Paris’ Best Contemporary Design Now By Uché

Fashion, beauty, romance, fine dining and luxury living are undoubtedly synonymous with Paris, in addition to other enticing fascinations that our beloved city of light has to offer. But when we think of design, particularly contemporary art and design, there is a shift in perceptions and a tendency to move away from Paris and on to other places, particularly New York, London and now even Shanghai. Why, you may wonder does it seem that Paris hasn’t managed to add the “contemporary art” label to its line-up of evocations of beauty yet? It is clearly not for the want of a vibrant art scene neither is it for the lack of talent nor outlets to show the modern artistic expressions that characterize the contemporary design movement. After all, the Georges Pompidou Museum was constructed and opened in fanfare just for this purpose.

Irrespective of what you may feel or may have read, contemporary design has a strong influence in Paris today and continuously fuels the city‟s energy and rhythm. It is reflected on every layer of the city life, from fashion to objects, museums, hotels, stores, restaurants and so on, in a manner that can only be described as contemporary design “par excellence”.

Here is our top 10 selection for you to discover.

1. Pierre Stéphane Dumas’ series of transparent outdoor luxury tents aptly named Bubble Lodge, Cristal Bubble and Cocooning, offer an incredible experience with nature. Designed in the shape of giant bubbles that can be set up in any outdoor space with enough room to hold a big tent party, the Bubble series provide access to panoramic views of any kind, following your choice of location.

They come in versions of full or partial transparency and are all fully furnished with sofas, beds, lamps and most of the comfort you‟ll find in a boutique luxury hotel room.  They can be set up in a snap, feature an airlock to maintain the bubble shape; a noiseless pump to keep the walls thick; and a UV protection film. And oh, there are toilets, kid‟s room and other perks. But more importantly, a unique experience under the stars is guaranteed. Why not try it out while the summer sun is still here?

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2. Philippe Starck’s wireless stereo speakers for Parrot are a delight to behold and to hear. These stunning and elegant beauties named Zikmu come in pairs of similar colours and with a wide range of colours including white, red, black, lime and grey, the chance of blending them with your interiors is high.Meshing advanced technology and design, the result is spectacular sound and an intense experience.

The perks aren’t disappointing either and include a choice for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connection; music streaming from MP3 players and Smart Phones; iPhone and iPod dock; 1000w power output; drum bass sound and much more. Get your hands on one today and get on the groove of digital sound! They’re selling like “des petits pains”.

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3. Pet lovers and owners have can now take a permanent seat on the contemporary design scene with the Sofa “O” designed by La Favorite’s Brigit Mettra. The egg-like cocoon for pets is part of the pet accessories collection by the Parisian design house, which proposes a series of products that ensures a luxury lifestyle for “distinguished pets”.

How does a cushioned sofa made of softest velvet sound for your puppy? What about a cozy temperature-controlled nest for your cat? The Sofa O, our favourite is a real work of art, made of lacquered ceramics à la française.

The spirit of the Parisian chic is hard to miss in its smooth and elegant form. We invite you on a journey of discovery with La Favorite. And by the way don’t forget to check out the lovely whippet Diane, who is the brand’s muse. Who said human beings should have all the fun?

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4. Can a woman have too many pairs of shoes? We don’t think so. Can a pair of shoes be too expensive? We don’t think so. Can shoes become showcase art pieces? Yes, we think so.

Maï Lamore, the gem behind the Parisian luxury shoe brand of the same name would also certainly agree. Her shoes are coveted masterpieces with intricate details, surprising forms and materials that others may consider unthinkable for shoes.

Take the Rose Petal “Sentiment Profond” shoe as an example. Made of an 18 karat gold heel, hand-dyed silk rose petals, gold, onyx and agate bee form detail and a red shade that sends the heart melting, this shoe is a treasure.

Drawing on influences from her African childhood and inspiration from the Parisian she has become, Maï just makes us feel like disappearing into her glorious world of haute couture shoes.

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5. It is not every day that Hermès opens a new store in Paris. In fact when the indomitable French house has such a key event, its impact on the city life can almost be compared to that of a national event. It was the case at the opening of its 700sqm first “rive gauche” store in the ultra-Parisian Rue des Sèvrès in the 6th district, which is also home to Le Bon Marché department store, the legendary Hotel Lutetia and a line-up of luxury boutiques.

Built in a space that used to house the Hotel Lutetia’s 1935 swimming pool, and designed by Denis Montel of Renée Dumas Architecture Intérieur, the store uses complexly crafted curvaceous wooden huts and structures to create an effect of an ongoing journey of discovery. This departure from the conventional and classic Hermès boutique concept surely raises one‟s curiosity. This store is worth a visit.

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6. The restaurant at the Murano Hotel on the Boulevard du Temple, just at the edge of Paris’ Marais district could easily be the setting for a blockbuster movie about fine dining in a design era. Opened in 2004, the restaurant’s interior decoration remains a class act in contemporary design. With a colour scheme of predominantly white and burgundy red and a statement ceiling of film-like tubes cascading downwards in a manner that calls to mind light rain drops, the restaurant’s impact is completed by an atmosphere of an easy lounge. This is a destination for anyone looking for to wake up their sense of artistic appreciation. And by the way the food is also a winner.

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7. In 2008, Chanel made a splash on the contemporary art world with its Mobile Art concept created in collaboration with renowned British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid. The mobile pavilion is a museum aimed to take the universe of Chanel to the people through art, rather than obliging people to come to the brand all the time.

This brilliant idea which echoes perfectly with today’s consumer psyche took the form of a sphinx-like abstract object with an interior as large as 700 sqm. Its ease of construction and deconstruction led to its installations in Hong Kong, Tokyo and New York where it was home to exhibitions and events inspired by the universe of Chanel.

This object which even in the world of contemporary design can be considered as avant garde, has finally found its way back to Paris, where the original idea was conceived. Make a date with this beauty at L’Institut du Monde Arabe museum where it now resides permanently following Chanel’s donation of the pavillion to the museum. You’re sure to behold one of the wonders that contemporary design has produced in recent times.

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8. One would think that our current hyper-connected digital world would have produced its own contemporary design movement for tech products. But apart from Apple’s series of products, what is really out there in the tech world that is worth mentioning in a design context? Your guess is as good as mine. Nothing. Well until now.

We have discovered Xoopar, the French digital accessories brand that produces computer mice, storage devices, speakers and USB ports among others. The Xooper Spider which houses ports for all manners of cables comes in a design that is both amusing and commendable for a tech product.

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9. Once in a while, a product comes along that is as much a surprise as it is normal making it sit perfectly with the present. The debut Lacoste perfume L.12.12 is one of such products which attains a modern elegance by combining design and simplicity.

Everything about this product is a reflection of design today: form, colours, shape and no fancy labels, save for the brand’s symbol. The scent variety completes the story. This is one beautiful perfume flacon.

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10. Champagne is meant to be enjoyed in a pleasurable environment of celebration and jubilation. But do we really need an occasion to pop a bottle of bubbles or can the champagne itself create the occasion to celebrate?

Perrier Jouët knows one of two things about celebrating the champagne itself rather than using the champagne to celebrate other occasions. Just take a look at the renowned champagne house’s stunning tasting bar- table, the “Flower Table” designed by Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance. A unique shape inspired by the anemone flower and Perrier Jouët’s heritage in the arts, this stylish and elegant table is a sure reason to celebrate!

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