A Glimpse of Maison et Objet

There were so many amazing and inspiring products at this fall’s Maison & Objet trade fair, it seems an impossible feat to highlight all of them. However, this video does a brilliant job of giving one a taste of the experience and overall trends. I’ll still feature some of my favorites in the coming weeks, so think of this as a delicious, 5 minute teaser. (What I can’t explain is the bad typography going on here. Sort of looks like a wedding invite from 1995. Try not to fixate; just enjoy the show!)

Today’s Track – Fleur Blanche, Orsten

Okay, it turns out that doing a theme-y week is not really my forte. Or it may be that there’s just not a lot of French contemporary music that strikes my fancy. So I’m turning to Hotel Costes, a Paris landmark best known for it’s “hip-to-be-scene” bar and design maxim of “all things in excess”. They were one of the first hotels to begin producing private label compilations, mixed by DJ Stéphane Pompougnac, that are primarily meant to be atmospheric and listened to in their entirety. Et voila; trés mellow chill. Fleur Blanche by Orsten from the album Hotel Costes X, 2007.

Playful Parisian Prints

A perennial favorite of mine, Atelier LZC is a collective of three textile designers who met at art school in Paris, launching their Montreuil-based studio in 2001. Their signature aesthetic is inspired by nature, whimsically layering design elements to create contemporary, colorful patterns. They produce their own line of tea towels, pillows, dishes and stationery items, while also designing a wide array of custom products (bedding, glassware, packaging, children’s wear…) for well known European brands like Habitat, Lancome, & Printemps. Tragically, the goods are notoriously difficult to find in the U.S.

Laced with Cement

This week I’ll be featuring a few of my favorite products from the September 2011 Maison et Objet Trade Fair in Paris.

The stunning juxtaposition of delicate, old world patterns and industrial materials like concrete and steel cable makes for one incredibly unconventional room divider. “Concrete Lace” was created by Doreen Whestphal, a German designer living in the Netherlands, by casting suspensions within the concrete tiles. Each screen is individually made, and can be customized to suit any space.

Be There by 12fifteen

You know I can’t get enough letterpress. Especially when it strikes an elegant balance between modern and organic. Case in point, 12fifteen, a Connecticut-based line of notecards, coasters and fine art prints by Johanna Anderes. (As always, click to shop.)

Today’s Track – Nights in White Satin, Bettye Lavette

I am not a fan of classic rock. Sorry to say, I’ve just never been able to relate. However, a cover like this one appeals immensely. Discovered on the 10 Corso Como 20 Year Compilation, which I was seduced into purchasing from enthusiastically snooty salesperson during my most recent visit to Milan. Nights in White Satin, by Bettye Lavette from the album Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook.

Ciao 10 Corso Como

Walking along the street in Milan, you’ll find a dark, unassuming doorway marked 10 Corso Como. There’s no outward clue as to what lies within. I had heard it was like Collette in Paris, so was thrilled to make the pilgrimage, yet was totally unprepared for what I would discover inside. Once through the dimly lit entry, you emerge into a vast, open air courtyard that begins the sublime experience. Part greenhouse, part warehouse, and part haute couture house –  the ambiance stirred my designer’s sensibility to the core. This mecca for the well-heeled, artsy crowd is home to shops, galleries, a cafe, bar, rooftop terrace and a 3-room hotel. “Promenade through art, design and fashion in a single space. Stroll the crossroad between desire and culture.” While the store is extravagantly pretentious (the salespeople have perfected the art of haughty disdain), overall, 10 Corso Como manages to feel accessible and inviting. I came away inspired, awed and exquisitely gratified.

Fair warning: the video below is 8 minutes long. (Of course it is. Would a place like this be concerned that generally people lose interest after 3 minutes? Ah, no.) Still, watch what you can to soak up the flavor of this exceptional little gem.

Outdoor Living, Milan Style

They just seem to do it a little differently in Milan, Italy. Spectacular fantasy trumps the oh-so bourgeois teak tendencies of more typical outdoor spaces. This was quite apparent during my visit to Milan earlier this month to attend MACEF, the international home show known for it’s edgy creativity and outrageous trend installations. Meet the Nemo Chair, designed by Fabio Novembre for Driade Store. Outrageously daring and curiously comfortable, it can be yours, starting at $1,400 for the black or white models, nearly twice that for colors.

Times, they are a changin’…

I spent a good portion of last weekend introducing a dear friend in Paris to the wonders of owning an iPod touch. (For the uninitiated – if there should actually be any left out there – it’s a life altering experience. Get thee to the Apple store, tout de suite!) Back when we first met, cassette tapes and Sony Walkmans were the way of the world. Today we’re downloading and touch-screening (admittedly, not an official verb). This simple little infographic does an excellent job of illustrating just how much the way we get our music delivered has changed over the past 30 years, in under 30 seconds.

Thanks to Digital Music News for the Animated Gif! (It will keep looping; so if you missed the beginning, just wait for it to play through & It’ll start over again.)

Tea with Studiopatro

Ran across this amazing San Francisco-based company at the New York gift show and was completely inspired by founder and creative director Christina Webber’s vision. Simply put, Studiopatro “believes in making useful and beautiful things”. Her line of tea towels, tote bags and aprons is refreshingly heartfelt in its authenticity and simplicity. The clean & modern designs are hand printed in the USA on exquisite yet durable fabrics. She’s even produced a video that celebrates the diverse exploits of the humble tea towel.

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