Surface x MoMA Design Store

What a French Gadget Looks Like

A new tech product line at MoMA Design Store spotlights Made in France objects you didn’t realize existed.

A new tech product line at MoMA Design Store spotlights Made in France objects you didn’t realize existed.

While the French spell and say the word gadget pretty much the same way Americans do, the country designs them in an entirely distinct way. This month, MoMA Design Store will spotlight around two dozen of the most forward-looking objects to come out of the region in partnership with La French Tech, a Paris-based public-policy initiative that supports France’s startup community. The pieces, all available for purchase, appeal to a range of personalities: a beechwood box for digital love letters (the romantic), a camera-equipped drone (the landscape photographer), and a VR foot-motion controller (the gamer who pines for no physical boundaries).

“In the past eighteen months, we’ve seen more and more consumer products coming out of France,” says Emmanuel Plat, MoMA retail’s director of merchandising (and a native Frenchman). “There are a lot of health- and security-related devices already in the market. We wanted to show customers objects they didn’t realize exist.”

Behold the Vaonis Stellina Smart Telescope, an elegantly designed, compact device that can recognize stars and photograph nebulae millions of light years away, or the Lunii My Fabulous Storyteller, a teal-and-yellow box that allows kids to choose their own bedtime stories. Other standouts include the Véritable Smart Indoor Garden, an autonomous planter; the City Clock, a plywood Parisian row house that denotes the time by illuminating windows on its facade; a speaker by Native Union and La Boite Concept, a wooden device equipped with future-proof charging capabilities and high sound fidelity; and the Parrot Bebop 2 Power Drone, a contraption that can fly up to 40 miles per hour while documenting its aerial views.

The City Clock and Lunii My Fabulous Storyteller.

Each object was selected by MoMA Design Store together with La French Tech. “We did something like speed dating with thirty startups for three hours,” Plat says. Then, his team consulted with the institution’s architecture and design curators, who approved the chosen products. Interestingly, the MoMA design team tests all objects before acquiring them—Plat’s 8-year-old daughter tested the Lunii Storyteller before it was officially selected.

MoMA Design Store locations in SoHo and Midtown will offer live demonstrations of select pieces from the product line throughout the month. Holographic animations of select La French Tech objects will fill the windows of the SoHo store beginning May 10. Generated by high-tech fans with blades synced with video projectors, there will be vibrant, if illusionary, images of three-dimensional forms that bring the objects to life.

Parrot Bebop 2 Power Drone and Triby Smart Speaker.
Objects from MoMA Design Store x La French Tech line of tech products.

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