Category Archives: Art and Graphic Design

Paris, you’re so Photogenic!

One of the great things about Paris is how photogenic the city is. Early black and white photographs from the beginning of the 1900s, experimental or journalistic, for tourism, or for education, and the same for photographs from today. The world is more full of amateur photographers than ever before, and we all get to reap the benefits as we get inspired by the different perspectives, fleeting moments, and unchanging landscape that makes up the principal footprint of Paris.

Because I can’t enough of Paris, it’s been a lot of fun to begin building out my own narrative of Paris, for Paris Deluxe, covering all the angles of how we experience Paris today, and all the depth of history we can access in this amazing city.

Here’s some of what you’ll find:

Ideas of where to eat in various neighborhoods, such as the Marais.


Great shots of the hustle and bustle of Paris that remains somehow aesthetic rather than chaotic, of course!Image

And a personal favorite, a board of French clichés we call, evidemment, “So French!”


We’d love suggestions from you of collections that you’d like to see, or collections you would like to see expanded upon.

Come by and browse. Tell us what you think, here or on Facebook, and, along the way, find some inspiration for your Paris vacation!


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June 24, 2014 · 2:32 pm

Video: Paris, city of lights

Paris has never looked better, more modern, and more exciting than in this video by Benjamin Trancart. The city of lights refers not to the twinkling sparkle of the city, but to the brilliant minds that brought a wave of ideas & thinking amongst the French philosophers. Trancart’s video shows us both of these sides of the city of lights.


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Filed under Art and Graphic Design, Culture and History

An Oldie but Goodie

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The Paris by Arrondissement has been somewhat phased out now that we all have GPS in our pockets, but if you are ever lost in Paris with no battery in your smartphone, this is the book you want to have on hand.

The books have been updated with improved (though less beautiful) graphics, a narrower binding and new glossy cover, but there is something nostalgic about both the idea of a map and the look of these pages that feel worth sharing.

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Vintage maps leave us nostalgic for a less digital age, especially maps of Paris, where just walking around leaves you nostalgic for another time.

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Street Artist JR at the Pantheon

One of the greatest things about Paris is how often art and culture cross your path without needing to enter a museum. The city goes to great lengths to decorate the pedestrian corridors with photography installations and sculpture, often telling a story by linking contemporary works with their historical settings. The Center of National Monuments (CMN)( has coordinated one such opportunity by enlisting photographer and street artist JR to create a massive installation at the Panthéon.

Street artist JR

Street artist JR

The Panthéon, resting place of France’s most celebrated writers and thinkers, is beginning a long term restoration of it’s dome. A focal point in the skyline of the city, the dome will remain covered in white screens that wrap the scaffolding for the first phase of the restoration. Rather than renting the dome out as ad space, as you can now see on building facades throughout Paris, they are taking the opportunity to communicate their own message by reinforcing the historical and social symbolism of the building through art.

The Pantheon

The Pantheon


JR was an obvious choice for such a project for the CMN who deliberately sought out a cultural solution more appropriate for the integrity of the building than the very commerical luxury brand ads which are currently wallpapering the scaffolding on the Place des Vosges.  JR is known for the humanitarian message of his black and white portraits which he installs in large format, covering expansive architectural surfaces around the world. He has previously decorated Paris’ pont Louis-Phillipe with his “Women Are Heroes” installation in 2009. For his installation at the Panthéon, JR continues his “Inside-Out” project (, which amasses portraits from the community that he uses to create a montage. Through the month of March, JR traveled around France with his photo truck, inviting people to have their portraits taken, and participate in the Panthéon piece.

JR Au Pantheon


For many people who have never visited the Panthéon, this fun and participative installation will bring a new kind of visitor to the site. And so for every scaffold you see around Paris covered with an Apple or Dior add, consider visiting the Panthéon for an example of how, in Paris, culture is still given the best seat in the house.

The installation will be inaugurated on April 22, 2014.

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Filed under Art and Graphic Design, Culture and History

Art at le Centrequatre, 104 rue d’Aubervilliers

If you are an art lover looking to explore the pulse of Paris’ creative culture beyond the walls of the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay, there are a few exceptional locations around the city’s outlying neighborhoods which open a window to that world. Le Centquatre (named for it’s address, 104 rue d’Aubervilliers) is one that pushes boundaries between exhibition hall and creative space.

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It is in the peripheral neighborhoods that one finds these remarkable spaces, vast and architecturally versatile, in which all kinds of creative ventures can be explored. On any given day at le 104, you’ll see an art installation or two, a photography or sculpture exhibit, and artists working away in their residency ateliers that flank the main hall which is almost always full of break dancers, play rehearsals, and other performance art spectacles.


And if you’re just going to browse, the front of the building holds a great bookshop, covering subjects across all the arts. After you’ve had your fill of creativity, fill up your stomach at the pizza truck (a destination for nearby office workers during the week) or the Café Cache (Hidden Café), at the opposite end of the building from the bookstore. In all, you will experience an infusion of dynamic creative energy in dramatic contrast to the impressionists’ and renaissance artists’ Paris of the past.

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While up there, walk over to La Villette, the upper part of the Canal Saint Martin. The banks of the waterway are made for outdoor activities like picnics, sunbathing, and pétanque. If you don’t know what pétanque is, that’s a great reason to head up there and explore!

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Filed under Art and Graphic Design, Museums and Galleries

Quintessentially Parisian: Rattan Chairs

If there is one thing that stands out in the Parisian landscape, aside from the zinc roofs and Haussmannian facades, it is the woven patterned chairs that decorate the sidewalks around iron stand bistro tables. If you possess an inquiring mind, you might wonder how this style of chair became ubiquitous, and does the style have a name? In fact the history goes back to WWII, and the name comes from one of the two primary materials: Rattan.

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Rattan is a tropical wood that makes up the frame, while the woven fibers are called Rilsan, which is a product of castor oil, a vegetable oil used for many things from plastics to perfumes. This weaving technique was used as a defensive barrier against submarines during the Second World War, proving it up to the task of busy bistro traffic! While these chairs came into high demand because of their durability, they remain in high demand also for their aesthetic symbolism.


You’ll notice that while some cafés are furnished with classic, subtle patterns in maroon and black, others have updated the classic with flashy colors, or bold geometric patterns. All of this is possible through the versatility of the Rilsan, which is died while in its liquid state, meaning it can take on any color and it will never fade. Thanks to the unabating demand of new bistros and cafés, the industry has been modernized aesthetically. Production methods remain unchanged, handcrafted, with the same primary materials


These chairs can be found in establishments and even homes around the world now, but can be very hard to find. Dream of having this touch of Paris in your own home or garden?

If you’re in the US you can find them here, at TK Collections.


You can learn a lot about the materials and the process on the website of one of Paris’ primary producers, Drucker.

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Filed under Art and Graphic Design, Culture and History

Paris, New York: Graphic Design

Ever wonder how much to tip in the city of lights? Or what the equivalent of a pastrami sandwich is in Paris? Well graphic designer Vahram Muratyan has created the perfect anecdotal cultural reference book to help answer those questions and more. It’s funny, great looking, and informative, too.

Tipping in Paris vs New York

Tipping in Paris vs New York

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Hot Dogs and Hipsters in Paris

Spending time living in New York, Muratyan became interested in how both the French and American cultures are based on certain references that, all together, create each country’s unique identity. And so he began drawing parallels between the quintessentially French and the quintessentially American, getting straight to the essence of each through his minimal and clever graphic illustrations.

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Architecture, Cheese and Dessert

The common references provide a glimpse into the Parisian mind to get to know the city on a more intimate level. And the book makes a great gift for anyone just returning from, on their way to, or dreaming of going to Paris.

To browse more if his illustrations, check out his blog here.

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