Grande Designs

Yashmin Ismail Paris Design Week Feature

La capitale de la création kicks off the cool creative season with Paris Design Week. Our travel correspondent crosses the Chunnel in search of the latest design stars.

Paris Design Week is a relatively fledgling addition to the creative radar, making its debut in 2011, bringing together visionary French and international forces par creative excellence, largely to support emerging talent and to celebrate all that is trending in the world’s creative capital.

Encompassing the gamut of all that can be construed as design – loosely or otherwise – the multidisciplinary approach is showcased throughout the city of lights as it turns into la grande canvass extraordinaire, for everything from furniture to fashion, gastronomy to architecture and all that comes under the umbrellage of the art of living. This comprehensive approach sets the stage – and bar – for London Design Festival and kick-starts the global autumnal creative season.

Showrooms, concept stores, designer workshops, studios, markets, galleries, hotels, restaurants and cultural institutions all transform to embody their vision of cutting-edge asthetica – or at least the mood du jour. The 360 approach decompartmentalises design while forging a myriad of links among the various creative disciplines.

PDW provides parcour itineraries throughout the city, with seven key circuits to explore: art and design, food and design, design and architecture, design in France, digital design, iconic design, and design and mobility. These creative journeys highlight the involvement of design in our daily lives.

Taking a tour through the Now! le Off canvass at Les Docks, Cité de la Mode et du Design – incubator for emerging talent and flagship hub for PDW, we picked out a few of our favourites from the emerging pool:

Paris Design Week feature piece by Bellila
Volcane by Bellila

Bellila’s theme of interior landscape is evident through Volcane, which offers a strong mineral character whilst retaining a healthy balance between function and aesthetic. Their vision involves bringing nature to interiors by incorporating it into the furniture, integrating vegetal life inside – blurring the lines in an innovative way and infusing the overall Feng Shui – no doubt.

Paris Design Week featured piece by Rue Monsieur Paris

Altoum by Rue Monsieur Paris

The Altoum is an eye-catching piece under the Turandot collection by Rue Monsieur Paris. It reveals a minimalistic approach, featuring geometric and organic crafting using a skilled wood lamination technique, resulting in a unique finish and some extraordinary shapes. The focus is on monolith and hybrid creations that are ‘dolce et utile’ (sweet & useful), designed and created using natural materials such as teak, glass and stone

Tamim Daoudi's Paris Design Week featured piece
Manhattan Collection

The inspiration behind Tamim Daoudi’s Manhattan Collection – composed of Soho and 5th Avenue – two tables built from waste black MDF – is daringly evident. Form and function dominate this bold graphic exercise, which mirrors a very distinctive skyline. With sustainability trending and a clear sense of identity here, this piece stood out.

Mélanie Husson's Paris Design Week winning piece
Hyphen – Rado Star Prize winner

The Rado Star Prize 2013 was awarded to Mélanie Husson, a young French designer, responsible for Hyphen, an assemblage of paper and concrete. “The sealing of these two materials provides structural qualities, reversing usual strength relations: paper maintains concrete,” she says.

Patrick Blanc's vertical garden
Patrick Blanc’s Oasis d’Aboukir

Among the more established set, Patrick Blanc’s Oasis d’Aboukir was unveiled during PDW in the heart of Paris’s second arrondissiment. The botanist extraordinaire and inventor of the vertical garden in Paris completed his latest paean to biodiversity just in time for PDW, covering the formerly vacant facade of a five-storey Parisian block with waves of 7600 plants.  Planted in spring, to coincide with PDW, this jolly green giant wall can be seen at the corner of Aboukir Street and Petits Carreaux street.

In keeping with the spirit of things, I stayed at the newly designed Sofitel Paris Arc De Triomphe. This previously very average chain has certainly undergone a defiant and surprising resurrection, with the help of Studio Putman, which has propelled it towards a 5-star luxury rating; a far cry from what I recall a traditional Sofitel to be.

The wellbeing features in each room are very much conducive towards some quality R & R. Everything from the cosy MyBed to the extensive space allocated to the bathroom are all designed to take you to your place of Zzzen.  Revamp aside, I did experience a few glitches with the room service and the attention to detail did falter on more than one occasion, particularly in regards to housekeeping. I was however defiantly assured that these were one-offs!

Still at the early stages of its 5-star rating, the current impression is style over service; however they are getting there and gaining ground fast! This well located pied-a-terre has bags of potential and you will sink into their MyBed.

For solid creative fodder, Paris is definitely worth a visit, particularly during Design Week where there’s a certain buzz and a palpable je ne sais quoi.

Written by Yashmin Ismail