The Marché aux Puces de Paris: Saint-Ouen Paris Flea Market
On a particularly cold January day our Team ventured out to experience the sights and sounds of the Paris Flea Market. Dressed in our dark clothing with many layers of sweaters, long coats, and scarves we embarked on a day long shopping journey that would both inspire creativity and reinvigorate a desire to incorporate well crafted design objects into every-day life design. We discovered, discovered, and … discovered amazing larger than life chandeliers, bespoke furniture, and the the most amazing set of (vintage) taxidermy flamingos.
The Marché aux Puces de Paris: Saint-Ouen is not for the faint of heart - with 14 markets made of 1,700 dealers occupying a space of approximately 750,000 square feet this market can quickly become overwhelming. From our perspective, however, this market is 750,000 square feet of undiscovered potential. 750,000 square feet of non-commercialized, non-mainstream, non “Made in China and sold at our nationwide 5,000 locations” product.
As design culture has become more and more commercialized we grow accustomed to the acceptance of mass produced design objects such as lighting, upholstery, and building finishes. What once was made by a skilled artisan specifically for a space - a chandelier for instance - has now been replaced with a trip to your favorite big box store a trip where one can quickly and inexpensively purchase a mass produced version. While there are occasions that do call for this type of process it is important to remember that it doesn’t need to be the protocol. Saint-Ouen served as a great reminder that there is, in fact, a thriving market of one of a kind, well crafted design objects waiting to be discovered and implemented into your next design project.
A focus on pure creativity seemed to unify many of the vendors. Furniture inlaid with mixed metals, exotic motifs, and over-scaled items fill the shops. For many of these items a specific style is transcended by the fusion of many ideas, cultures, and motifs. The versatility in design yields great utility in that any one of these items can be placed into a “normal” home setting to create immediate excitement and liveliness. A pair of unexpected bedside tables inlaid with multi tonal lacquer and brass, when placed alongside current furniture, can evoke a sense of creativity and inspire on a daily basis to live in a more meaningful way - in appreciation of craftsmanship and attention to detail.