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Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

February 9, 2016

I just returned from a beautiful trip to Paris, then London, so I have a great deal to share with you but first, the highlight. My day at Merci in Paris with Artistic Director Daniel Rozensztroch. First, it was a dream come true to meet with him, not just for an interview, but for a store tour, lunch together and frequent chats throughout the day. He is such a creative man, a true artist, and I loved learning more about his life and travels which I’m thrilled to share with you now through my words and photographs.

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

As Artistic Director, he is solely responsible for the overall image of this famed concept store which is a major design influencer in not only France but worldwide. Before coming to Merci, he was with top French interiors magazine, Marie Claire Maison, for 22 years as Editorial Advisor (Conseiller de la redaction). Now with Merci for 8 years as Artistic Director (Directeur artistique), it’s clear his attention to the brand, the customer, what’s happening globally in design and his own inner radar for what’s appealing fills his mind constantly and is something in which he possesses endless passion.

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(One of the cafes in Merci, the Used Book Cafe, with walls of books to peruse while sipping espresso. This was born from Daniel’s creative imagination.)

Daniel combs the globe for inspiration and products to take under his wing and bring into the store but additionally, he organizes and curates massive installations in-store that frequently change, all based around themes which range from microtrends (he has the power to set them) and rising trends in either design, fashion, lifestyle, cooking or movements in thinking. He’s always watching the news to see how current events may influence or shape ideas for upcoming shows at the store. He likes to bring awareness to particular themes while also inspiring Merci customers. He likes to make people think. It’s not all about selling product to him, his passion reaches much farther than the wallet – he wishes to inspire collective consciousness to motivate people to consider their lives and the everyday decisions that they make to move towards greater positivity and joy. And products can certainly help aid in that, if you are shown the right ones, which is something he believes in as well – the power of the object and its ability to bring harmony to life.

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

The current theme, for instance, is sports and wellness and is called Sport in the City. Clearly an important topic as cities globally are expanding awareness on the topic and more juice bars, sports clubs and fitness apparel shops are bursting open. Paris is currently experiencing a great awareness around health and fitness too. I observed this clearly as I saw about 50% less smokers than in times past when I had visited the city.

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(We loved the Lumio lamp and walked away with one of the Marshall portable systems)

After the fitness theme, he gave me an insider’s tip that he’s worked with a team of talented people to develop a monochromatic theme based around African prints, patterns and design, which I cannot wait to see because I only think of saturated color when I think of most African textiles and furnishings.

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris
Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(The men’s pop up shop, shown above. Daniel went home with that great camo coat and my friend Toni left with the camel jacket he is shown wearing. We had a great shopping day!)

What I noticed immediately upon meeting this talented man is that he listens more than he speaks. He believes in moderation, kindness, compassion, and in creating a meaningful home over time and certainly not to impress others. As we spoke, I sensed that he soaks in everything; which in turn helps him to later decipher what would be an interesting topic to explore for the store or for a future design (he is also a Designer). As a listener, when he does speak, there is something of substance to hold on to and consider later. I really appreciated this because it meant that conversation held more value and meaning, and wasn’t full of the typical surface topics which never really move you closer to the core of the person. He’s a lovely man to chat with, for sure.

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(Adidas are so hot right now in Europe, especially these with the black stripes.)
Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

I also caught on rather quickly that Daniel is obsessed with everyday items that are aesthetically-pleasing but also practical and functional, from a collapsible strainer he showed me in the Kitchen section along with a Japanese hand broom, to black matte cutlery on the floor for Home. His obsession clearly is what makes him so great at curating, his attention to detail and his dedication to collecting are inspiring because I also get excited over the little things so his passion was completely relatable to me.

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(I loved that they have an Aesop pop-up shop on their ground floor, I grabbed the geranium hand balm from the Auriga kit.)
Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(Upstairs, they have a gorgeous paper shop. Swoon!)

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

With a home in central Paris (where he tends to his small garden, a huge trend in Paris at the moment is this sort of renegade gardener) and another in the South of France, Daniel is frequently flying between homes but even more, frequently between countries – he travels to lands far and near in search of something that will catch his eye – it could be anything and generally, not always what is obvious. The sign of a true artist is to see something in what others may walk by, tapping into one’s imagination. His imagination is always running wild and his heart, completely open and free to explore, which makes him perfect for what others may consider an overwhelming responsibility to oversee and curate one of the most influential design stores in the world.

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(I spotted a sweet marbleware lampshade that I liked immediately as I began photographing the lower floor near the cafe.)

While lunching at Merci on the lower floor near the gardens, I was seated at a lively table with many languages being spoken, delicious foods constantly arriving before us, a bottle of wine because it’s France after all, and I sat across from Daniel and just felt nothing but warmth and joy as he spoke. During lunch, we spoke about Instagram (he isn’t using it currently but maybe soon, wink wink), social media and blogging in general, his role at Merci and how he decides upon the next big thing to show in-store. Here is Daniel below, this portrait of him really captures his personality well.

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris
Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

It was a pleasure to be meet with someone with such a rich background who doesn’t bring ego into it. Our chat was relaxing and made me realize that there is no need to try to impress people when you are impressive enough, you know? Daniel doesn’t need to prove a thing. He is who he is and his confidence reflects that and it’s an endearing quality because it makes others feel at ease. When you leave ego out of your work, you can get REAL work done. You can do what is important.

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(I loved these glass vessels in their Home section and below, all of the ceramics – quite gorgeous. I walked away with the white/black basket shown lower left on the floor for Aidan’s toys to discreetly tuck away in our living room.)
Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

After spending nearly a day at Merci eating, shopping, meeting lovely people and photographing the store with Toni, I walked away more excited to follow Daniel’s work going forward and to keep an eye on the Merci blog and IG to see what he will do for the next installation, and the next, and the next. I also want to return again soon to visit him and maybe steal some time for a coffee because I just liked him as a person. I can’t wait to see where he will go next with his imagination. For me, I loved meeting with someone who brings so much wisdom and value into his work. He’s not fresh out of college or eager, he isn’t insecure or naïve. He’s a seasoned professional, a creative guru, who has seen it all, done it all, and wants to do even more in a fresh, creative and better way.

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(Their linens are to die for. Seriously, the best linen and the best quality ever. They have table linens and an entire room of bedding, as well. You can also order it all online. I also loved the Massimo Castagna flatware with the openwork handles. 

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(I loved how many styles and periods they mix together but also how global it all is – it doesn’t look Scandi or French or Italian – it looks well-traveled and interesting, the contrasts are unique and add healthy tension, the focus is on comfort first.)

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(Many of their pieces are handmade, one of a kind, like the lighting show bottom left. These are all sourced and made by hand and sold exclusively at Merci.)

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(The stunning handmade Japanese pitchers on the table was a real highlight. I wanted so much to take one home and fill it with field flowers.)

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(White enamelled metal flatware by Stefania Di Petrillo definitely had my attention and was something else I desperately wanted to take home with me. I also loved the black and white marble enamelware plates, which is trending currently in Europe for the tabletop. I saw it in London in all of the best stores, too. But I spotted it at Merci first!)

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(I had to photograph the flowers and the simplicity of this tabletop. I loved the scalloped edges of this vintage farmhouse table. There is a lot of love in a table like that, and memories too.)

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(So nice to see mustard and black, but even more, the pottery and linen… and glass. Everything was so cozy looking and welcoming but also stylish and current.)

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(I went home with the gorgeous chair above bottom right from HAY, I had to have it.)

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

I wish Daniel (shown throughout this post and above, with me) nothing but the best and thank him from the bottom of my heart (and my colleague, Toni, also thanks him too) for treating us like family and with such kindness – this was surely a highlight in my career that I’ll never, ever forget. And a big thanks to Toni for being the best travel partner ever and for all of the help, I couldn’t have done this without you!

Holly

(Photography: Holly Becker except bottom two photographs by Morten Toni Vinther)

Color Inspiration, Travel

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

February 6, 2016

I just returned from England and spent a beautiful day in the southwest along the coast for an exclusive tour, interview with Head of Creative, Charlotte Crosby, a special lunch at The Squash Court Cafe, and a tour of the Farrow & Ball headquarters along with a private showing of the Deans Court Home. What a great day it was because there was so much to see and just be inspired by, so first I’ll start with the tour and then wrap up with my very informal chat with Charlotte. Located in Wimborne, Dorset, their headquarters consists of several office spaces, the wallpaper and paint factory, and a showroom. When I arrived, my tour of the paint factory began so l’ll share that with you now…

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

Farrow & Ball was launched in 1946 by John Farrow and Richard Ball who shared a passion for creating paint in accordance with the original formulations, using only traditional methods in making paint (and later, wallpaper) by skilled craftsman and they wanted the ingredients to be only the best quality.

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

While touring, I spoke to several of these “makers” from the guys in the lab who do quality assurance to ensure that all paint pots are 100% perfect before leaving the facility, to the guys who mix the colors, work on the lines and pack the paints. They were so polite and clearly dedicated to their trade; you could sense the pride and that alone was inspiring since I always pictured factory work as being either stressful or passionless (or both).

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

I want to buy and support their products even more now that I’ve seen them being made first hand, and meeting so many of the men who work hard to create the perfect tints and tones. While touring, I heard a little story about how some of the guys get excited when they blend a color that may not be correct for Farrow & Ball (more of a happy accident) and so they pull it but they show the staff anyway because they sometimes think it’s a great color and should be considered for the next collection. I thought that was very sweet, because they too enjoy being involved in the creative process and are inspired by the colors around them, tuned in to the work they are doing and feel a sense of pride for it.

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

I was also struck that none of the paint or wallpapers are mass-produced in some factory overseas. Everything is made right there in Dorset.

After touring the paint factory, it was on to the wallpaper factory only a few buildings away. First, their wallpapers are not made using ink (most today are), which is already impressive. Another thing that impressed me is that each background color on the wallpaper is painted with a layer of eco-friendly water-based paint (they have over 70 background colors!). Not only do I love that each roll is painted first but that they are using non-toxic paints and vanishes. I knew this though the moment I walked in because I have allergies and normally get headaches when I’m around paint and wallpaper but the paint factory only smelled a bit like clay and the wallpaper factory, like a newly cracked-open book.I am impressed by their dedication to producing products that don’t make your home smell toxic for days after it is installed. In fact, when I painted my son’s nursery a few weeks before he was born, I was surprised by how it didn’t smell at all. It made me feel safer to put a baby in the room.

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

It was actually refreshing to be in a factory that was so bright, clean and fume-free with cheerful workers. These points really stood out for me. So now, back to the process… After the papers are painted, they then move through a large machine where they are dried.

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

You can see the paint being applied above inside of the red machine, see the large brush sweeping the color back and forth? Applying paint to the rolls first gives the paper that tactile texture that their customers love so much for that truly one-of-a-kind feel.

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

Rolls are then stored until pattern is applied. From there, there are three different methods to applying pattern: roller block printing, flat bed block printing or trough method. I was able to experience all three and was so impressed by how much care is giving to a single roll of paper. It also impressed upon me why I love their wallpaper so much – it is so tactile and beautiful.

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

I loved watching the flat bed block printing and the roller printing. The machines were working hard but none were left alone, each had a dedicated professional keeping their eagle-eye on every step ensuring the best quality. They had to even check to see that the prints were always being applied straight and that the new print that was rolled on was perfectly aligned with the one before it. The worker and the machine, were one. A strong team churning out incredible wallpaper.

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

After touring the wallpaper factory, I met with Head of Creative, Charlotte Cosby (pictured below) who combs the globe for color inspiration both new and old, many of the colors are repurposed from historical properties. Their historically-derived paint colors and patterns is such an inspiration to so many who have purchased old homes and want to inject them with color that fits the style or era but others simply love to put their chalky-matte colors in their modern homes to make them even more beautiful.

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

Charlotte studied Management Science at University and worked in finance only to realize that banking wasn’t for her. She moved to London to work for an ad agency but still wasn’t “feeling” her job, she yearned to be more creative so she took on work as a freelance interior designer and then, gallery owner. In only her early 20’s at the time, she got a job at Farrow & Ball and her career really set off. Now in her early 30’s, she heads a team of creatives that choose new paints and wallpaper patterns for upcoming collections. A dream job to so many!

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

This is primarily where Charlotte and her team plan and invent new colors and ideas for the brand.

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

Charlotte is here showing the 9 new colors for their collection, I wrote and shared the colors a few days ago here.

I’m so glad that I was able to visit Farrow & Ball and spend time around their busy makers and creatives for the day. I learned so much about how much work is truly involved in making their products which gave me even greater respect for the brand overall. I hope you have enjoyed this tour and my photographs… I’ll be back next week with some inspiration from London and Paris for you, so stay tuned.

A big thanks to F&B for having me!

This post was brought to you by Farrow & Ball. All photography and words are my own.

(Photography + Text: Holly Becker)

 

 

Travel

Paris Travel Tips Wanted

January 6, 2016

Hello lovely friends. I will go to Paris later this month for a week to work. First, for my new client Merci, and then to visit the Maison + Objet along with a bunch of other fun studios to visit crammed along the way. I’m very excited and you can follow my Paris adventures on my @decor8 Instagram beginning January 18!  SO I’m looking for some suggestions from YOU. I love pretty cafes, dessert, jazz clubs, shows, boat rides, I’ll take any tips honestly. Just need fresh and inspiring places to see and photograph.

Paris Travel Tips Wanted
I scoured my favorite blogs for tips but so many of them have posts that were written a year or more ago and we all know that cities like Paris change so frequently that I’m more interested in what is hot NOW. Also, flower shops and lunch spots. I don’t care about museums or monuments or tourist spots because I’ve been to Paris many times and hit those already.

I would love a tip for Korean food, a good Japanese place with excellent Udon soup and definitely a Lebanese place with amazing tabbouleh, falafel, hummus, etc. Also, any good Spanish places with tapas? And maybe something very Italian and delicious? A very hip and cool restaurant would be great too. I’m really open when it comes to dining out, so don’t hold back. Please leave website links in your comments so I can easily find these places if you don’t mind. I’m so grateful, in advance, so thank you!

Do you also have some great ideas for photogenic spots in Paris other than the usual suspects (Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower)? I’m very much a fan of hills and architecture and pale white buildings and streets with a lot of ambiance that aren’t totally commercial and littered with phone card and cell phone shops. I remember my last time in Paris, there were less of these streets (though I was close to the river and Notre Dame but still) so I’d love to be in districts where I can find privately owned bakeries and foodie spots – in other words, pretty spots to photograph so I can create content for this blog that I’m proud of upon my return!

I will be in these neighborhoods from what I know so far: Haut-Marais, Saint-German-de-Pres and Bastille. I’ve never been to Montmartre, is that worthy of a see?

P.S. Doesn’t the Broken Arm look nice and the I think Miss Banh Mi looks like fun along with Street Bangkok. I love casual and unusual places and Asian food but also great places for breakfast. My dear friend Susanne from Milas Deli just went to Paris and has a lot of bakeries on her blog, so I’m going to look over there now…

Thank you all so much, since getting pregnant in 2013 and then having my son nearly two years ago, I’ve only been to Berlin for a day and Amsterdam for 3 days, so this is mama’s adventure so I want to soak in as much as I possibly can to make up for all of those lost trips. Though I must say, being with my little boy has been worth it but I am ready for some stimulation and fun so please give me some of your lovely ideas… I’d appreciate it so much.

xo

Holly

Shopping + Products, Travel

Blickfang Design Fair Hamburg: Review

November 17, 2015

Want to see some fresh design that hasn’t been all over the web (yet)? Well, I had the pleasure of attending the Blickfang International Design Fair in Hamburg last Friday on opening day and found it to be so well done – beautifully curated and organized. Of course, the most important thing to me was whether or not the booths were interesting, would I like any of the designs, was anything looking new or fresh?

Blickfang Design Fair Hamburg: Review

I’m happy to report – yes and what a great show! Of course, you always see things that look like a designer was heavily influenced by something already on the market, but this fair was actually very original and interesting to attend because I found a lot of the designers had their own sense of style and certainly Continue Reading…

Objects, Travel

Sandberg Raphael Wallpaper + Hehlen Castle

February 16, 2015

On Valentine’s Day we went with our little son to Schloß Hehlen (Hehlen Castle), a very sweet castle built in the 1500’s located about an hour away and enjoyed the most beautiful cakes in their cafe, Kaffeewirtschaft, on the castle grounds. Aidan enjoyed his babycino so much and when I took his little hand and walked him around the cafe, he was thrilled. I was too and I particularly loved the wallpaper near the fireplace, so I snapped it and posted on my IG. Within seconds, the wallpaper manufacturer identified it as the Raphael in Green by Sandberg. I didn’t even tag it! That’s the beauty of Instagram – you can post nearly anything and someone will identify the place, the product, even the person within mere minutes.

Sandberg Raphael Wallpaper + Hehlen Castle

Sandberg Raphael Wallpaper + Hehlen Castle
(my iphone photo above)

Sandberg Raphael Wallpaper + Hehlen Castle

After visiting the Sandberg website I also found it in a few other colorways but the beige instantly resonated with me as the room it’s shown in looks exactly like my living room – the large window to the right, the linen sheer curtains, even a similar pendant light! You can imagine how this reawakened my need to wallpaper a feature wall in living room! Now I’m trying to decide – will it be a Sandberg, Designers Guild or Farrow & Ball wallpaper? Hmmm.

Sandberg Raphael Wallpaper + Hehlen Castle

Isn’t the lovely? I particularly love it with the marble table and the pretty plants and wooden seating. Fresh and simple with a touch of rustic romance.

(images: sandberg //the snap of me and my little one by his papa)

 

Travel

Tour Gracias Madre In West Hollywood, California

July 22, 2014

Hey guys, its Kelly Brown and Holly asked me to stop in from time to time to post tours of beautiful spaces that I shoot professionally so you get to see them first. This is my debut post on decor8 so I hope that you enjoy it! I am so excited to share with you a shoot I did recently at Gracias Madre, a plant-based (vegetarian & vegan) Mexican-inspired restaurant in sunny West Hollywood, California. In my opinion, the only thing better than eating a really, really great meal, is eating it in a beautiful atmosphere. Wendy Haworth and her design team along with patio designer, Scott Shrader, have created just that at Gracias Madre. By the way, you can click on any image below for super large views to ohhh and ahhh over the details and to pin!

Tour Gracias Madre In West Hollywood, California

I visited the restaurant during a recent trip to LA and immediately fell in love with the space, not to mention the food! I couldn’t help myself but to walk around the entire restaurant checking out every inch of the space and noting all the amazing design features. Lets just say its on my “must go to” list in LA. The plantain fritters and the sopes, so delicious! Oh, and the drinks! Small batch mescals and tequila with housemade syrups, shrubs, tinctures, and bitters! Yep, I had myself a good time!

Tour Gracias Madre In West Hollywood, California

Tour Gracias Madre In West Hollywood, California

Tour Gracias Madre In West Hollywood, California

Tour Gracias Madre In West Hollywood, California

With a Mexican flare, the interior is fresh and bright, perfectly utilizing color and pattern to balance out the large space. Cozy corner nooks and an amazing outdoor patio makes you want to stay there eating and drinking all night. Its no surprise that Gracias Madre received the People’s Choice Award from The American Institute of Architect’s 10th Annual Restaurant Design Awards in Los Angeles.

Tour Gracias Madre In West Hollywood, California

Tour Gracias Madre In West Hollywood, California

Tour Gracias Madre In West Hollywood, California

Tour Gracias Madre In West Hollywood, California

Tour Gracias Madre In West Hollywood, California

Tour Gracias Madre In West Hollywood, California

Tour Gracias Madre In West Hollywood, California

Tour Gracias Madre In West Hollywood, California

Tour Gracias Madre In West Hollywood, California

Tour Gracias Madre In West Hollywood, California

Tour Gracias Madre In West Hollywood, California

Tour Gracias Madre In West Hollywood, California

Tour Gracias Madre In West Hollywood, California

Tour Gracias Madre In West Hollywood, California

Tour Gracias Madre In West Hollywood, California

Executive Chef, Chandra Gilbert and Beverage Director, Jason Eisner go above and beyond to create beautifully distinct dishes from local and organic ingredients. Here’s what they say about the restaurant: “We first conceived the idea of Gracias Madre while visiting the families of our employees in Mexico. We wanted to both; offer organic Mexican food to the communities we serve as well as honor the mothers who work tirelessly in the kitchens of Mexico and often live without their husbands and children while they work side by side with us in California. Inspired by some of the recipes of these families and the love of their mothers, Gracias Madre serves organic, farm fresh, locally sourced food, full of flavor and love.” So, what do you think? Wouldn’t you love to eat (and drink!) in this beautiful space?! I know I can’t wait to go back! –Kelly

(text/photography kelly brown)

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