In the Mix
Paris for Design Lovers
14 can’t-miss destinations to include in your Paris+ par Art Basel itinerary
The art world is abuzz over Paris+, Art Basel’s bold first foray into the City of Light. Amid the golden foliage and brisk air that defines autumn in Paris, the new contemporary art fair is set to open next week with over 150 gallery presentations on display at the Grand Palais Éphémère, accompanied by a program of site-specific commissions at the Jardin des Tuileries, Place Vendôme, Musée National Eugène-Delacroix, and Chapelle des Petits-Augustins des Beaux-Arts de Paris. The enchanting backdrop alone ensures this will be a gratifying addition to the international culture circuit for exhibitors and visitors alike.
For all the happy travelers on route to Paris+, especially those with a passion for design, we have 14 must-see recommendations to share. Some of our favorite Parisian galleries and institutions have organized fantastic exhibitions showcasing uniquely French design savoir faire. So scroll on and make space in your Paris itinerary!
The Poetry of Postwar French Design at Galerie Chastel-Maréchal
In the chic, gallery-dense Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood, be sure to stop by Galerie Chastel-Maréchal. Directed by the brilliant Aline Chastel, member of the Syndicat National des Antiquaires, the 28-year-old gallery specializes in design and decorative arts rarities from 1930 to 1970. On view now, you’ll discover a special installation of historically significant conversation pieces that each in their own way embody the boundary-defying poetry of postwar French production.
An exceptional collection of jewel-like mirrors by Line Vautrin (a French artist championed by Chastel-Maréchal since the 1990s) complements the soft undulating forms of Pierre Paulin’s trailblazing Elysée living room set, famously designed for the Elysée Palace in 1971. The centerpiece is a remarkable chandelier hand crafted by Greek sculptor Philolaos Tloupas in 1962. Presented the same year alongside works from the Giacometti brothers and Lucio Fontana in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs’ milestone exhibition L’Objet, only 2 examples are known to exist.
Step by Step at Galerie kreo
Also based in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Galerie kreo has been advancing the leading edge of contemporary design since 1999. Founded as a kind of experimental design laboratory by husband-and-wife power team Clémence and Didier Krzentowski, the gallery commissions sleek, highly collectible limited editions from world-class talents like Virgil Abloh, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, Naoto Fukasawa, Hella Jongerius, Alessandro Mendini, and Marc Newson, to name a few.
Galerie kreo’s current exhibition is Step by Step, a provocative typological exhibition that examines historical and contemporary ladder designs as revealing self-portraits of the amazing design minds that conceived them.
Steph Simon Rétrospective at Laffanour – Galerie Downtown
Continuing our tour in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, be sure to visit Laffanour – Galerie Downtown, a design gem on the famous Rue de Seine. The gallery’s founder, venerable design expert François Laffanour, began buying up entire lots of modernist designs in the 1970s, at a time when most vintage collectors were focused on Art Deco. He launched his gallery in 1982 with a focus on the furniture of 20th-century architects like Oscar Niemeyer, Jean Prouvé, Charlotte Perriand, and Le Corbusier, expanding his offering over the years to include other mid-century notables like Isamu Noguchi and José Zanine Caldas as well as more contemporary architect-designers like Ettore Sottsass and Ron Arad. Along the way, Galerie Downtown has become an indispensable resource for serious design collectors the world over.
The gallery’s current exhibition is a retrospective of iconic designs originally commissioned by Steph Simon, the legendary postwar Parisian gallerist who played a major role in propelling the design careers of Charlotte Perriand, Jean Prouvé, Serge Mouille, Georges Jouve, and Isamu Noguchi. Since acquiring the Steph Simon archive 20 years ago, Laffanour has been meticulously reconstructing Simon's outsized role in design history. Steph Simon Rétrospective at Laffanour – Galerie Downtown brings that history to life.
Martin Szekely: The 80s at Galerie Jousse Entreprise
Immediately adjacent to Galerie Downtown is our last stop in Saint-Germain-des-Prés: Galerie Jousse Entreprise, a temple to outstanding achievements in furniture designed by and for architects. Forty years ago, as mid-century design was being swept into the dustbin of history, founder Philippe Jousse set out to resuscitate the valuation of French masters like Jean Prouvé, Charlotte Perriand, Pierre Jeanneret, Georges Jouve, and Serge Mouille. Such design treasures top collectors’ wishlists today, and Jousse Entreprise continues to be a vital hub for iconic historical designs while also representing select contemporary designers and makers who carry forward last century’s modern spirit.
The gallery’s current Martin Szekely solo show is the perfect example. Since his career launched in the 1980s, this Paris-born designer’s strikingly essentialist forms have attracted collectors the world over, from New York’s Museum of Modern Art to the late-great Karl Lagerfeld. Notably, Szekely is enjoying quite a moment these days, perhaps inspired by the big commission he received last year from the Louvre to redesign its gallery furniture. Beyond Jousse Entreprise, Szekely’s work is also on view this week at Galerie Mercier & Associés and Musée des Arts Décoratifs, as noted below.
Seulgi Lee: Slow Water at Galerie Jousse Entreprise
Across the river on Rue Saint-Claude, in everyone’s favorite Parisian neighborhood, Le Marais, Jousse Entreprise has a second incarnation dedicated to contemporary art, a parallel passion shared by co-owners Philippe and his son Matthias. While the work presented at this location abandons concerns with functionality, it often bears a space-engaging, architectural quality—as evidenced by the current presentation, Seulgi Lee: Slow Water.
For her second solo show at Jousse Entreprise, the Seoul-born, Paris-based artist has created a large-scale, gradiently-hued wooden grid suspended overhead from the ceiling. The installation riffs on Mondrian’s flat geometries while also recalling the lattice motifs of Korean moonsal doors, Moroccan mashrabiya windows, and an array of craft traditions from around the globe.
Giacomo Ravagli and Wonmin Park at Carpenters Workshop Gallery
While you’re in the Marais, head over to Rue de la Verrerie, where London-based contemporary design powerhouse Carpenters Workshop Gallery has its Paris space. The site itself has a mythical aura, once the home of Galerie de France, which was considered a kingmaker for artists in the postwar era. Continuing the vanguard tradition, Carpenters represents an exciting roster of fresh talents whose work defies easy categorization but is always extraordinarily sculptural and exquisitely crafted.
As of October 20th, the gallery will have two shows for you to check out. The first is Giacomo Ravagli: Open Vein, featuring the Italian sculptor’s latest collection of hand-carved tables and lamps. And the second is Wonmin Park: On Earth, presenting a new series of tables, chairs, benches, and a desk that the Korean designer has produced in resin and volcanic rock.
Jean Prouvé Rouge at Galerie Patrick Seguin
A short walk from the Marais, on rue des Taillandiers in the Bastille district, don’t miss the chance to experience Galerie Patrick Seguin. Over the last two decades, the eponymous gallery has earned an international reputation not only for representing the most prized mid-century French designs on the secondary market but also for being the prime protagonist driving the fervor for Jean Prouvé’s furniture and demountable architecture. In recognition of his role in cultivating appreciation for French modernism, the French Ministry of Culture awarded Seguin with the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2017.
This week the gallery is filled with Prouvé treasures, all of which sport a delicious red finish. Highlights include a unique double-sided room divider, a signature porthole-embellished door, an exceptional steel and limestone Flavigny table, and a sleek swing-jib wall lamp.
Martin Szekely - Marie France Schneider at Galerie Mercier & Associés
Head to the charming Gambetta neighborhood around Père Lachaise Cemetery to encounter more trailblazing designs by Martin Szekely at Galerie Mercier & Associés. Curated by design specialist Rémi Gerbeau (formerly of Jousse Entreprise) and gallerist Jean-Philippe Mercier, the show foregrounds a distinct body of work commissioned by French architect and collector Marie France Schneider early on in Szekely’s career. Rare and important Szekely works, including prototypes, are complemented by original drawings and documentation, all alluringly presented within Bruno Rousseaud's understated scenography beneath the picturesque glass roof of this erstwhile glove factory turned art space.
Shocking! The Surreal World of Elsa Schiaparelli at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs
During Paris+, the venerable Musée des Arts Décoratifs near the Louvre offers three great reasons to visit. The first is Shocking! The Surreal World of Elsa Schiaparelli, a major exhibition dedicated to the groundbreaking Italian couturière with close ties to the Parisian avant-garde in the 1920s and 1930s.
Schiaparelli’s lush apparel and accessories are displayed alongside paintings, sculptures, jewelry, ceramics, and photographs from her impressive coterie, including Man Ray, Salvador Dalí, Jean Cocteau, Meret Oppenheim, and Elsa Triolet. The retrospective underscores Schiaparelli’s lasting influence by incorporating designs from more contemporary figures like Yves Saint Laurent, Azzedine Alaïa, John Galliano, and Christian Lacroix, who overtly paid homage to her oeuvre.
Années 80: Mode, Design et Graphisme en France at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs
Today, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs opens another major exhibition, Années 80, celebrating the iconoclasm that pervaded French visual culture in the 1980s. “From the election of François Mitterrand in 1981 to the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989,” the institution writes, “this historic decade, still vivid in people’s minds in France, is considered both a political watershed and an artistic turning point in the fields of fashion, design, and graphic arts, where postmodernism opens up all artistic possibilities.” Think furniture by Elizabeth Garouste and Mattia Bonetti, fashion by Jean Paul Gaultier, music videos by Jean-Baptiste Mondino, and album covers by Pierre et Gilles displayed in the Pop-esque scenography of contemporary Swiss designer Adrien Rovero.
10 Ans d’Acquisitions du Cercle Design at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs
Launched in 2012, the Cercle Design 20/21 is a membership group that supports the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in expanding its contemporary design holdings. To mark Cercle Design’s 10th anniversary, the museum has unveiled a new installation of acquisitions made possible through the group's generous donations. Including works from Maarten Baas, Hella Jongerius, Kristin Mckirdy, Joris Laarman, and designer-of-the-moment Martin Szekely, among many more, the installation shines a light on three key themes coursing through today’s most forward-facing design thinking: the dynamic intersection of handcraft and technology, upcycled and repurposed materials, and modeling and honoring the natural world.
American Design at Gokelaere & Robinson
Moving west to the glamorous 8th arrondissement near the Élysée Palace, you’ll find the Paris home of Gokelaere & Robinson, an international gallery with additional locations in Belgium, all dedicated to 20th-century collectible designs from Scandinavia, France, Brazil, Italy, and the US. Launched in 2014 by passionate design collectors Stanislas Gokelaere and Céline Robinson, the gallery is a must-see for anyone looking for beautifully timeless modernist design classics.
This week, Gokelaere & Robinson offers a curated selection of craft-driven, oh-so-organic mid-century American design. Standout works on view include a pristine sideboard by George Nakashima, a dynamically cantilevered Zephyr chair by Wendell Castle, and a sensuously sinuous sofa by Vladimir Kagan—all extraordinary pieces that elevate the everyday.
Orient Express Revelation at Domus Maubourg
In the 7th arrondissement, near quintessential Parisian landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Hôtel des Invalides, and Musée d'Orsay, another romance-steeped encounter with history awaits you. Opening October 17th at Domus Maubourg, Orient Express Revelation offers an immersive first look at French architect Maxime d’Angeac’s new designs for the legendary luxury train service.
Nearly a century and a half since the first Orient Express trains were launched, d’Angeac has reimagined dining cars, corridors, and private suites for 21st-century travelers, while preserving the opulent craftsmanship associated with the pre-modern era—when voyaging by rail achieved peaked glamour. Following this Paris debut, designs for the future Orient Express will be exhibited at Design Miami this December, building anticipation for the unveiling of the first finished cars in time for the Paris Olympic Games in 2024.
Le Chic! French Decorative Art and Furniture from 1930 to 1960 at Mobilier National’s Galerie des Gobelins
Our Paris+ itinerary culminates in the off-the-beaten-path Croulebarbe neighborhood; one last rendezvous with France’s epic design legacy. Mobilier National, a branch of the French Ministry of Culture, is tasked with safeguarding the country’s reputation for excellence in furniture production. Connected with the historic Gobelins Manufactory, Mobilier National traces its roots back centuries, through the reign of Louis XIV, and along the way has amassed an archive of 200,000 made-in-France objects from the 16th to the 21st centuries. Pro tip: guided tours of the tapestries in the collection are particularly beguiling.
On view now, you’ll find Le Chic! French Decorative Art and Furniture from 1930 to 1960, an exhibition of exemplary archival specimens from the golden age of French chic, also known as the Art Deco era. Mounted within a vibrant scenography by contemporary French designer Vincent Darré, the show spotlights visionary ensembliers like André Arbus, Jules Leleu, Etienne-Henri Martin, and Marc du Plantier who designed sumptuous interior appointments that tastemakers of the day around the world agreed to be the pinnacle of refinement.