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!

Downtown Inspired

With fashion week taking over the streets of New York, London and soon Paris, I thought what better time to launch a new Kasia Dietz handbags collection. During a recent trip to New York City, I became inspired by the colors and energy of the city, namely downtown, my stomping ground. Thus, the Downtown Collection was born, representing the West Village, Soho and the East Village (also included in that is the Lower East Side, of course). As always, all Kasia Dietz handbags are limited edition and made in Paris. And perfect for travel!

The shoot took place on a late afternoon in the charming West Village. Clothes by designer and friend Yumi Kim.

By the end of the shoot I made an adorable and very fluffy friend. How well does he fit with the Soho bag?

I hope you enjoy the latest Downtown Collection! Stay tuned for more exciting design projects ahead…

PARIS PICKS : Sunday Brunch

With Sunday brunch slowly but surely becoming a weekend ritual in Paris, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite spots. Little makes me happier than brunching with friends, or a long leisurely brunch with my Italian and The New York Times. If only there could be a spot that serves brunch daily… Oh wait, there is!

Newly opened Holybelly 5, neighboring Holybelly 19 in the 10th, owned and run by a lovely expat couple, serves up a brunch menu every day from 9am to 5pm. My dish of choice is their Savoury Stack, pancakes with fried eggs, bacon, homemade bourbon butter and maple syrup. Sweet and savory perfection! Brunch on a Wednesday? Why not! Also to note, their coffee is some of the best in Paris, my Italian will agree.

Holybelly 5 // 5 Rue Lucien Sampaix, 75010 // Daily 9-5 (last orders at 4) // No reservations

Another brand new eatery serving a daily brunch menu is Café Méricourt, sister to Café Oberkampf. Also owned by a charming expat couple. A breakfast roll and green eggs and feta are two breakfast (or lunch) options, as is the green bowl with quinoa, spinach and avocado, a fast favorite! The decor is bright and welcoming, and with its overnight success reservations are recommended. Here too you’ll enjoy a good cup of joe.

Café Méricourt // 22 rue de la Folie Méricourt, 75011 // Wednesday-Sunday 10-6

If you like eggs, then you love Eggs & Co located in the heart of Saint-Germain. Where better to try eggs benedict, for breakfast or lunch, 6 days a week. This charming refurbished barn house will make you feel like you’re dining in the countryside. A brunch menu is offered at 22.

Eggs & Co // 11 Rue Bernard Palissy, 75006 // +33 (0)1 45 44 02 52 // Tue-Mon 10-5, Sat-Sun 10-6

Admittedly, I haven’t yet eaten at Les Bonnes Sœurs, as the lines are usually too long, but I know it’s one of the best French brunch spots in town. Le brunch at 24€ or 28€ includes freshly squeezed juice, coffee, tea (or hot chocolate), an egg dish, dessert, and don’t forget that basket of bread and croissants. No need for dinner!

Les Bonnes Sœurs // 8 rue du pas de la Mule, 75003 // +33 (0)1 42 74 55 80 // Mon-Fri 12-3, 7-11, Sat 12-4:30, 7-11, Sun 11-4:30, 7-11

If you want to splurge on Sunday brunch and make a day of it, head to Le Chalet des Iles in Bois de Boulogne. Reachable only by boat in a bucolic setting, they offer an unlimited gourmet buffet brunch at 55€. You can read more about my unforgettable experience here. Reservations are recommended.

Le Chalet des Iles // 14 Chemin de Ceinture du Lac Inférieur, 75016 // +33 (0)1 42 88 04 69 // Daily 12-3, 7:30-10:30

 

Date with Dior

“I think of my work as ephemeral architecture, dedicated to the beauty of the female body.”  – Christian Dior

Did you know that prior to becoming a fashion designer Christian Dior was a gallerist with a deep love for fine art? This was only a fraction of what I learned at the most recent exhibition to open at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, honoring 70 years of the House of Dior. With a carefully curated selection of 300 haute couture dresses alongside artworks, this expo pays tribute to the master himself Christian Dior, and those who followed in his vision including Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri. This was without a doubt, one of the most impressive fashion experiences of my life.

Following are highlights from my recent ‘Date with Dior’, just in case you can’t make it to the show yourself.

Haute Couture / Fall/Winter 2012 / Embroidered organza evening gown / Raf Simons

Suzurka-San / Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2007 / Embroidered and painted linen coat / John Galliano

“After women, flowers are the most divine of creations.” – Christian Dior

Muguet / Haute Couture Spring-Summer 1957 / Organdy dress embroidered by Barbier

“True luxury needs good materials and good workmanship; it will never succeed unless its roots are profoundly embedded in sober influences and honest traditions.” – Christian Dior

Deep in every heart slumbers a dream and the couturier knows it: every woman is a princess.” – Christian Dior

A must see when you’re next in Paris, this exhibition Christian Dior, couturier du rêve ends on January 7th, 2018.

VIP Shopping at Galeries Lafayette

Entering regal department store Galeries Lafayette at 40 Boulevard Haussmann feels much like entering a museum (more on its fascinating history, here). The difference being what’s on display are shoes, bags and a carefully curated selection of designer clothing. Much like a museum the experience can be intimidating. To avoid losing yourself in the racks of ready-to-wear, Galeries Lafayette now offers a VIP shopping experience. Curious to learn more, I decided to head over to my favorite store.

Walking through the majestic space, the first thing that caught my eye was the current art exhibition ‘Le Jour Qui Vient’. Various phrases in both English and French are strewn along the store, ready to catch consumers attention. What’s better than shopping in the midst of art? I also stopped by the Galerie des Galeries for a look at the ‘Africa Now’ expo, ending July 29th. But back to VIP shopping…

I took the escalator to the 5th floor concierge desk, presented my voucher and was led to a private lounge. Here began my VIP shopping experience. I settled in to enjoy the stellar treatment, champagne, and of course the shopping. I had a few key summer essentials in mind.

So what does recently launched Galeries Lafayette’s Parisian VIP shopping experience include exactly? Services that are perfect for a traveler or local with little time on their hands.

  • A dedicated concierge service
  • Fast-track payment and tax refund service
  • Delivery of your in-store purchases to your hotel or residence in Paris
  • Access to Personal Shopper service
  • Complimentary drinks and snacks (Champagne, anyone?)
  • International press
  • Private Wifi
  • Treats from one of their restaurants including Angelina and Vue sur Coupole
  • A Galeries Lafayette tote bag

If you’re still not sure about VIP shopping, I invite you to try it for yourself, and spend a day shopping like a vrai Parisian. You’ll be hooked! I’m offering two VIP passes (valued at 49€ each) for you and a friend. Just follow Galeries Lafayette on Instagram and leave a comment below. Winner announced June 23rd. Bonne chance!

Packing for Paris

Several years ago, I left behind my earthly possessions and traveled the world. One of the greatest challenges in this journey of 13 months and 5 continents (and a total of 32 countries) was what to pack? One backpack sized suitcase would carry my new nomadic life. While I prepared this bag with great care, a new freedom greeted me, as I no longer felt encumbered by my possessions. Along the way I discovered how little is actually necessary, be it a week, a month or a year.

In the years that followed, I became an expert at packing and have learned to live out of a carry-on during my frequent jaunts to Italy, Spain or the French countryside. When women ask me what to bring when traveling to my current home of Paris, I am well equipped with a response. Men need not worry too much as jeans and a fitted shirt will suffice in most settings.

Since the majority of travel to Paris takes place during the Spring, Summer and Fall months, less is more. Regardless of how long you’ll be spending in the City of Lights, you don’t need attire for more than a week. After that, unless your hotel has laundry service, it’s time to discover the laverie automatique, otherwise known as the laundromat. It might even be wise to under pack, as Paris’s department stores and limitless boutiques revealing an array of French brands, are worth exploring. Or join me on a fashion tour!

Paris is by all accounts the fashion capital, but unless you’re planning to dine in 5-star settings, you can leave your stilettos at home. Street style takes over the right and left banks, where latest trends mix with vintage classics. There’s an understated elegance pervasive in the Parisian woman’s uniform.

So, what exactly is needed for a week stay? A jacket or coat (depending on the season), a sweater, casual shirts both long and short sleeve and a simple white button-down will have your top half covered. For the bottom, a pair of comfortable jeans, elegant slacks or jeans, a skirt and a little black dress. If it’s summertime, make that two dresses and a pair of shorts. Yes, Parisians do wear shorts, but leave the sweatpants at home.

As for shoes, a pair of trendy sneakers, comfortable walking shoes or boots, and a pair of flats or low heels for the evening. Ballerinas are a favorite of La Parisienne. Bring a bag to carry your daily essentials, sunglasses for the Parisian sun, a clutch for dinners out, a scarf for chilly evenings and an umbrella for rainy days. Finally, a hint of jewelry for the finishing touch. Make sure your separates mix and match well, and pack only what you feel your best in. Confidence is the best accessory!

Now book that ticket, start packing, and head for the fashion show that is Paris. Once you arrive you can read more about Paris on Bonjour Paris, where this article first appeared. Or send me a note and I’ll share my tips!

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