by Iliada Bass, Cliff Young Ltd.
What I would like American design to bring from Maison is the thrill of transatlantic ships coming from France at the turn of the last century, with glamorous ladies making their grand arrival with travel trunks and hat boxes full of the latest Paris fineries… the longing and anticipation of new luxury… the outrage of society matrons upon examining scandalous new fashion… the sparkling excitement of young ladies walking about in their new outfits and the stunned look on men’s faces…
In an era when anything new in Paris is instantly available anywhere and design has hardly any constraints, that thrill got lost somewhere. Yes we can argue that the epicenters of style and haute-couture have been moving about in the last century and that all that sparkles is not gold. The enthusiasm of millions of people flocking to Paris to see the World Exhibits during La Belle Epoque has long waned. The starry eyed young ladies and gentlemen rounding up their education with a trip to Europe a century ago are now well seasoned back-packers and train-hopping college students. But what’s the best reaction to great design if not emotion, and what more contagious emotion than that generation’s legendary mix of glamour dreams with vivid anticipation and hardly contained passion?
Bring some of those brewing expectations of wonder and unheard-of luxury on your next trip to Paris. Go to Maison with the same anticipation while scuffling through the bigs and the smalls of the market. More importantly let your creativity be forever imbued with the unique finds of new luxury or elements of design that you’ll then weave into your signature style and share back home.
What else I want from Paris? Look beyond design innovations, new trends, materials, new shapes and color. I’d like American design to capture the soft light of September falling through forged iron balconies onto white window frames, unruly bed linens and old parquetry floors, from a tree-lined street off Champs Elisees. I want the American equanimity and matter-of-factness towards design to borrow some of the debonair, nonchalant attitude from Paris, with a touch of flirt and ‘je m’en fiche’.
Cliff Young Ltd. rendering
I want the awe we feel inside Notre-Dame, when the best of human design starts to be part of the grander scheme of things. If possible at all, I would like somehow to weave into our next design the smell of freshly baked croissants from the corner café in Montmartre, along with the simplicity and wholesomeness of farmhouse living. I want American notions of luxury to go wild beyond price, comfort, craftsmanship or brand names, and into a realm of well being where life feels not just “all good”, but perfectly in balance, meaningful and deeply satisfying.
Image from Shangri-La Paris, shangri-la.com
Our lifestyles change fast and the very need of design comes from an unsettling dynamic between what our existing environment and the constantly moving targets of our needs and desires. Let’s admit we’re into design for the creativity, fun and its challenging freedoms, not for its 99% of rigors, competition and tortuous problem solving. Yes, great design is serious business and luxury design a fragile, moving realm of some chosen few. Yes historically we’ve been looking up to France, we’ve been looking up to Italy, Asian styles or exotic cultures all over the world for signals on what’s next in design.
So please, bring everything fresh from Maison and let’s see how you weave it into your next design. New York is New York and there’s nothing else like it – this is where the alchemy between every culture and style happens at its best. Especially in New York, designers are in to bring things new and do things differently, to absorb everything cool from anywhere, turning inspiration from every period and every culture into new art.
Maison & Objet images
We don’t mind turning heads in the process and making people say wow, shocking all matrons and challenging society standards whenever possible and as much as possible. A bit of scandalous attitude comes with the domain, and challenging the design status quo never won instant friends. In spite of new trends and inspiration bombarding the industry from every direction, in spite of the ever flowing style metamorphosis, we want our designs to be born instant classics, deeply in sync with the wildest design dreams and our most fundamental needs of beauty and harmony in our lives… as we agree with Dostoyevsky that it is beauty that will save the world…