METRO-POLIT(ICI)AN



 

When “Métro, boulot, dodo” becomes “Métro, resto, speedo”.

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The rhyming French expression “métro, boulot, dodo” is a wonderfully succinct way of saying that you live to work (Métro refers to a subway commute, boulot is an informal word for work, and dodo is baby talk for sleeping; nothing to do with the bird, or the jewellery). It could be translated literary by “commute, work, sleep,” but really means “the rat race, the same old routine, work work work” and doesn’t quite capture the poetic sense of movement of the French expression.

GCSE French lesson aside, election campaigns for the much-coveted role of mayor are currently rife in Paris. As the tradition in politics dictates, promises, pledges and prevarications by the hopeful candidates are in order. Centre-right candidate Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, aka NKM, is proposing to renovate abandoned métro stations in the City of Lights and to transform some of the derelict, disused spaces into a swimming pool, a restaurant, a performance theatre, a garden, an art gallery and une discothèque. Genius, n’est-ce pas! Wouldn’t it be fun if these subterranean tunnels would become a place to go and relax instead of the grimy, noisy, smelly and over-crowded tunnels we, urbanite mortals, have to endure on our daily grind?


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NKM commissioned French studios Oxo Architectes and Laisné Associés to conceptualise and design these century-old spaces (the métro de Paris opened in 1900) and turn them into capacious, urban environments (A-Gent of Style is not quite convinced a watercolour by Jeremiah Goodman or Walter Gay would quite cut la moutarde here; CAD drawings can be brilliant).

Between 1930-1970, sixteen underground stations in Paris closed and have been abandoned since, additionally to the ones which were also built but never opened and those which have been used as sets for films like the Porte-des-Lilas, notoriously used as a backdrop in the 2001 film Amélie.

Arsenal station closed in 1936

Arsenal station closed in 1936

 

As expected, the proposal has encountered obstacles primarily because of the prohibitive cost of implementing such a huge project (was the Eiffel Tower or President Mitterand’s Bilbiothèque Nationale cheap?) and also because of security and safety issues (aren’t over-crowded tube stations already a threat to the public, every day?).

We will have to be patient and wait until the elections on March, 30 to find out if these conceptual ideas to reclaim these phantom stations ever see the day of light (literally). Who knows, in a few years, one might be able to say “Yesterday, I went swimming dans le métro“!


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Have a great weekend everyone. A-Gent of Style will be celebrating his thirty-something birthday.







‘A LONDONER IN PARIS’: MAISON & OBJET PARIS JANUARY 2014



 

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Following on from his intoxicating adventures in Paris a fortnight ago which started with Paris Déco Off, A-Gent of Style would like to share with you his first MAISON&OBJET. Some of you might think it is sacrilegious to hear that
 A-Gent had never been before to this arguably biggest trade fair in the design world. But in A-Gent of Style‘s defence, firstly the opportunity to visit the fair had never risen and secondly the opinions about it were very mixed, dare I say it, almost off-putting essentially because of the sheer size and amplitude of it all (two to three days are apparently necessary to cover the whole fair). So with some preconceptions, A-Gent went out to Villepinte on the Sunday, forty minutes north of Paris from Les Jardins du Luxembourg, to see and experiment for himself what the fuss and attraction were all about – last year, just under 80,000 visitors were reported to have attended the fair over the five days MAISON&OBJET was on.


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MAISON&OBJET Paris is a complete showcase for all aspects of design, decoration and the art of living, highlighting current and future trends, which mobilises and brings together the interior design sector under one roof from all over the world. Held in September and January each year in Paris and also recently in Asia and the Americas, retail buyers, influencers, European and global export companies gather at Paris Nord Villepinte to see the latest design developments, find out about emerging trends and plan the next step for their business. A-Gent of Style had decided to concentrate for the first time to Les Editeurs, regrouped under Hall 7 (there are eight halls together) created for fans of Haute creation and unique and exclusive pieces from the best of the decorative world in a profusion of beautiful brands. Additionally, Scènes d’Intérieur brought together for the first time the talents of extraordinary creators, at the crossroads of craft, art and design.




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A-Gent of Style was ultimately very pleasantly surprised by what he saw and some of the wonderful discoveries he made; he even made it to Hall 8! And all under four hours! All very much worth the visit and ploughing your way through the crowds.

Here is his story in pictures:







‘A LONDONER IN PARIS’: LE PARIS DECO OFF 2014




“L’Art, La Manière, La Matière” /  “Art, Fashion, Material”

– Paris Déco Off 2014 –



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The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of thrilling and intoxicating
design-centric events for A-Gent of Style so apology for the somewhat dearth of communication and posts. It all started last Monday evening with a private talk and party at Christie’s for the Michael Inchbald: A Legacy of Design exhibition and sale – you can view A-Gent of Style’s feature and collaboration with the auction house here – which realised £3,280,675 selling 93% by lot and 98% by value, the original estimate being £2,000,000. Amelia Walker, the brilliant Head of Sale and Associate Director at Christie’s, who had also given A-Gent of Style an insightful private tour of the exhibition the day of the opening, stated:  “We are thrilled with the result of this sale, which was a testament to the discerning taste and impeccable eye of Michael Inchbald, a highly respected, award-winning innovator of the design world. The top lot was a pair of Empire ‘Egyptian’ ormolu, patinated bronze and black fossil marble six-light candelabra attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire, circa 1805, which sold for £434,500 to a UK Advisor”.



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On the Wednesday afternoon, A-Gent was honoured to be invited by David Collins Studio to attend a tribute in honour of the late designer hosted at one of his most, if not the most, iconic restaurants, The Wellesley, then still closed for refurbishment (“…the first and the last time the restaurant has hosted a private event…”, declared Jeremy King in his speech) which turned out to be a very heartfelt and perfect recognition of Collins’s exceptional career with personal speeches by his studio, colleagues and friends, amongst the glitterati of the design, fashion and media worlds. Immediately after that, it was a quick cab ride across London to catch the last Eurostar to Paris, which brings us to today’s topic.





There had been a lot of coverage  in the press and also on the design blogosphere about Paris Déco Off at the end of last year so when an invitation came from the organisers to partake in the celebrations, A-Gent of Style decided, rather intrigued but also curious, to organise a trip to the French capital and see for himself what the buzz what all about. The fact that his dear friend offered him to use her apartment in the thick of St Germain, where most of Paris Déco Off takes placewas also a good omen.


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In its fifth edition this year, Paris Déco Off  came to an end last Monday after five days celebrating the world of decoration and more specifically fabrics. More than 75 international decoration houses (A-Gent of Style was surprised to see so many showrooms found in Chelsea Design Centre now represented, mostly, in
Saint Germain) participated in the design-orientated event and opened their doors to experienced professionals but also uninitiated first-time visitors to showcase their new collections, colours, materials and projects, engage in conversations about know-how and creativity through workshops and events, and share their expertise and wealth of knowledge which altogether ‘created a melting pot of culture and heritage’. Unlike the more asepticised and rather suffocating fair that is 
Maison & Objet – which will be featured this week here – situated outside Paris in a gloomy northern suburb devoid of any charisma or style, Paris Déco Off takes place in two scenic districts of the ‘City of Lights’; Rive Gauche concentrating around the chi-chi, Chelsea-esque Saint-Germain-des-Prés and also Rive Droite around Rue du Mail, in the 2nd arrondissement, where a proliferation of new design showrooms has been witnessed in the last few years.

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Rue du Mail (2th A.)


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What makes Paris Déco Off so enjoyable is the fact that you can go from one showroom or pop-up boutique to another whilst walking amongst beautiful Parisian surroundings, making the whole experience a great way to combine business with world-class culture and heritage, and also forget the grey, cold and drizzling weather (it snowed last year during the event which no doubt added a romantic even cinematographic dimension to the event). This unique and enviable dimension most probably explains the great international appeal and attraction that Paris Déco Off has enjoyed exponentially every year.

Thanks to the fantastic team at Paris Déco Off and their great management and organisation, A-Gent of Style was invited to attend last Thursday the preview Press & Bloggers Day before the event officially started last Friday morning throughout Monday evening with little interruption; there was a late opening in the evening on Friday and a charity concert organised in the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Basilica. On Saturday morning, A-Gent of Style attended an exclusive brunch organised by De Gournay in their stunning  showroom in St Germain for a discussion between bloggers, journalists, key representatives of design houses and the De Gournay staff. And soirées were held in most showrooms on the Left Bank on Saturday until 11pm (officially. Say no more). All of that plus the ‘extra-curricular activities’
 A-Gent of Style partook in (which you will discover in the photos below).




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The electric atmosphere and buzz in the participating streets were infectious, during the day as well as in the evening; the reception from the traders in each showroom was genuinely warm and welcoming. Goodie bags and catalogues were offered in most showrooms displaying in their windows “Art, Manière, Matière”. The best way to navigate your way from one street to another was to look up and follow the illuminated, gigantic lanterns each upholstered in a different fabric from a different company (a bit like following the Yellow Brick Road really). Free shuttles – and we are talking private cars here not vans or coaches – were at the participants’ disposal to whizz around “Paname” (Paris’s nickname) from one rive to another and enjoy at the same time driving through some Parisian landmarks . And if you felt lonely or lost, all you had to do was to spot anyone sporting a Paris Déco Off chapeau, now a mascot, all adorned with a different coloured band – to feel part of the community.


The fantastic Paris Deco Off team: founders Hughes Charuita and Carole Locatelli with their assistants Anne-Charlotte and Camille

 

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Carole Locatelli surrounded by two fellow French bloggers

Carole Locatelli surrounded by two fellow French bloggers




Come and follow A-Gent of Style now through the streets of Paris and get a taste of his Paris Déco Off and his discoveries:





– ‘Polaroid’ photos by A-Gent of Style




 

 

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