"What Inspires Me" with Katharine Pooley

After a career that is totally different from the one she pursues today, Katharine Pooley is now known and recognized for her luxurious interior design style. Having become one of London’s most sought-after designers worldwide, notably after being named “British Designer of the Decade”, Katharine now divides her time between her design studio and the realization of multiple projects around the globe. Her numerous awards and accreditations are a testament to her talent and investment in interior design, but Katharine is also very committed and supports many associations. Thanks to her large Instagram community with which she interacts regularly, Katharine invites her followers to discover the behind-the-scenes world of interior design.
Discover the inspirations of this talented British luxury interior designer, how Katharine managed to take her career to a whole new level, how her travel memories influence her projects today.
Thank you to Katharine and her team for taking the time for this interview!

Katharine, I understand that you spent part of your professional career in finance in Asia. Can you tell us about your career path and what led you to interior design? 

Although I was born in Hertfordshire, went to school in Oxfordshire, England, and then predominantly brought up in Bahrain, my family has travelled extensively and that has definitely inspired my global viewpoint. Having spent 14 years working in finance in Hong Kong and Singapore, for Morgan Stanley and Barclays, which I absolutely loved, I returned to England ready for a new business adventure. I had undertaken a handful of large-scale refurbishment projects for my family and friends over the years (including a Castle, ski chalet, Thai coastal retreat and various city homes) and it became clear that this was more than a passing interest and would become a lifelong passion.

Almost two decades later my design studio, working out of Chelsea, London, consists of 47 talented designers and interior architects and I have been named ‘British Designer of the Decade’ which is rather fantastic! The scale of the studio is quite unusual, and this allows me to undertake complex, sophisticated design projects globally for my wonderful clients. We ensure every detail of every project is conceived, designed and installed to the highest level, we offer a complete turn-key service.

You seem to have a traveller’s soul, is that where you find your inspiration? Which city awakens your creativity the most?

Many of my journeys have impacted my interiors and certainly understanding the cultures is a very important part of the design process. I look around my living and workspaces and I see the treasures and photographs that take me back to a wonderful adventure. Each one evokes memories; triggering the sights and smells of that time and it floods my senses. An innate sense of adventure has defined my life and shaped my design philosophy. I have visited more than 190 countries. However, what may come as a surprise is that I love mountaineering and raw adventure over city breaks and have driven a team of dogs on a sled to the north pole, and crossed the Sahara on horseback, all of my experiences feed into an original and adventurous design sensibility. I don’t think there is one city that inspires me the most, if anything it is wide open spaces!

Now that we can travel again, what would be your next inspirational trip?

I can not recommend more highly Sumba Island in Indonesia, known as ‘the Forgotten Island’ it’s absolutely incredible and I would love to go back. I also absolutely loved the Amanpulo in the Philippines, it’s the epitome of a tropical paradise. Usually though I like to go to totally new places, now that the world is reopening I need to get my map out and make a plan!

Kensington House – ©James McDonald

What is your favourite part of your job? What is your creative process when dealing with a new project in general?

Gosh a difficult question! I love all the aspects of this job for diverse reasons. Because we undertake projects worldwide it means I get to travel lots which I love. In terms of project stages; the beginning is always so exciting, forging a new relationship with the client and introducing them to some wonderful finishes and details they have not seen before, I love those early days. But the end of the project is a beautiful time too, some of our projects take many years and are a very personal journey for the client, its an honor to then show them the final result and is always a very emotional moment!

Nothing Hill Project – ©James McDonald

How do you bring your personal touch to the projects you work on?

I like to think that my interior style is intelligent, luxurious and timelessly elegant. Originality is critically important to me personally and I like to introduce unique detailing and personal touches to every project. I do not merely stick to a specific style, as I believe that creating a home is an intimate process that requires trust, listening to individuals and delivering a clients’ vision to make their “dreams come true”. Every KP project combines unique visual flair, unusual finishes, the best of British craftsmanship and beautiful luxurious home accessories and art.

Mayfair Home – ©Andrew Beasley

You interact a lot with your large community on Instagram. What is your approach to social networks and to what extent are they a professional tool for you?

I love Instagram and Pinterest in particular, if used in a positive and inclusive way, social media can be incredibly inspiring and a great way to foster relationships worldwide. I love to share my design insights, trend updates, lifestyle and family snapshots as it builds a really vivid picture of who I am and what inspires me.

Your studio also features the largest library of fabrics and finishes in London, how do you source the artisans you work with?

I am incredibly lucky, our library is so large and wide ranging and all overseen by our wonderfully organised librarian Julian. Over the years I have built very close relationships with hundreds of suppliers, this network of creative individuals, artists, artisans and makers ensures we have an incredible range of fabrics and finishes for our clients. My suppliers are very important to me, their beautiful designs are at the heart of everything I create and I make time to treasure and nurture these important relationships.

You have a shop in London with a wide range of furniture, lighting and home accessories. Where do you find your sources of inspiration for collectible design?

Having lived in Asia, the Middle East and throughout Europe I have been able to discover and immerse myself in many parts of the world. My time in Asia led me into starting my first interiors boutique in Chelsea, (Katharine’s boutique on Walton Street is famously a treasure trove of beautiful accessories) which sells rare and interesting products. These exotic and rare treasures mix delightfully with the best of European craftsmanship and English design. It makes for an eclectic, unusual and very luxurious combination!

What are the know-hows that you are particularly fond of at the moment?

Textures are everything; Think rich luxurious finishes that are cozy, inviting and beg to be touched. I love combining eglomise mirror with straw marquetry, shagreen, soft kid-skin leather, cashmere and silk or grass cloth wallpapers. The colours can be peaceful, calm and tonal, the richness of texture will give a refined and luxurious feel.

Do you know our Par Excellence artisans? Among them, is there a particular know-how that is close to your heart?

I have great respect for the work of the Par Excellence artisans, in particular I find the work of Ateliers Saint Jacques quite incredible. The stone staircase they created for Dior in Paris perfectly captures the classical timeless elegance of that iconic brand. The use of contrasting finishes and textures is exquisite. The Alvar dining table is to my mind a perfect piece, deceptively simple, sculptural and unforgettably beautiful, I adore it. This is the fabulous range of the Par Excellence stable of artisans, from the architectural to the smaller interior and furniture details, everything is immaculately considered and created.

What is next for you? Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share with us?

It’s a very busy year, during the Covid period some wonderful new projects have come my way which has been incredibly fortunate, it helps I think that we have such an international presence. We have some incredible developments and private homes currently being designed and installed in the English countryside, London, Hong Kong, New York, Monaco, London and Switzerland (so the next few months will be very busy!) A favourite would be an incredible Chateau in the South of France where Grace Kelly and Cary Grant were once filmed by Alfred Hitchcock for the Hollywood classic ‘To Catch a Thief’, it has quite the most incredible architecture and gardens.

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Volevatch - A Leader in French Bathroom Fixtures

Translated from a French article by Signatures Singulières

A leading purveyor of luxury bathroom fixtures, Volevatch is a company that creates exceptional pieces. This French manufacturer designs jewel-like faucets through which water magnificently flows.

Above: Serge Volevatch – On the right: Versailles collection

Chasing at the workshop of the manufacture.
Piet collection. Charles Zana project

The signature of French bathroom fixtures

Volevatch artisanal fixtures beautifully highlight the water flowing in the bathroom or kitchen. Founded in 1975 by Serge Volevatch, a craftsman and restorer, this French manufacturer uses ancestral know-how for its faucets. Its creations can be found in prestigious heritage sites as well as in luxury private residences. The firm is also listed in France’s Inventaire des Métiers des Arts Rares, the national inventory of rare craftsmanship. This recognition is part of the UNESCO’s cultural heritage protection program. Beyond their functionality, Volevatch fixtures are true jewels that tell the story of different design styles such as Art Deco. The company is often inspired by the founder’s collection of antique faucets. The history and the exemplary nature of this firm caught the attention of Signatures Singulières Magazine.

Bistrot collection, nickel finish.
Héritage collection. Bronze finish.

Unique contemporary pieces

Volevatch is one of the last French luxury faucet manufacturers to continue the heritage of excellence. In addition to restoring old faucets, Serge Volevatch has also developed his own creations. His first collection, “Bistrot”, has become iconic. Today, more than 40 craftsmen apply the traditional art of creating unique pieces in the factory. Founders, welders, assemblers, polishers, chiselers and engravers shape and sculpt solid lead-free brass, covered with precious finishes. This passion for beauty is also adapted to modern interpretations. The know-how established by Serge Volevatch is complemented by the latest generation of digital production tools assisting today’s artisans of the firm. Nevertheless, these masters of waterworks continue to perpetuate, with talent and know-how, the secrets of the art of bathing under the eye of the son of the founder, Igor Volevatch. More than a history of craftsmanship, the manufacture is also a beautiful family story!

Bistrot collection, nickel finish.
Bistrot collection, copper finish.

Unequalled know-how envied throughout the world

Since its creation, Volevatch has forged exceptional ties with its prestigious clients. Interior designers, architects and demanding aesthetes have all called upon the factory because of its reputation for excellence. Rudolf Nureyev was one of these discerning clients who turned to Serge Volevatch to design the fittings for his bathroom. Since then, each collection presented has continually enchanted lovers of French decorative arts. The company manufactures its own collections for renowned architects on a confidential basis. The company also designs true works of art such as sculptural showers. Finally, this famous manufacturer designs complete bathroom solutions such as sublime marble basins. Lovers of unique pieces can also acquire custom-made creations in an infinite variety of possibilities and luxurious materials. As highlighted in Signatures Singulières Magazine, Volevatch offers its singular vision of faucets not only in France but worldwide.

Piero Manara project. © Didier Delmas.
Bath/shower faucet, Heritage collection. Light bronze medallion finish.
Luxurious project signed Pierre Paradis. 24 carat gold finish.
The Volevatch family with impressions of the workshop

Volevatch
108, rue du Cherche-Midi
75006 Paris
Tél. : +33 (0)1 42 22 42 55
www.volevatch.fr

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"What Inspires Me" with Victoria-Maria Geyer

Born in Germany but now based in Brussels, Victoria-Maria Geyer knew from a young age that she wanted to be an interior designer and architect. As a little girl she always moved her bedroom furniture around, which used to drive her mom crazy. She later started working as an apprentice in a small interior design company in Brussels, but she knew that she wanted to create her own interior design firm, so in 2008 she started Victoria-Maria Interior Design. It began very small as she was only working on decoration and interior design at first. The firm quickly expanded and today they are also working on everything from high-end interior architectural projects to full renovations. Fearless in mixing and matching styles and periods, Victoria-Maria has a style all her own that clients seek out for its originality and eclecticism.

We were thrilled to speak with Victoria-Maria to hear about what inspires her.

You are known for your eclectic style and in the way you mix styles and periods. How do you combine this with the expectations of your clients?

My clients come to me as they know I will bring originality to their project. I create around the pieces of furniture that my clients and I fall in love with. The beauty is in the item and in the furniture itself. If the piece of furniture inspires me, I put it in the project and I will find something that works around it. I am not afraid of mixing periods. Finding a way to incorporate and highlight in a contemporary project an antique piece of furniture that belongs to my clients is exactly what I find very interesting and exciting about my job. The idea is always to create something very personal for the client, something unique. I feel that an interior has personality when it is not mainstream, when you don’t follow one specific trend, one specific way of doing. That is why I think it is very important to have a thorough knowledge of furniture history and to be able to work with different periods and beautifully mix and match different styles and epochs.

Vicky project

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I get my inspiration from quiet, mundane and random things. I can see something in a magazine, not specifically a design magazine, any kind of book or picture that I see. Recently, I went to a perfume shop, and I saw a very beautiful perfume bottle. It immediately inspired me to design a small side table. When I see something and it immediately strikes me, I instantly know that it is a good thing for me to use in this or that project.

What would be your best decoration advice?

My best advice would be not to be afraid. Very often my clients are afraid of doing too much, or of getting tired of a color or of a pattern. They would usually choose to tone it down and to go for something lighter, less present.

Diane project

What exciting new artisans/interior design items have you recently discovered?

For the moment I am very into Brazilian design. It is not new, but I am very interested in it. I also like Portuguese design from the beginning of this century and the end of the 20th century that is found in the United States. For example, I love the Portuguese and Spanish influences that you can find in Los Angeles.

How important is craftsmanship to you and how do you integrate it into your creative process?

Since we work on high-end projects, craftsmanship is of course extremely important to me and my design firm. We work with fantastic craftsmen who really master their art and their work.

I think Par Excellence is a fantastic organization and the way you promote your artisans and craftsmanship the way you do is really a necessity these days.

Can you please describe your favorite interior design project?

My favorite project is a post-modern house where we only did organic shapes, so nothing has an edge. Everything is round from the furniture to the carpets and there is a super large window. It is a very 70s inspired interior with warm tones. I am excited to have this project photographed very soon.

What is next for you? Do you have any upcoming projects?

We have a lot of wonderful upcoming projects. What I am most excited about is that we will soon be launching our own online shop where we will be selling our home design furniture. We have 10 prototypes at the moment.

Discover all of Victoria-Maria’s projects on her Instagram account, where she also shares many behind the scenes photos and videos, @v_i_c_t_o_r_i_a_m_a_r_i_a, and on her website (link here)

Valentine project

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Exhibitions in New York, Paris, London you do not want to miss in June

With international borders slowly opening up, we are eager to start visiting museums and art galleries again. We have compiled a list of our favorite exhibitions in the three leading art capitals in the world – New York, Paris and London.

New York City

Modern Look: Photography and the American Magazine

The Jewish Museum, through July 11, 2021

This beautiful exhibition includes 150 works that explore how photography, graphic design, and popular magazines converged to transform American visual culture from the 1930’s to the 1950’s. These photographs, layouts and cover designs tell the story of the unmistakable aesthetic made popular by such magazines as Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue and photographers such as Irving Penn, Gordon Parks and Lillian Bassman.

Lillian Bassman, A Report to Skeptics, Suzy Parker, April 1952, Harper's Bazaar. Gelatin silver print. Collection of Eric and Lizzie Himmel, New York. © Estate of Lillian Bassman.
The Jewish Museum

Cézanne Drawing

MoMA, through September 25, 2021

The French artist Cézanne was best known as a painter, but he actually produced his most radically original works on paper. This exhibition brings together more than 250 rarely shown works in pencil and mesmerizing watercolor made throughout his career. Seen all together, along with several of his important paintings, these works on paper reveal how drawing shaped his transformative modern vision.

Image taken from MoMA website
MoMA, New York

Centre Pompidou x Jersey City

Breaking news… The Centre Pompidou just announced that they will open an outpost in Jersey City, NJ in 2024. The Pompidou will plan on showing work from its vast art collection while its original location in Paris undergoes a years-long restoration project. This new museum will be known as Centre Pompidou x Jersey City and will also organize talks, performances, screenings and more. Watch this space…

A rendering of Centre Pompidou x Jersey City. COURTESY OMA

Paris

Bourse de Commerce

The eagerly awaited opening of the newest museum in Paris was finally realized on May 20th when the Bourse de Commerce opened its doors. The historic 18th century structure, which was the former stock exchange building, was transformed by the renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando. This museum was the brainchild of the French businessman and art collector Francois Pinault to showcase his vast art holdings known as the Pinault Collection. This contemporary art museum will showcase pieces from the Pinault Collection that includes over 10,000 works that offer a perspective on the art from 1960’s to present time. There is also a spectacular fresco restoration as well as artworks that have been specifically commissioned for the space.  One of the exhibitions is titled “In-Situ Works” (until Dec 31, 2021). Several artists created site-specific works inside and outside the museum that creates an intriguing dialogue between the architecture and the art it is exhibiting.

Bourse de Commerce
Bourse de Commerce, Paris

JR’s site-specific street art

JR is a French photographer and street artist. He started posting large black and white images printed on paper in the streets of Paris and now does monumental installations in public locations around the world. JR’s latest large-scale urban artwork is back where he started, in Paris. His large-scale photographs are collaged together revealing a breathtaking “split earth” beneath the Eiffel Tower. It is a head spinning installation that optically distorts reality giving the viewer a sense of a magical illusion. They can then create their own photograph of themselves peering over the cliffs or jumping across the abyss. It also has a dazzling effect even after a rainstorm. Located at Esplanade des droits de l’homme (Place du Trocadero) and will be taken down around June 20, 2021.

JR Artwork in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
Instagram: @jr

Mosaic street art by Ememem 

Another French artist is making his mark on the streets of Paris and beyond. Ememem, a Lyonnais artist is turning cracked pavements into art. He finds potholes and sidewalk cracks and fills them in with mosaics a process he calls “flacking” (which is a play on the French word “flaque” for puddle), as it feels like these mosaics fill the cracks and holes as organically as rainwater would. The colored glass mosaics create textures, colors and patterns that turn bleak, broken down areas into a beautiful urban landscape. He has left his mark in such cities as Lyon, Paris, Barcelona and Turin. He is currently part of a group exhibition, “Ceramics Now”, at the Galerie Italienne in Paris through July 17, 2021.

Follow him on Instagram @ememem.flacking or better yet, keep your eyes peeled to your local streets. Who knows where the next one will pop up!

"Bleu de Lyon", Ememem
Galerie Italienne

The Clearing Grand Ménage

The art gallery, Clearing Gallery, has taken over an empty hôtel particular that dates from around 1728. This group show titled “Grand Ménage” is in a mansion that has been away from the public eye and uninhabited for the past 10 years.  Paintings and sculptures have been placed in each room and on each floor in a slightly haunting exhibition. While one will visit for the art exhibit, the abandoned mansion itself is also intriguing to view as you can see the original architecture, colors and wallpapers now in their decaying state. Located at 72 Rue de l’Université, Tues – Sat 10am-7pm and it will close on June 20, 2021.

The Clearing Grand Ménage Gallery Exhibit
The Clearing Grand Ménage

London

Charlotte Perriand: The Modern Life

The Design Museum, June 19 – September 5, 2021

After a blockbuster debut exhibition at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris in 2019/20 this outstanding show is opening at the Design Museum in London. They have recreated some of her most famous interiors and have included many of her iconic furniture along with sketches, photographs, scrapbooks and prototypes. It is fascinating to see her creative process and this show gives her her rightful place in design history. This iconic French designer helped define the modern interior as her belief was that good design is for everyone.

Charlotte Perriand on the chaise longue basculante B306, 1929, © ADAGP Photo taken from the Design Musem website
Design Museum

JR: Eye to the World

Pace Gallery, through July 3, 2021

This exhibition brings together photographs from several bodies of JR’s work showcasing his unique view of humanity seen through his camera lens.

Note: this Pace Gallery exhibition coincides with the largest solo museum show to date at Saatchi Gallery

"JR: Eye to the World" at Pace Gallery
Pace Gallery, London

JR: Chronicles

Saatchi Gallery, through October 3, 2021

This exhibition features JR’s most iconic works from the past 15 years. This show first opened at The Brooklyn Museum in NYC in 2019 and was a blockbuster exhibition.

"JR: Chronicles" at the Saatchi Gallery
Saatchi Gallery

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"What Inspires Me" with Gaëlle Hintzy-Marcel

Many of us had to pivot in different ways during the pandemic but for New York-based French sculptor, Gaëlle Hintzy-Marcel, when she found out that the atelier where she had been working for almost 4 years would be closed for an unspecified period, she quickly had to change her way of working so that she could continue to sculpt out of her home. While she used to work mainly in bronze, pewter became her new medium along with resin, plaster and wood, as these allowed her to keep her hands involved throughout the entire process of creating her work. Strangely, the lockdown opened up new perspectives for Gaëlle, as she had always felt dispossessed of her work when a foundry was casting her bronze pieces.

Change is not new for Gaëlle. For the past 25 years, her sculptures have been influenced by the slightly nomadic life she has led. Born and raised in France, Gaëlle was introduced to working with her hands by her father, as she was helping him with odds and ends around the house. Thanks to him, she already felt comfortable with tools.

While working in Paris, she modeled in clay and plaster. She then lived for several years in Indonesia where she was introduced to bronze and developed her skills and honed her techniques. Her path soon took her to Russia where she concentrated on figurative work which plays so prominently a role in Russian culture.

But it was when she moved to Mumbai, India and, ironically, could not find an atelier to work in, she instead spent time in the practice of yoga which itself would open her up to new ways of expression in her artwork. These different cultures and encounters she made while abroad can be seen in her work both technically and philosophically.

As Gaëlle once said, “Being exposed to such different cultures, I had to adjust, understand, rebel, accept and love all of them! Each country gave me new eyes on life and the world, a new understanding of where I lived and who I was. And, you can read these influences in all of my work.”

Her sculptures are mostly figurative, and she uses positions and body lines to convey certain emotions. This is where the mind/body practice seen in yoga comes to play in her inspiration. 

Working on a plaster and paper mix on the sculpture “Leapfrogging”

On a bright Spring day, I headed to Gaëlle’s home atelier on the Upper West Side. I was eager to see the sculptures that she was working on for her upcoming exhibition at Par Excellence and to hear more about what inspires her.

When and how did you discover sculpture?

I was inspired by a university friend who I stumbled upon sculpting one day which then led me to discover a sculpture store in my Parisian neighborhood. This was 25 years ago, and I am still inspired by sculpting every day. In the beginning, I did 2 years of clay modeling on my own before joining a sculpting atelier in Paris in order to learn the fundamentals.

I read that you are inspired by contemporary dance and that a gesture, a position of the body expresses a feeling that you try to capture in your sculptures. Can you please speak more about this?

Positions of the body are a different alphabet to communicate. Each time I see a dance show, I am inspired by a new position to express a certain feeling in my work. If you see a shoulder higher and you think, “so what?”, shoulders open and you read confidence, arms to the sky and you feel gratitude, feet planted firmly to the ground you get a sense of security, shoulders folding inwards you get a sense of humility. Each new variation of the body opens our sight to a new feeling. The position of the body speaks without any words spoken.This interaction between body and mind fascinates me and I use these positions as a tool to communicate through my sculptures. This is why I titled my new exhibition at Par Excellence, “Lignes de Vie” (Lines of Life) as the line of the body is always showing us something.

Sculptures by Gaëlle

Where do you find inspiration?

I am inspired by every piece of art I am enjoying, by yoga, by modern dance, and by all sorts of objects such as a stone, a piece of wood, a piece of steel.

“Incertitude and white stone” was inspired by a dance performance that included white stones

Which city awakens your creativity the most?

New York City.

 

What do you do when you are stuck on a project and need inspiration?

I take a pause, I create a distance with time. If possible, I put my project in my living room in order to live with it. If this is not possible, I take a photo of it…and I write down in my phone anything that comes to my mind…otherwise, I go and see art in a museum, this always gives me some new inspiration.

 

Where is the place that you can’t wait to get back to?

Paris.

Where is the first place you want to travel to after the pandemic is over?

The Great Wall of China but I know I will not go anytime soon…

 

What is your favorite city or place in the world?

Bali. For peace and surfing, authenticity and kindness, smiles and Frangipani flowers!

 

Favorite gallery/museum?

In NYC, The Met, MoMA and Fotografiska.
In Paris, all of the galleries around Rue de Seine in the 6th arrondissement, the streets, the squares, all the feelings around there inspire me a lot.

Fotografiska Museum in NYC

At your studio do you work in silence, listen to music or a podcast?

I mostly work in silence but there is no silence…I like to hear the real world around me.  When I use electric tools, I sometimes like to cover the noise with music.

 

What advice would you have liked to receive at the beginning of your career?

Trust your instincts.

 

Do you have a favorite quote?

“The more I know, the more I realize I do not know”, from Aristotle.

 

What is something that people don’t know about you / would be surprised to find out about you?

I love science fiction and comic books:  Enki Bilal, Jodorowsky, Moebius, Jean-Claude Meziere.

 

Did you discover any new artists recently?

Tawny Chatmon is a photography-based artist that I discovered at Fotografiska. I like that she uses photography as a first layer and adds collages and paint to the surface which gives her portraits a powerful emotion.

God's Gift by Tawny Chatmon from her "Inheritance" exhibition at Fotografiska

Julie Mehretu is a great artist that I discovered at The Whitney Museum. She creates impressively gigantic paintings with colors, lines and shapes. Her work is mostly abstract, but she sometimes adds some figurative parts as a canvas for abstraction.

 

Who are your favorite sculptors?

Alexander Calder, for his ingenuity.

Alexander Calder, “Spider”, 1939 Taken from MoMA’s website

Auguste Rodin, for the details of the human body.
Subodh Gupta, for the use of everyday life objects in his sculptures.
Louise Bourgeois, for the expression of her subconscious as a woman.

 

What podcast are you listening to?

“Demain n’attend pas” by Delphine Darmon (dynamic discussions with inspiring people acting in various fields to change the world).

“Les PassionariArts” by Adeline Couberes (giving a voice to women, inspiring and engaged in the art world).

 

What are your current favorite books?

L’Anomalie by Herve Le Tellier (there is a bit of science fiction, humor and philosophy in it which resonates with me so much).
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (pure nature, pure beauty, pure sensitivity).

What is your favorite room in your house?

My terrace where I can hear the birds sing.

 

What is something new you learned, or a project you started at home during the pandemic?

I started working with plaster mixed with paper as it is less messy to work this way at home.

 

What is an object that you would never part with?

My glasses.

 

Springtime in Paris or Autumn in NYC?

Both.

 

This year I want to…

Travel more and to keep on working on collaborative projects with other artists.

Gaëlle’s solo exhibition, “Lignes de Vie” (Lines of Life) will be on view June 11-19th, 2021 at our showroom at 344 Bowery. It will be open to the public by appointment only. Schedule an appointment at Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lignes-de-vie-sculpture-exhibition-hosted-by-par-excellence-tickets-155511307507

 

For private viewings, please email gaellehintzymarcel@gmail.com

You can see more of Gaëlle’s work at https://www.gaellehintzymarcel.com/ and on Instagram @gaellehintzysculpture.

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Marie Grillo, a poetic focus on stained glass

After training at Olivier de Serres and with other glass artists around France, such as the Ateliers Saint Didier and Saint Georges, Marie Grillo set up her workshop “La couleur du verre” (The color of glass) in the 13th arrondissement of Paris. She designs and manufactures stained glass and collaborates with interior designers.

The Par Excellence team stopped by her workshop to talk with her about her relationship with this art.

When Marie Grillo began her studies as a craftsman, she chose this discipline because of the similarities with her classical dancer education, in the search for the perfect gesture and in the relationship with light. “Like the dancer on stage, the stained glass window needs light to exist”, she explains.

Marie Grillo in her workshop with a floral piece of art ©Paul Grillo

Marie Grillo speaks passionately about the nobility of handmade glass: she believes that working with this material is getting closer to the past, creating a relation with time which contrasts with the fast-paced nature of our current society.

Working this art requires calmness, concentration and a certain precision that puts her into a deep meditation.

“The creation of a stained glass window is complex, because you have to take into account the subtle play of the light that it reflects, and that varies according to the glasses, its colors, its relief or its nature, whether painted, translucent or sandblasted. This interplay also changes depending on the type of light the glass reflects: direct, grazing or artificial, and all of which varies over the course of a day,” she explains.

Creating a stained glass window is about creating a work taking all of these elements into account.

Marie Grillo’s creations respond to the place, and the given function of the stained glass. The best-known application is window ornamentation or the window coverings, that illustrate the nobility of a place. But it is also used to hide or separate parts of a room, like a veil that lets light through.

For example, she has done it for a restaurant to separate the bar from the dining area. In a more unusual way, it can be found as a decorative element for furniture.

Marie Grillo particularly likes creations that offer a large surface of expression, which she intends to develop in her new workshop.

Follow Marie Grillo at @lacouleurduverre. For any information on her artworks, reach out at contact@lacouleurduverre.com

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"What Inspires Me" with Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance

After growing up in Brittany and training in metal sculpture, and then continuing his professional training in Paris, designer Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance is now pursuing his path in Portugal, while also running the Paris studio. He began his career as a designer in 2000 and quickly met with dazzling success thanks to his emblematic achievements such as the design of the restaurant, Sketch, in London. In 2018, he moved to Lisbon to open his Made in Situ gallery and explore the richness of a “place marked by a strong identity”.

Par Excellence had the opportunity to interview this renowned designer. Noé opens up to us about the reasons that pushed him to move away from the French capital, gives us his vision of Portuguese craftsmanship and lets us discover some pieces of his new collection.

Noé, before joining the Arts Décoratifs school in Paris, you trained as a metal sculptor. What did this initial training bring you? Can you tell us more about your path, your career?

My creative process is often based on working with my hands. It is sometimes by directly throwing myself into working on a model that the inspiration materializes.
In my view, you are in the same process whether you are sketching or drawing. I understand it as artisanal work; there is, for me, this idea of working with a tool to create.
Compared to an industrial design profile, it seems to me that a visual artist’s eye is liberating in the creative process; in the sense that I approach projects in an abstract way or, by contrast, very instinctively, directly through the material.
This manual work also extends later into the design process; I make many decisions based on prototypes or sections with my teams and partners.

From my training in sculpture, I like having contact with the material and the textures, the perpetual questioning of the way to build and make each thing.
I like going to workshops, to interact with craftsmen. Compared to other designers, I am perhaps less apprehensive about approaching manual skills. I don’t hesitate to go into the manufacturing techniques, to ask questions to bring quick answers. Through this direct link, in a way, we together erase the lines between conception and realization.

Since 2018, you have been based in Lisbon and are sharing your time on projects between France and Portugal, why this departure? Does your move to Portugal mark a new period in your career?

Indeed, I moved to Lisbon in the summer of 2018. Choosing a new country means leaving your comfort zone, looking and perceiving things differently. I grew up in Brittany. So, while I was living in Paris, I was looking for a place to breathe and see the horizon. It was a time in my life when I really needed space and a place with a strong identity. These elements are necessary and inspiring for my work. In Portugal, the ocean/land relationship offers this opportunity.
I have worked a lot in my life, sharing time with artisans. I also find the industry fascinating, the whole process that involves the know-how. I wanted to find a place where design was an integral part of the economic activity. Portugal is a country in flux, in transition, rooted in heritage but currently on the move and this dynamic is one of its assets. It seems to me to be one of the only countries that always returns to its roots. Certain traditions are still very present. The country remains attached to a certain form of “simplicity” which, in my opinion, is essential. 

“Choosing Portugal means taking a new approach – getting physically close to the work of the artisans, to their workshops.” – Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance

It’s exciting to be a stranger in a new country, it gives you energy and momentum. This feeling allowed my project to come to life, with great moments of excitement and exploration, like the beginning of a love story. In Portugal, I launched a design “laboratory” called MADE IN SITU. In parallel, I continue to run the Paris studio. It is more and more dedicated to high-end and collectible design furniture. We are developing custom pieces for international private clients and are preparing the release of a furniture collection for next year. We continue our fruitful collaborations with major international players such as Bernhardt Design, Saint Louis, Revol, La Manufacture and Ligne Roset. It’s all about the people and the exceptional encounters I make along the way.

Made In Situ Gallery in Lisbon

In the course of your life, you have lived in Brittany, in Paris, and now in Portugal. We understand that nature and travel are a great source of inspiration. How do these inspirations translate into your design and choice of materials?

I have fond memories of a childhood spent far from the city, by the sea, which I regularly reactivate in my projects.
Without imitating it, I am inspired by nature, its universality, the mysteries it contains, and the fascination it brings. The flexible line of an armrest, the organization of a space, the softness of a seat, the ramification of a structure, are all elements that allow me to express this organic and sensitive link between the body and the environment.

Manta Desk ©Riccardo Bianchi

Is there a different approach to craftsmanship between France and Portugal?

When I started exploring the know-how in Portugal, I came to a brutal conclusion: craftsmanship is valued more highly in France than in Portugal where it suffers from a cruel and unfair lack of recognition. It was considered for years as a lesser art. The most immediate consequence was that few young people wanted to take over the workshops and during the last decades, expertise disappeared when the craftsmen retired from their businesses. But things are changing very quickly at the moment, and this is a very good thing.
On our scale, with the MADE IN SITU collections, we participate in highlighting certain trades, vernacular materials and people. We are quite far from French-style excellence, but we create direct relationships with people, with the material, and try to tell through the pieces the stories anchored in their heritage.

Crafting of the BARRO NEGRO Collection

In 2020, you opened a gallery in Lisbon, called Made In Situ. Can you tell us about this great project? Which artisans do you collaborate with on this project?

After my first year in Portugal, I initiated the MADE IN SITU project. It is about exploring Portugal through crafts, human encounters and vernacular materials. Last September, MADE IN SITU unveiled its first collection in our Lisbon gallery: BARRO NEGRO. We created an immersive installation with sound, and a film, to magnify a series of objects made of black ceramic. It was very moving because it was a personal project that I had been carrying around for a long time and that finally saw the light of day. The collections are the result of our investigations and long-term collaborations with Portuguese artisans. We are now preparing the release of our second collection, BURNT CORK, a series of sculptural furniture, carved in blocks of cork, which will be on display from May 20 in Lisbon. 

MADE IN SITU IS THE MANIFESTATION OF A CREATIVE DYNAMIC OF APPERCEPTION, ROOTED IN THE TREASURES OF A TERRITORY, ITS ARTISANS AND ITS SYSTEMIC LINKS WITH NATURE. REVEALING A CYCLE OF SEASONS, EACH WITH ITS OWN HISTORY. 

 BARRO NEGRO, first collection of the Made in Situ Gallery

You put a lot of importance on craftsmanship, how do you interact with artisans and to what extent do you integrate them into your creative process? Is the starting point the material, the technique, an encounter, a drawing?

Over time, I have realized that the ideal project is actually quite simple on paper. It is a project where all the protagonists speak with one voice. A client who trusts you, partners who understand you, and a design that is in line with its context… From this equation, honest and often obvious projects are born.

I approach creation through its context, no project should be dissociated from it. It is this context that feeds my inspiration. So, for the partner craftsmen, the meeting is the starting point. I like it when the first exchanges are fluid, when the artisans teach me things, when they are open to going beyond their habits, to explore new techniques, to propose new solutions, in the service of design.

You have collaborated with several artisans from the Par Excellence collective, Ozone, the Manufacture de Tapis de Bourgogne, Jouffre and the Ateliers Saint-Jacques.
What common quality do you appreciate in these artisans? Can you tell us more about your collaborations with each of them?

We can indeed identify common traits between the professionals of the PAR EXCELLENCE collective with whom I have had the chance to work.
Clearly, the standards are very high and they are partners capable of a strong work commitment.

“With our interlocutors, we feel that each one is full of the same passion for his job. In the daily relationship, they are all experts, eager to learn new things, who show a desire to progress, and an ability to overcome obstacles at each stage of the development or manufacture of the pieces.”

Especially for the past 3 years, we have been working on many projects with the collective. It’s impossible to honor everyone!

The first example that comes to mind concerns Ateliers Saint-Jacques and their work on an exceptional desk, an extremely sculptural, not to say very complex piece that we delivered abroad in 2020. On the one hand, I was sensitive to their appetite for dialogue on design from the very first exchanges. It was like fuel. We also appreciated the way the wood and stone workshops collaborated throughout the project; their great technical knowledge but also their openness or perhaps their humility, they know how to question their knowledge and propose tailored solutions. On the other hand, I want to emphasize the commitment and personal engagement of the teams: they really gave everything to complete the manufacturing in time, always with great professionalism and they showed great nimbleness when it came to installing the office on site in record time. Well done!

I would also like to mention a past collaboration with the teams at Ateliers Jouffre for a custom seating package in 2019-2020. With my team, we benefited from their expertise in guiding and monitoring the project from start to finish. It was focused and ahead of time; the work provided was very thorough at each stage on the pieces while the timing was very tight. This exceptional sense of service was very reassuring for us and the clients. It enhanced the technical work of developing and executing the perfect furniture. A form of elegance that suits the type of project and client that we accompany.

Discover the current and upcoming projects of Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance:

  • Educational direction of the Fondation d’Entreprise Hermès, the 5th edition of the Académie des savoir-faire, vintage 2021, dedicated to glass and crystal    
  • May 20, 2021: launch of the Burnt Cork collection, Made In Situ Gallery, Lisbon
  • May 2021: Launch of furniture for La Manufacture (armchair, coffee table)
  • Summer 2021 : Creation of glass coffee tables with the InGalleria gallery, Punta Conterie, Venice
  • Collaboration on a collection of bronze pieces with Maison Intègre
  • Development of the publishing house Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance Editions which will be launched in the first half of 2022

Follow Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance at @noeduchaufourlawrance. For any information on his design, reach out at contact@ndldesignstudio.com

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"What Inspires Me" with Joyce Billet

I first met the French-American artist Joyce Billet through mutual friends over a long leisurely lunch. I was immediately intrigued by Joyce’s story of how she segued from being an architect to becoming an artist. Born and raised in Paris, she went to university in New York and graduated from Pratt Institute with a Bachelor’s in Architecture, and in 2010 she received a Master of Science degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. She then went on to work at prestigious firms such as Norman Foster in London and Studio Daniel Libeskind in New York. But it was when she started working as an in-house architectural designer at Chanel that she realized she wanted to find her own voice in the arts. In mid-February 2020, I visited her studio in Long Island City not knowing that would be my last exposure to art in person before the world went upside down. I fell in love with her work as I was immediately struck by her process. She hand-paints monochromatic brushstrokes on a canvas and then translates them into a computer-generated format so that they can be laser-cut and etched by a machine. The results are striking. The lines are blurred between painting and sculpture, analog and digital and between the artist’s hand and a computer-generated work of art. Using modern technology, her chisel is now a laser cutter.

In her series “Paper” and “Decay” one especially sees the effect of the gentle hand of the artist that is then burned with a laser-cut revealing the stress and destruction of the material. Throughout her work, she explores this tension and duality between the natural and the artificial, between the unique and mass produced, between tradition and progress. Her background in architecture has influenced her work as she plays with materials and scale to mix the sensations of painting and sculpture.

At the start of the pandemic, Joyce and her family moved from New York City to Miami where she spent her teenage years. During that first lunch together 1 ½ years ago, we immediately bonded as I, too, grew up in Florida. We both agreed that when we are in Florida we are taken by the vast open sky and spaces. Now that she is living there full time, this openness has inspired her to go back to her old work and make them on a bigger scale such as the series “Rising”.

I recently caught up with Joyce over FaceTime to find out her thoughts about living in Miami vs New York City, her art influences and what is inspiring to her.

Why did you transition from being an architect to becoming an artist?

Artists are architects and vice versa. They are connected, and I believe it is only a matter of approach. I felt that being a visual artist would allow me more freedom for creativity and having the time to explore my own interests at any scale possible. Architecture is present throughout my work and it has a strong influence on every piece. I do feel the concepts I develop in my practice will be able to live at a larger scale as furniture or public art pieces as well.

Is there a new project or series that you are currently working on?

There are always a few things I am currently working on. One of them being to explore some of my textural works for surface treatment, that could serve as a paneled textured art piece to be presented in larger areas.

During the pandemic I developed a series called “Fragmented Reality” which was shown in a group exhibition at the Missoni showroom during Miami Art Week last December. This series explores the surreal event of 2020 that has led us to live fragmented lives; in fragmented locations; and at fragmented times. We have only been offering a glimpse of ourselves to the outside world when we venture out, physically or virtually, with masks, fake or blurred backgrounds on Zoom. “Fragmented Reality” is a physical expression of this new normal, showing us our fragmented selves in reflection. Each of the 6 panels has a different pattern of abstract forms and work in pairs, one has the positive space as dimensional reflective surfaces and the other has the mirror image with the negative space as the reflective element. These effects capture frames that edit surroundings and self-reflections by superimposing abstract surfaces and creating a fragmented vision. As viewers engage directly with their surroundings and walk among the works, they are met with sculpted mirror elements in abstract forms that merge with the human figure. I am working on developing this series as a public art project that would be larger scale for the public to interact with.

At Par Excellence, craftsmanship is at the heart of our heritage. With your work, how important is the idea of craftsmanship?

Craftsmanship is a huge part of my work and I admire all the craftsmen that Par Excellence represents. The definition of craft needs to constantly evolve to integrate technology. The human mind can still think and produce the desired results but they can now be driven through new processes. I believe there is an opportunity now, as ever, for craft to continue to evolve by being pushed and tested with the ever-expanding toolkit available today. Many artists and craftsmen are already doing so in their practice and we must continue to explore it. Craftsmanship requires respect and mastery of the materials, and knowledge of the capabilities and limitations of the instruments.

Did your time at Chanel hone your artistic skills?
Indirectly yes, it was a highly creative environment to work in. Most importantly, the talented people that I was working with are what made it so special. From working with Peter Marino’s team in New York to visiting artisans or creative teams in Paris and seeing Mr. Lagerfeld’s incredible show. I was constantly exposed to different creative sensibilities. It is also a house that is focused on every aspect of craft which is especially important to me in my work. Chanel supports learning and evolving creatively. While I was there, I took a digital fabrication class at The School of Visual Arts, attended talks and workshops in house and even visited Art Basel Miami.

Was there a key moment when you decided to follow your passion for the arts?
I have always been passionate about it but a turning point happened in May 2012 when I was at Frieze Art Fair in New York. I was staring at Rudoph Stingel’s paintings and his exploration of texture for his carpet painting,  the concept of duality he explored had a huge impact on me.

Where do you find inspiration now?
In nature, for the details, textures and natural beauty it provides.

What is something new you learned during the pandemic?
I took an online workshop with DigitalFutures focused on DeepDesign: Architecture & 3D Neural Net. I found out about it through the Columbia Architecture Alumni Association. While the workshop was very technical, as I was learning about a new AI platform, many of the concepts explored could be applied to any creative field as it poses questions around the rise of AI and the impact it can have on agency and authorship. I strongly recommend following the talks DigitalFutures offers as they are full of incredible speakers tackling great topics about the creative world today.
You can find the DigitalFutures talks here.

Who is your favorite artist/designer/architect?
Leonardo Drew, Studio Drift, Herzog & de Meuron.

What is one building that strikes you every time?
La Pedrera’s rooftop by Antoni Gaudi.

Which city awakens your creativity the most?
Tokyo.

What do you do when you are stuck on a project and need inspiration?
I go out to see art and design, go to a friend’s studio, to a gallery, a museum.

What advice would you have liked to receive at the beginning of your career?
Follow what you are passionate about.

What do you miss about NYC?
Walking, walking, walking! The energy in NYC is unique. I miss all of the opportunities to do incredible cultural things. You have access to whoever you want to meet if you just make the effort to find out where they will be giving their next talk or show. However, there is a different NYC right now that will pick up again soon.

What surprises you about living in Miami?
How it has changed and evolved. There is so much culture around now that did not exist a few years ago. I was able to visit the Rubell Museum and see the impressive collection along with the Narcissus Garden by Yayoi Kusama and Teresita Fernandez’s exhibition at the Perez Museum. During Miami Art Week, there were several pop ups by NYC galleries such as Levy Gorvy x Salon 94 and Marianne Boesky. And there is still so much more to see.

Something cool you have discovered in Miami?
I recently attended a candlelight open air concert with local musicians playing Mozart and Bach that took place at Palapa located in Upper Buena Vista. I also love the Center for Subtropical Affairs which has Thursday night live music outside.

What is your favorite item at home?
Branche Table by Holly Hunt.

Favorite room in your house?
My balcony. I can breathe fresh air and meditate.

Favorite website?
www.art21.org

Any new discoveries?
Ingrid Donat – her bronze sculptural furniture.

If you had an unlimited budget, what artist would you collect and why?
Ursula von Rydingsvard. Her work is both monumental and detail oriented. She is one of the key women artists of her generation to follow.

What podcast are you listening to?
I recently listened to the new Chanel Connect podcast. There are 8 episodes and I am still in the process of getting to all of them. One is a conversation between Es Devlin and Pharrell. I am an admirer of both and hearing about the way Es Devlin analyzes the world especially now that we have been challenged to think differently because of the pandemic was extremely inspiring.

Favorite movie?
Inception.

Favorite book you read during the quarantine?
“Ninth Street Women – Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art”, by Mary Gabriel (2018).

Favorite Instagram accounts your follow?
@nowness, @designboom, @gerrybonetti, @minimalandcontemporary and @designapplause.

Your dream holiday / first place you want to travel to after the pandemic is over?
All over Japan.

Springtime in Paris or Autumn in NYC?
Springtime in Paris for all the spots outside with the beautiful views of the city but most importantly to sit for hours at the “terrasse” of Café Marly in the Louvre.

 

Joyce’s work is currently on view in Miami in the group show “And the Story continues” curated by Grela Orihuela at the Sagamore Hotel. This exhibition ends July 30, 2021.

Joyce standing in front of Untitled, 2021, paint on wood, etched wood, 40.5 x 47 inches

Par Excellence is pleased to be exhibiting several pieces of Joyce’s art at our showroom at 344 Bowery in New York City. Please call or email us to arrange a visit.

Please follow Joyce at @billet.joyce and find out more about her art at www.joycebillet.com

Please follow @fountainhead_studios to find out about Open Studio Visits to see Joyce’s studio.

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Miami's Design Renaissance

For many years, Miami was the destination for snowbirds and spring breakers, but during this unprecedented year it has become the “new” New York. When NYC went into lockdown last spring, a record number of New Yorkers flocked to the warm climate and open spaces of Florida (not to mention the low taxes and more relaxed COVID rules). Miami is having a renaissance as NYC restaurants, luxury hotels and art galleries followed this exodus from the North.

 

The move South started slowly pre-COVID, but sped up in 2020. There was always a southern migration, but it has now gone into overdrive. COVID pushed a lot of people over the edge and gave them a reason to finally make the move. In fact, NYC saw 300,000 households leave since the start of the pandemic compared to around 85,000 that left in 2019. Miami has always been appealing to New Yorkers as both cities are in the same time zone plus there are direct flights too. Now that we are finding out that remote working is not just possible, but can actually be more efficient while you are able to spend more time with your family, why not take that Zoom call overlooking the ocean or poolside? Initially thinking they would wait out the pandemic, Northerners are now realizing that this new way of life has something great to offer and are now setting up permanent homes and offices in the area.

 

There has been a seismic shift in real estate in Miami. I read somewhere recently that if you think of NYC as a ballet, right now the city is at intermission. During intermission, some people get restless and don’t come back for the next act. That is what is happening now, as real estate prices in Miami (and Palm Beach too) are on an unstoppable upward trajectory. Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen recently made news by dropping $17 million on a 2-acre lot on Billionaire’s Bunker on Indian Creek Island in Miami. They will tear down the existing home and will custom build a new one. They spent $20 million building a custom designed home years ago in LA, so one can only imagine what they will build here. In August 2020, Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez bought a 10-bedroom mansion on the exclusive Star Island in Miami for $32.5 million. Around the same time, the hedge-fund billionaire Ken Griffin bought an empty lot also on Star Island for $37 million. He has been on a buying spree spending more than $350 million to buy land in Palm Beach and Miami. There is an interesting story behind Star Island as it was conceptualized not long after the 1918 pandemic by Miami developer Carl Fisher, who discovered that he could create his own island with lots of social distancing. It was completed in 1922.

Aerial view of the exclusive Star Island in Miami

Palm Beach luxury home sales were up 113% in the fourth quarter of 2020. An oceanfront property recently sold for $73 million to hedge-fund billionaire and Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper, the founder of Appaloosa. These high prices are still continuing into 2021. In February, private-equity executive Scott Shleifer, a co-founder of Tiger Global Management, paid over $120 million for an oceanfront mansion setting a price record for the state and as one of the most expensive home sales in the U.S.

 

The area is also turning into a “Wall Street South”, as the hedge-fund Citadel is planning to open an office in Miami. Elliott Management (another hedge fund) recently moved its headquarters from NYC to West Palm Beach and Goldman Sachs Asset Management is rumored to be looking in the Palm Beach area for a large office as so many of their employees are now living in South Florida. Tech is not being left out, as Microsoft is in talks to lease office space in Miami.

 

With this influx of New Yorkers into the area, NYC based restaurants and art galleries followed their customers south. In Miami, such NYC favorites like Milos, Carbone, Sant Ambroeus, Red Rooster, Cote, Osteria Morini and Roberta’s opened up. Restaurateurs were feeling confident staying open in Florida if more lockdowns were to occur nationally as they will always have nice weather for outdoor dining. For most of the past year, Miami restaurants have been allowed to operate at 100% capacity, as long as social distancing is maintained. In the past two months 150 restaurant groups are rumored to be looking for spaces in South Florida including some who have abandoned their NYC projects. Business is apparently booming, as Carbone only opened in early 2021 and already has a 3 month wait list and SoHo House remains as crowded as ever and has hard to get reservations like in the old days in NYC. During Miami Art Week in December, several NYC galleries had pop-ups, including Galerie LeLong and Marianne Boesky with Goodman Gallery. The Rubell Museum and The Pérez Art Museum continue to exhibit contemporary must see shows that are adding to the cultural landscape. Design aficionados also flock to these two museums as The Rubell Museum was designed by Selldorf Architects and The Pérez Art Museum was designed by Herzog & de Meuron. Hotels are also becoming cultural hubs, as places like the Sagamore Hotel are hosting exhibitions and artists’ talks.

The Pérez Art Museum designed by Herzog & de Meuron

In Palm Beach, which was always a bit more reliant on the older crowd, a younger generation is now making its mark. Aerin Lauder recently designed a charming villa at the Colony Hotel. New York’s old stalwart Upper East Side eateries La Goulue opened in Palm Beach in 2020, and Swifty’s is doing a pop up at The Colony Hotel, while Le Bilboquet will open soon. On the art front, Pace and Acquavella have opened art galleries in the area. It seems that for New Yorkers settling into this sunnier location, the “new” normal has been reestablishing old routines in a new location.

 

The hotel landscape is changing too, as four luxury hotel brands are building new properties in the area. The planned Aman-branded luxury hotel and condo will be part of the redevelopment of the Faena District site in Miami with an opening slated for 2023. This new 2-building development will have a 56-room hotel and 23 luxury condos. The hotel will be in the historic Versailles Hotel (built in 1941) that will be renovated by the Miami based developer OKO Group. Another building nearby will be comprised of 23 Aman boutique residences. This building will be designed by the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. This project will mark the first Aman-branded development in Florida and one of only four in the U.S. The Related Group is partnering with Baccarat for a Baccarat-branded 3-tower development in the Brickell neighborhood of Miami. This multi-tower project, The Baccarat Hotel & Residences, will have up to 1,400 residential units plus 249 hotel rooms with additional office and retail spaces. Arquitectonica is the architect for the Baccarat Residences and the interior design will be by Meyer Davis. Sales have recently launched for the 100-story Waldorf Astoria Residences in Downtown Miami, which will be home to 205 hotel rooms and 360 luxury residences. It will be designed by architect Carlos Ott and will be the tallest building in Florida. The design will be striking as it will resemble a pile of unevenly stacked glass cubes.

A rendering of The Waldorf Astoria Residences designed by Carlos Ott

Finally, E11even Partners are working with Deepak Chopra on E11even Hotel & Residences, a planned 65-story, 400-unit tower northwest of Downtown Miami. The architects are Sieger Suarez Architects, and the residential interiors are by the design firm AvroKO Hospitality Group.

 

Starchitects are making their mark on the city too. Jean Nouvel’s first project in Miami, the Monad Terrace, will be a 59-unit luxury condominium. With the buildings lush climbing gardens and signature lagoon, this will surely be a site to visit. Along with the top architects mentioned so far, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Richard Meier, Piero Lissoni and Renzo Piano all have recently designed buildings in Miami. Will Miami become THE new global destination for architecture/design lovers? With so many exciting new projects in the works and the influx of this new money and all the new properties being built, it will be thrilling to see how the design landscape in Miami and its surroundings will unfold in the next few years.

The rendering of the upcoming Monad Terrace designed by Jean Nouvel and featuring a lagoon

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"What Inspires Me" with StudioParisien

Born through the fusion of two iconic and charismatic personalities: Laurène and Romain, StudioParisien was built over time since the two met 15 years ago. Laurene, an interior designer from Penninghen Art School and Romain a scenographer and designer met while working on their first project for a French Luxury House, “We met through a mutual friend who introduced us because I was looking for skills like Laurene has and we hit it off right away” says Romain. “It was immediately fusional in terms of creativity” he adds. Their collaboration is fluid and their artistic symbiosis is striking. Early on they were told that they had a common signature, a coherence that made their projects stand out. In 2013, they decided to associate their two identities and expertise, and created StudioParisien.

StudioParisien binds two different but complementary visions: the interior architect and the scenographer. Their projects are internationally acclaimed and made all the headlines these past years. Par Excellence had the chance to meet this fantastic duo!

>> Discover the website

Laurène B. Tardrew and Romain Jourdan. ©Jaïr Sfez

We meet Laurene and Romain in their studio at the heart of Paris on a very snowy day. StudioParisien is located in the district of Le Marais, rue de Sévigné. Le Marais is a small village full of energy and creativity. Historically there are many craftsmen, architects, contemporary artists and galleries. “There is a story around every corner” and it feeds the duo’s creativity on a daily basis. They chose to have a studio that looks like a flat, a cozy and warm place in which they like to work with the rest of their team. Just like their interior projects, their studio is rather minimalistic, soft and very comforting. It conveys the agency’s environment, identity and inspirations.

Laurène and Romain were brought up in Paris, a city that inspires them a lot. The French style and this new generation of French interior architects such as Joseph Dirand and Pierre Yovanovitch to cite a few, drives the two designers. “We were really carried away by this style”. Another great source of inspiration is craftsmanship and French know-how. StudioParisien are in a constant dialogue with the highly skilled craftsmen they work with.

From the beginning of StudioParisien, Ateliers Jouffre has been a regular resource to create innovative furniture. “Ateliers Jouffre were immediately eager to collaborate with us, so we worked together on our first collection with the Panther sofa, inspired by the Cartier’s Panther”.

There is a signature, a beautiful energy when you go to the Jouffre Workshops in Lyon, France” – StudioParisien

Strong supporter of arts and crafts, StudioParisien has at heart the protection of craftsmanship. “The general public is discovering and acknowledging all these techniques. It’s part of a heritage that have to be preserved and developed. It should not be lost. Young people are more and more excited to begin a career in a workshop, which is great!”. From their collaboration with the Manufacture de Tapis de Bourgogne for a recent residential project in Paris, StudioParisien remembers the Manufacture’s openness to creation, the great research work, the richness of volumes and colors. For Laurene and Romain, carpets and rugs are a real mean of expression that should be treated as a work of art that is put on the floor. “Carpets bring a real identity to a space, a real depth”.

“Paris is the city in which we express ourselves best and in which we want to be and create” – StudioParisien

StudioParisien cumulates a number of exceptional projects without being locked into a single visual signature. From Bhogossian, to Cartier and Christofle, the two designers are called upon for their creativity, their know-how and their craftsmanship. “It’s the drawing, the research, the understanding of a brand and the clients, the desire that we have around the theme. We approach things with poetry and clarity. We try to be as elegant as possible, as gentle, as companionable as possible” explains Laurène. It is also a lot of instinct adds Romain. Like many creative people, they have a vision. Images, forms, materials come to them quickly. Whether it is a form, a material, an atmosphere, a DNA, they are both very sensitive to the brand’s identity. “Laurène and I immediately have ideas and desires on our side, instinctively”.

Each project is the result of a rich and sensitive dialogue between the brand and the Studio, “It is about listening and stylizing their identity. There is a lot of curiosity and listening involved at this stage of the process and this is the phase I prefer” says Laurène. The end goal is to create a nice mix between the quality of the space, the light, the circulation and keep a global consistency while offering a beautiful interior.

While the interview goes on, we can’t help to notice the incredibly strong bond between Romain and Laurène. So, we ask: “How does this creative fusion translate on a daily basis?”

Ah well, it’s intense!” says Laurène.

We argue a lot!” adds Romain.

They are the opposite on the way they approach things and infuse each project with their extraordinary complementarity. “In fact, we function exactly like a couple in life, except that we are not a couple in life. We are a creative couple. It’s quite lively!”. However, they know that they are on the right path when they both agree on something. Overall, they have the same eye and vision.

“Before anything else, it is a human adventure. It is all about what we can transmit and bring to each other, whether it is with the team, the craftsmen and the clients.” – StudioParisien

The duo demonstrates a creative flexibility, skillfully playing between French craftsmanship and a desire for minimalist lines inspired by their French contemporaries. StudioParisien effortlessly transitions from residential to retail projects. The two designers also created a line of furniture and is constantly looking for new materials, crafts and techniques to create innovative pieces. Their curiosity and desire to explore is tangible and they have a lot of incredible projects ahead!

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