At Home with Maison & Objet

To discover what’s new and in vogue in the home design world, there’s no better place than Maison&Objet, the annual trade fair that takes place in Paris every September. Select wares that pass through the doors of this massive exposition will be chosen by local boutiques and leading department stores, eventually making their way into Parisian homes.

As a designer with an affinity for home décor and all things food related, I thought I’d share my top artisanal picks from all over Europe. I have no doubt that these products and the artisans behind them are paving their way towards success in Paris and beyond.

A well-set table is of key importance in any home. Liisu Arro is a third generation artist from Estonia, who now calls Finland home. Her porcelain tableware series “Birds” is inspired by the long, dark Nordic winters. These plates, bowls and cups come to life in vivid turquoise, coral and yellow, emanating warmth as though born from a “Midwinter’s Dream”. A perfect modern compliment to these elegant ceramics is silverware by Dutch designer Heiko Balster. His minimalist stainless steel collection, available in either satin or gloss is impressive in both design and function. Each fork, knife and spoon is designed to rest on the edge of a plate, should that be your preference.

Let’s add linens and candles to our setting. Several year ago, two sisters from Sweden began designing a collection of home products including linen tea towels and aprons. Most recently, Terrible Twins launched their hand-crafted wellness collection including all natural soaps, salt scrubs, bath and body oils and scented candles. Each candle is poured by hand in reusable amber brown glass jars. Every product from the Spa Series is numbered from 1 to 10, referencing its ingredients.

As far as food preparation is concerned, a good cutting board is crucial. Russian brand FUGA creates handcrafted cutting and serving boards, as well as other items of home decoration. Using Northern crafting techniques and only natural materials, each piece is a unique work of art. Made of oak, often considered a symbol of power and strength, and with added healing powers in the tannins, the wood only becomes more beautiful with age.

To bring the outdoors in while adding to a home’s ambiance, plants are essential. Even more so when they become part of the decoration. The latest living green accessory comes from Italy. Inspired by their design of vertical green walls, Ortisgreen has created a smaller version called HOH! Hang.Oasi.Home. Nature can now become integrated in any home, regardless of the size or space.

Maison&Objet also exhibits innovative food and drink. Being a connoisseur of both sweets and wine, I was immediately drawn to The Real Wine Gum. A healthy adult treat containing no artificial colors or alcohol, you can taste your favorite wine on the go with no fear of over-indulging. Flavors include Rosé, Merlot, Chardonnay and the latest addition, Riesling. Also keep an eye out for their new Whiskey flavored gums.

Another sweet discovery comes from France and began in the form of apples. Started by two friends from Normandy, Sassy cider is a modern version of what every Normand grows up drinking. Named for the château where one of the partners was raised, this 100% natural beverage is made of pure fruit extraction with no concentrate. An ideal refreshing apéritif, with varieties include original, pear and rosé.

This article was originally published in Bonjour Paris where you can find other features I’ve written all about food, fashion, art, travel and lifestyle. Enjoy discovering Paris through my eyes!

Faena District

Having been to Miami over a dozen times for both work and play (namely Art Basel for the latter), I usually found myself nestled into a hotel in South Beach, along with everyone else who escaped to this sunny enclave. This time however, I explored a new area, removed from the crowds and with a charm and distinction all its own. Ten minutes north of South Beach in Mid-Beach sits the recently coined Faena district, Miami’s latest It spot. Having experienced the Faena Hotel in Buenos Aires, I could already envision the artful grandeur. Making a name for itself in late 2014 thanks to Argentian entrepreneur Alan Faena and his NY based business partner, this district includes two hotels and a performing arts theater.  I was eager to discover the historic boutique hotel Casa Claridge’s, or Casa Faena, once an apartment building built in 1926.

Upon entering you feel transported to another world, one in Spain or even Morocco. The luminous library in the hotel’s inner courtyard is well-equipped with literature and design books. I could easily have spent the afternoon here, or reading on the roof deck, but there was a beach umbrella calling my name. We quickly settled into our room, a spacious King with balcony and views to the beach, the next stop.

Little makes me happier than a shady spot in front of the sea. With so many festivals and activities going on during Miami’s high-season, we were still able to avoid the crowds and revel in what felt like a private beach. Once the sun set we headed to the laid-back Broken Shaker, a stellar bar nearby that opened in 2012, and dined at their new 27 restaurant. The next morning we were back on the beach, with just a quick walk to the Faena family’s latest addition, Hotel Faena, opened a year ago.


This modern hotel, a contrast to complement its historic predecessor, was just the place I’d like to check-in to for a few more days. Complete with gym, spa, pool and two gourmet restaurants, there was much to discover. And let’s not forget the neighboring Faena Theater, reminiscent of Old Hollywood. A destination unto itself, was there really any reason to ever leave the Faena District?

creatively minded

One of the best parts of living in Paris as an expat is meeting fellow expats, each of us on our own unique journey. For a moment, our paths cross and the world becomes a little smaller and more familiar. This is how I felt when I met photographer Elizabeth Young, as we shared tales of living and working in NYC, in the same Lower East Side neighborhood even. Given my love for photography, I immediately turned my attention to Elizabeth’s personal work and how she manages to balance her career between Paris and New York. As is often the case with creative minds, weeks later she was at my home office collaborating on a photography project.

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My office is where I spend many hours of the day, in between running to my manufacturer and client meetings. This is my haven, where I work on new designs, fill orders, write… Actually, my desk was the first purchase made for our new apartment. Love at first sight! It certainly serves its purpose.

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Both Elizabeth and I are doing what we love. She is continuing to find her inspiration behind the lens, and I am creating, both in the form of bags and with words. As the new year approaches, what is your dream? To live in Paris, Buenos Aires, Tokyo? To start a new career? To travel? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you. You’ll also be entered to win a Kasia Dietz bag of your choice. As an additional bonus, take 30% off all my bag collections from now until December 15th with the code: HOLIDAYS.

experiences

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In 2008, living locally while traveling was made possible with the launch of Airbnb. Since then it’s grown to include cities around the world, from Mexico City to Melbourne, with Paris being its largest market. In recent years Airbnb has realized the value of local experiences in its top destinations, and today it launches Airbnb Experiences starting in 12 cities, of which I’m very excited to be a part of! What is this exactly? It’s a way for a traveler to meet locals and get to know their city on a more personal and ‘expert’ level over one or three days.

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In my case, I’m a handbag designer living in the North Marais with a vast knowledge of local fashion and fellow artisans, most of whom like myself, manufacture in Paris. On my fashion tour I will introduce visitors to these fashion, jewelry and shoe designers, and they will learn about local design and French style, while visiting Parisian ateliers. I’ll also be teaching these visitors how to design their own custom tote bag in my bag painting workshop. As a traveler myself, I’m looking forward to meeting others from around the world in the months ahead.

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These are the beautiful bags that were created during our video shoot. You can view the video and my profile online at Airbnb, here. Wishing you all many memorable experiences, in Paris and beyond!

Le Negresco

My last trip to the Côte d’Azur was in March. I spent a little time in Nice but was eager to become better acquainted with this, the region’s capital. Aside from its Mediterranean climate, it’s a city of art and culture, another reason to fall in love with it. To properly immerse myself in the world of French art, where better to stay than at the historic hotel Le Negresco. Centrally located between Cannes and Monaco, it sits on the famous Promenade de Anglais. It is here in this National Historic Monument, that the French works of art from Louis XIII to modern art, have a home. I knew I would be in good company.

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Upon entering, the grandeur of this hotel is hard to describe. I’ve stayed in many beautiful hotels around the world, but Le Negresco is in a class of its own. The Versailles Lounge alone takes your breath away, with Louis XIV’s portrait, marble floors, hand-painted ceiling, and elegant furnishings. The fireplace too, is original. I could imagine the decadent events having taken place in this salon since Henri Negresco opened the hotel in 1913, now over 100 years old.

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Next I entered the Royal Lounge, centrally situated beneath a large glass dome. This is Negresco’s soul, and you can certainly feel it. Once an elegant ballroom, it’s now an elaborate event space, displaying portraits of French royalty, including Napoleon III. A stunning Baccarat chandelier provides the centerpiece. Fittingly, the hotel’s 93 year old owner Jeanne Augier’s portrait also has a place on the wall. After all, it is she who welcomes each guest to her home, which she has taken great pride in decorating. She lives on the top floor with her cat, and ensures that this private, family run hotel remains at the highest 5-star level in comfort and cuisine.

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A good friend from Nice had often spoken about the restaurants at Le Negresco, particularly the vibrant and colorful La Rotonde. It’s in fact an 18th century carousel with wooden horses circling the restaurant. My eyes opened wide in amazement as I entered this space and understood immediately why it’s such a warm and welcoming place dedicated to families. The terrace opens up to the sea and this is where I chose to have lunch, accompanied by the sun. Breakfast would be enjoyed in the carousel.

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Le Negresco is also known for its haute cuisine. Le Chantecler is Nice’s finest restaurant, with two stars in the Michelin Guide under the culinary expertise of chef Jean-Denis Rieubland. He defines his cuisine and style as “inspired by Provence, with the respect of its products and traditions”. This is THE place for French gastronomy, boasting a wine cellar of over 15,000 bottles, with woodwork dating back to 1751. After dinner you can unwind at the neighboring bar with live music and a good digestif.

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With each of the 96 rooms and 21 suites uniquely decorated with period furniture, I was eager to take a closer look. Mrs Augier being an art connoisseur and collector, walking through the hotel and up the four floors feels much like being in a museum, with artwork from Salvador Dali and Sonia Delaunay, tapestries from Raymond Moratti and sculptures from Niki de Saint Phalle, to name a few. And the rooms? Timeless perfection.

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I felt very much at home in my room overlooking the Bay of Angels and knew I would return to this Art Hotel called Le Negresco.

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PARIS PICKS : 4-star boutique hotels

One of the questions I’m most often asked is “Where to stay in the City of Lights?” My answer often includes a boutique hotel in the rive droite, my side of town. Even though I live in a charming Parisian apartment in the North Marais, I have an affinity for hotels designed for sophisticated travelers with style and comfort in mind. In the last few years I’ve experienced a few of these luxurious gems, first hand. Here are my top picks.

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Under the design direction of Dorothée Meilichzon, Hotel Bachaumont re-opened in September 2015. Steps away from the pedestrianized market street rue Montorgueil, this art-deco hotel composed of 49 rooms and complete with an uber trendy bar and restaurant, is one of Paris’ latest hotspots. Read all about my experience in Bonjour Paris. (Photo by Paul Bowyer)

Hotel Bachaumont // 18 rue Bachaumont 75002 // + 33 (0) 1 81 66 47 00

Hotel Fabric

A hotel set in a former textile factory? Welcome to Hôtel Fabric. This designers’ haven is located in the Oberkampf neighborhood, steps away from a slew of trendy eateries. Thirty-three rooms are equally stylish and spacious, featuring industrial decor combined with vivid prints by luxury design house Pierre Frey. Here’s my complete review in France Today.

Hôtel Fabric // 31 Rue de la Folie Méricourt 75011 // +33 (0)1 43 57 27 00

Terrass Hotel

Eiffel tower views, anyone? Head to the historic artists’ quartier of Montmartre for both comfort and a vista. From the 7th floor bar and restaurant of Terrass’’ Hotel, the panoramic views will take your breath away! Refurbished and re-opened in June 2015, find refuge in the hotels 85 contemporary rooms and 7 suites, some with private balconies. Read more in my feature in Bonjour Paris.

Terrass’’ Hotel // 12-14 rue Joseph de Maistre 75018 // +33 (0)1 46 06 72 85

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In the trendy Strasbourg Saint-Denis neighborhood, Hôtel Providence takes center stage. This recently opened circa-1854 hotel contains 18 rooms and 3 suites, each exhibiting vintage furnishings, walls clad in velvet prints, and well stocked bars. While I haven’t yet stayed overnight in this chic setting which attracts quite an A-list crowd, I have admired the design of the rooms and the cozy bar and restaurant, perfect for a night cap.

Hôtel Providence // 90 rue René Boulanger 75010 // +33 (0)1 46 34 34 04

Melenos Lindos

We arrived to Rhodes and immediately fell under the spell of its majestic medieval city, the largest walled city in Europe. We explored the tangle of roads which led to the Jewish Quarter and paid a visit to the impressive Archaeological Museum. But our main destination was the town of Lindos, an hour by bus and a world of difference.

IMG_0884Rising over the traditional white homes of Lindos sits an acropolis dating back to the 10th century BC. As we ventured up the hill, we arrived to our home, Melenos Lindos, what appeared to be a village within a village; a world of its own that I was eager to discover.

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life lately

Dearest readers and lovers of Paris, my sincerest apologies for not keeping you up to date on life as of late. Since returning from Istanbul, I’ve been busy launching new handbag collections including the much anticipated Palais-Royal clutches, and bags inspired by Monet’s gardens in Giverny. Just in time for spring as Paris is in full bloom! You can view photos of this beautiful season in the city of lights via Instagram.

IMG_8573_2I’ve also been working on another project which I am excited to share with you. Ever since my travels around the world in 2007 I’ve had the desire to write a book, a memoir of sorts, to share this incredible experience of travel and personal growth. Each of us is writing our own story, and I look forward to sharing part of mine in hopes of inspiring others to follow their dreams, as I did. I hope you will enjoy my journey around the world from NY to Paris, in written form. With my proposal finished, the search for an agent begins…Wish me luck!

In other exciting news, I’ve recently been featured on fabulous Australian based website My French Life. Find out exactly how I arrived to Paris and started designing bags.

More exciting adventures in Paris and beyond coming soon…

the grandest bazaar

IMG_6481 One of my favorite places to get lost in Istanbul is the Grand Bazaar. I could spend hours walking the ancient aisles, searching for souvenirs, spices, sweets… With 61 streets in one of the world’s largest & oldest covered markets, and 3,000 shops, there is plenty to see!

IMG_6488  Most of the salesmen try to entice you into their shop, “Lady, one minute to look!” I smile.

IMG_6500But it’s the fabrics that I am after. Two years ago I first fell in love with ikat prints and designed my Istanbul Collection. What else could I have called it? On this trip, I fell in love again, with the newest assortment of silks in vibrant colors and prints. It was tough to choose! After a friendly chat about life in France, and the cost of sending kids to private schools in Turkey, over a cup of tea of course, I selected fabrics for a new collection.IMG_6512I can’t wait to create new clutches! Keep an eye out via instagram and facebook

Andalucia inspired

Last week I finished my latest handbag collection inspired by recent travels to Andalucia, Spain. Who better to shoot these new bags with than one of my favorite Paris photographers, the uber talented Catherine O’Hara. We set the date for a clear and calm Sunday, and headed for one of my favorite settings, Île Saint-Louis. To avoid the crowds we descended the stairs and the heart of the city became ours, at least for a moment.

Catherine O-Hara Photography-Kasia Dietz Handbagskasia-bags-27 kasia-bags-31kasia-bags-37To celebrate the coming of spring, I’m giving away one of my new Andalucia handbags. {From left to right: Cordoba, Seville, Granada.} To enter, leave a comment with your favorite bag and where you would like to travel. Winner chosen at random on March 10th. You can also enter via instagram at: instagram.com/kasia_dietz

kasia-bags-56Here’s an outtake with Catherine’s adorable pooch Percy. I couldn’t resist a shot with him!

kasia-bags-78Thank you Catherine for such gorgeous photos! Had a wonderful time with you and Percy!

You can find all my handbags online at www.kasiadietz.com

colors of Andalucia

During our recent trip to Andalucia, I became enchanted with the tilework of the Alcázar of Seville. These press-moulded tiles inherited the Islamic love for geometry while taking on figurative compositions inspired by fabrics during the Gothic and Renaissance periods. I was inspired by the colors and shapes and sought to create a modern version in bag form.

IMG_3095IMG_3091IMG_3094The range of motifs produced in Seville was varied, and their use in architecture diverse.

IMG_3163 IMG_3200 IMG_3187 As soon as we returned to Paris I set to work on a new Andalucia handbag collection…

art into fashion

Artist Sonia Delaunay is one of the inspirations behind my handbags. Arriving to Paris in 1905, Sonia believed “modernity could be expressed through the primacy of color in art and the dynamic interplay of its dissonances and harmonies”. Due in large part to her beliefs and the quality of her work, Delaunay is responsible for bringing art into daily life.

IMG_2309I was overjoyed to spend an afternoon with my muse at her Musée d’Art Moderne retrospective in Paris, what was once her home. ( I often visit her paintings at Pompidou’s permanent collection.) Over 400 works were on display, including paintings, wall decorations, gouaches, prints, fashion items and textiles. A designer’s paradise!

IMG_2318Bringing together the fine and applied arts, Sonia Delaunay desired to liberate color, without restricting it to surface. Her art was brought into life, and into fashion.

IMG_2325Art and life became one. “It was my life and I worked the whole time, but I wasn’t working – I was living – and that is the difference.”

IMG_2336Delaunay’s textiles varied greatly from the naturalistic designs popular in the early 1920s. Her fabrics incorporated geometric shapes, often with strong, bold colors.

IMG_2347I often look at paintings and see them as fabric. That is after all, how I came up with my wearable art designs. For me, there is no better example of this than the work of Delaunay.

IMG_2348“For me there is no gap between my painting and my so-called ‘decorative’ work. I never considered the ‘minor arts’ to be artistically frustrating; on the contrary, it was an extension of my art.”
IMG_2349            Sonia’s vision was uniquely vibrant. For her “color is the skin of the world”.

Sonia Delaunay retrospective ends February 22

 

Fondation Louis Vuitton

Paris is a city steeped in history, with rarely a modern structure in sight. This is why the Fondation Louis Vuitton is such an important and monumental museum and cultural center for Paris. It not only houses art, but in my opinion it personifies art. It opened in late October in Paris’s Bois de Boulogne, and soon after that I was lucky enough to experience it. My last trip into the mind and work of Frank Gehry was at Guggenheim Bilbao and more recently NYC’s Guggenheim. This one was perhaps the most impressive of them all!

IMG_0504Frank Gehry’s vision was realized thanks to the generous funding of LVMH, at a cost of no less than $135 million. Within this 43 meter high private foundation of glass, concrete, timber and steel, you can find the art collection of Bernard Arnault, LVMH’s art-collecting owner and France’s wealthiest man. “You don’t put a price tag on a dream,” says Arnault. Eleven galleries provide 3,850 sq meters (41,441 square feet) of exhibition space. Pas mal!

IMG_0522From the top you can perfectly view Paris’ business district of La Défense in the distance.

IMG_0567I was enchanted by the mirrors and moat on the ground floor.

IMG_0581 IMG_0592Outside, the cascading waterfall creates a feeling of serenity amidst the concrete.

IMG_8670My Italian and I were so fascinated with the reflective structure and the way in which the light changed throughout the afternoon, that we stayed until nightfall.

IMG_8714THIS was a sight to behold!

c’est chouette

One of my favorite French words is chouette which literally means owl, or when used to describe someone or something, means it’s great or cool, as in c’est chouette. A few weeks ago while walking around my neighborhood, I noticed Les Chouettes, what appeared to be a new eatery. Upon entering I was completely taken with the decor and design of this new restaurant which opened on October 4th. Love at first sight! 

IMG_0890The restaurant was in fact named for an antique owl that the French owner found at a flea market. Inspired by art and a New York vision, the owner hired Spanish architect Lázaro Rosa-Violán to design the three level interior, what used to house a jewelry factory.

IMG_9290 As I climbed the spiral staircase to the second floor I discovered a bar serving artisanal beer and ale, as well as a vast selection of liquor. They even make their own juices.

IMG_0431The third floor revealed a cozy library in which to sip your wine while reading Rimbaud.

IMG_9231This is the perfect place to escape to for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a evening apéro.

IMG_9234And how is the food? I have yet to try it, but with an inventive French chef and seasonal ingredients, and a menu that changes every two weeks, how can you go wrong?

IMG_0426This is certain to become a favorite haunt in Paris. Welcome to the neighborhood!

Les Chouettes : 32 Rue de Picardie, 75003 (01 44 61 73 21)

united we stand

In an attempt to make even a small difference in the world, one that is often fraught with conflict, I designed the United Collection, representing people coming together in freedom, harmony, balance and unity. Twenty percent of all proceeds from sales of the United bags will go towards the global humanitarian organization, International Red Cross. With my mission in place, this was certainly a fun project to work on. Photographer Hélène Loire and I spent a beautiful late afternoon photographing the collection, beginning with that which we are all entitled to, freedom.

freedom (n): The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants.

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harmony (n): A pleasing combination of elements in a whole.

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balance (v): To bring into or maintain in a state of equilibrium.

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united (n): The state of being united or joined as a whole.

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More images from the United Collection on Kasia Dietz handbags website.

In addition to donating 20% of United bag sales to International Red Cross, I’m giving away a bag to one of my readers (chosen at random Dec 1st) as an early holiday gift. Just leave a comment below stating which United bag is your favorite, and be sure to join my designing life on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. Meanwhile, let’s all try to maintain a sense of freedom, harmony, balance and unity.

curating inspiration

As anyone in Paris is well aware, given the amount of fashion forward (and fashion faux pas) walking the streets of Paris these days, it’s Fashion Week. Rather than attending crowded shows to catch a glimpse of new trends that are often only seen on the catwalk, I chose a more inspired path. Friday night was the opening of the Dries Van Noten exhibition at Musée des Arts Décoratifs. I was lucky enough to join Anne of Ritournelle Blog, along with the who’s who of fashion, including Dries himself! This is the Belgian fashion icon’s first solo exhibition, aptly titled Inspirations. Not merely a fashion exhibition, but a look into the mind of a designer through art, imagination and creativity.

IMG_7217The starting point of a collection can be either very literal or abstract, a painting, a certain colour, a thought, a gesture, a smell, a flower, anything really. What matters to me is the journey from that first flash of inspiration to the final destination, the individual garments, the collection.

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I was impressed and inspired by this in-depth look into the mind of an artist. Here’s what Suzy Menkes of the International New York Times had to say, along with a video tour with Dries himself. This exhibition, which took 2 years to mount, will be on display until August 31st. Well worth a visit for anyone with creative sensibilities and a love for fashion, art & travel. Worth even a trip to Paris!

the happy show

Often I question, what is happiness? Is it something we can control? For me, happiness can be as simple as sitting along the banks of the Seine, watching the sun set behind Notre Dame. Equally, cruising around the spectacular Greek island of Milos on a catamaran beneath a clear blue sky, or floating in a hot air balloon above the natural wonder that is called Cappodocia. Both of these memories elicit great happiness. Come to think of it, almost anything related to travel, beauty, love (or nearly anything sweet), brings me happiness. I recently read an article that shed a little light.

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When I discovered an exhibition based on this very topic, I couldn’t wait to go. Stefan Sagmeister is creator of The Happy Show, a study of happiness, a topic that has long intriqued him and led him on his happiness hunt. This Austrian-born graphic artist, whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in New York City, asks “Is happiness a muscle just like any other?”

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The first question, what makes us happy? (Genetics, Activites & Life Conditions)

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IMG_5727How happy are you on a scale of 1-10? Looks like the gumballs are almost gone in #9.

IMG_4812What makes us unhappy? “Trying to look good limits my life”

IMG_5743It has been proven that taking risks increases happiness. I agree!

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My Italian and I attended the opening of the expo and were very happy to speak with Stefan about his studies on happiness and what inspired him to put together the show, as well as the film he’s working on. For those interested, here are 7 rules for making more happiness from Stefan.

The Happy Show is making it’s way around the world, from Philadelphia to Toronto to Los Angeles and now in Paris at La Gaîté Lyrique. Will the exhibition itself make you happy? You can bet on it.

supporting the small

Today is Small Business Saturday, the day following the largest shopping day in America. Even prior to starting my own handbag business I always tried to support small enterprises, those with the courage, passion and drive to start a venture of their own. One such Paris-based, chic, eco-conscious scarf company I recently learned about is Krama Heritage. Here’s a little background.

The Krama, which has been traditionally worn in Cambodia for centuries, is the Khmers’ belonging sign and a very useful scarf in their everyday life. For us, it’s the best way to develop a social project in Cambodia: all our Kramas are woven by a cooperative of weavers in fair trade conditions and, for each Krama purchased, we hand out €3 to the Non Governmental Organization Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (For a Child’s Smile).

Krama Heritage

Launched 11 months ago, these unisex scarves are making a statement around the world. I share one with my Italian, and each time he or I wear it I think of Cambodia and it’s people. Having been to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh during my travels, and meeting the locals, I know how greatly such a business can benefit it’s people. Bravo to Krama Heritage for thinking globally and acting locally!

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On our recent trip to Bruges, a little piece of Cambodia proudly accompanied us.

Find out more about Krama Heritage on their website and Facebook page.

And thank you for supporting small business!

Provence in a bag

In honor of what almost feels like summer in Paris, and simply due to inspiration during my travels in the South of France, my latest handbags are aptly called the Provence Collection. Filled with colors and flowers to brighten up the grayest of days, in Paris or anywhere for that matter. With the help of photographer Louise Chester, these bags came to life and are now available online at www.kasiadietz.com. All bags and totes are reversible, limited edition and of course, made in Paris!

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Flowers tote and matching clutch.

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Colors bag and matching purse.

Colors bag and purse

Wishing all a colorful summer, wherever you may be in the world!

flying carpet

One of my creative passions (other than designing bags) is decorating. Finding just the right furniture and accessories to fill the space and create a home. Since moving to our new apartment, this is exactly what I have been doing. With the approval of my Italian, of course. (Thankfully, he usually agrees with my taste.) In need of a carpet for the living room I thought why not find one in Istanbul? And with the help of our local friends during our recent visit, that is exactly what we did.

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Rather than brave the Grand Bazaar with the tourists, Emre took us to the street of rugs. And there began our hunt for the perfect piece to complete our Parisian mid-century modern salon.

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The friendly sales people, who were busy mending a carpet when we entered, were more than pleased to help us, having many options of traditional woven kilims as well as patchwork rugs.

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We were shown dozens of rugs, mostly the patchwork style which I had quickly fallen in love with for it’s ancient yet modern allure. And then the bargaining began… Which was the chosen rug?

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An elegant black and white patchwork, that fits perfectly with our decor, and is the best souvenir we could have brought home. I knew this was our rug as soon as I saw it, but what fun to experience running around the carpet stores! Now perhaps a trip to Morocco for a lamp?

waiting for the spring…

It’s April in Paris, yet spring still feels far away. It’s been tough to stay motivated during this seemingly never-ending winter (I heard it even snowed in France today!) I’m doing my best to keep busy with designing, and am working on a new summer collection (soon to be revealed…). But until then, I wanted to share my latest video, to creatively demonstrate the versatility of my handbags.

To inspire the coming of spring, I’m offering a special promotion to my lovely (and fashionable) readers. Purchase any bag or purse from the Riviera Collection and receive another of your choice, as a complimentary gift! One for you, and one for a friend. Perfect for your summer travel plans!

Riviera Collection

Wishful thinking that spring (or at least summer) is right around the corner…

 

mid-century maison

The last few weeks have been dedicated to decorating our new home, “Project Nest” as I call it. Growing up with an interior designer mother has certainly influenced this passion, which I consider one of the most fulfilling forms of self-expression. My journey in creating our new living space, which my Italian is leaving mostly up to me, began on France’s renowned site for virtually anything, leboncoin.fr. (Incidentally, also where I found our apartment.)

As someone with an affinity for Mid-Century Modern design, that is where my search commenced. Et voilà! It began with finding my perfect desk and ended with the discovery of my now favorite Scandinavian design shop, Maison Nordik, a new addition to the ever-evolving 18ème.

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As soon as the doors opened, I arrived to admire, and quickly purchase my desk. It was love at first sight, with the desk, as with the store. I met the owners Gregory (French), and Louise (Danish), and quickly discovered their passion for design and their love for beautiful objects, each hand selected.

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There is a new supply of 50’s and 60’s furniture, designer lamps and beautiful ceramics arriving to the store every few weeks, mostly from Denmark. They also now sell Square Modern pillows, an ideal showcase for these minimalist chic coussins. Soon after my desk acquisition (and the rosewood chair to accompany it) Gregory and Louise found us a gorgeous teak dining table, perfect for our soon to be planned dinner parties! Now they are on the hunt for a TV console as I struggle from creating our apartment into a Mid-Century Modern showroom. Would that really be so bad?

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For the fellow Mid-Century Modern aficionados, Maison Nordik is located at 159 rue Marcadet and open from Thursday – Sunday 12:30-7:30 (Monday – Wednesday by appointment). They share a space with a made-to-measure industrial design company and next door lies one of the best laboratory cafés in Paris, Café Lomi. Reasons enough to venture to upper Montmartre!

art inspired

These days as the sun sets early and the cold air settles in, I’m busying myself with designing. New Kasia Dietz handbags in the works! The question is, where does this inspiration come from? In a word: art. The sole reason I started my business. And aside from travel, my great love. As I did in NYC, here in Paris I spend as much time as I can carousing galleries and museums, even just stopping in the Pompidou, or in NYC, the MoMA, or in London, the Tate Modern, to visit my favorites. Paul Klee, Mark Rothko, Franz Klein, to name a few. It is these great artists that inspire me in my own, wearable art. Who says art and fashion can’t mix?

I recently featured the master Paul Klee on a guest post for THATlou.

Mark Rothko’s compositions will always bring me simple and natural bliss.

Franz Klein has a way of creating calm out of chaos. Minimalism at its best.

Stay tuned for Spring 2013, new collections of handbags influenced by abstract expressionism.

The Dream Life of Nichole Robertson

Nichole Robertson is one of those women I look at and wonder, how does she do it all? (And so well!) Excel at a career in New York’s high-paced advertising world, manage a continual state of wedded bliss, raise two young sons… all the while living the dream of Paris, photographing this city by capturing it’s essence unlike anyone else. Recently she was featured on Martha Stewart, but there was more I wanted to know. And so I asked her how Paris became a reality.

My husband and I decided to move to Paris on a whim one night after a few glasses of wine. By all measures it seemed crazy – we had two toddler boys, wonderful friends, a network of business contacts – but something nagged us. Was this the life we were supposed to be living?

We hadn’t yet bought a house (we were living in the NYC suburbs) and we both were self-employed with flexible work arrangements. Nothing was holding us down, and our desire to shake up our lives outweighed any practical considerations.

So we stored or sold most of our things, and did it. I didn’t really overthink it, and looking back, I’m humored by the cavalier manner in which we did it. It was exhilarating and scary and wonderful.

As we adjusted to our new neighborhood, everything was a challenge in the best possible way. While I could sleepwalk my way through a workday with a client in NYC or at Whole Foods or Target, simply buying milk or navigating the post office presented challenges. I had about as much French as an 18 month old and the same wide eyes.

Being out of my comfort zone was good for me. It allowed me to slow down and notice things I may have otherwise overlooked. Even though I’m a writer, I had little interest in writing about my experiences in Paris, it was all visual. I carried my camera with me everywhere. I snapped photos of everything that caught my eye (I even have photos of trash cans!), simply because it was new. New to me, and that’s all that mattered.

That was three years ago, and what started out as simple snapshots of my life in Paris turned into a three-year project, a side business and a book. I’m still floored by that, and wonder why my life took this turn. I guess good things happen when you follow your bliss.

To experience more of Nichole’s bliss, step into the world of Little Brown Pen where she often captures Paris in Color, her book releasing on April 18th! My favorites being red and gray, or perhaps the elegance of white… You can also follow her visions of Paris via Facebook and Twitter.

The Dream Life of Suzanne Flenard

Moving to a foreign country, as challenging as it is, can afford us the privilege of redefining ourselves by asking the question ‘Who am I and what do I really want to do?’, versus following a path that might not lead to fulfillment, which to us New Yorkers, often means climbing the corporate ladder.

Suzanne Flenard is one such savvy ex-New York gal I met along the expat way. She and her partner Jeremy decided to take a ‘break’ from the grind of life in NYC, having both lived there for over 15 years. Six months of a break has now turned into 3 years and they have never looked back. Paris very quickly became home. Might I add that home to them looks much like a boutique hotel in the Marais, très chic!

As a seasoned professional in the world of interiors, working with furniture companies such as Design Within Reach (one of my personal favorites), Suzanne always had the desire to create something of her own. It was over lunch one day with a mutual friend that we brainstormed ideas for her vision. Over the course of several months, Suzanne set her designing mind into motion. While her foodie partner was busy exploring the gourmet markets of Paris, Suzanne spent many an afternoon carousing Montmartre and the Sentier in search of just the right fabrics (an exercise I know well), not to mention the virtual world… I introduced her to my trusted manufacturer… she impressively designed her own website… et voilà! Square Modern came to life.

What exactly is Square Modern and why is it so unique and eco-friendly? In the words of Suzanne…

Square modern is a limited edition collection of pillows/cushions using reclaimed designer fabric remnants. The idea came about as an interest to introduce the European Community to “Mid-Century Modern” textile designs, in addition to other beautiful modern classics, popular in the United States. These designer fabrics are selected from some of the most exclusive textile manufacturers that exist today: Maharam, Kvadrat, Knoll and Kravet. Square Modern uses primarily reclaimed fabric remnants, often found in limited supply. Therefore, the collection is produced in limited quantity and will continuously change as interesting textiles become available. All cushions are produced in Paris.

I am very proud and excited for Suzanne, living her dream in Paris, a life she could not have foreseen in New York. I for one, possessing a passion for interior design, particularly mid-century modern, already have my eye on a few coussins…

Square Modern is based in Paris and available internationally. Join on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with the latest limited edition pillows!