Silence is not the absence of something but the presence of everything.

(Gordon Hempton)

In January, I visited Paris Design Week to attend two dynamic trade shows - the world - celebrated Maison & Objet, and Paris Deco Off. I also dropped in on Beth Dempsey’s exceptional pop-up gallery, Ancien et Moderne. This was an opportunity to see stylish trends in home furnishings with an abundance of exhibitors ready to receive you, explain their offerings with exceptional savior-faire, and take orders. It’s much more though: It’s fun, it’s daunting, it’s educational, it’s life-affirming, and one comes back with carefully sifted business cards, contacts, catalogues, souvenirs and memories of good times with friends, and professional colleagues. Vendors and attendees come from all over the world. I believe more than eighty-thousand attended Maison & Objet alone. Paris Design Week is sort of like a pop-up theme park with an onslaught of visual delight. In addition to the exhibitor’s booths there’s an array of activities ranging from conferences and presentations, to receptions.

Maison & Objet is more than just a trade show. It’s an incubator or laboratory of artistic ideas that are realized in the decorative arts. Every year offers a well-researched theme for it’s Inspiration Space, and, this year the theme was Silence. It was an interesting contrast to the magnitude of sensory stimuli at this trade show. Elizabeth Leriche was responsible for the scenography of this year’s theme. It was a grounding and quieting experience. The exhibition consisted of sparsely decorated vignettes with minimalistic furnishings that were imbued with quiet elegance, and offered refuge for one’s eyes from visual noise. I believe that most of us desire to create a life that balances stimuli and quiet. We all need a time and place to be quiet. Silence is essential to our well-being. I learned that silence is actually an endangered species and on the verge of extinction. It was also a experiential encounter. It was at this exhibit I got clued into Gordon Hempton, acoustic ecologist, and an Emmy award-winning sound recordist. A part of this exhibition was the chance to listen to some of Gordon Hempton’s recordings. Gordon captured silence in the form of trade winds that skirt the volcano’s rim at Haleakala Volcano in Hawaii, in the Wood Frogs and Thunder of Sri Lanka, and “One Square Inch of Silence” at the Olympic National Park in Washington State. Gordon doesn’t edit his recordings so one hears only the beauty of nature that is worth saving by means of protection.

Rising Talent Awards UK was a new event at Maison & Objet that featured six exceptional designers. I found myself particularly drawn to the simple and elegant Bayleaf sideboard by Sebastian Cox. It has a quiet natural beauty and practicality that I’m attracted to. It is fashioned out of deeply figured English Tiger Oak and features a curved sliding screen woven out of English Ash. Sebastian utilizes the fascinating ancient technique of coppicing for woodland management by pruning trees at the ground level this encourages expedited regrowth and thus offers thoroughly renewable source of material that boosts biodiversity at the same time. His thoughtful approach is a win-win for aesthetics and the environment.

Paris Deco Off sweeps us off our feet while wowing us with it’s new collections. Paris Deco Off can boast thirty-thousand attendees. Clients of these distinguished vendors who make an effort to traverse the globe to attend, get first dibs on viewing new collections that might not hit the showrooms world-wide for another six months. Fabric is frequently the starting point for putting together an interior. For example, when I’m putting together a color scheme, it reminds me of painting as if the fabrics are tubes of paint. We rely on the fabric industry for color as much as the watercolorist relies on Winsor & Newton paints. Paris Deco Off takes place in quintessentially Parisian neighborhoods, such as the 7th arrondissement where the narrow streets are decorated with colorful over sized lampshades that are strung above, lending it a festive feel. It’s Paris and thus receptions are flowing with champagne.

The light and tierra of Peru always inspire me with their mystical array of mood and nuance.

(Sandra Jordan)

It was here that I saw for the first time Sandra Jordan’s Casa del Cielo Collection at Holland & Sherry showroom. Sandra is based in dreamy Sonoma County, California. Peru is Sandra’s muse and her new collection of twenty-three colors of prima alpaca fabrics reflects this as she seeks to capture the colors of this beautiful country, from its sunny skies to its earthy neutrals of its terrain. Sandra respects Peru’s traditional weaving legacy and supports its considered approaches to production while maintaining reverence for the environment. A percentage of every sale of Sandra Jordan Prima Alpaca goes to local Andean organizations that assist herding families with housing and education.

Ancien et Moderne was a charming pop-up gallery spearheaded by Beth Dempsey of Images and Details and her collaborator Stacey Bewkes. Beth challenged her clients creatively by getting them to design and produce home furnishings specifically for this space with all elements working together to create a cohesive environment with the goal of reimagining a “salon” for the Twenty-First Century. She succeeded and, the over all effect was bold eclectic one, where vivid yellow background and dark greens flora of the hand-painted Fromental wallpaper took stage. Custom designed mirrors graced a wall and added a whimsical touch. Justin Van Breda implemented Beth’s suggestion by covering and lacquering his cabinet with wallpaper. The green bench and wallpaper hinted subtly of a conservatory or winter garden look. It was truly a salon atmosphere with comfortable seating for lively conversation and a very international crowd.

It was hard to pull myself away from Paris and to return to the States. There’s no better place than the “City of Light” to host these exceptional events.