Nicolas Aubagnac projects Art Deco into the future

Translated from a French article by Signatures Singulières

Designer Nicolas Aubagnac unveils a special collection for Galerie Marcilhac. The result is contemporary furniture designed in the Art Deco spirit and promoted by the famous Parisian gallery.

Above: Nicolas Aubagnac and Félix Marcilhac. 

Above: Pedestal table in bronze and travertine, signed Nicolas Aubagnac. In the Marcilhac gallery: screen (1928) Jean Dunand. Armchair (1929) Pierre Chareau. Carpet Jules Leleu. Vase ball, in copper dinanderie – Vase with herringbone decoration (1930) Claudius Linossier. © Paul Prestreau.

A Contemporary Art Deco Collection

Nicolas Aubagnac’s ambition is to think of classicism in terms of the future. The designer is thus continuing his ode to art furniture with a new collection for the Galerie Marcilhac. The collaboration between the gallery, a specialist in decorative arts, and Nicolas Aubagnac takes on its full meaning in this respect. Galerie Marcilhac is one of the oldest Parisian galleries dedicated to the decorative arts of the 20th century. It also promotes contemporary artists by presenting their works alongside those of the great names of Art Deco. In this respect, Felix Marcilhac proposed to Nicolas Aubagnac to design contemporary pieces. The art dealer shares with the designer a love of crafts and furniture telling the story of the decorative arts. From their meeting was thus born an exclusive collection, designed as a tribute to the line. A high quality encounter that caught the attention of Signatures Singulières Magazine.

Console in bronze and travertine by the designer Nicolas Aubagnac for Galerie Marcilhac. Vase in hammered brass dinanderie (1925) – Gilded lacquer box (1913) all Jean Dunand. Panther (1929) original lithograph, Paul Jouve. © Paul Prestreau.

In the Spirit of Art Deco

The collaboration between Nicolas Aubagnac and Galerie Marcilhac consists of two pedestal table models and two console models. These pieces of furniture have the ambition to converse with the great names of the gallery such as Ruhlmann and J.M. Frank. To do so, Félix Marcilhac and Nicolas Aubagnac have chosen two predominant materials for the design of these four pieces. Travertine and bronze thus make this furniture, imbued with a strong personality, stand out. The craftsmen who traditionally work with Nicolas Aubagnac on his projects have put their know-how at the service of this collection. The result is geometrical and pure forms that are in osmosis with the collector’s furniture of the Galerie Marcilhac. Nicolas Aubagnac has applied his perfect mastery of the Art Deco period by associating to it his eye as a decorator-assembler. The designer projects the decorative arts into the contemporary world.

Snake Vase (1924) Lalique. © Paul Prestreau.

Nicolas Aubagnac: Designer and Interior Architect

With a sharp vision of French decorative art, Nicolas Aubagnac was quickly recognized by his peers and a demanding clientele. Four years after graduating from Ensaama in interior architecture, Nicolas Aubagnac founded his agency in 1997. The designer immediately distinguished himself with his creations of lighting fixtures. He exhibited at PAD in 2002 and gained an international clientele. Nicolas Aubagnac calls upon the cream of the crop for each of his creations made in France. Cabinetmakers, gilders and lacquerers are all trades that participate in the manufacture of this unique furniture. In addition to his activities as a designer, Nicolas Aubagnac also designs luxurious interior architecture projects. The result is high quality, timeless furniture. All of which tells the story of the decorative arts and above all the French art of living as Signatures Singulières Magazine likes to promote it.

Side table in bronze and travertine by the designer Nicolas Aubagnac. Bench seat (1920) André Groult. Wall lamps (1925) Albert Cheuret. Carpet (1950) Jules Leleu. Cup empty-pocket (1970) Odile Noll. Vase ball, in copper dinanderie – Vase with herringbone decoration (1930) Claudius Linossier. Trendy panther (1927) original lithograph, Paul Jouve.

Galerie Marcilhac
8, rue Bonaparte
75006 Paris
Tél. : +33 (0)1 43 26 47 36

Nicolas Aubagnac
26, Cité de Trévise
75009 Paris
Tél. : +33 (0)1 42 46 69 45


The Eye of the Artist: Jacques Henri Lartigue

Article by Jennifer Gyr

Featured image: “Renée Perle, Paris, January 1931”. Photograph by Jacques Henri Lartigue ©Ministère de la Culture (France), MAP-AAJHL

Many years ago, while at college and majoring in art history, I decided to take a “History of Photography” course. I will never forget the day when the image of the interior of a room photographed from the floor level came onto the screen during a lecture. I sat up in my seat and intently studied this incredible perspective and thought, who is this photographer? Turns out the photo was taken by an eight-year old French boy named Jacques Henri Lartigue. I soon learned that he took thousands of snapshots throughout his life and compiled them into personal photo albums and was “discovered” years later at the age of 69 and would go on to become one of the most famous photographers of the 20th century. Seeing his work opened my eyes to the power of photography and changed the course of my life, as from then on, I concentrated my art history studies on photography.

The emergence of a promising artist

Jacques Henri Lartigue was born near Paris in 1894 to a wealthy family. On his 7th birthday, his father gave him a camera as a gift which opened the world to young Jacques Henri and led him on a lifelong devotion to this craft. He immediately started photographing the world around him, which at that age was his adoring family and his nanny. He took photos of her throwing a ball into the air, another of his cat jumping in the garden and he even conjured up a ghost with sheets taken from the linen cupboard. At age 8 he was already “art directing” and setting up his scenes. One charming photo shows the view of a bathtub filled with water and Lartigue’s boyish grin seen bobbing above the water line like a buoy in the sea. He had the camera placed on a floating board in the tub and had his mother release the shutter at the exact moment he desired. It was a wonderful example of giving us a child’s eye’s view. Another sweet photo shows him tucked up in bed with his cat in his arms and with his eyes closed like he was already in a deep slumber. Once again, he set up the image and had his nanny release the shutter. He took photos of things that made him happy and the things he wanted to remember. In 1911, he started compiling these photos into personal albums and in the course of his long life they would number to 126. He wanted to record every moment of his life as he didn’t want his memory to fade. Besides taking photographs, he wrote meticulous diary entries every day throughout his life. He felt like it had to be done right away before the magic faded. Once, while still a young boy, he was told that his journal entries might one day fade away as they were written in pencil. Fearing this loss, he immediately copied his diary over again in its entirety in ink. What is so astonishing, especially at such a young age, is that he did not borrow from other artists, he was influenced by his own imagination. This brings me back to the photo that first ignited my interest in his work, “The collection of cars in Jacques Henri Lartigue’s room, Paris, 1903”. Here is a nine-year old who instinctively placed the camera down on the floor to give his own child’s eye’s view of the scene. The toy cars are lined up on display with the metal bodies gleaming in the sunshine that is creeping through the window. The tall cabinet behind looks like a looming skyscraper and the sheet placed over the fireplace gives the feeling of a neutral background to show off the cars and to erase the gaping entrance of the fireplace so as not to take any distraction away from the main subject of his photo, the cars. Even the flowered wallpaper evokes a wild jungle background and the mirror above the fireplace reflects the far ceiling adding to the majestic atmosphere. As an adult, we might just walk by this scene not noticing the details but from Jacques Henri’s viewpoint he is highlighting what he sees. It was not only the act of taking a photograph but the excitement in the creative process and indulging his childlike curiosity.

"The collection of cars in Jacques Henri Lartigue's room, Paris, 1903". Photograph by Jacques Henri Lartigue ©Ministère de la Culture (France), MAP-AAJHL

A photographer of the age of modernity

Lartigue grew up in the turn of the century when inventions were changing the way of life. Cars were taking the place of horse-and-buggies, airplanes were being designed and tested. He marveled at these fast-paced machines and as a teen he photographed gliders taking off from sand dunes and race cars speeding around the circuit. One of Lartigue’s most well-known images is “Grand Prix de L’Automobile Club de France, dated 1912”. At the Grand Prix in Dieppe, he stood right on the edge of the road and waited for a race car driver to speed by. He clicked the shutter while slightly moving himself along the car’s path and the image that emerged was astonishing for that time. With the tilting trees and spectators combined with the surreal shape of the wheel he managed to capture speed and movement itself. One can almost hear the engine roar and the wind blow as the car takes the corner. One can see the clear details of the driver and his hand gripping the steering wheel trying to manage this powerful beast while the rest of the photo is blurred showing the power and sensation of speed.

"Grand Prix de L’Automobile Club de France, dated 1912". Photograph by Jacques Henri Lartigue ©Ministère de la Culture (France), MAP-AAJHL

During this time of great technical innovation, Lartigue was also intrigued by the bourgeoisie. As a teen, he would slip off to the Bois de Boulogne in Paris to take photos on the Sentier de la Vertu. There he would photograph the beautiful women and men parading past him on their daily walks showing off their long dresses, furs, veiled and feather hats and jewels and top hats and canes. He was the original “street photographer”, the Bill Cunningham of the 1910’s. He would depict them showing off their finery as if they were peacocks. What seemed of the moment then is now a beautiful recording of the high life in Paris before the Wars. Around this time, he would also go to the racecourse at Auteuil and it was there that he captured a moment that would years later influence a memorable scene in a much beloved movie. In “Auteuil Racecourse, Paris, 1911”, Lartigue captured a moment in a perfect composition. Three women are standing on chairs and are all looking in the same direction at the approaching horses. The black and white vertical stripes in two of the gowns perfectly mirrors the vertical white railings they are holding onto. This photograph also reveals a softer silhouette instead of the tightly corseted fashion trend of the early 1900’s. This scene of elegance and women excitedly watching a race would inspire Cecil Beaton in designing the costumes for the crowds in the famous racing scene in “My Fair Lady” in 1964, including Audrey Hepburn’s beautiful black and white gown. This is not the only time his photographs would inspire a film. The director Wes Anderson was also inspired by Lartigue’s magical world. An image of Lartigue’s brother Zissou taken in 1909 was recreated in the film “Rushmore” (1998) with the main character, Max, taking the place of Zissou in a film still. Max sits on the edge of a go-cart posing as the Founder of the Yankee Racers wearing a cap and goggles with his knees held tightly together mimicking the comic eccentricity of Zissou in a similar photograph taken some 89 years earlier.

"Auteuil Racecourse, Paris, 1911". Photograph by Jacques Henri Lartigue ©Ministère de la Culture (France), MAP-AAJHL
Gala "Flowers and Butterflies", Salle des Ambassadeurs du Casino, Cannes, 1935. Photograph by Jacques Henri Lartigue ©Ministère de la Culture (France), MAP-AAJHL

A prodigy with many gifts

Lartigue was a true aesthete. While spending time in the South of France during the 1930’s he designed and decorated lavish balls and galas at casinos along the Riviera. He also designed a table for his apartment in Paris. This stunning “modular” and elegant table appears to anticipate the coming Art Deco movement. This table appears in his album in 1919 showing it in the center of a room in his Paris apartment (2nd photo below). A later album in 1922 shows the table again but in a different setup in his apartment – up against the wall with flowers and glasses adorning the top (photo below). The table has been recreated and can now be found at auction and through Ecart International in Paris as well as online with The Invisible Collection. Lartigue was the embodiment of a Renaissance man.

"Page 5 of the 1922 album". Photograph by Jacques Henri Lartigue ©Ministère de la Culture (France), MAP-AAJHL
"Page 62 of the 1919 album". Photograph by Jacques Henri Lartigue ©Ministère de la Culture (France), MAP-AAJHL

Captivating beauties

While writing this article, the hardest part was selecting which photographs to include. Over the course of his long life, he took over 100,000 images. My favorite images are those he took of the women who inspired him – his three wives and several lovers and muses. I could fill an entire coffee table sized book with these images as they are beautiful and enchanting. Renée Perle was his muse/lover from 1930 to 1932 and the photographs of her, to me, could be the forerunner of fashion photography. In the photograph, “Renée Perle, Paris, January 1931” (title photograph), Renée lounges on a couch and Lartigue perfectly captures the spirit of 1930’s France. With Renée’s arm full of bangles, heart-shaped lips à la Clara Bow and short wavy hair one feels like Renée is taking a moment of repose before the next glass of champagne is poured and the music begins. Renée had expressive hands, almost like from a Modigliani painting, and they always were an important part of the photo compositions – covering half her face, placed on a wall as the center point of an image. She was an intriguing muse and her spectacular beauty inspired some of Lartigue’s best photographs. There was just something about Renée. Tall, chic, exotic. Lartigue wrote that “around her, I see a halo of magic”. Their short time together was what Lartigue remembered as an “eternal vacation”, a dreamlike two-year holiday in the South of France. Several years ago, I was with close friends strolling the aisles of a photography fair in NYC. They stopped and gravitated towards a photograph of an enchanting woman outside walking down the stairs in wide palazzo pants, a tight tank top and a large brimmed hat. They bought it and it made me so happy as that was a photo of Renée embodying the Riviera style of the 1930’s.

"Renée Perle at the Chambre d'Amour, Anglet", page 74 of the 1930 album. Photograph by Jacques Henri Lartigue ©Ministère de la Culture (France), MAP-AAJHL

Besides being a photographer, Lartigue was also a painter and it was through the sale of paintings over time that he could support himself as a free-spirited artist. Lartigue once said, “I see everything with a painter’s eye”. This is especially true when in the 1950’s he started taking color photographs. While his black and white photography was lively and energetic, his color photography showed even more of his exuberance. It was a new visual sensation that he embraced. In the photograph, “Florette, Vence-Beausoleil, May 1954”, he captures an intimate moment. Florette was his third wife and they were married for forty years until he died. In comparison to photos of Renée, this image of Florette reflects an enduring love and companionship.  The saturated color along with banded rays of light bathing the scene is balanced by the serene smile that Florette has as if Lartigue caught her in a moment of contemplation and she looks up as he enters and is happy to see him. Happiness is what Lartigue was always striving to capture in his photography and he wanted to catch a marvelous thing that goes by in half a second.  He always said, “You must find something in each day to delight you”.

"Florette, Vence-Beausoleil, May 1954". Photograph by Jacques Henri Lartigue ©Ministère de la Culture (France), MAP-AAJHL

Lartigue made tens of thousands of images for his personal albums and was completely unknown as a photographer until he had a meeting arranged by a photographer friend with the esteemed photography curator at MoMA, John Szarkowski, during a visit to NYC.  He was offered an exhibition at the museum on the spot and his first exhibition took place in 1963.  He was “discovered” at the age of 69 and became an overnight sensation. He was a genius amateur photographer with an instinctive eye and to this day is still considered one of the greatest photographers of the 20th century.

Lartigue continued photographing up until his death in 1986. He died suddenly but peacefully at age 92. Up until the end, he still held that childhood delight and curiosity that he exhibited back in the turn of the century and through his work tried to preserve some of the “immense happiness of living”. He always signed his photographs with a hand drawn sunburst at the end of his name.

In a lovely twist of faith, one of my first jobs when I moved to NYC after school was with a private photography dealer who specialized in Lartigue. It was a joy to work with his photographs and to see Renée, Florette, Nanny, Zissou and his boyhood room up close and personal. I feel that Lartigue was a photographer ahead of his time. I often wonder what he would think about our modern days where selfies and documenting our lives consume us. I bet he would love it as he once said, “Photography to me is catching a moment which is passing, and which is true”. I think his Instagram handle would be @joiedevivre

"Jacques Henri Lartigue, autoportrait, Agay, Cap du Dramont, March 1919". Photograph by Jacques Henri Lartigue ©Ministère de la Culture (France), MAP-AAJHL

In 1979, Jacques Henri Lartigue became the first living French photographer to donate his work to the State with over 120,000 negatives, his diaries and 126 personal albums. To this day, the Association des Amis de Jacques Henri Lartigue oversees his estate by conserving and displaying his photographs. You can find more information and see images at and @donation.lartigue. Photographs can be purchased through Monah Gettner at Hyperion Press in NYC,



Jennifer Gyr is a Creative Consultant at Par Excellence. After obtaining a degree in Art History and Photography, she was a Helena Rubenstein Intern at MoMA in NYC and she completed the “Works of Art” course at Sotheby’s in London. She then worked for several years at the photography gallery Hamiltons Gallery in London and at Hyperion Press and Keith de Lellis Gallery in NYC. She was a private photography dealer for many years and served as an archivist and curator of a private photography collection in NYC. She also archived the estate of the photographer Horst P. Horst. She has curated several exhibitions and consulted on numerous photo books and exhibitions including with The National Portrait Gallery in London. When not seeking her next travel inspiration she lives in Brooklyn with her Swiss husband.


"What Inspires Me" with Cara Woodhouse

Cara Woodhouse specializes in luxury private residential & commercial projects. Through her firm in Brooklyn – Cara Woodhouse Interiors – she provides design services including architecture consulting, contract management, spatial planning, material & finish selections, custom furniture, millwork & antiquing. Cara has worked on multiple projects in Miami, Colorado, New York City, the Hamptons, New Jersey, Boston, Nantucket, Connecticut, Westchester, London & Los Angeles. Apart from being a worldwide successful designer, Cara is also a dynamic, joyful and passionate person! She loves her job and kindly shared with us her path to interior design and her inspirations.  

 >> Discover the website

Cara, I understand that your journey to become the worldwide designer you are today was a long one. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your career path?

My career path started very early on. I always excelled in the arts and always dreamed of being a fine artist and sculptor. After attending FIT for fashion and realized it was not my passion, I attended NYSID. I studied interior design and knew that this was my calling and what I was meant to do. I had various internships during my college days and once I graduated, I worked for several prestigious NYC interior design firms including Cullman & Kravis. There, I learned the ins and outs of high-end design working on large-scaled projects with large budgets. It was a very well-oiled operating machine and I learned so much! I then moved on to run the NY office for Sherrill Canet interiors where I helped manage clients as well as co-design furniture. A couple of years into that firm I was approached to work on a friend of a friend’s home in South Beach, Miami. This was an opportunity I could not turn down. I quickly partnered with a close friend that I worked with at Cullman and Kravis and we formed our first design firm ZK interiors. After 5 years of growing that business I moved to London for a couple of year. I then returned back to NYC where I reinvented my business and started Cara Woodhouse Interiors LLC.

You are known for your unique patterns and shapes, your colorful palettes and unexpected details which always make your projects stand out. Where do you get your inspiration?

My inspiration comes from many places. Color palettes, shapes and forms… I am always inspired by my travels, art, other interior designers and architects and lots of history. I constantly think to myself, “how I can do this differently.” I want to be innovative and push myself all the time through my design process. I don’t want to be ordinary I want to be extraordinary! This is something I remind myself of on a daily basis!

Your projects are always very creative and artistic. What is your creative process when faced with a new project?

My process always starts with my clients. I truly get to know my clients and what their aesthetic and vision is, how they live and what inspires them. I love collaborating with my clients and achieving a home they LOVE! That is my ultimate goal. I try to always have some kind of eye candy; this doesn’t always have to be a pop of color. It is achieved in so many ways: using luxurious materials and finding a loophole of creating a unique design.

“Color palettes, shapes and forms… I am always inspired by my travels, art, other interior designers and architects and lots of history.” – Cara Woodhouse 

How has your style evolved through the years? Now that you have your own interior design company, do you feel you have more freedom in your projects?

My style has evolved tremendously over the years. I was very lucky to have the foundation of working early on in my career on very rich and elaborately layered traditional interiors. To be able to design that way was such a gift of knowledge and history. Over the years, I have stripped down my designs and have gone through a transitional period of design and now I am more of a modernist with a twist of playfulness and fun. Two things that will always be the upmost important in my designs are comfort and functionality. This is something that will always come first over anything else in my interiors.

Do you have a particular place in New York City that inspires you design-wise?

There is definitely not one place in NYC that inspires me because there is so much to be inspired by. All of the different areas of NYC from the West Village and its charming streets to the Upper East Side’s gorgeous townhouses, Central Park… all of it! All of the incredible styles, antique and furniture stores etc. I studied the history of NYC and how it developed and functioned early on, and it is something that fascinates me to this day. There is so much history in these city streets! New Yorkers, the people of this city, really inspire me the most! There is no place like NYC!!

I’ve seen incredible marble in some of your projects. Can you share your favorite materials to work with?

Yes, marble is for sure one of my most favorite materials to work with. All natural stone to be honest. The colors, shapes, patterns and feeling that stone gives off truly moves me. It always blows my mind that it is made by nature! I literally get a rush when I walk through a marble yard and the gears in my mind start cranking with how each gorgeous piece of stone can be used in furniture and homes. I am actually in the midst of designing a marble furniture collection as well as a jewelry collection using natural stone.

Working as a designer, you surely must know how fascinating and meticulous craftsmanship can be. How much importance do you attach to this process?

This is on top of my list. Quality and finish work. Being in this business for so long my eye is trained to pick up on these things! I am definitely always striving for perfection and consider myself to be the most meticulous. I have even helped some of my millworkers and upholsterers perfect their techniques and finishes to elevate their quality and level of work!

“I am definitely always striving for perfection and consider myself to be the most meticulous. I have even helped some of my millworkers and upholsterers perfect their techniques and finishes to elevate their quality and level of work! ” – Cara Woodhouse

If you had to pick one favorite project among all your interior design projects, which one would it be and why?

All of my projects and my clients are so important to me and they are all so different. They are like my babies… to pick a favorite at the moment, I would have to say my personal home. It is such a dream to have finally found a home that my husband and I both love so much! I can put my stamp on everything with total freedom and design how my family and I function. It feels like it is finally my turn…!

Finally, we have to mention your amazing blog and Instagram account, you often use your platform to give advice to emerging designers. What advice would you have liked to have received at the beginning of your career?

I wish I had a mentor early on in my career. I would have asked how to deal with difficult clients, how to run an interior design firm from accounting, protocols etc. I am always happy to share what I have learned over the years through trial and error. I always give the advice that it is important to get some work experience in the field before you go off on your own!

What’s next for you now? Do you have any projects coming up soon?

I do have several new projects that I am working on at the moment. I am finishing up a gorgeous modern home in Los Angeles, a Central Park West apartment and a gorgeous estate in Setauket, NY. I am working on several capsule collections with many different companies at the moment to expand my brand. I love mentoring and offer one-on-one consultations.


The House of Bricard Art creates the trend of tomorrow

Translated in French from an article by Signatures Singulières

The creation of a door handle designed by Valérie Rostaing in collaboration with Bricard Art illustrates the contemporary aesthetic sensitivity associated with the artisanal history of the great locksmith. An illustration of the French-style elegance that excites Signatures Singulières Magazine.

The House of Taipei. Project of the interior designer Valérie Rostaing. ©Olivier Marceny.

A contemporary art locksmith’s shop designed by an interior designer

This refined door handle tells the story of an interior designer’s view of the art of locksmithing and the know-how of a hundred-year-old house. Bricard Art and Valérie Rostaing present a new model of artisanal locksmithing. This creation with assertive lines is a summary of the interior designer’s vision of the custom-made. It is also an illustration of the know-how of the Bricard Art locksmith. Valérie Rostaing and Bricard Art thus share the same spirit of excellence in locks that are in keeping with the times. These handcrafted bronze pieces open the doors of a home to the elegance of French art. Valérie Rostaing, with her experience at Christian Liaigre, designs interiors with a timeless character and meticulous finishes. The interior designer focuses on the details that make a house luxurious. In fine, the collaboration with Bricard Art allowed her to design a bronze lock very Art Deco. The result is a true contemporary goldsmith’s piece.

Bronze door handle designed by Valérie Rostaing in collaboration with Bricard Art ©Olivier Marceny.
Bricard Art's Parisian Showroom located at 2 bis, rue de la Baume - 75008 Paris. ©Michaël Hirsch.

Decorative arts at your fingertips

Since 1782, Bricard has opened the doors to successive styles of French decorative arts. The art locksmith has thus imposed his know-how, from the Renaissance style to the Art Deco style. Preciously kept in its workshops, 30,000 models bear witness to the artisanal history of the House of Bricard. Like goldsmiths and silversmiths, the craftsmen-shoemakers shape, chisel and sculpt the bronze by hand according to the manufacturing processes inherited from the 18th century. This know-how is, as time goes by, at the service of its time. Bricard Art never ceases to inject the contemporary into its DNA without ever forgetting the soul of its House. In recent years, Bricard Art has initiated collaborations with interior architects and designers, producing in its workshops the finished product based on their drawings. The House of Bricard Art is constantly exploring new contemporary forms and finishes. At Bricard Art, each piece is a custom-made creation, a value that is dear to Signatures Singulières Magazine.

Art Deco, Arabic and contemporary collections. Showroom Bricard Art ©Michaël Hirsch.

The doors to excellence in craftsmanship

Bricard Art puts its exceptional know-how at the service of architects, decorators and private individuals. In addition to this, it also has an artistic sensitivity that has been proven for more than two centuries. After understanding what the project entails, the House shows the clients the appropriate models taken from its countless locksmith collections. Above all, it offers inspirational notebooks illustrating the trends of yesterday and today. In the end, this alchemy of contemporary design and historical know-how offers atypical models of artistic locksmithing. These custom-made or handmade pieces are the gateway to a world of extraordinary excellence. A value that seduced the interior architect and designer Valérie Rostaing. Illustrated by her latest architectural project “The House of Taipei”, in which French craftsmanship is given pride of place. At the same time, Valérie Rostaing also designs furniture for her sophisticated residential projects. An illustration of the French art of living, promoted by Signatures Singulières Magazine.

New "pink copper" finish. ©Michaël Hirsch.
Custom-made models at Bricard Art's Showroom in Paris ©Michaël Hirsch
Gilded bronze Spanish carvings ©Michaël Hirsch
An ornate Louis XVI style "Espagnolette" ©Michaël Hirsch.

Bricard Art
Showroom open by appointment only
2, bis rue de la Baume
75008 Paris
Tél. : +33 (0)1 42 77 71 68


A day with Laetitia, our Sales Representative at Par Excellence

Laëtitia Dominguez was born in Madrid and raised between France, Spain and Belgium. She has traveled around the globe since a very early age and worked in the United States, Central America and Europe within the Luxury Industry. Passionate about culture, design, and all forms of art in general, she joined Par Excellence in order to promote the most incredible French savoir-faire in the American market. Curious by nature and very dynamic she loves working on interior design projects and is truly committed to her clients. Always in a good mood and smiling, she is a delight to work with! Let’s discover her routine at Par Excellence!

What is your mission at Par Excellence?
As an Account Manager at Par Excellence, my mission is to be the link between the interior designers and our artisans, being their local contact and following up on the different projects and managing the client relationship. On a daily basis, my mission is to research high-end interior designers and architects, connect with them to present our artisans and understand how we can collaborate together, answering the incoming requests and following the ongoing projects and developing close relationships with the interior designers.

What attracted you to this environment?
From a very early age, I have wanted to work in the luxury industry, and in particular for a French Maison. I always admired these French Maisons’ values, savoir-faire and respect of heritage and wanted to contribute to preserve them for future generations. When I discovered the Par Excellence project, I completely fell in love with it. The idea of representing some of the best French artisans and promoting the French savoir-faire in the United States as well as collaborating with the most demanding architects and interior designers truly inspired me.

Tell us about a typical day at Par Excellence!
There’s not really a typical day at Par Excellence, some days I’ll spend the whole day running around Manhattan in clients meetings, and some days I’ll be at the showroom hosting interior designers, artists and all kinds of inspiring personalities for a visit or for lunch. There’s always so much going on at Par Excellence, from video filming and photo shoots to inspiring meetings and the finest dinners and events. The team also attends lots of art exhibitions, design salons and other art and design events.

“The idea of representing some of the best French artisans and promoting the French savoir-faire in the United States as well as collaborating with the most demanding architects and interior designers truly inspired me.” – Laëtitia

What do you like most about your job?
What I most like about my job is learning more everyday about incredible craftsmen and their sublime and unique techniques and know-how, meeting some of the best interior designers and architects, and being able to collaborate with them both in the most exquisite projects.

How is the spirit like at Par Excellence?
We are a tight team of dedicated and passionate people and we are all very proud to showcase the finest French craftsmanship in the United States. The Artisans we represent here are the best in their field! Their know-how is so varied and rich, it makes our mission all the more exciting!


Paris on my mind by Jennifer Gyr - Last Day

By Jennifer Gyr

I fell in love with Paris when as a teenager I was watching Audrey Hepburn swan through the ville lumière in the movie “Funny Face”.  Over the years I have been so lucky to make many trips to this enchanted city with friends and family.  My trip in late February was the first time I was in Paris by myself with my limited French vocabulary of “Bonjour”, “Merci” and “Au Revoir” (which even then I would speak in a whisper so that my Southern accent wouldn’t decimate the beauty of the language).

What a magical week it would be. As Audrey said so perfectly, “Paris is always a good idea”!

As I wake up, I have a heavy feeling in my heart as I realize it is my last full day in Paris. After only being here a few days, there is a sense of familiarity and the excitement of what the day will bring. I think about a lovely quote from Ernest Hemingway which rings true, “There are only two places in the world where we can live happy – at home and in Paris”.

I have the morning to myself to roam the streets of the 7th and 6th arrondissements. Paris is a wonderfully walkable city and I love the chance to have a long, unstructured walk where I can navigate by curiosity and amble along the cobblestone streets. The pace of life seems conducive to strolling as no one ever seems too rushed. Paris itself is as important as its culture. It is an endlessly revealing, fascinating and rewarding subject. It brims with inspiration and that certain joie de vivre.

A walk punctuated by artistic Parisian doors

One of the things that always inspires me in Paris is the use of color and design elements on doors and the beautiful details on the doorknobs. I use this quiet morning to find some design inspirations. I discover so many doors along my route with such saturated colors from the deepest of reds to the darkest blue. The decorative details on the doors stand out, such as the use of wrought iron grillwork to geometric patterns and decorative elements. I love the idea of incorporating doors into a design aesthetic. When my husband and I recently renovated our apartment, we switched out all the flat, white doors and had new doors made with three square recessed panels and painted in a “Parisian gray” that were inspired by beautiful doors we had seen around Paris on past trips. During my walk, I also notice many elaborate door handles in gold and silver and with intricate designs such as intertwined snakes. It is like walking through an outdoor art gallery as inspiration is everywhere. I am also thrilled to discover a few buildings where plaques indicate famous residents once lived there. I stumble upon a building where Picasso had his studio from 1936-55 and where he painted his famous “Guernica”. Balzac also set the plot of his novella “Le Chef d’Oeuvre Inconnu” in this very same building at 7, rue des Grands-Augustins. While photographing a beautiful blue-grayish door, I notice a plaque that states that Manet was born there and that the author Henri Troyat lived there. This is the door with the intertwined snake door handles that I mentioned earlier. One can only imagine them both passing through these doors. I love these little unexpected surprises.

Discovering Atelier Lison De Caunes

I hasten my steps as I am eager to arrive at my last workshop visit – one that I have been looking forward to seeing up close and in person: Lison de Caunes is the embodiment of a true artisan. Her specialty is straw marquetry and she single-handedly resurrected this unique craft after it had gone largely forgotten after World War II. Lison’s grandfather, André Groult, the famous interior and furniture designer, brought this 17th century French technique back to life during the Art Déco period of the 1920s. His creations were highly sought after and became the embodiment of Art Déco’s use of pattern. In a lovely twist of fate, it was his granddaughter who would bring this special craft back to prominence once again when she started creating her own pieces in the 1980s. We have to thank this family for keeping this craft alive.

A portrait of Lison De Caunes

I step into the design office and was met with bustling activity. Two chic interior designers from Zurich were discussing designs with Lison, Lison’s sister, Marie, was creating samples on a worktable and an adorable French bulldog, Ziggy, was keeping everyone entertained. I am warmly greeted by Lison’s daughter, Pauline, who is in charge of the atelier’s management.

Before I settle in to talk with Lison, Pauline wants to show me the workshops. We step back out into the street with Ziggy hot on our heels (it turns out that Ziggy is Pauline’s dog and the unofficial ambassador as he seems to know his way to the workshop). We pass several storefronts and then enter a doorway and step into what feels like “The Secret Garden”. The cobblestone courtyard is surrounded by small white buildings with green trim and ivy and greenery everywhere. It is so intimate and cozy that one feels like one is in a magical place.

Straw marquetry – a meticulous process

Pauline tells me that they use rye straw that is grown and harvested by cereal farmers in Burgundy, France.  The farmers dry and dye the straw and then send the bundles to the workshop in Paris. Here the craftsmen and women split open and flatten the straw to prepare them to create the marquetry. When it is flattened, straw looks like pieces of delicate and flexible strips of paper. Straw is sturdy, impermeable and resistant, and the only maintenance required is the use of wax. We walk between the two workshops and I get to see the artisans working on the most exquisite pieces. One woman is creating a coffee table in black straw. The thin pieces are carefully laid down side-by-side. She then uses glue to adhere them to the surface and then runs a tool over the top to flatten them down. Straw marquetry, even though perfectly smooth-surfaced, varies in color even when using only one tone:  You can see the gradients of color and even the outline of each edge of the straw, which gives the overall piece movement and even a textural feel. It almost feels like each strip of straw is the artist’s brushstroke, creating a stunning visual effect. It is incredible how versatile colored straw can be. From its natural color, looking like wood, to darker colors that look like metal or even precious jewels, the possibilities are endless. In fact, no varnish is used in the finished product as the straw is protected by silicon which is a natural varnish and gives the straw a wonderful shine to it.  I then watch another artisan make wall panels for a luxury company. Using the natural color of the straw, and with a sun burst pattern motif, each panel glows like gold and has the most luxurious effect. I marvel at how the humble straw can be transformed into the most majestic objets d’art.

The revival of a prestigious “savoir-faire”

As a child, Lison spent time in her grandfather’s workshop and discovered the material and technique of straw marquetry. Years later, when she wanted to learn the craft, there was no place that taught this forgotten art. She learned by studying her grandfather’s pieces. In her childhood home she was always mesmerized by a big and beautiful straw marquetry screen that her grandfather had made for the Exposition des Arts Décoratifs in 1937. She decided to restore it in her first attempt at straw marquetry and she completely fell in love with the process. This original screen is still in her workshop today. Even though she studied book binding and gilding at The Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, her passion was in straw marquetry so in the 1970s she began restoring straw marquetry pieces given to her by antique dealers. She is entirely self-taught and perfected her craft this way. In the 1980s she began her quest to show that straw marquetry could be a beautiful art form that could meld with contemporary design and interiors, so she started collaborating with interior designers. To date she has worked with such renowned designers such as Jacques Grange, Jean-Louis Deniot, Cabinet Alberto Pinto, Muriel Brandolini, Mathieu Lehanneur and Ernest de la Torre. Peter Marino has commissioned several pieces by her for numerous Louis Vuitton boutiques and for the Guerlain shop in the Champs-Elysées. She has created special pieces for luxury companies including Hermès who commissioned her to reproduce eight silk scarves in straw marquetry to hang in the windows of their rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré boutique. She still restores historical pieces including a dressing table the Marquis de La Fayette gave to his wife and a Jean-Michel Frank table that belonged to Yves Saint Laurent. Besides making custom pieces, Lison created her personal line in 2015, Lison de Caunes Créations, where she designs furniture, wall panels and interior décor.

We then head back to the design studio, and as Lison finishes up with her clients, I walk over to Marie’s work desk and immediately notice she has a photo of Elvis Presley propped against the wall in front of where she creates the sample pieces. I was thrilled to see this and told her that my mother was from a small town in Tennessee about an hour away from Tupelo, Mississippi (Elvis’s hometown), and as a teenager she went to the local state fair and saw an “up and coming musician” – and it was Elvis! My mother admitted that she was one of the crazy teenagers screaming with excitement as he performed. Marie loved this story and with my limited French and her limited English the love of Elvis created a lovely connection.

Lison comes over and wants to show me her collection of antique straw marquetry pieces that she has been collecting over the years. She loves to study the patterns and see different techniques which inspires her to push the craft in new and inventive ways. She continues to perfect the craft: she revived the 18th century art of embossed straw and developed a method of gold-leafing straw. She is inspired by everything from nature to movies to things she sees on the street and is always thinking of ways to reproduce it in straw marquetry. She works on every project that comes her way as she loves the challenge and pushing the boundaries and figuring out solutions. In fact, she has covered car interiors and even the interiors of a yacht. She tells me that straw continues to fascinate her and she loves the idea that from such a humble material she can create such refined and luxurious pieces.

“She is inspired by everything from nature to movies to things she sees on the street and is always thinking of ways to reproduce it in straw marquetry.”

Discovering the variety of samples

We then look at the wall of samples. Each one looks like a tile and one can see the wide range of shimmering colors, textural effects and exquisite patterns. They almost have a trompe l’oeil effect as some pieces look like metal while others look like wood. Some of the patterns have a three-dimensional look to them, and there is so much movement and vibrancy in them that one forgets it is a flat surface. There is also a beautiful luminosity to them. The straw reflects light in such a magical way. I remember seeing the photos of a project she completed in an apartment in New York City. The entire entrance way, from the walls and the door to the ceiling, was covered in straw marquetry creating a jewel-box like effect that no other material could provide. It makes one realize that walls don’t just need to have wallpaper or be painted and have artwork hanging on them. The wall itself becomes the art with the stunning effect of floor to ceiling marquetry.

I am so inspired by the design and technique that I momentarily feel like blurting out “can I be an apprentice here?”  I also think that I will never drive by a field of straw and look at it the same way as I now know what beauty it can yield. I highly recommend watching the video on the homepage of Atelier Lison de Caunes’ website. It beautifully demonstrates the care and attention to detail of the farmers and craftsmen who make this humblest of materials come to life as beautiful and ethereal design pieces.

Family history is everywhere. In the workshop several of her grandfather’s pieces hang on the wall, which is a wonderful reminder of the tradition that they are helping to carry on. In the design room I ask Lison about a beautiful double portrait done in straw marquetry that hangs over her workbench. She smiles and says that it is a portrait of her grandfather and grandmother that he made in the 1920s.

“She likes that her grandfather is still here watching over the family, and he is a reminder of why she wants to keep this tradition alive.”

Lison’s greatest satisfaction is knowing that she has preserved the art of straw marquetry and that it won’t fall back into oblivion. When she first began over 40 years ago, no one was working in straw marquetry. Now it is taught at the Ecole Boulle in Paris, and Lison is passing her knowledge on to the next generation through the artisans in her workshop. There is great comfort knowing that this art will live on. She is a master craftswoman and because of this, was awarded the title of Maître d’Art in 1996. This highly distinguished and prestigious title is awarded by the Ministry of Culture to exceptional craftsmen only, who possess a rare savoir-faire and who commit to passing it on to an apprentice. Lison said that was a turning point for her because her craft would have a future. In 2010, she was awarded the Chevalière de la Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest honor. For me, Lison is part of the artistic heritage of France. She saved this lost craft and made it chic again.

As I leave the design office, I think about how lovely it is to see another workshop where family is at the heart of the company, just like with our other Par Excellence artisans – Declercq Passementiers, Jouffre and Atelier de Ricou. They continue to carry on the legacies and traditions that will be passed on to generations to come.

An afternoon at Galerie Epoca

I dash back to the 7th to meet my friend Maïk, as she is taking me somewhere that will be an unexpected surprise. I make my way to Galerie Epoca at 60, rue de Verneuil, a place that is described as an antique and modern art gallery.  But when I step through the doors, I feel like I went through Alice in Wonderland’s Looking Glass. It is the most incredible shop of curiosities, with fantastical tableaux everywhere my eye wanders. I feel like Salvador Dalí was just in and had done a bit of re-arranging. Maïk introduces me to the owner, Mony Linz-Einstein (yes, that Einstein! She is Albert Einstein’s great-grand niece). She enthusiastically bounds around showing me one object after another. She has a passion for unusual and intriguing objects. There is a dining table with a glass top and beautiful drawings underneath. She starts to crank a handle and the drawings move from flora to animals and all sorts of natural studies and patterns. I love this idea that one can change the table-top design at one’s whim. She then shows me a black rocking chair that looks normal at first but then I notice that the “feet” are those of an elk. It is a rare piece and was made in Sweden in the 18th century. She also has a sofa and pair of chairs that were once owned by a Maharadjah. I see wooden chairs hanging from the ceiling in a fantastical presentation and a white plaster frame with objects sprouting out from the edges. It is like a chamber of the marvelous and it is a very magical world to explore.

A goodbye dinner at Le Bistrot de Paris

After saying our goodbyes, Maïk and I walk over to 33, rue de Lille for dinner at Le Bistrot de Paris. It looks so familiar and then I realize it is the same restaurant that my friends Jean-Louis and Aude took me to for lunch a few days earlier. We walk in and everyone greets us enthusiastically, and as they know Maïk they escort us to her “usual table” in the back corner of the restaurant. It turns out that Maïk has been coming here for years and her children practically grew up here. When I was having lunch with Jean-Louis and Aude, the restaurant was filled with art and antique dealers from the neighborhood as several stopped by to say hello and have a chat. During that lunch, the father of my French friend (who lives in NYC), who owns an antique gallery down the street, was having lunch there too and it was a wonderful surprise to run into him there. It turns out that he goes there every day for lunch. Le Bistrot de Paris opened in 1965 and since then has been the gathering spot for the artistic types. Serge Gainsbourg, whose home was a few steps away, was a regular and apparently ate his last meal there. He liked to sit at the same table every time he ate there. Tonight, the room was filled with Parisians from romantic dates to large groups of family and friends enjoying the lively atmosphere. With so many local “regulars”, this spot is a true Parisian bistro. Woody Allen could have easily filmed a scene here for his movie “Midnight in Paris”. After a wonderfully long evening filled with wine, steak frites, a delicious dessert of poached pears with chocolate and jovial conversations with the waiters, I didn’t want the night to end as that meant my week in Paris was coming to a close. Instead of walking the few blocks to my hotel, Maïk offered me a ride back in her Mini. We zipped through the narrow streets of the 7th and I arrived back at Le Saint Hotel where the dreaded packing awaited.

“Adieu Paris”

The next morning, I reluctantly drag myself out of bed as I have to dash off to the airport. During my week in Paris, I so wanted to see Notre-Dame as it felt like a wounded friend after its devastating fire almost a year ago. I ask my taxi driver if we could do a detour on the way to the airport so that we could drive by the Cathedral. From the window of the car my heart sank when I saw the scaffolding. I was relieved to see the two bell towers still standing but I was so sad to see the roof and spire missing. I remember so vividly watching the blaze on TV and felt a universal cry of anguish when the 19th century spire fell.  This over 800 year-old Cathedral is an iconic monument of Gothic art and a global architectural heritage for all. Now it seems like an elderly friend who has survived catastrophic injury. But Notre-Dame still stands and I know it will be rebuilt to its former glory. It was the most important construction of medieval Europe and will be the most important reconstruction of modern times. I truly hope that Ateliers Saint-Jacques whom I visited earlier in the week will be a part of this monumental and extraordinary task. As with the guilds used to build it in the 12th century, today the same type of guild exists with the exceptional craftspeople that make up Ateliers Saint-Jacques from stone masons to iron and wood workers. Victor Hugo once said that Notre-Dame is an expression of French art centuries in the making. How true, as the 21st century artisans take their turn in nursing her back to her wholeness.  As the taxi driver changes courses for the airport, I gaze out the window and bid adieu to this magical city that I love.


While I was in Paris during the last week of February, Italy was going into lockdown because of COVID-19. We would talk about the virus during my many visits around the city and there was a slight uneasiness as the city was in the midst of Paris fashion week and the fashion crowd had just arrived from Milan. I returned home to Brooklyn on March 1st and could feel the tidal wave of the virus coming. 4 days later I started quarantining early as a precaution and within about 10 days flights between Europe and the US were shut down. I reached out to everyone I had met on my travels to see how they were doing. I received kind words from Margot whom I had spent time with at Declercq Passementiers. She said, “It will be a hard period but our grandfathers survived before, so we will too. We have to be strong and healthy”. These positive and resilient words gave me comfort in what was to come.


📸  by Jennifer Gyr


Jennifer Gyr is a Creative Consultant at Par Excellence. After obtaining a degree in Art History and Photography, she was a Helena Rubenstein Intern at MoMA in NYC and she completed the “Works of Art” course at Sotheby’s in London. She then worked for several years at the photography gallery Hamiltons Gallery in London and at Hyperion Press and Keith de Lellis Gallery in NYC. She was a private photography dealer for many years and served as an archivist and curator of a private photography collection in NYC. She also archived the estate of the photographer Horst P. Horst. She has curated several exhibitions and consulted on numerous photo books and exhibitions including with The National Portrait Gallery in London. When not seeking her next travel inspiration she lives in Brooklyn with her Swiss husband.


"What Inspires Me" with Alison Rose

A winner of NYCxDESIGN and Interior Design’s annual Best of Year Award, Alison Rose is a master of creating both modern and historically influenced luxury pieces. Par Excellence had the chance to chat with this acclaimed interior and furniture designer. 

>> Discover the website

From her immersed childhood in New York’s most renowned museums, Alison remembers falling in love “It was a love that was instant – a fascination that was deeply rooted in my earliest days before I knew what IT was.” As a matter of fact, Alison’s mother was the CFO of The American Museum of Natural History before she went on to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This immersion in these cultural spaces heightened Alison’s sensibility towards architecture, art and design. “I remember sitting on the floor looking up as the backdrops of the installations were erected – the birds were placed in the trees, the natives were draped in their pelts of fur to prepare for the coldest days of winter… worlds literally came to life around me”.

Spending her formative years in this creative environment stimulated Alison’s vision and artistry at a very young age. She quickly became captivated by the influence of space – “My fascination with space began. The Grand Halls of the museum were enormous, and my innate understanding of scale and materiality developed”.

This fascination for space, geometry and science is still a deep source of inspiration and is particularly reflected in the two collections Alison recently designed for Artistic Tile. “I come from a lineage of strong women who make things happen – my grandmother worked for the IRS, and my mom, a CFO – numbers are in my blood. My father was a biology teacher,  so yes… all the dots have been connected … math is considered the purest of all the sciences.”

“Each and every project is an opportunity to expand my visual narrative through materiality and scale. The collections are simply born through a vision that is internal. Client projects are informed by their specific program, their global location, their lifestyle, their loves… and their narrative is filtered through my lenses. Each project is expressed with a clear voice – all very connected, and incredibly rewarding” – Alison Rose

Alongside her strong understanding of space, Alison’s innate talent to mix materials is also striking. For her collection named Euclid, Alison worked with stones and ancient marbles. The designer manipulates raw materials and combines them in a way that has a bit of tension. “Tension that simply pleases the eye and soul through specific patina, mix of color, texture, refinement and rawness. Understanding the inherent qualities and pushing the boundaries – metal, lime plaster, marble, silk, wool – I approach each element with a curious eye and push to see its greatest potential, with the same consideration”.

Her natural ability to manipulate and juxtapose materials allows her to interact and connect with passionate craftspeople that share her vision and sensibilities. “There is such a beautiful balance between form, structure and decoration that is very personal and we constantly learn from each other. We celebrate and push past the practice to reveal the next discovery – it is the exploration that is ever expanding the vocabulary of the work”.

As we try to immerse ourselves into Alison Rose’s universe, we scroll through her Instagram account where she has created a unique visual identity from modernist interiors with strict lines and raw materials to the most colourful and vibrant ones. We catch a glimpse of the influences of her youth spent in New York’s museums amongst art pieces, paintings and singular creations.

Alison Rose's Instagram Account

Talking about New York and urban inspirations, we ask Alison, a born and bred New Yorker, how the city figures in her creative process. To the designer, it is a wonderland; “It is the backdrop that guides my intuitive process. The incredible history of New York landmarks alongside the modernist glass towers- it’s the beauty of balance… or sometimes the imbalance that is exciting”. Alison Rose’s studio recently completed a marble sculpture in Miami that focused on the exploration of balance, and imbalance around the globe. “This concept has always fascinated me”.

“I am not a creature of habit- each day I can walk down a different street, and may notice a unique brick pattern on a facade, or see a beautiful shadow that reveals a sparkle in the pavement – every drop is inspiration. NYC has a soul that’s unable to be duplicated. My informed eye scans the landscape –  whether in the city, the country… the seaside… the exploration and curiosity doesn’t stop” – Alison Rose

Her love for the city that forged her passion for architecture and design is true! When asking Alison where she would go if she had to move outside of New York City, the designer chooses another very well-known place for its incredible history and culture: Japan!

“I have a wonderful client in Tokyo who introduced me to so much of their beautiful culture. We first began designing their family residence in NYC about 10 years ago. Then their main residence in Tokyo a few years ago, and their mountain retreat outside the city. There is a wonderful balance of modernity and tradition, and the food is my absolute favorite…”

Alison Rose’s future is bright. The renowned interior designer is working on a few collections and 2020 will mark the launch of her eponymous furniture line. “These new collections are a cultivation of my true loves. Through scale, modularity, and form, we are introducing a home collection that balances vintage and contemporary influences. Produced with the finest craftsmanship, materiality, and detail – and no pre-conceived “back” and front” to the furnishings. This concept allows for maximum possibilities of placement in a space, as modularity also lends itself too”.

“When pieces are able to be experienced, and enjoyed as a sculpture – to be lived on, and lived with… that is extremely fulfilling” – Alison Rose

The interior designer has a lot of eclectic projects coming up, from a large renovation of her country home to exciting client projects that span the country from east to west including a NYC loft, and a penthouse in Houston. On top of that, Alison is working on her furniture line, decorative objects and is expanding her marble tile collections with Artistic Tile.

Taking into account that her first collection in collaboration with Artistic Tile, “Euclid”, was selected as a NYCxDESIGN award honoree, and that her second collection “Zephyr” received the INTERIOR DESIGN BEST OF YEAR AWARD of 2019, Alison Rose is set on an impressive and inspiring path.


Zak+Fox Showroom

“Only Jouffre and Declercq Passementiers could help execute the new vision for the showroom — the companies’ crafts communicate a sense of history, exemplary in the work. It was a truly collaborative process and both parties contributed tremendously beautiful ideas beyond execution alone. We were able to walk through the showroom space together and talk about possibilities for what I had envisioned. I also wanted to offer a platform to both Jouffre and Declercq to demonstrate their craftsmanship which many may not see because it is so grand and intricate, often reserved for private residences.”

>> Discover the website

Zak Profera started his studio having in mind a beautiful vision of an iconic duo, a man and his dog traveling the world in search of adventures and inspirations. This vision is at the core of the project, as the founder of the studio always imagines a narrative and story behind each project and collection. Zak’s work is always inspired by history, myth and folklore of different cultures picked up from his travels.

“I had a narrative in my head for what the company could be about — the idea of a man and his dog as literal characters in an adventure story — an archetypical duo that so many people can relate to. Inquisitive and observational, they traverse through our stories driven to learn by a genuine and authentic curiosity.”

This peculiar atmosphere and spirit is very much highlighted in Zak+Fox’s showroom and studio. The space is hidden in a historic building in NYC and has recently been remodeled with the help of two of Par Excellence’s partners, Jouffre and Declercq Passementiers. Zak looked to many references throughout the process of designing the space. “Our tool kit is composed of all of our textiles, which are generally contemporary or alternative takes on traditional works. They are often not literal translations of antique textiles, but many of them can fit into classic or modern environments.”

The result is hypnotizing and unique as it carries on Zak+Fox’s fantastic universe.

Despite knowing very little about how it all worked, Zak Profera made his way into the industry to pursue his passion. “I was extremely interested about the process of making something, from inception to the final product. I had come from a marketing background but had always loved design. Textiles were always a passion, and I always felt drawn to the stories they told — I wanted to learn as much as I could, and share those ideas with a larger audience. For me, the most compelling part of what we do is that we engage with something material and along the way, discover its layered meaning and history.”

Drawing inspirations from various trips around the world, Zak believes in mixing cultures and styles to bring another dimension to his work. “While we look to stories, legends, and cultures to guide the collection, the most beautiful part of it all is that you see how different parts of the world all speak to one another despite being oceans apart. You see ikat dyeing techniques appear in a multitude of cultures, for example, whether or not that information was shared at one point or another.  I think the most beautiful thing about what we do is that craft and design can work as a language — in the eclecticism is a common thread that unites us all — that we are able to connect through something visual, or that we are able to find beauty in another’s culture or story.”

The studio is quite diversified in the way they create their products. They work with large companies and industrial manufacturing, but the core of what they create comes from handcrafted textiles. “Whether we start with something hand painted and translate that to printed textiles, or we work with a team of tremendously talented weavers, our mission is to create something with genuine spirit within it.”

“Working with the teams provided space to experiment and work outside of my comfort zone. In design, it is quite easy to work with the familiar. The new style of our showroom is not something I’ve worked with previously as it is incredibly layered, and together we were able to create something quite grand.”

For the new showroom, Zak trusted Jouffre for the curtains and shades as well as the wall-upholstery, and Declercq Passementiers for the trimmings.

Photos by © Stephen Kent Jonhson


Bruno Mallart, a multifaceted artist

An article by Signatures Singulières

Bruno Mallart, alumni of the French school of art direction and interior architecture, Penninghen, wears several artistic caps. He has worked as an illustrator for renowned magazines such as Courrier International, Le Monde, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal… Today he lives and works in the Yvelines, in the countryside near Paris. Bruno Mallart also lives in a world of his own, made up of situations and characters as far-fetched as they are funny, scripted in original digital creations.

"Dürer chez l’occuliste » (« Dürer at the occultist»). 22 x 22 cm - Black stone on coated wood.
Diptych « La possibilité d’une Guéville » (« The possibility of a Guéville »). 22 x 82 cm. Black stone on coated wood. (model for a diptych of 368 x 104 cm same technique).

Digital technology in support of creation

At the end of the day, Bruno Mallart is both a draftsman, illustrator, painter, sculptor and… digital artist! Indeed, he exercices his imagination and his fantasy though the computer. Although he acknowledges that the computer’s pencil stroke is not as rich as an original brush or pencil, he willingly uses this new means of artistic conception to go further in his creations. He starts from a traditional method, by working with a pencil, gouache, watercolor or photography. Then he uses the machine and its infinite possibilities to enlarge the initial work, to add a drawing, a picture or a collage, to modify the image.

"Pavane". Editions of 8.
"El cant dels ocelles". Unique piece.
Eiffel Tower : « La Dame de Fer » (« The Iron Lady ») - « Un phare dans la nuit » (« A lighthouse in the night ») - « Fer-West ». Large original digital pictures pasted under Diasec. Editions of 8. 2019/2020.

Surprise and absurdity

The supports for his extravagant scenes are diverse and varied: boxes, boards, objects and furniture (consoles and coffee tables). In his creations, wheels, moving objects, mechanics and animals are recurrent. Bruno Mallart likes them round and massive like the turtle, the rhino, the elephant or the pig. He can’t help but add wheels and change the original head of the animal. Moreover, the artist admits that he is always on the lookout for new strange objects that could be used in his collages. His friends know this and turn into inspiring objects seekers when they go to flea markets.

Left: "La Comparsita". Right: Soldier of Lead. Unique pieces.
« Cyclopes » (« Cyclops »). Unique pieces.
« Le roi des jeux et le jeu des rois » (« The king of games and the game of kings »). 60 x 60 x 50 cm. Coffee table in patinated steel with work included under tempered glass, editions of 20.
Bruno Mallart Studio

Bruno Mallart

Phone: +33 (0)6 48 12 38


Bayart Gallery

17, rue des Beaux-Arts

75006 Paris

Phone: +33 (0)9 83 30 60 55


Paris on my mind by Jennifer Gyr - Day 6

By Jennifer Gyr

I fell in love with Paris when as a teenager I was watching Audrey Hepburn swan through the ville lumière in the movie “Funny Face”.  Over the years I have been so lucky to make many trips to this enchanted city with friends and family.  My trip in late February was the first time I was in Paris by myself with my limited French vocabulary of “Bonjour”, “Merci” and “Au Revoir” (which even then I would speak in a whisper so that my Southern accent wouldn’t decimate the beauty of the language).

What a magical week it would be. As Audrey said so perfectly, “Paris is always a good idea”!

A beautiful morning at the Musée Jacquemart-André

I start my day off by visiting one of my favorite small museums – the Musée Jacquemart-André. There is a plethora of incredible house museums, museums devoted to an individual artist or a particular period, or style, and I always try to go to one or two of them whenever I am in Paris. I always enjoy my visit to the Jacquemart-André, which is located in the 8th arrondissement on Boulevard Haussmann. The museum was created in the private home of Edouard André and Nélie Jacquemart. It is located in an opulent Belle Epoque mansion that is worth a visit on its own, as it offers a chance to discover not only masterpieces of art but also the inside of one of the finest mansions of the 19th century. Edouard André was from a wealthy French banking family and he started collecting art at a young age. He was such a well-known collector that Napoleon III personally asked him to oversee the fine arts exhibit of the 1867 Exposition Universelle. In 1869, Edouard started building his personal mansion and it took 7 years to make. The house caused a sensation when it was finished as it was built on the newly-constructed Boulevard Haussmann, one of Paris’ grand boulevards. In 1872, he hired the artist Nélie Jacquemart to paint his portrait. In a lovely twist of fate, they fell in love, got married and traveled around the world creating one of the greatest private art collections.

Musée Jacquemart-André

I spent the morning wandering through the salons, their private quarters and through the art galleries. I then took some time relaxing in their dining room, which is now a tearoom, and enjoyed a cup of coffee while looking out onto the courtyard and the garden. I started musing about the grand parties that took place here. Apparently, the Picture Gallery, the Grand Salon and the Music Room can be opened up into one large ballroom by removing the walls using a complex hydraulic system. They really thought this out when designing the mansion! They could then host lavish parties filled with 1,000 guests. Oh, how I would love to have been a guest at such an affair. I then visited the Winter Garden with its exotic plant collection and the most spectacular double helix staircase above which two large Venetian frescoes by Tiepolo, magnificently hung. This is a more intimate museum but it is packed with masterpieces. From Italian Renaissance art to still-lifes and landscapes by great artists such as Chardin, Boucher, Canaletto, Botticelli, Rembrandt and Frans Hals. There is also furniture, porcelain, sculptures, tapestries and frescoes. It reminds me a lot of one of my favorite museums in NYC, The Frick Collection. Sadly, Edouard died suddenly at age sixty. Nélie continued collecting and per her wishes, after her death in 1912, the private mansion became a museum open to the public and was inaugurated by the President of France in 1913. After a restorative morning, I then slipped out into the midday sun and headed to meet a friend for lunch.

A lunch date at Le Grand Véfour

Le Grand Véfour was the first grand restaurant in Paris. It opened in 1784, even before the revolution, and is nestled in the corner of the arcades of the Palais-Royal. For over 200 years it has attracted all the big names in French politics and culture, such as Victor Hugo, Colette and Jean Cocteau. In fact, rumor has it that Napoléon proposed to Joséphine while dining here. Most of the tables have brass plaques with the name of a famous diner. My friend and I were seated at Balzac’s table. The classic French dishes have such delicate flavors and are created by the star chef Guy Martin but the thing I remember most vividly is the heavenly strawberry and rhubarb dessert. With its early 19th century neoclassical interiors, Le Grand Véfour truly is one of the most beautiful restaurants in Paris. Intricately etched mirrors fill the space and with the gilded décor and the delicate hand-painted panels, the room glistens when the sunlight pours in and reflects all around us.

After saying adieu to my friend, I walk around the Palais-Royal. I always enjoy walking through the arcades with the endless rows of columns. At any time of day, the light streams between the columns and creates the most striking but fleeting patterns that dance at your footsteps. I pass by several shops along the way, including Didier Ludot, the famous vintage haute couture clothing store, as he always has a fashionable window display. I then grab a cup of coffee (yes, I love coffee) at Café Kitsuné and sit out in the garden of the Palais to have a quiet moment before my packed afternoon filled with lots of walking and window shopping and the occasional purchase.

“At any time of day, the light streams between the columns and creates the most striking but fleeting patterns that dance at your footsteps.”

A fun afternoon shopping

I then proceed to two of my favorite places I always visit when I am in Paris: Astier de Villatte (173 rue Saint-Honoré in the 1st), is like a cabinet of curiosities with their sought-after line of beautiful white ceramic pieces. They are a contemporary ceramics company but some of their shapes date from the 18th century. It is a wonderful combination of functionality and ancient beauty. Each piece is made by hand in their workshop in Paris. Even though the circles on a cup might not be perfect and can be a bit out of proportion, this imperfection shows that you will never get two pieces that are the same and each is unique in itself. Their signature white glaze has a slightly darker tone and you can see bits of the clay peeking through. There is a certain charm to their pieces as if they were passed down to you from your quirky but elegant great-aunt or you would find them in a still-life painting. The owners wanted their ceramics to be made in Paris as the city is a constant source of inspiration. They believe that a part of Paris is a dream and can be like a film or theater set and they are creating these fantasy pieces for these sets. In the shop, one can feel the remnants of the past as it is housed in an 18th century silversmithy where, apparently, Napoléon once visited (I seem to be following in his footsteps today).

After spending 20 minutes picking out a few pieces to buy (again, no piece is alike so you really take time thinking about which coffee cup or egg cup to buy as they are all slightly different), I walk down a short hallway and enter a back room. It feels like a secret chamber because the white ceramic pieces now burst with color with a collection done by the American découpage artist John Derian. Flowers, animals, seashells – the natural world is seen on plates, cups and vases. I am so happy to see this collaboration as John Derian has a shop in NYC that I visit as often as I can. His place is a destination for bohemian-chic shopping especially at Christmastime with hundreds of ornaments filling the store. It happens to be located a block away from our Par Excellence showroom at 6 East 2nd Street. And lucky for us New Yorkers, at this shop he sells pieces from Astier de Villatte (both his collection and the white ceramic pieces).

I then walk two blocks to visit Maison Sarah Lavoine at 9 rue Saint-Roch. Sarah is an interior designer and several years ago she opened this shop to sell items that are made in France by quality craftsmen. From furniture, tableware, stationery, decorative objects to even clothes I always find something to take home. The shop itself feels like walking into your cool French friend’s apartment with everything so perfectly arranged. Sarah has a line of tableware, stationery and fabrics with a bold sense of color combinations that I love (think teal with black). These bold color combos make you feel like you are spending summer eating outside in the countryside or by the sea.

Tableware at Maison Sarah Lavoine

I then head a block over to the Tuileries and find a park bench to sit and rest before heading back to the Left Bank. I love the act of people watching in Paris. Either sitting in one of the many beautiful gardens dotting the city or whiling away time sitting outside a café somehow time seems to stand still and you get lost in your thoughts as you watch the flâneurs stroll past. Getting my second wind of the day, I cross the Seine and head back into the 7th. I am walking down rue de Varenne and notice a door to a building is open and I happen to glance in. It revealed the most beautiful entry way with a purple door (my favorite) that led to a courtyard surrounded by a group of lovely buildings. I love these enchanting surprises when you find something wonderful hidden behind a door. I continue on down the street and then I do a double take and have to stop. What I thought was a jewelry store was in fact a chocolate shop. Jacques Genin (27 rue de Varenne) is famous for its caramels, pâte de fruits and exquisite chocolates and with its pristine futuristic laboratory-like shop it makes one stop and take notice.

Looking through the window at Jacques Genin chocolate shop

Unfortunately, I was running a bit late and couldn’t pop inside for a taste as I had something more urgent to buy – shoes! My chic French friend recommended Chatelles at 94 rue du Bac. It is a Parisian brand of slippers (flats, loafers, however you want to call them. I call them comfortable) that you can customize with color and fabric of the shoe to the tassels, initials and pompoms to accessorize the shoe to make it unique and your own. Inspired by English history, designed in Paris and made by hand using the best Italian leather in a workshop in Portugal. To add something extra secret, a Victor Hugo quote is engraved on the insole, “I cannot live…Far away from you any longer”. I can’t live without these shoes as they get me comfortably around the big cities. The hard part was what to pick – camo fabric or black leather? Tassel or initial? Hmmm….

A selection of shoes at Chatelles

A dinner filled with the most amazing desserts

After dropping off a few small shopping parcels at my hotel, I jump in an Uber to meet a friend for dinner at La Poule au Pot (9 rue Vauvilliers, 1st arr.). What a treat I was in for. The small restaurant has a 1950s throwback feel with floral wallpaper, lace curtains and pink tablecloths. But don’t let that fool you as it turns out to be more like a “Haute Bistro”. The restaurant has been around for over 80 years but it was recently re-imagined by the new chef, Jean-Francois Piège. He is another star chef who used to be the head chef at the restaurant at the Hôtel de Crillon and now owns several restaurants around the city. This one is his favorite and he happened to be there that night cooking up a feast. It is traditional French cuisine but done in an old school way. All of the French classics were on the menu. I even had an omelet for dinner. Nothing beats a French omelet. Throughout our meal I kept seeing the waitress walking around holding a large glass baking dish and she would scoop out the most amazing looking dessert periodically to guests who all gleefully accepted. I couldn’t wait to try it but when the dessert menu arrived, I could not find it. I asked about it and as it turns out, it is their famous crème caramel that comes with your coffee order. Needless to say, I had two coffees that night. Absolutely delicious! It is a profoundly French restaurant full of Parisians tightly packed elbow to elbow but enjoying every moment of being there in the most convivial atmosphere. To top it off, I was fan geeking all night long as the French actor, Vincent Lindon, was sitting with a group of friends a few tables away. Oh, and they were playing 70s and 80s pop music. I was hooked.

After leaving the restaurant we decided to head to Le Meurice Hôtel for a night cap but I had ulterior motives as I wanted to try a special dessert (don’t judge – I am in France). Cédric Grolet is a genius pastry chef (he was named the World’s Best Pastry Chef in 2018). His desserts are something you have to see to believe. We settle into the leather chairs at the bar and I immediately order the lime dessert. When it arrived, I couldn’t believe my eyes, there was a lime in front of me, or was there? I used my spoon to break it in half, and deliciousness oozed out. Cédric reconstructed the lime out of the essence of the fruit. He is known for these legendary trompe-l’oeil sculpted fruit. He has 1.6 million followers on Instagram so that should give you a hint on how masterful his work is. The taste is pure essence. As Cedric so aptly says, “Beauty brings them in, but taste brings them back”. I will definitely be back!

As I say goodnight to my friend and wait for my Uber to arrive, I notice the shimmering lights all around me as I look into the window of the Le Meurice and then across the street to the Tuileries. It reminds me of my visit with Etienne yesterday at the Ozone atelier. Paris is always so beautifully lit as if a theatrical lighting expert worked his magic.

To be continued … à suivre….et à bientôt!


📸  by Jennifer Gyr


Jennifer Gyr is a Creative Consultant at Par Excellence. After obtaining a degree in Art History and Photography, she was a Helena Rubenstein Intern at MoMA in NYC and she completed the “Works of Art” course at Sotheby’s in London. She then worked for several years at the photography gallery Hamiltons Gallery in London and at Hyperion Press and Keith de Lellis Gallery in NYC. She was a private photography dealer for many years and served as an archivist and curator of a private photography collection in NYC. She also archived the estate of the photographer Horst P. Horst. She has curated several exhibitions and consulted on numerous photo books and exhibitions including with The National Portrait Gallery in London. When not seeking her next travel inspiration she lives in Brooklyn with her Swiss husband.