We left a chilly London before 6 AM, for Paris. Paris was even colder than London with about 1 foot of snow on the ground. We were there primarily to visit two shows, Maison Objet, the most beautiful collection of home products in the world, and the Pret a Porter and Bijhorca Fashion shows. Seeing and studying both shows enables us to stay very close to the styles, colors and trends in a broad range of disciplines.
Maison Objet is the show that Asiatides, our French Tozai associate show is at. The show actually does not officially open until Friday. However, we often arrange to arrive the day before to work with Asiatides before the crowds arrive. Asiatides has a huge booth, about twice the size of our New York Gift Show booth and takes about two weeks setting it up at the exhibition center. As always, the Asiatides stand in Paris is wonderful and features an awesome collection. The highlights for us included a line of 50 and 60’s teak wood furniture designed by Francois Bernard and a new collection of ceramics with vintage inspiration in wonderful colors. We especially loved the focus on orange. Jean Charles, the visionary and founder of Asiatides, featured a notable collection of aqua and celadon ceramics in a variety of finishes. Bobbie, Mark and I agreed they will look great when crossed merchandised with our watercolors.
What a pleasure it was to settle back at our warm and cozy hotel, Hotel San Regis, by late afternoon.Located in the 8th arrondissement, a block from the Grand Palais, our hotel was also a short walk from the Champs Elyse. The weather this trip was unusually cold and snowy. We and all the Parisians were entirely unprepared for the entire week of snow. No such thing as snow removal or snow tires in Paris…the city was paralyzed! We also did not bring any snow gear!
In spite of the weather our intrepid trio bundled up, overcame the elements and made our way to the opening of Maison Objet.
Nature continued to be something of interest throughout the show. In fact, one of our friends Elizabeth Leriche, a leading trend consultant in France does an exhibit at each Maison show. Her theme this time was the inspiration of nature as interpreted and glorified by arts and crafts.
We have always held such great respect for the many craftsmen that labor over our products so artfully.Today, as we travel the world searching out craftsman and artists interested in making hand made products, we find it more and more challenging. Some products, like our Beijing glass collection in Tozai, is only produced in a small studio in one tiny village in northern China…and nowhere else! After these glass artists retire, there will be no one left to make these historically important and beautiful vases.
We spent a lot of the day walking the show. It is a well-organized show with sections from Ethnic Chic to Tableware, from Scenes d’interieur to Textiles. The show covers a wide spectrum of exhibitors from all over the world.
We have two other design companies that we work with who are European and who exhibit at Maison. They are both from Italy and it’s always fun hanging out with them.
Claudio, from Officinas Naturalis, told me about his company. Claudio is a painter and artist from northern Italy. His family owns a large farm that produces flowers. In creating a collection for the show, he was inspired by all of the natural beauty surrounding this 15th Century farmhouse and began pressing his own flowers and combining them with his traditional hand writing in the form of framed art. Then he went on to expand to treasures from the sea, seashells and coral and created unique shadow boxes. We met them over a year ago and are so proud to have reproductions of his art in our collection.
I also spent some time with Franco Carrai, of Studio Puck. Franco is from Florence, Italy. He is married to Anne, an American artist from Indiana and together they have a marvelous studio in the center of Florence where they create all of their products. From wall hangings to lamps, from decoupage to original painted furniture, their work is unique and historical in nature. Each of their works are inspired by some history and often include reproductions of old documents.They created an original collection for us that we hand carved onto porcelain and decoupage on glass for Tozai.
Decoupage Hurricane from Studio Puck
Tonight we ate at a 30 seat restaurant, farm to table, owned by a very young American Chef by the name of Daniel Rose. It is called Spring http://www.springparis.fr/. We were lucky to have the best seats in the house, opposite the dessert station which was in the all open kitchen. By the end of the magnificent meal, we knew the whole staff and owner by first name. This place is a real find! So don’t tell too many, just your closest friends and family.
Spring Restaurant, Paris
Today we ventured to Porte de Versailles to see the Fashion market. There are several shows in many buildings covering everything from men’s to ladies clothing, gemstones to fine jewelry, accessories to shoes. Scarves have always been popular in Europe and they had many many companies that just focused on that category. We were impressed with the variety but the wholesale prices at $40-$250 made them way beyond our means. It reminded us of what great value 2 Chic currently offers, but also of the opportunity that we have to raise the bar and develop a more expensive range of wool scarves.
One of the areas in the show highlighted jewelry artisans from all over the world from Korea to the US called Cream; the cream of the crop. It was very hip; they even had a DJ blasting music in the center of the curtained area. It was fun to see what the young and restless artists are thinking about. http://www.bijorhca.com/site/GB,I3991.htm
Bijhorca January 2013
We were meeting up with friends that night at an old standby restaurant called Le Voltaire 27,Quai Voltaire, Paris, France 01 42 61 17 49. Bobbie and I enjoyed a classic French dish, Boeuf Bourguignon, and were in heaven.
This was the snowiest morning we had in Paris. It must have snowed four feet during the night and it was still snowing when we woke up. There were absolutely no taxis anywhere. So, after a valiant one hour effort, we decided to walk over and see if we could get into the Edward Hopper exhibit at the Grand Palais. Every night when we had driven by, there were lines of people waiting in the snow to get into the exhibit. The concierge gave us expired tickets for Thursday and we were hoping on Sunday morning to be able to use these tickets and talk our way in. To our surprise, at 9:50 AM, 10 minutes before the opening, there was already a one hour wait outside the Grand Palais. Bobbie befriended the guard and convinced the guard to accept our tickets. We walked right in to an awesome exhibit, travelling around the world. It takes you through the evolution of 20th century American art. One experiences how the challenge of making ends meet and a passion to be in the art world eventually led Edward Hopper to be recognized and appreciated as a great artist. http://www.grandpalais.fr/grandformat/exposition/edward-hopper/
Entry of the Hopper Exhibit
After our morning of culture we jumped into the Metro and made our way to the show. What is so interesting about the Maison Objet is the over-riding and ever-present aesthetic. Not only are all of the exhibitors redefining the best in style, the show itself hires trend consultants to create inspiring displays.Here a local magazine created a rest stop. Inspired by nature and the dream of how relaxing a beach is, they set up these unique structures using driftwood to take a moment at the show.
One of our favorite company and booth is owned by a friend of ours, a Brit, Timothy Outon. Timothy has developed a magnificent company and makes furniture for companies like Restoration Hardware as well as his own shops. He developed a new logo featuring Derby Hats and massed them out in the front of his booth. Imagine over 1000 hats hanging on one wall. I loved the tennis racquets as well.
Timothy Outon Booth
Another booth that we fell in love with was Missoni Home. We have always been passionate about the array of colors used in their products. This year they strung the booth with threads of all colors and created rice paper lanterns to adorn the sitting areas throughout.
We could not wait for the evening event, which was having dinner at the home of close friends Elizabeth Leriche and Thomas Boog. It’s such a nice respite while travelling to have a home cooked meal. We were especially excited to see the home of two people whom we admire very much. Thomas is an artist specializing in sculptures and decoration using shells. He has been engaged to do installations around the world from Hong Kong to New York. http://www.thomasboog.com Elizabeth Leriche is a top trend consultant with a successful design business. We enjoyed a wonderful evening surrounded by their treasures from all over the world. http://blog.lepredeau.com/blog/tag/bureau-de-style-elizabeth-leriche/
Dinner with Elizabeth and Thomas
We thought we were heading home today, but woke up to more snow and flight cancellations. While figuring out how to get home we did some store checks.The snow, wind and ice drove us from our favorite small streets and haunts inside to the Carousel Shopping area at the Louvre. From inside, you can see the inverse of the glass pyramid above. I loved the shot of this tourist reading some map on her iPad with sequined red boots in front of the pyramid.
But the most humorous and creative thing on the trip was probably the restroom. In this shopping arcade, as with some places in Europe, one has to pay to use the toilet. Well, this facility advertises the cleanest toilets in town and Bobbie decided to utilize them. While Mark and I were waiting we discovered the colored toilet paper wall where you could purchase a pantone selection full of colored toilet paper. Now that’s first class!!!
We spent the next few hours figuring out how to get home. London, Paris, Frankfurt and almost all of northern Europe had snow and travel delays. We decided to head south and were lucky enough to find seats available on an immediate flight to Madrid with a next day flight home to New York.
Next Stop Madrid!