One of the more unusual attractions at the Paris Design Week, which runs from September 8 to 17.
September is always a good time to visit Paris – the tourist crowds have thinned and the city has risen from its summer slumber – but Paris Design Week provides extra motivation. The annual event is devoted to interiors, furniture and “the art of living”. Hosted by over 300 venues, it runs in parallel to the Maison & Objet fair at the Villepinte exhibition centre just out of town.
Difficult to decide what to see first, but if you’re keen on Japanese craft there are at least two notable attractions. The most sublime is the “paper house” made by Laurel Parker and Paul Chamard, inspired by their residency in Kyoto. The pair also run a publishing house called Laurel Parker Book, so they were drawn to the idea of exploring different uses of paper. In Japan, of course, the material is mounted on wooden frames to create partitions within homes.
While in Kyoto, the duo became fascinated by washi paper, made from mulberry fibers, and worked with local artisans to learn its secrets. The installation on show in Paris (“Inside/Outside”) features their take on a Japanese interior, as well as everyday objects made of paper. There’s a kimono in waxed paper, the gentle pink hue of cherry blossom. Tatami mats, usually made of straw, are rendered in wrinkled paper. There are paper blinds – and even eco-friendly packaging made of washi paper coated in beeswax, as opposed to normal Tetra-Pak laminated cardboard packaging.
Images courtesy of Laurel Parker Book.
This serenity-inducing display can be seen, oddly enough, at a museum devoted to “nature and hunting”. But La Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature is in a category of its own. Exploring the relationship between humans and animals from antiquity to the present day, via an eccentric collection of artworks and objects, it resembles a giant cabinet of curiosities art directed by Wes Anderson.
The Japanese influence continues with “Paris-Kyoto: Japan Exalted”, the fruit of collaborations between artisans in the two cities. The results include designer Elsa Pochat’s wall panel based on tie-dye techniques; silk-screened lighting from the Déjà Vu studio; and Japanese fans interpreted by the French duo Formel (all on view at the Galerie des Ateliers de Paris, rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine).
Find out more about Paris Design Week here.