Oh La La Paris
Countless words about love have been written about the most romantic city in the world.
I’ll express my love for the French design aesthetic with a couple of words and a wide selection of photographs depicting the city sites designed to perfection.
In my conclusion I added a short clip (especially colorful this time) with a song, or rather a chanson.
The Parisian design is unique thanks to the textiles and accessories that set the tone, leaving the luxury of more articulate designs to Italian and Scandinavian designers.
Their superior fashion and interior design can both be traced all the way back to their textile shops.
From the abundance of breathtaking beautiful sites, I have chosen to focus on design galleries, on hotels that tell a story, and on design stores – all uniquely designed places (links attached here, and most have online stores).
Paris is where concept stores were invented, where lifestyle accessories, fashion and home décor meet, along with a restaurant, or a café in the very least.
These three are the most prominent concept stores:
Merci – three floors of rapidly changing displays of gorgeous small capsule collections, displaying home accessories, textiles, lighting, furniture and fashion – mostly by the home brand that has become a fashion establishment.
At the store, there is a restaurant in a space designed as a library. It stretches to the street and serves amazingly designed dishes and a remarkable slow service to match. In the basement, you will find a bar surrounded by gardening tools and other useful home tools (I didn’t give up on a feather duster, which I would have probably done without, but bought anyways hoping that I could recreate the place’s atmosphere and bring it into my less than glamorous life…)
Another known concept store is Fleux. The store stretches over several adjacent spaces found in a side alley, and offers a selection of lifestyle items, decorations, kitchen appliances, gadgets, lighting and even children’s toys.
EMPREINTES is a concept store that focuses on artists’ handmade creations, all uniquely designed or limited editions. The store also has a book shop and a projection room dedicated to different art pieces.
Taking a stroll down the Marais district is a wonderful way to visit fashion stores that display designed items in spaces equally designed, alongside galleries and art. The department stores, Galeries Lafayette and Printemps have separate departments for home décor and offer the best of items professionally and meticulously. However, the one that stands out, is the interior design department in the ever-chic Bonmarché in Saint Germain.
But we cannot talk about Paris without mentioning Pierre Hermé, the master French pastry and macaroon artist. Hermé is not only a gastronomic icon, but also one in the world of design. His stores can be found across the city and visiting one is an absolute must – both for the flavors as well as the store’s vivacity and design.
Maison Sarah Leavoine is a designed space expressing the designer’s unique voice, known for its inspiring color and texture combinations.
At the BigStuffed studio, Dana Muskat creates charming and loveable stuffed dolls of aquatic creatures using a monochromatic color palette.
We visited the studio, along with other locations in this article, as part of an architecture tour guided by the wonderful Gil Revitar.
The French design starts at a young age. The city has a great number of stores that combine interior design and baby and kids’ fashion. Bonpoint is one of these stores that incorporates children’s fashion with accessories, toys and a magical café and garden. The Bonton focuses on furniture and accessories, as well as a children’s hair salon.
The French Hermes’ flagship store was recently opened on the southern bank of Paris, where the city’s public swimming pool had once been.
One the other side of the street, you will find the French location of Shang Xia, a brand of the Hermes house, that incorporates Chinese craft traditions, innovations and uncompromising quality into its furniture and fashion pieces. More on visiting the flagship store in Shanghai, click here.
The abundance of textiles, which is one of the French design’s outstanding features, is evident in the vast array of textile stores surrounding the Furstemberg square. Some of the prominent ones are Manuel Canovas, who also has stores in London, Pirre Frey, who has stores worldwide, and a store by Jim Thomson, an acclaimed American architecture who after his service in WWII chose to settle in Thailand and founded there a silk and textile empire.
In the Ben Simon gallery (yes, the shoemakers, the shoes can also be bought in this link) we were invited to meet the Israeli artists Dan Yeffet, who has been working quite successfully in France. Along with Yeffet’s works, comprised of lighting fixtures and unique artifacts, the gallery also displayed pieces by Lebanese artists. The Maison & Object exhibition, that took place at the same time, also emphasized Lebanese art which has been taking the world of design with a storm.
Among the many great museums, the Palais de Tokyo was the one that stood out. It is a modern art museum, placed in an impressive building by the Seine riverbanks. During my visit, the museum displayed an exhibition that examined the theme of childhood from very dark angles.
The building’s balcony has a stunning view of the Eiffel tower, gleaming every round hour through the dark.
The Musée des Arts Décoratifs is a modern design museum, a member of the MAD organization, that strives to promote usable art and strengthen ties between industry, education, culture and design, as well as a design and interior architecture school. The museum has been extensively renovated and I strongly recommend keeping to up to date with the changing and ever-intriguing exhibitions.
Another unique museum is the FOUNDATION LOUIS VUITTON, founded in 2014 in a mesmerizing glass building designed by Frank Gerry in the Boulon Forest on the outskirts of Paris, and became an icon in the French and international landscape. The museum hosts changing exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, as well as a permanent and impressive collection. The museum also hosts different concerts.
The most renowned hotel, as of the moment I am writing this blog post, is the Lutetia. The hotel was founded in 1910, and recently reopened after four long years of restoration and preservation. The hotel is part of the THE SET HOTELS chain, to which also belong The Royal Café in London, and the Conservatorium, about which I have written in my post about Amsterdam.
During our visit in the place, we met the head restaurateur of the project, in which marvelous ceiling frescos on the ground floor were uncovered and restored. The hotel, which was originally designed in the style of Art Nouveau, served in both world wars as the conquerors’ headquarters. It was Charles de Gaulle who had instructed that after the war the hotel would serve as an information center and assist in finding lost relatives and refugees. The name Latetia, is Paris’ original name.
In complete contradiction stands the Hotel National Des Arts et Metiers was transformed from a residential building to one of the leading boutique hotels in the city. The person guiding our visit at the hotel was none other than its designer, the Israeli Rephael Navot.
And let us end with a couple of photos from the Parisian hotel of the Hoxton boutique chain. The hotel resides in a building from the 18th century in the second quarter, to which I had returned every night, flushed from wine, after several hours of strolling and practically floating through this gorgeous city.
Twice a year, the Maison & Object exhibition takes place in Paris. The fall exhibition (6-10/9/2019) took place during the French design week, in which there were different design events, though not as large as those in Milan, London or New York.
The exhibition focuses on accessories, textiles and houseware of prime European designers. It is a celebration of exquisite taste in a stunning variety of forms.
As I have done in my previous reviews, I will refrain from trying to detect leading trends and palettes. Such large exhibitions are so diverse and therefore, appeal to diverse audiences. Which is why there is no point in trying to find trends.
Here is a taste from all the abundance and beauty I had seen in the latest exhibition
And if you’re still left wanting more, nothing’s better than ending with the sweet colors of the most culinary city in the world along with an especially French chanson.
A bit about me – I’m an interior designer with 20 years of experience. The studio specializes in luxury apartments, luxury privet houses, commercial and business design. As part of my job, I travel to perfectly designed places around the world and am delighted to share those experiences with you, while offering my personal and professional perspective. All this in the blog Design & the City, which is also published monthly at the Designer magazine by HaAretz newspaper.