Spot on...
by Georgina Oliver

Spring is supposed to be about "letting the sunshine in." A change of style and decor. In a nutshell — adopting a fresh attitude to life! This season, the art world sets the tone. Why not consider creativity as "vital," like the air we breathe?

Brit Designers
Design is "in the air." A multiplicity of exhibitions spotlighting innovative furniture and lifestyle concepts have been springing up, all over town... An international fair called "European way(s) of life" is scheduled at the Carrousel du Louvre (May 2-12), and Galerie Haute Définition presents "Spot on" — a showcase of British talent, based on what can only be described as "a brilliant idea"... A score of established UK "icons" — from Ron Arad to Paul Smith – have been asked to take part, not only with items of their own, but by endorsing a young, emerging designer of their choice “on a one-to-one basis.” Among the “celebs,” Terence Woodgate chose Gitta Gschwendtner’s “ceramic lights” on account of her “freshness” of approach, saying that, given a similar assignment, he would have tried to conceal the electric wire, but she turned it into a “feature.” And, Nick Crosbie picked Royal College of Art graduates Nick Jinkinson and Nick Patterson of Studio Platform, who recently won a Muji prize for their wacky “foldable polypro umbrella.” Beyond the private viewing to be inaugurated by British Ambassador to France, Sir John Holmes, this “Absolutely Fabulous” display will be open to all from 10am to 7pm (on May 17, 18 & 30, as well as June 1 & 2), and to professionals by appointment only, to June 30 (4 passage du Grand Cerf, 2e, tel: 01 40 41 16 00).

Decor Circuits
Likewise, in the ultra-trendy Montorgueil quartier, between place Goldoni and the passage du Grand Cerf... The “Puces du Design” — an increasingly popular "upmarket flea market" focusing on 20th century deco — fêtes its seventh edition this year (May 31 to June 2). Meanwhile, another design event to look out for that weekend is a special City of Paris-backed "browsers circuit" called "Designer's Days." From May 30 to June 2, some 30 boutiques and showrooms, mainly on the Left Bank, will be opening their doors to on-the-pulse interior decoration aficionados.

Fragilisme Expo
At the Fondation Cartier, a refreshingly playful expo titled"Fragilisme" encourages visitors to look at familiar things in a different light, showing that sheer imaginativeness can transform fragile, ephemeral elements into "dreamworks." A zestful trio of European designers — Alessandro Mendini, Vincent Beaurin and Fabrice Domercq — proposes a zingy array of zany exhibits, ranging from XXL "armchairs" on view in the garden, to mini "onion peel" sculptures. Why not go home, and invent your own "instant art"?
(To June 9, 261 bd Raspail, 14e, tel: 01 42 18 56 50)

Apartment Show
A pioneer when it comes to finding unusual ways of bringing art "home" to the public... Annie Andrieu launched her apartment/gallery, a stone's throw from rue Daguerre — a bustling 14th arrondissement walkway, with arty inhabitants like filmmaker Agnès Varda — back in 1993. Going from strength to strength, she's gradually extended the locale, which now includes an inner courtyard. To be seen there till May 26 — a "next generation" sculptor/draftsman... A graduate of the Ecole nationale supérieure des beaux-arts, 26-year-old Quentin Garel rethinks animal subject matter, in an anti-consumerist perspective.
(“Vent d’Ocre,” 9 rue Lalande, 14e, tel/fax: 01 43 35 16 25)

An enfant terrible of the pop art era, Daniel Spoerri became famous for his "tableaux-pièges" — "ready-made" compositions that "froze" all kinds of found objects within a quirky, table-like format. Last month, as a tribute to Spoerri's "Eat-Art," the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume held a series of "reservations only" dinner "happenings." The cost per head? 85E From April 30 to June 2, a retrospective dubbed "Les Menus-pièges de Daniel Spoerri," documents the "artistic cuisine" of this celebrated "Nouveau Réaliste," since the early 1960s,
(daily except Mon, pl de la Concorde, 1er, tel: 01 47 03 12 50).

A bright'n'big art space named Galerie Fraîch’attitude — as in "crème fraîche" or, more appropriately... "fresh paint" — features a highly original springtime show, sponsored by France's official fruit and vegetable agency (APRIFEL). From a distance, Jean-Yves Pennec's colorful pieces look like paintings. Close-up, they turn out to be complex constructions based on intricately assembled scraps of wood. Pennec's aim? To "poetize" an ordinary, everyday material — the crates used to pack fresh produce on market stalls, or in grocery stores.
(To May 25, Tue-Sat noon to 7pm, 60 rue du Faubourg Poissonnière, 10e, tel: 01 49 49 15 15)

Cool Restos
"Fresh attitude" defines the style of two of this capital's most fashionable restos. Linked with global designer Philippe Starck "Bon" — the rue de la Pompe establishment where people who "look good" meet to eat "honest" food in "good company" — has opened a brand-new second branch, (Bon 2, 2 rue du Quatre-Septembre, 2e, tel: 01 44 55 51 55).
And, next to Christie's, at 15 avenue Matignon (tel: 01 56 45 40 90), French movie mogul Luc Besson is behind "Market" — Alsace-born, New York chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's latest "all-star" gastronomic venture... Getting into this VIP haunt is a big deal. Yet, this plush, if earthy, ethnic-feel enclave — decorated by Christian Liaigre — has a clear-cut objective: to serve "market-fresh" fusion dishes, along the lines of "olive, ginger and coriander-flavored Bresse fowl."

City Cajuns
Skipping around a maypole ain't your idea of fun? Too bad! A growing circle of unhibited, unaffected Parisians identifies with equally simple, "grass roots" pleasures. Keen to re-connect with Louisiana's Francophone Acadian folklore, on the first Tuesday of each month... this city's Cajun enthusiasts gather together at 11th arrondissement restaurant Blue Bayou, for a "Cabaret-Spectacle." To the tune of fiddles and accordions, "washboards" and metal triangles, they learn to two-step, waltz and line dance "country-style."
(dinner/concert 20,25E + drinks, to 11pm, beginner session 6-7pm, 111/113 rue St-Maur, M° St-Maur, reservations: 01 43 55 87 21, further info: 01 64 58 44 17)

Air Mag
Like a breath of fresh air, on the media front... De l'air is an "alternative" bi-monthly newsmagazine with a mega creative vision of photo-journalism. Started a couple of years ago, and published on a shoestring — it zeroes in on controversial topics as diverse as anti-globalization and rave culture. On the cover of its March-April issue: the Green party's Presidential candidate, Noël Mamère, "breathing deep"... as he braces himself for future election challenges?

Glassware warrior by Alessandro Mendini
Patrick Gries courtesy of Fondation Cartier
Market restaurant, avenue Matignon
courtesy of Richard Pestour Communication
Green Party candidate Noël Mamère on the cover of "de l'air"
Annie Andrieu in the courtyard of her apartment/gallery with sculptor Quentin Garel
Odilon Dimier / courtesy of Vent d'ocre