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DESIGN
Designer's Days in Paris
Innovation takes over the City of Light
by Isabelle Doal
on 12 June 2012
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The 12th edition of Designer's Days decorated Paris inside and out last weekend. The celebration brought a varied bunch of innovative creations all over the city, involving a blend of venues and actors, famous design brands, exclusive creators, art schools, designers' studios and workshops, embassies and outdoor installations. Every branch of design was part of the feast, including industrial design, interior decoration, homeware, furniture and more.

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The festival marked an occasion for brands to debut innovations like the decorative "Add-on" heaters designed by Satyendra Pakhalé for the Italian company Tubes Radiatori, which was shown at Centre Pompidou museum. Trying to convert utilitarian heaters into decorative pieces, "Add-on" utilizes an enlarged surface area to spread heat, and the system's polyhedric modules can be freely assembled to create infinite decorations. The lattice-style form makes this piece ideal for a room divider, resembling an Arabic Mashrabiya.

Exclusive rug company Dedar commissioned the New York-based Stephan Burks for an artistic performance around rope and fabrics. The artist invented seats with large bunches of tough rope partly covered with caoutchouc and wrapped with zipped corsets inspired by African textile culture and patterns.

The famous inventor of the bag-free vacuum cleaner, Dyson, exhibited prototypes made by fresh design graduates as part of its sponsorship program, with all projects reflecting the brand's focus on air. Dyson gave an award last year to the "Airdrop", an innovative system able to produce water for irrigation by capturing moisture from the atmosphere, and the utility of the low-tech device for drought-ridden countries is quite promising. "Kerio" is a home dry cleaner that implements air technologies to replace a washing machine, steaming clothes in a low-water, eco-friendly system. The "Wind Up" lamp, which is turned on and off in the manner of a candle by simply blowing on the bulb, is as simple as it is poetic.

Recent graduates from the prestigious École Boulle design and interior architecture school were also given the opportunity to show their achievements and allow the public to discover this up-and-coming generation. One creation, the "Mister T" table by Antoine Lesur smartly embeds in the piece a ready-to-use set of table, tray, basket and cushions. The light shape of the armchair by Eric Naveteur has also been selected along with the "Pouff" by Norman Bouzidi, a table and seat designed for snack and improvised parties, with storage spaces in the locks.

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Italian brand Poltrona Frau asked the French designer Noé Duchaufour Lawrance to create a scenography for its store. The result is an organic chain of leather that emerges from armchairs and spreads all over the showroom, featuring gigantic arms or roots that connect all the pieces of the collection. The piece communicates both the appealing power of leather as well as the brand's superior level of creative execution.

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Many other leading brands on the market commissioned famous or new designers to produce something for the occasion. Silvera-Poliform exhibited the new line "Plia" of side tables designed by Victoria Wilmotte in wood and stainless steel, which reflect light through their beveled edges.

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Jean-Michel Wilmotte displayed bushes of street lamps on the famous Ponts des Arts of front of the Louvre, evoking connections between architectural heritage and contemporary design.

We discovered work by the textile designer Tzuri Gueta, who makes a unique line of silicone jewelry evoking blood vessels and anatomic desiccations, as well as weird shellfish and a motorbike helmet, all in sexy silicone lace or in a "rain pearls" curtain trying to marry rain, water and light.

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The 1.5 km long promenade "viaduc des arts", gathering designers and craftsmen workshops, provided a large scope of pieces made for the event like a rocking hobby-horse that brayed like a galloping horse and could imitate sounds of smooth and tough surfaces.

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Plenty of other interesting and intelligent ideas for small urban places were on show, such as mini mobile plant pots hung on folded hard plastic maps and planted tables as interior gardens. A clock in a blown-glass bulb recalled Napoleonic clocks under their glassy globe, and we were taken by a poetic variety of lamps: candy-like love-apple lamps in red blown glass and melted sugar sat alongside flower and feather lamps.

The Italian Embassy opened its doors to the public for a tour through the past decades of major achievements in Italian design—all displayed in the golden apartments of an 18th-century palace, such as the famous "Him" chair by Fabiola Novembre for Casamania.

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The studio of Jean Nouvel, one of the most famous French architects, was open to the public to show a beautiful play on wood, featuring a line of seven wooden tables and their accessories with sober lines made out of seven varieties of woods. With the purpose of going back to the essentials and basics, the display paid tribute to both plain natural wood and to ancient assembling techniques by avoiding any metallic element such as nails. Their minimalist, elegant aesthetics proved to be the most contemporary.

Images by Isabelle Doal

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