As a designer who seeks originality, I find Paris offers an infinite array of products and materials, many of which can only be found there.
The Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes showcasedarchitecture and decorative arts from a range of styles and sources, including a modern interpretation of the style of Louis XVI (18th century) and references to the avant-garde art movements of the time, such as cubism and the Bauhaus.
The first places to look for affordable decorative objects, antiques and art are theflea markets throughout the city.The world's largest and likely the most famous market for furniture and decorative objects in Paris is the Porte de Clignancourt, more commonly called Les Puces de Saint-Ouen.It probably has anything a shopper is searching for.
I find it helpful to plan a day at the market ahead of time tominimise distractions. Interesting objects ranging from 200-year-old antiques to authentic, mid-century furniture can be found in the markets along Rue des Rosiers. Although my time was divided between serious shopping and casual browsing, I had clear objectivesand was able to find a few furniture items and a great selection of decorative pieces. Many dealers also carry original paintings,drawings and etchings, which are easy to transport back home.
Although an authentic piece is beyond my budget, to gain a better understanding of the scale, fit, finish and detail of true art deco and modernist furniture and art, a visit to the galleries and antique dealers along Avenue Matignon in the 8th Arrondissementprovided an understanding of what I need to look for locally. On this trip, I discovered the work of Louis Sognot, a modernist French designer who combines modernism and art deco characteristics in furniture I quite like.
Adjacent to this area is the Art & Design Gallery on Rue de Penthièvre, which in addition to the items showcased in the storefront, also has a large warehouse on the fringe of Paris that may be visited by appointment.
The next area to explore is St Germain-des-Prés in the 6th and 7th Arrondissements, a large district running along the south shore of the Seine, filled with galleries for furniture, antiques, art and books.
Robert Reid is a professor of architecture, art and design at the American University of Sharjah. His column can be read every week in House & Home.