Friday, September 28, 2007


Boutique: Désordre Urbain,
96, rue Nollet,

Désordre Urbain is a small boutique on rue Nollet. Inconspicuous on the outside, the “boutique and atelier decoration,” presents creative household items and personal accessory pieces from a variety of European designers. For the table anything from the white ceramic assiette “slice” or “plate slice” designed by the ever amazing Atypyk,, to colorful ceramic egg cups, and thin, elegant diagonal glass vases. Bright, graphic fabrics adorn pillows, aprons, tablecloths and small change purses. For the walls there is requisite display of wall stickers (a very popular item throughout Paris at the moment), but here clever versions such as large keys, an old fashioned telephone or mobiles are for sale along with flowers and tree branches, they also have little mirrors that read “fucking princess” and “welcome to my boudoir,” and would make a great gift for a friend. Creative and affordable lighting options are on display. Two particular favorites are the Lampe “Ascidie,” whose organic form constructed in white rolled paper suggests some ocean dwelling sea anemone, and the more modern Lampe Tabouret “Nomade,” which is simply a gray, cement cinder block with a light bulb placed on the lower edge. It’s sort of a reconstruction-minimalist piece that would fit in almost any home. Thankfully all of these items can be seen and purchased on their detailed website, The site is all in French but it is relatively easy to navigate.

Side note: the Atypyk site is not to be missed. I could spend hours just looking and laughing and loving everything they offer, from the wooden crucifix that serves as a door stopper to the bearskin as doormat to the rolls of shut-up tape. They are truly revolutionary.

95, rue Nollet
Yoming was one of the first shops that grabbed my attention and shot a little spark of inspiration for Deux Frontieres, as well as for my own attempts at creating things. (Yes, you’ll soon be lucky enough to view the development of these projects and I will also be seeking your help on technical issues).
But back to Yoming)…
The owner of the boutique is a designer, primarily furniture but also fashion and household objects. The front part of the store displays some of his fantastic variations on lighting and furniture. Hanging in the window display is his take on a contemporary chandelier in which red and blue cables intertwine like a falling coils with a simple, bare bulb tucked inside. The Dada Chair is in fact a stool shrunk down Alice-in-Wonderland style. On each tiny piece are written French words such as “cul” “hop” or “la” in black text. The stools can be bought individually but the idea is to have a set to give a complete, silly French phrase such as “pose ton cul” (sit your ass down). A popular piece is the Strapbands Chair in which the seat and back of a simple, wooden dining chair have been replaced with woven bands of cream, brown and green canvas army belts with metal clasps. The canvas belts are thick and soft enough to make this chair not only original but also very comfortable. On the fashion front there are ideal overnight tote bags in sturdy cotton fabrics suggestive of vintage army uniforms in green and beige and the more unique, for lack of a better word, jumpers which are actually vintage hospital gowns (unused), which were once made in course linen and with full coverage. Here the gowns are first dyed in colors of rose, red, blue, etc. and then minimally, if at all, altered and are made to be worn as a long shirt with jeans or perhaps as mini dress with a belt and boots. The concept is truly unique and practical. Little knick-knack items such a buttons that read 'Made in Batignolles' for the lover of the 17th like me, and selection of minimalist designed silver jewelry for men or women.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Batignolles:Le Dix-Sept (17th)

Le Dix-Septieme, (the 17th), is the best, undiscovered arrondissement in Paris. (This is totally biased as I have not come close to seeing every neighborhood). But it is a gem of a place and though I am hesitant to give up the secret, obviously I am going to…

The 17th arrondissement is situated on the right bank, but a bit far from the bank, which is why it’s so great to live here. Looking at the subway map you’ll find us near Place de Clichy, on the upper middle-left of the map. There are few subways you could take to get here…La Fourche, Clichy, Brochant, Rome…This is a neighborhood in the throws of gentrification...that slightly dirty word that so many people secretly love but also detest in its overall ambition. I love the mix of cultures, energy, aesthetics that the change can bring.

I am working from home these days and I have found that it’s imperative to get out and about at some point during the days to re-energize. Taking regular strolls around the neighborhood always leads to a new find and a fresh perspective. One of my favorite escapes is the exquisite little Parc de Batignolles (see little tree in a glass cage), the most delicately manicured park I have ever seen. Little stone paths, a tiny waterfall, black and white swans, and the true oddity- a brutalist-gothic sculpture of vultures that looks like it came from Ms. Haversham’s backyard (see vulture-sculpture). Another treat is the organic market (Marche des Bios) on Saturday mornings which is full of fresh, organic fruits & veggies, cheese, artisanal honey, fabrics, etc.

For the next few days the focus will be on must-see places scattered around the Le Dix-Sept (17th): Restaurants, boutiques, curiosities, etc.

Check it out: Rue Legendre
Rue Legengre cuts right through the heart of the 17th, running from the base of Montmarte to just about the tip of Parc Monceau and I thought it might make a good place to start.

anti+gravite: advanced art and design concepts (
80 rue Legendre
I had passed by the storefront of anti+gravite dozens of times before finally venturing in last Saturday (on the way to the Marche des Bios). The curious and creative window displays always captured my attention: one week it might be a few small, surreal paintings, another little fabric or metal figurines similar to Mexican ex-votos or Milagros, or another time it was displaying elaborate jewelry that looked at once to be vintage design objects and contemporary sculpture. Was it an art gallery? Design shop? What? Alas we had good timing last week when we were once again gawking in thru the windows, A, the gregarious and quirky owner invited us to have a look inside. What we learned is that anti+gravite is a store whose concept is in fact, A’s: A graphic illustrator/designer selects everything from the bakelite jewelry made by a former couture designer, the small ceramic cubes with naïve-like paintings to the NASA-like lighting fixtures whose cool hues are adjusted through a computer program in the back (think Julien Laverdiere gone design ( In the back he has a small office for his design and illustration work. Anti+gravite is a store of personal love and interest and this is why the quirky-ness works. There is no pretension and no apparent mission but to show beautiful, eccentric hand crafted objects for our viewing pleasure. Alas, the website, doesn’t really lend much information but should you be in Paris, you can stop by in person or email him for more information.

Premiata Drogheria Di Meglio
90, rue Legendre
It’s like eating in your mom’s kitchen, if your mom is Italian and always has an array of incredible pastas and antipasti laying around waiting for you to eat. The first time we walked into the Premiata, we felt like newcomers to a neighborhood BBQ. The vibe was familial with tables of families piled around talking and eating, kids playing in the back yard and everyone seeming to know the drill. Soon we were directed on course by the friendly staff and were told to order at the counter, find a seat and the food will be brought to you. After a painful decision making process, we each selected a 2-pasta combination out of a choice of 10, and a few antipasti salads, (sautéed artichokes, little noki mushrooms, caramelized onions, roasted pepper). The at-home feel comes from the serve-yourself concept of pouring a pitcher of water, slicing your own bread, grabbing the parmesan (fresh chunks abound), salt/pepper, and of course help yourself to as much of the wine (delicious, Italian reds), but just remember to tell them how many you had, (this honesty policy can be embarrassing at times, particularly during a weekday when the number exceeds 2 glasses). When the pasta arrives it’s hard to explain how good it is. I forget really how amazing pasta can be when its done right. It’s not something I ate regularly. Here at the Premiata, there is always a variety available from traditional penne in a Bolognese sauce, farfalle with vegetables, spaghetti with fruits de mer. The first day we ate tiny pockets of handmade pasta that looked like candy. It was thin, fresh and stuffed with caramelized leeks and cheese. I wanted to cry. I get it every time now, so honestly I have to leave it to you to try the rest and let me know!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Postcard from the edge

An interesting article in the October 1 issue of Time, caught my eye this morning so I am having a bit of a stream of consciousness thought.

The Time essay titled “Postcard: Beirut”,9171,1663834,00.html carries more weight then is apparent in the one-page essay. This should be a feature story. How often do we have the chance to read about the art scene in a country like Lebanon or Syria? Shouldn’t we as Americans or westerners be allowed that information, to educate ourselves about what is happening in these countries outside of politics and religion? Wouldn’t Americans or shouldn’t Americans be mortified that in some places the only information people read about the country is Cheney’s relentless push on Israel to start war in Iran and George Bush’s continued “war on terror” and “us and them” diatribe? The majority of information that each side of the fence receives is unfortunately the generic, political agenda that will unite the people of that country. What about the individual voice? The creative voice which is really what all countries are made of?

On this same subject, the op-ed piece titled “Death of a Director,” written by Alain Délétroz in the September 22-23 International Herald Tribune, was particularly moving. In the article he poignantly writes about the “thirst for cultural escape in a dictatorship,” and the refuge that people found in Tashkent in the theatrical performances directed by the late Mark Weil.

It’s essential that in cities like Beirut, artists of all kinds persist in their endeavors to create and share their work as another form of dialogue to the ongoing, repetitious political and religious banter. Without that individual voice, then the state or religion has won, and in these particularly delicate, uncertain times, Beirut, as one of the most creative and independent thinking cities has to nurture this creativity, in whatever subversive, underground way it can. I am giving total credit to Time for doing the Postcard: Beirut essay and hope that maybe they’ll do a feature story on it next time.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Quick Background

For a little background, I am sitting at a big desk, which also serves as our dinning room table, in a lovely apartment in a fantastic neighborhood, in Paris, France. As an American it is not all that unique to be living (or trying to live) here in Paris, but it is never a city I thought I would be end up living again after my 6-month study abroad experience many, many years ago. How did I get here in the first place after living in NYC for 10+ years?

A quick snapshot: a country in Africa, big art event, cute artist, flirtation, youssou n’dour, lots of air miles, lots of thought, bored at work, a little money in the bank, subletting helps, and away we go...

Paris is full of contrasts- like so many cities- but Paris is a little steeped in its own history, like an overbearing parent or dominating boss, the history and glory of Paris weighs down its ability to be fresh or better, edgy, which is why so many younger people have gone to Barcelona, London, NYC, San Francisco to start a business or explore their creativity. There are of course, plenty of amazing and inspiring things here and I am not in the business of giving a sociological analysis of the city...and in any event, Paris will always be incredible Paris, a lonely/lovely/old fashioned/ elegant/sexy/stodgy city, and it is from here that the journey begins...

Day One

Day One: I never thought I was old fashioned but I feel nervous, almost insecure about starting a blog. I know that it is a platform that about 85% of the world has already mastered, but I have just a beginners knowledge, if that.

First and foremost Deux Frontiers will attempt to be a site of interest. We’ll see how it goes. Deux frontiers (that’s two frontiers in English), is a poetic naming attempt to reference both the personal and the political. The personal is that my boyfriend and I are living in a country not our own, and between us we deal with cultural differences on a daily basis as we come from totally different backgrounds. On the larger, political front, it touches upon such issues and thoughts as global migration, borders, and cross-cultural mixing and how these tie into art, design, food, culture, urban development, landscapes, etc...this is really where I'd like this blog to be relevant. My personal reflections (until others read and contribute), about these areas of interest and how they play out in places around the world. For now that place is Paris...