My business is me, myself and I.” He personally handles every stage of his passion-fueled operation including, but not limited to, the selection of the furniture, its importation, refinishing, documentation, sale and shipping. I’m so grateful that I am the master of my own fate. This is a very personal, one-on-one business and it is precious to me. It is truly my passion.”
A modest and unassuming man, he neglects to mention that his prices are also quite reasonable when compared with the offerings of his nationwide competition. This is due to the fact that he chose not to opt for a classic brick and mortar modus operandi with its regular hours, but instead operates from a warehouse that doubles as a showroom.
Since 2014, Aymerick has been contracting all of his upholstered projects to highly-skilled Jose Velasquez from JVC Upholstery in Escondido. Jose V. has worked closely with him on hundreds of seating pieces. They have been given new life by maintaining the essence and integrity of their original designs while incorporating brand new period-correct upholstery.
Much more is involved in the enterprise’s success than what goes on within the warehouse. Handling and shipping are among many important considerations when it comes to older specimens. Aymerick has developed a nationwide network of reliable white glove carriers to ensure the safe delivery of furniture. For local clients, he sometimes delivers the goods himself.
Who are his customers? Recent ones have included celebrities like actor Val Kilmer. He bought a classic 1960’s RCA stereo console during the fall 2015 Modernism Week at Palm Springs, where Aymerick was exhibiting. It was a present for Kilmer’s daughter. Another recent celebrity fan is Finnish skateboard star Lizzie Armanto, currently a SoCal resident, who bought a true 1962 item from his collection. Aymerick, himself a longtime skateboarding enthusiast, was delighted to engage in commerce and conversation with the star who shared much in common.
Ordinary folks are just as smitten with his extraordinary offerings. Appropriately, his warehouse is filled with top-level products priced for those with non-superstar budgets to enjoy. Clients come from near and far. They include: young millennials interested in setting up first homes with a cool look; baby boomers, who want to re-visit their earlier lives; investors who recognize value; and all categories in between.
Aymerick pursues a further vision that comes from a place deep in his soul. He believes in saving the planet for his children and future generations. His vintage business is at its core eco-friendly: he offers consumers used pieces of quality-made crafted furniture which have been given new life as an alternative to newly bought, mass produced, and poorly made pieces that do not stand the test of time.
Another wise reason to invest in collectable vintage pieces with character is that they’ll not only last for a lifetime but also hold their value in the future…in contrast to some of today’s contemporary offerings. This is similar to the lure that well-maintained classic cars have for their devoted collectors.
An additional consideration is the strong international demand that is colliding with a shrinking supply from Europe. This is a solid reason to make purchases now before all these Scandinavian beauties are forever gone from the market.
While Aymerick spends a lot of time in his showroom, visits are through appointment only so he can give each customer the attention they deserve. He also conducts a lot of business over the Internet. By foot or by web, people come in search of hard-to-find and unique pieces. Many are referred to him by extremely satisfied buyers. Others find Aymerick Modern by searching online.
“If you shop with me,” Aymerick says, “it is almost like a treasure hunt. You have to find me.” His facility is not downtown, or in a San Diego neighborhood that has miles of competing stores. One won’t bump into him by chance; one must call, which requires curiosity and desire.
Aymerick can be contacted online at www.aymerickmodern.com or by telephone at (760) 509-5974. When you call, do mention this article. You’ll be glad you reached out to him. ABSOLUMENT!