Creative Retail: the Paris Edition

Various chairs at Conran Shop on display along an undulating, color-charged wall.

Various chairs at Conran Shop on display along an undulating, color-charged wall.

While attending several design-specific events last month in Paris, we took some time to explore various must-see retail shops as we made our way across town. Though our San Francisco studio concentrates mostly on the home, we appreciate the ways residential and retail design can inform one another, especially from a global perspective. From big and bold concepts to subtle details, the range of creative design direction we observed in Paris left us filled to the brim with ideas and inspiration.


While grassy green was omnipresent, deep peacock blues shared the stage. We loved how this hue set the backdrop for a handprinted wallpaper at Le Monde Sauvage, and bled ever-so-slightly into the lighter overlay for a less polished, more unconstrained feel (right). Like a pair of great jeans, an assortment of patterns and textures were effortlessly layered along the blue wall. In another scenario at Maison Sarah Lavoine (below), the hue showed up bold and confident in a series of resin tabletops, grounding the multiple textures and patterns encasing the space and providing a colorful counterpart to the surrounding classic cafe chairs. 

While industrial interiors are inherently minimal and stark, we loved the way these spaces were transformed to exude warmth and character. From the cocoa-hued chocolatier Alain Ducasse, to the vibrant Roseanna showroom, both spaces harnessed the blank-slate appeal of an industrial space and worked the canvas in such a way to give their products, process and vibe a true presence. 

Playing with scale is one way to bring attention and intrigue to otherwise empty or unconsidered parts of a space. The rattan, basket-like lighting fixtures floating throughout Sessun highlighted the expansive vertical space available and, in turn, created an open and light-filled environment. What a vast improvement over boring, run-of-the-mill overhead lighting!

A Visual Journal : Paris Déco Off + Maison & Objet

The Lotus Bleu Team kicked-off 2017 with an exhilarating, albeit chilly, trip to Paris where we visited two back-to-back design events: Paris Déco Off and Maison & Objet. 

During the five-day span of Paris Déco Off, textile showrooms opened their doors in celebration, revealing their newest collections alongside a slew of festivities and release events. To commemorate, the merchandising game came out in full force. Convivial displays incorporated elaborate color schemes and conceptual assemblies showcased the newest textiles coming into the market. It was a time to go big and push the limits. For example, as we walked down an idyllic Paris street, we were drawn into a room filled with nothing but tangerine parrot figurines ensconced in fuchsia and white patterns! The Jim Thompson showroom was one of our favorites, where a towering foo dog peered out onto the street, fashioned out of cloth and passementerie, looking ready to pounce!

A cheerful workspace vignette at Larsen stopped us in our tracks. The encapsulated scene payed homage to the creative process - mood boards and inspirational images layered upon one another and a worktable piled high with finish and textiles samples, the tools of our trade. 

The scene inside the showrooms was cozy, lively and energized. Spirits were flowing, literally and figuratively, as visitors gathered around the fresh, new collections and took note of what 2017 has in store. 

We ran into some friendly and familiar faces along the way, including the team from UK-based Christopher Farr Cloth textiles, a Lotus Bleu favorite. A sneak peak into thier new woven collection has us anxious to use these stunning fabrics as soon as we can!

After spending a few days exploring the intimate vibe of the Paris Déco Off, we took a day to venture out to the Maison & Objet trade show. Inherently dynamic, positively overwhelming and loaded with excitement, the show brought together intriguing designers from across the globe, providing a snapshot of their work. 

Despite the acreage at hand, we managed to traverse enough territory to spot some jaw-dropping goods while gaining insight of what's up-and-coming. The stand-out trend we latched onto was the varying shades of green, from mint to malachite, jade to moss. 

Even this colossal pop-up bar + eatery was ripe with cascading greenery. A nod to the Pantone Color of the Year, perhaps? We would've loved to stick around for some avocado tartar (aka, guacamole) and cocktails, but after such an inspirational workout, it was time to retire to our hotel.

An Afternoon in Paris


As Californians, we were slightly intimidated by the idea of Paris in the middle of winter, but by the time we made our way through a series of memorable shops, restaurants and sights, we nearly forgot about the chill. Our first stop of the afternoon was Colonel, a spirited and dynamic design shop founded by Isabelle Gilles and Yann Poncelet in 2012, and located just off the Canal Saint-Martin. Beyond the green-blue, heavily glazed storefront lies a smart curation of Scandinavian-inspired goods in an array of energized hues and creative textures.

We recognized a few new offerings (and new colors!) from some of our favorite lines while getting to know the selection of lighting, furniture and objects designed in-house. Colonel's creations mix natural materials, bold graphics and exuberant colors, elevating everyday objects, like a turned wood bowl, to the extraordinary. 

We recognized a few new offerings (and new colors!) from some of our favorite lines while getting to know the selection of lighting, furniture and objects designed in-house. Colonel's creations mix natural materials, bold graphics and exuberant colors, elevating everyday objects, like a turned wood bowl, to the extraordinary. 

Next, we crossed over the Saint-Martin Canal, stopping to watch the resilient ducks huddled on the icy water while pedestrians strolled along the waterway in the afternoon sun. The tree-lined canal is flanked by numerous shops and restaurants and we longed to come back on a summer day to enjoy some outdoor dining.

It's hard to tell how much time we spent at our next destination, Artazart Design Bookstore. Name a niche in design and Artazart has multiple cutting-edge books on hand to provide insight. From packaging design in Japan, typography trends, color theory for web design, DIY home renovation guides, cookbooks from superstar chefs, to rising fashion markets around the globe, this shop will keep you up to speed and full of knowledge and inspiration.

Naturally, the Lotus Bleu team fell deep into the rabbit hole while digging into the textiles and decorative arts section. "Look at this! Look at that!," we exclaimed, giddily bouncing our favorite finds between one another. This repetitious pink and red fruit motif was of particular interest to Jeannie, whose last name (Fraise) is French for "strawberry"!

Our minds now dizzy with design inspiration, we decided to come up for air and headed over to Pause Cafe, located near the Place de la Bastille. Pause Cafe hit the mark on all levels; exceptionally fresh and modern French dishes, bountiful warm energy and an interior that captivated us throughout the meal. 

The design of Pause Cafe harmoniously integrates centuries of decorative features. Crisp white, classical details line the ceilings and frame time-worn pastel paintings of delicate florals and gliding birds. From the aged ceilings, warm glowing light extends into the dining area through a combination of rugged industrial pendants attached to creative wiring channels and radiating frosted globes. Coarse mosaics sprawl underfoot, adding a jagged counterbalance to channeled banquettes and curved wood chairs. Cafe stools at the mirror-backed bar pull out the lone burgundy from the flooring palette and marry with bold mediterranean blue legs. Finally, hardened tile and concrete walls are draped in lush, flowing plant life, softening-up otherwise cold materials. Pause Cafe was a perfect nest of toasty respite and comforting cuisine, a great way to cap off an afternoon of exploration in a charming pocket of Paris.