Why Seashell Decor Is In all places at Paris Design Week

On my final trip, to the Bahamas, I repacked a whole suitcase to carry again a very peachy conch shell roughly the dimensions of a lap canine. Stroll into any room in my residence and also you’re assured to discover a tray, bowl, or different vessel of seashells on some shelf. So you may think about my delight at this yr’s Paris Design Week, the place the Maison&Objet truthful and the town’s design scene have been awash in oceanic motifs. That’s proper, seashell decor (and different accents that includes coral, sea glass, fish, and the like) are formally in.

bright tables

Furnishings from Uchronia’s latest line alongside sculptures by Antoine Billore.


To launch its latest assortment at Paris Design Week final week, the hip French design studio Uchronia introduced a veritable underwater wonderland dubbed “Stolen Objects from the Sea.” Octopus-shaped lamps dangled from the ceiling above a room wherein each floor was lined in seascape sculptures by the artist Antoine Billore, with whom Uchronia additionally collaborated on a number of furnishings items that seem to have shells, barnacles, and coral rising out of them. The ultimate contact? A French model of The Little Mermaid’s “Underneath the Sea” taking part in over the audio system.

At Maison&Objet, one of many world’s largest expositions of furnishings and design that takes place simply exterior Paris metropolis limits, throngs of design lovers gathered to peruse the cabinets of Objets de Curiosité, which have been lined with backlit items of bleached white coral. A couple of aisles over, the German studio Klaus Dupont introduced totems of fish, shells, and stone, topped with waving feathers of flame purple coral.


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black wallpaper

Hadley Keller

Again within the metropolis, the studio of Jim Thompson was draped with the launch of the most recent Tony Duquette assortment, launched earlier this yr: On probably the most distinguished wall is a maximalist trompe l’oeil cupboard of curiosities, that includes cabinets bearing seashells, coral, and different motifs. For its design, Tony Duquette’s successor Hutton Wilkinson recreated Duquette’s personal cabinets at Dawnridge, his iconic California residence. Stateside, at The Philadelphia Present this spring, Diana H. Bittel and Earle Vandekar each drew a lot consideration for 2 shell-encrusted grandfather clocks, whose motifs recall conventional sailor’s valentines (3D collages of shells which sailors crafted for his or her family members whereas on lengthy stints at sea). And this week, John Derian launched his annual decoupage calendar for 2023. On the duvet? An association of seashells, in fact.

So what’s driving the obsession with the underwater? Uchronia’s Julien Sebban makes the case that it is extra than simply aesthetic. “In a world the place every part is digital, we use nature and the talent of the human hand to warn of the results of our actions on marine ecosystems and the demise of conventional expertise,” says the designer within the description of his present.

shelves of white coral

Objets de Curiosité.

Hadley Keller
coral sculptures

Klaus Dupont.

Hadley Keller

The attention to conservation is actually a component of Belgian studio Ostrea’s newest line of terrazzo, additionally introduced at Paris Design Week, which is constructed from crushed shells and billed as an eco-friendly different to plastic and different non-natural supplies. Additionally on the truthful, Dutch producer Zuiver launched the brand new “Ocean chair” made fully from ocean-bound plastic waste. (Herman Miller launched an analogous riff on its iconic Aeron chair final fall).

Within the museum world, shells are having a second, too: Most of the posters promoting “Les Choses,” an exhibition on the Louvre exploring the historical past of nonetheless life, characteristic a dramatic association of three seashells towards a shadowy background. On the metropolis’s buzziest new resort, Château Voltaire—opened final yr by Thierry Gillier, founding father of Zadig & Voltaire—the identify of the bar is La Coquille d’Or, or, “the Golden Shell,” in reference to the shell motif adorning the Sixteenth-century constructing’s façade.

Paris could be the epicenter of the look, nevertheless it hardly stops there. “You need seashells, you go to Greece,” proclaimed the artist Dionysios, whose most up-to-date work was an set up amongst ocean rocks on the shoreline in Greece, his residence nation. Certainly, with the brand new Athens Design Discussion board (launched in 2021) and an explosion of post-Covid journey to the Greek islands, many creatives are doing simply that. The trick is to depart a bit of additional room in your suitcase so you may pack up a couple of to carry residence.

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