Every January, the City of Lights welcomes designers to two massive trade shows: Maison et Objet and Paris Déco Off. This year, we attended for the first time and were completely blown away by the creativity and artistry at both shows. Set against the often glamorous and always important Parisian landscape, Maison and Déco Off were a must see!

And not just for the shows, but for the community too. Every year the city plays host to a variety of parties, held in some of Paris’ most esteemed and exclusive locales. Today, we’re sharing a day-by-day glimpse into our 4-day tour.

Day One – An Unforgettable Parisian Welcome

We began our trip with a fabulous invitation to the U.S. Embassy and the adjoining Ambassador’s Residence. Hosted by our friends at Perennials Fabrics, the party was a veritable who’s who of the American design community, including a few Houston-based industry colleagues, with whom we immediately shared glasses of bubbly champagne.

The Ambassador’s Residence is located on the Avenue Gabriel, which was constructed in the late 17th Century in the 8th Arrondissement of Paris. The neighborhood is home to the Champs-Élysées and the famed shopping along the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, where you will find the flagship locations for Lanvin and Hermès.

Ann and David Sutherland, the CEO and Chairman of Perrennials and Sutherland respectively, were in attendance. Timothy Corrigan, who has his own collection with Perennials, welcomed us mid-evening. And all three posed with the stilt walkers that greeted us when we entered.

When Timothy spoke, we began to feel the weight of the experience. He reminded us that Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin had stood in the very room where we were celebrating. Surrounded by our friends (Lucas EilersJanice Barta Interiors, and more), it was a wonderful way to start the trip.

The exterior of the Ambassador

At the Ambassador’s Residence, we were greeted by a fabulously dressed Marie Antoinette on stilts.

Houston interior designer, Laura Umansky, stands in front of the Ambassador

Laura takes a step toward the Ambassador’s Residence, but stops for a quick photo first.

Janice Barta, Laura Umansky, Meredith Xavier, and Melissa Grove in Paris at the Perennials party

Janice Barta of Barta Interiors and Meredith Xavier of Ligne Agency find Laura and Melissa at the Perennials party.

The stunning interior of the Ambassador

The Ambassador’s Residence, featuring ornate moulding details and glittering chandeliers.

Day Two – The American in Paris Party and a Moving Moment with Loro Piana

While it’s never a bad time to visit Paris, the middle of winter wouldn’t be anyone’s first choice. Highs are expected around the mid-30s, which can feel pretty cold to us Houstonians! But this year was exceptionally warm. After catching up on some much needed sleep, we readied ourselves for back-to-back fêtes. And were very relieved that we could leave our parkas and balaclavas behind.

The American in Paris Party is THE party to attend when visiting Déco Off. Every year a selection of US Showrooms (Ainsworth-NoahCulp AssociatesDe Sousa HughesGeorge Cameron NashHolly HuntJerry PairJim ThompsonJohn BrooksKelly ForslundKneedler Fauchère, and Thomas Lavin) host the bash for visiting designers.

The 2020 location was the Théâtre National de Chaillot. The party took place in the Grand Foyer, featuring stunning and unobstructed views of the Eiffel Tower. Sipping (yes, more!) champagne and mingling with the new friends we had made from the night before was a dream, especially with the glittering, hourly lights from the Tower.

But the night was still young. We made our way to another captivating Parisian locale, the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, for a special event hosted by Loro Piana.  Known for their impeccable cashmere and wool, Loro Piana has been in the fabric business since the early 19th Century. Their dedication to quality shows not only in their distinctive textures, but also in the experience they provide. We were treated to a private showing of the short documentary film, The Alchemy of Loro Piana Interiors: The Colours of Mongolia. Directed by Luc Jacquet, who also directed The March of the Penguins, the film chronicled a family of Mongolian goat farmers. It was a powerful and moving glimpse into the lives of these farmers, who help create some of the most beautiful fabrics in the world.

The Théâtre National de Chaillot, view from the entrance down the stairs

The entry stairwell to the Théâtre National de Chaillot, which was a pleasure in heels, leads to the grand foyer.

A lovely view of the Eiffel Tower was our host at the American in Paris Party.

Stopping for another photo opp at the party…before hopping in a car to the next one.

With ceilings this beautiful, it was hard not to stare.

Loro Piana had a selection of upholstered pieces on view at The Ministry.

Dinner was held in a grand hall, and exquisitely catered.

We toured the royal apartments at The Ministry, where everyone stopped for a photo of the gilded tub in the King’s Quarters.

Day Three – Maison et Objet

Maison et Objet is one of the world’s most important interior design events. It occurs twice a year (January and September) and features the latest trends in furnishings, decor, and home goods. I can’t imagine fitting everything you want to see in just one day. We were there for the morning and early afternoon and visited barely 3 halls (out of 8 total)! It is simply that massive in scope. 

After the show, we did a little sightseeing, ending at the flagship Diptyque shop at 34 Boulevard Saint-Germain. It was complete luck that our lunch spot was nearby. We always leave a Diptyque candle for our clients at the final reveal of their new home. Our design team selects, from the many available, a signature scent that our clients are sure to love. Needless to say, we picked up a few items for ourselves.

Day Four – Paris Déco Off

By the fourth day, we were busy trying to figure out how we could stay in Paris forever. The unseasonably warm weather, the friendly reception, and the fabulous food and drink that seemed to be waiting for us at every corner…by the time we found ourselves at Déco Off, we were feeling completely converted. 

And that doesn’t even mention the beautiful city itself. Paris does have some sort of magic. You feel transported to the past, but still very much at the cutting edge of modern everything! Fashion, design, cuisine…Paris offers the very best of it all, while remaining deeply connected to and respectful of its storied culture. 

Welcome to Maison et Objet - this is the main hub

The main hub of Maison et Objet at the heart of its 8 show halls

A perfect lounger from Dooq at the Maison et Objet show in Paris

The perfect lounger! Found at Dooq at Maison et Objet

An incredible, deconstructed rug found at Maison

An incredible, deconstructed rug found at Maison

Saint-Germain-des-Près during Deco Off

Saint-Germain-des-Près during Déco Off

A stunning fabric from Jakob Schlaepfer

A stunning fabric from Jakob Schlaepfer

Déco Off is a fascinating experiment into what artists can accomplish when they work together. Over 100 showrooms, from both banks of the Seine, open their doors to the fabric houses. Many of the “showrooms” are art galleries any other time of the year, but during Déco Off they become inspiring bazaars of texture and textiles. Our favorite fabric artisans, from Loro Piana to Zak + Fox to Jim Thompson to Dedar and many, many more, were putting their newest collections on tactile display.  

After our all too-short exploration of Déco Off, we headed straight to the Louvre, with our wonderful tour guide Brian. Did we talk about how wonderfully warm and comfortable Paris was for January? We walked over the Seine in light coats, stopped for the obligatory photos and let our final full day of Parisian sunshine sink in. 

Our Paris Tips:

  • We stayed in the 8th Arrondissment at the Maison Astor, which was the perfect location. We were able to walk to the Ambassador’s Residence and everything else (besides Maison) was a quick Uber trip. There were protests during our stay, but they did not interfere with our plans. The local police were very friendly and informative. Overall, the neighborhood felt tucked away and quiet.
  • Book a car to Maison. Maison is about 40 minutes to an hour outside of the city, depending on traffic. The protests made traffic worse. Having dependable transportation gave us peace of mind and made sure we didn’t miss one second of the show.
  • If you are considering attending either show in Paris for January (or September), our advice would be to stay longer! We would have loved an additional day at Déco Off especially. The showrooms are located on both the Left and Right Banks of the Seine, and to tully take them all in, we would have needed at least 2 full days.
  • If you want to see the Louvre, going in January (when crowds are smaller) is a great idea. Book your tickets online ahead of time and skip the lines.
  • Get your tickets to the American in Paris party. Be on the lookout on Eventbrite. Tickets sell fast!
Melissa Grove and Laura Umansky of the Laura U Design Collective in Paris

Melissa and Laura stop for one last photo near the Seine.

The facade of the Louvre, in Paris

The Louvre in winter…til next time, Paris!