Studio Ford and Christopher Cawley at Room 19 at hotel La Louisiane. Photography by Pauline Chardin
“Canopic Lamps” by Thomas Hutton. Photography by Marco Galloway
Maniera x Galerie Després-Bréhéret. Photography by Sean Davidson
“Irida” by Mariana Chkonia for Sinople. Photography by Depasquale Maffini

In Paris, a Collectible Design Festival Promises Something Different

Contributions, an upstart offering of collectible design envisioned by creative consultants Anna Caradeuc and Bildung, places rare furnishings and objects of desire made by up-and-coming talents in unexpected architectural sites across Paris—a welcome arrival as Paris embraces an emergent art and design week.

Contributions, an upstart offering of collectible design envisioned by creative consultants Anna Caradeuc and Bildung, places rare furnishings and objects of desire made by up-and-coming talents in unexpected architectural sites across Paris—a welcome arrival as Paris embraces an emergent art and design week.

It came to Anna Caradeuc over lunch, but perhaps the idea was germinating for a while. The French-Italian consultant and publicist was dining in her native Paris with Isabelle Moisy-Cobti and Simon Descamps, the founders of creative agency Bildung, when they tossed around the possibility of hosting an independent citywide festival that allows galleries and collectible designers to show at hidden sites of architectural splendor. When? The city’s emerging week of art and design, headlined by the second edition of Paris+ par Art Basel (and, they would soon learn, the inaugural Design Miami/ Paris). How? That remained to be seen, but they were committed to pooling their time and resources, as well as tapping into their tight-knit network of design industry professionals and friends, to see what exactly they could pull off.

Contributions was born, and the group immediately got to work. Rooted in the collective spirit, the festival eschews the traditional corporate fair model by allowing obscure collectible design talents to showcase work in unexpected locations around town—think Fuorisalone without the morning-after Bar Basso haze and a drastically more punk NYCxDesign. “Simon, Isabelle, and I share the same respect for independent talent, and we take pride in helping [artists and designers] present their work to wider audiences,” says Caradeuc, whose career began in the Pacific Northwest music scene but now counts design-forward names like Lambert & Fils, Byredo, Ace Hotel Group, and Emma Scully Gallery among her clients. “We were humbled by the community of like-minded people and organizations who weren’t deterred by our approach, and on the contrary, were very determined to help us bring our ideas to life.” 

Butterfly Chair by Salem Charabi. Photography by Marco Galloway
Studio Ford and Christopher Cawley at Room 19 at hotel La Louisiane. Photography by Pauline Chardin

The appeal of Contributions lies in its unpredictability. Nine installations, all free and open to the public, aim to capture the design world’s rich diversity and serve as a conveyor of new perspectives and ways of seeing, feeling, and experiencing in sites that simply can’t be replicated elsewhere. New glassware by Sophie Lou Jacobsen and cast metal furnishings by Conie Vallese are sure to shine in Galerie David Ghezelbash, whose Saint-Germain-des-Prés storefront will be transformed with touches of romantic grandeur thanks to lush, satiny curtains by London fashion label ZN ALI. Textile designer Josie Ford is weaving a site-specific installation with antiques dealer Christopher Cawley in Room 19 at the legendary hotel La Louisiane, perhaps a kindred spirit to the Chelsea Hotel. Thomas Hutton’s totemic alabaster lighting sculptures, which he fabricates in Luxor, will cast a heavenly glow in the rarely seen Chapelle du Péristyle’s South Chapel, where Caradeuc had her first communion.

Such personal touches rarely stick the landing at corporate fairs, which makes Contributions a welcome arrival as Paris’s emergence within the collectible design sphere becomes more widely felt with Art Basel and Design Miami/ attracting international collectors and enthusiasts. “The energy has been brewing for a few years, and Paris is now ready to take part in the global design conversation,” Descamps says. “Our determination to commence this initial intervention in Paris is underscored by the decision to curate a diverse lineup and foster conversations between the city and international talents.” It gestures toward collaboration that’s bigger than the sum of its parts—and reflects an illustrious cohort of designers who, much like the city they’re presenting in, are on the vanguard of creative expression yet are working together to find their footing within the global design community. 

Ahead of the festival, which will be held October 16–22, we spoke to Caradeuc about what to expect in a conversation that has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Galleries in Residence: Desmich Danant x Anne-Sophie Duval. Photography by Thierry Depagne
“Canopic Lamps” by Thomas Hutton. Photography by Marco Galloway

Let’s start at the beginning. Where did the idea for a citywide design fair come from? 

I’m from Paris, and I’ve always been very attached to my city, but I’ve never really worked there except for a few projects. I always had this desire to bring both worlds together. When you hear of Paris Design Week, Maison et Objet comes to mind. The quality is very high but it lacks some of the global outlook compared to design weeks in Milan, New York, and Brussels. I thought “other people have done it elsewhere, so maybe I can find a way to bring names that haven’t shown in Paris, or at all.” All this comes from a very humble place. I knew Design Miami/ Paris was happening at some point, and it felt like a better moment because the international dimension is important. Design Miami/ brings a lot of travelers, and I wanted to be aligned with this energy that’s arriving in Paris, particularly around collectible design. 

It seems like a moment for the city with the second edition of Paris+ par Art Basel and inaugural Design Miami/ Paris. Did you go to Art Basel last year? Can you describe the sense of creative energy flowing through Paris as a new fair circuit starts to take hold? 

I didn’t, but I heard it was an explosion of events not only at the fair, but all over the city. It was very buzzy—an exciting and overwhelming time. I think Parisians are still recovering. (laughs)

You know, I worked on Contributions all summer. Design Miami/ Paris was announced in July, before France shut down for vacation. I’d visit design galleries and mention I was organizing a festival the week of October 16, but they were only aware of Maison et Objet in September. It played in my favor because I found spaces before they were snagged by other parties. 

Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance at Demisch Danant. Photography by Sean Davidson
Maniera x Galerie Després-Bréhéret. Photography by Sean Davidson

How did Bildung enter the fold?

I met Bildung a year ago. Their mission is to support independent creatives—they help photographers, art directors, and graphic designers establish sustainable businesses and land clients. Their network very strong locally, but our combined forces will hopefully make Contributions resonate within and beyond Paris.

I often act impulsively, where I say “I like you, let’s do something together!” That’s essentially what happened. I took one of their training sessions and was starting to rethink my work. The industry still approaches me as a publicist, but I think of myself as working more in support of emerging designers. At the end of our four sessions together, they said “we really like the way you think and have a lot of similar values, so let’s keep talking,” and the idea for Contributions clicked one day over lunch. I feel very fortunate because I had very specific ideas of which designers should be involved, and how. I was taking the ball and running very far, very fast, and they fully trusted me.

Let’s get to the fair itself—nine pop-ups in nine special locations across Paris. What’s the through-line connecting it all? 

I don’t want to use the word “immersive,” but Contributions is presenting exhibitions and installations with work in conversation with the spaces. Each participating designer agreed to play that game, and their exhibition spaces were very thoughtfully presented to them.

Is there one pairing you’re particularly excited about?

Two, in fact! The British sculptor and architectural designer Thomas Hutton makes beautiful alabaster and volcanic tuff lamps between Egypt and Italy, but he actually lived in Cy Twombly’s house and studio for four years outside of Rome. We met randomly through an old friend in Athens and his pieces really moved me. He’s showing one-of-a-kind lamps at Chapelle du Peristyle inside the Saint-Sulpice Church, which is Paris’s largest church and where I actually did my first communion. There’s a sacred dimension to his pieces—light in the church is prevalent, and so the pairing feels very natural.

I’m also equally excited about the Georgian textile artist Mariana Chkonia, who makes felted wool tapestries. We met through Rooms Studio because they collaborated on a few pieces. She’ll be showing with Sinople at an incredible stained glass artist’s workshop, which feels magical because it’s this untouched place only a few people know about in central Paris.

Studio Haos at SIZED. Photography by Depasquale Maffini
“Irida” by Mariana Chkonia for Sinople. Photography by Depasquale Maffini

Are there any specific curatorial approaches to the show?

There really wasn’t a theme. It was more about using my experience and network to help designers I love reach a bigger audience. Salem Charabi, for example, is an architect and designer who makes very intricate furniture and researches ancient woodworking techniques. Katarina Papanikolopoulos, who runs the Athens Design Forum, showed me his work and I was immediately obsessed. He has never shown his work! It’s a dream to be able to bring some of these people to Paris for the first time. 

We’re also pairing designers and galleries. The idea came from Demisch Danant, the postwar French design gallery in New York, and Galerie Anne-Sophie Duval, a Parisian gallery focusing on Art Deco run by three generations of women over 50 years. They’re basically swapping spaces for a few weeks. Demisch Danant is actually also co-presenting Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance’s multi-sensorial exhibition for his craft-forward project, Made in Situ. Stephane Danant was one of the first people I spoke to about Contributions. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do this had it not been for him. He started connecting me to people and giving recommendations right away. 

That resulted in Maniera, the contemporary design gallery in Brussels, showing pieces at Galerie Desprez-Bréhéret, which leans more historic. The L.A. textile maker Studio Ford and New York antique dealer Christopher Cawley are showing at hotel La Louisiane, which is like the Chelsea Hotel of Paris. Lisbon-based French duo HAOS will present a new body of work in a post-apocalyptic setting curated by SIZED, with works from Rich Aybar, Omer Arbel, and Katerina Jebb, who’s the coolest. The French-born designer Sophie Lou Jacobsen is showing new vases and launching glassware with Argentine artist Conie Vallese, who makes textiles and ceramics but is debuting new bronze pieces including her first chair. British-Pakistani designer Zain Ali (who is behind the brand ZN ALI) will be dressing the whole room. There’s a giant shirt in the works, maybe two meters wide. It’s going to be magical! Everyone is blending their worlds.  

Do you intend for Contributions to live beyond the week? 

That’s hard to say. If it’s a major failure, I may have to retire (laughs). I’ve had this desire to reroute the scope of my work and my contribution, so to speak, and this feels like a first step into a new activity. The idea would be to continue bringing these self-initiated projects to life. We have a desire to do this again next year, and maybe it won’t be in Paris!

(Header image: “Bronze Blooms” by Conie Vallese. Photography by Gianluca Bellomo.)

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