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Circuit Bijou websiteDuring our vacation in Paris we saw not only the typical tourist attractions, but also were lucky to chance upon some exciting temporary exhibitions, one of which happened to be Circuits Bijoux: Dans la ligne de mire in Les Arts Décoratifs. We want to share this with you particularly because of the unusual idea for the arrangement of the exhibition. (Photo above by the organizers.)

We visited the museum to see toys and furniture after a whole day of looking at paintings and sculptures and were surprised to come upon preparations for a temporary exhibition: surprised, because the preparations did not take place in a closed off section of the museum but among the regular exhibits, marked with square stickers and an aura of surrealism:

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(Also, sorry for the touristy photos but we don’t like to travel with a heavy camera.)

As the museum closed early that day we returned two days later to look at more furniture, only to find a huge line at the entrance. It turned out to be the opening of the exhibition and if you were there we were very spottable as the completely unglamorous people.

Circuits Bijoux, judging by the website, is a large event that promotes contemporary jewelry design in France and the exhibition in Les Arts Décoratifs is only one of associated events. It shows not only jewelry but also installations and photographs and if you’re around you should definitely visit (it’s open till March) but we paid more attention to the arrangement than anything else.

In fact, the regular exhibition of Les Arts Décoratifs is interesting in places but quite random and leaves you wanting for more. I suppose someone who lives in Paris wouldn’t necessarily feel any need to visit the dusty baroque sofas and Napoleonic lamps. However, placing the modern jewelry among old exhibit accomplishes two things at once: it enlivens the old show and puts the new works in context. It also turns the museum visit into a children’s game where you have to search for the elements of the exhibition you came to see among things which are not a part of the show at all. (I’m not sure how well the involvement part worked though because some of the visitors, while breathtakingly stylized and beautiful, looked bored to death – but maybe they were forced to come).

To make the spotting game quite easy a brilliant design solution is used: the identity of the event is in neon pink that really stands out.

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The exhibits are marked with pink tape and signed nearby on simple rectangular stands.

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This is completed with faultless (if not that exciting) typography and quite a lovely logo that combines a diamond, circuits, C and B (I do think they should use the logo more but the website uses something else).

The final touch to make the exhibition fun is how the authors used the little spaces that recreate old interiors. They placed there mannequins overburdened with jewelry to create quite fascinating, if creepy, scenes (which, I guess, explains the full name of the exhibition, the scènes du bijou contemporain en France part).

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So, whether you’re a fan of jewelry of not, if you’re lucky enough to be in Paris till March, consider visiting Les Arts Décoratifs, because this is one of the most interestingly arranged exhibitions we’ve ever stumbled upon.

Did you miss us? We’re back from our awesome trip to Paris, where we loved absolutely everything (even the crazy rain and swarms of tourists and that waiter that laughed at my French). One of the things we loved the most, though, were Parisian librairies (or bookstores, if we’re not being pretentious). We visited tens of them and bought so many books that we seriously worried about excess baggage. Here’s a few of our purchases, limited to those more Paris-related.

We fell in love with these two books of watercolors by Fabrice Morieau, Paris Sketchbook and Gardens of Paris: they are better than any photo album at capturing that charm of Paris (which we didn’t find overhyped at all).

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A view of Paris with our beloved Notre-Dame in the distance.

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La Defence, which we visited towards the end and that’s why it probably made an even greater impression after ten days of 19th century tenant houses all around. We wouldn’t like to live there, but with a good weather and for a short time that modernism certainly works.

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Parisian parks are very orderly. We’re used to a little wilder ones.

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The Louvre is definitely one of our favorite places in Paris.

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But Notre-Dame is probably the favorite one.

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We lived in a charming little apartment nearby fashionable Canal St-Martin (though, I think, in the less fashionable part of the area), just next door to a great boulangerie.

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Surprisingly enough, the Père Lachaise Cemetery was one of the most charming places we visited during the whole stay.

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Parisians are obsessed with greenery: parks, garden, window pots, you name it, it’s all there and it looks amazing.

paris-livres-02 paris-livres-03 paris-livres-04These series of books illustrated by Sarah McMenemy presents Paris in general, the Louvre and Versailles as small pop-ups with all the important monuments. Even before we found the watercolor albums, we bought these as a personal souvenir of all the wonders of the city.

paris-livres-17 paris-livres-18 paris-livres-19We actually did not climb the Eiffel Tour (again), seeing the insane lines beneath it. It’s shaping up to be our thing, apparently, because we did a similar thing last time (then it was wind that deterred us).

paris-livres-20 paris-livres-21 paris-livres-22The Mesopotamian and Assyrian art in the Louvre is actually one of the most fascinating things to see there.

paris-livres-23 paris-livres-24 paris-livres-25We spent a lovely Sunday in Versailles, with all the fountains, hedges and tourists.

This was a spontaneous purchase because the sheer practicality of the idea surprised us so much: this book is a list of free, allegedly tested toilets around Paris. We didn’t need to try out the suggestions but the books seems knowledgeable and actually well-designed, complete with the appropriate yellow Pantone.

paris-livres-26 paris-livres-27Paris is full of brilliant, small artsy books. They are like student diplomas, only published. Miss Lisa by Delphine Perret (who is probably not a student, but we don’t really know) is a story of Mona Lisa, who gets bored, leaves the painting and starts a new life. We bought it both for humor and illustrations.

paris-livres-35 paris-livres-36 paris-livres-37What is the one thing Mona Lisa always wanted to do? Sell shoes, of course.

We spent most time in children sections of bookstores because of all the fascinating printing techniques employed for the books and here are two examples (not so much Parisian but at least French). Ma Petite Savane by Xavier Deneux is like those books for two-year-olds printed on cardboard so you can’t tear out pages. But these pages have raised and lowered parts on two pages of a spread, which combine intelligently.

paris-livres-28 paris-livres-29Zebra’s stripes – trees.

paris-livres-30Finally, Après l’été by Lucie Félix tells a charming story of a girl’s orchard in autumn, employing intelligently designed die-cuts. Great part about both this and the previous book is how the fancy techniques tell the story, not just increase production costs.

paris-livres-31paris-livres-32paris-livres-33 paris-livres-34 Of course, there was much more to our stay in Paris than just books (I mean, there were croissants for one thing) but the books were amazing.

that can irritate the hell out of you when they happen but in the illustrated form like this they make your day.

tumblr_mnx3r4joTE1r4ibs7o1_500Thoka Maer, an illustrator from Berlin, has tumblr called it’s no biggie with an ongoing project of wonderful, whimsical illustrations. All of them are animated as stop-motion loops of sometimes real, sometimes surreal small graphic observations. The longer you look at them the more you appreciate their subtle humor and, dare we say, philosophical outlook that result directly from the choice of medium. We rarely notice all the daily loops but there they are.

Since we’ve been insanely busy and didn’t manage to prepare a post of our own work we leave you with a few of our favorite no biggies and recommend that you see the rest.

Today looked exactly like this:

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I hate when people read over my shoulder on public transport. But I look over other people’s shoulders myself, so yeah.

tumblr_lwixf1LBRy1r4ibs7o1_500This might not have happened to us:

tumblr_ltwd7tivCI1r4ibs7o1_500But this sure did way back before we discovered AdBlock:

tumblr_lw1t2sRSXe1r4ibs7o1_500And of course we can’t ignore a dog illustration:

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Today is my birthday and R. gave me (among many other things) a little set of wonderfully illustrated books. They are tourist guides (or really just collections of anecdotes) for four cities that are eternal tourist magnets so that children want to visit and they stay tourist magnets, I suppose. The books were all illustrated and designed by Marianna Oklejak, about whom we wrote a while ago, and we absolutely love the humor of illustrations and the color palettes.

Many images after the jump (or below).

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We saw Steve McQueen’s movie Shame because of the poster above, on the left. We found it intriguing and remarkably quiet: the kind of poster which suggests things rather than yells at you. It has gloomy yet tasteful colors and impressive typography without unnecessary frills: just white Futura, smaller than it might be and more arresting for that. We weren’t alone in our appreciation because the poster has been cropping up on lists of best movie posters for 2011.

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