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Paris Through the Eyes of Three Design Influentials
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"Whoever does not visit Paris regularly will never really be elegant. "
Honoré de Balzac

"When spring comes to Paris the humblest mortal alive must feel that he dwells in paradise. "
Henry Miller

"A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life. "
Thomas Jefferson

With Paris back in Vogue this month we delve into the night lives and romantic haunts of tree local design influentials setting the place; Marie Beltrami (an old-timer at Les Bains Douches) with her eccentric and lightly erotic fashion accessories; Olivia Putman, who today head studio Putman, introducing a new dynamic to her mother's legendary legacy, and world-renowned interior designer Elliott Barnes, who was born in Los Angeles but is a true Parisian at heart, having lived in the city for 30 years. They also share their favourite items from Esensual Living, as tastemakers of the unique parisian lifestyle.

1. Was the former Bains Douches a favorite haunt of yours?

2. What is your favorite latest spot for a night out?

3. What is the most romantic place in Paris? 

4. What projects are you working on at the moment?

5. What is your favourite design event in Paris?

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Elliott Barnes

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Elliott Barnes spent a decade attending the Lycée Français of his hometown, laying the foundations for a strong international background. Now, approaching the mighty 30-year mark as a Paris resident, he recalls that “Even as a teenager, I felt drawn to Europe.” After graduating from Cornell University with a BA in architecture and urbanism, Barnes made the move to Paris, chasing his dream. He got off to a good start as a protégé of France’s high priestess of design, Andrée Putman, at Ecart International where he was eventually promoted to director.
The year 2004 was a turning point in his career with the launch of his own studio, Elliott Barnes Interiors (EBI). From his headquarters on the city’s Right Bank, he showcases his purist vision of interior architecture, creating elegant, minimalist spaces enlivened by rich textures with interplays of contemporary art and design. High-end residences around the world; hotels such as the Ritz Carlton in Germany; institutional spaces such as the Ruinart Champagne headquarters in Reims; shops and set designs for AD Intérieurs and the Musée Carnavalet; as well as his furniture design for Philippe Hurel and Ecart, now owned by Ralph Pucci, demonstrate the unique talent of this designer who has also carved out an academic career, teaching both in the U.S. and France. A quintessential Parisian, Elliott Barnes evokes for Esensual Living what makes his elected city such a special place to be.

1. Was the former Bains Douches a favorite haunt of yours?
I first went to the Bains Douches as a student in the summer of 1984. It was so different from clubs in Los Angeles at the time. There was an incredible liberty in the way people moved and mixed.

2. What is your favorite latest spot for a night out?
I really enjoy Silencio, a club conceived by David Lynch on Rue Montmartre. I like the fact I can watch a movie, have a drink and then dance until …

3. What is the most romantic place in Paris? 
The most romantic place is the colonnades of the Palais Royal when I have a moment for a walk during an April shower with my lady.

4. What projects are you working on at the moment?
We are working on a new small 5-star hotel in the 16th arrondissement for an independent owner, the new restaurant for French chef Daniel Rose and the new VNH art gallery in the former Yvon Lambert space.

5. What is your favourite design event in Paris?
I really enjoy the AD Intérieurs events, where guest interior designers get to create rooms in a given space, for their level of quality and international dimension.

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Marie Beltrami
 

Marie Beltrami

There is something magic about this pocket vamp… Everything she does and touches turns – not exactly into gold, although she loves the colour of it – but into a brilliant, fun and poetic experience. A bundle of talent, energy, charm and independence, Marie Beltrami is, all at once, an artist, a fashion and jewellery designer, a stylist and a photographer though she keeps very low-key about the whole thing. This darling of le Tout-Paris started out wanting to be an actress. Instead, she staged her own life with brio and a unique vision which often borders on surrealism. A native of Nantes, bored to tears with her hometown, she escaped early to Paris and as a proper female Rastignac conquered the city with a bat of her super long eyelashes. Her unconventional accessories and fashion creations (for her first presentation at the Musée Galliera in 1985 all the models dripped with gold) proved catnip to the 'in' crowd. She met Jean-Paul Goude in 1987 and worked with him for 18 years on mythical campaigns such as Dim, Chanel and Galeries Lafayette. Feeling it was high time to devote herself to her own creations, Beltrami left the advertising world in a wink. A move that signals her as the adventurous and romantic woman she is. Her trademark is her passion for recycling any objects that catch her fancy: metro tickets, rubber gloves, safety pins, pencils, bras and lace panties, or the wooden hands of dummies that she fixes to her handbags, making a provocative and stylistic object of each piece.
Her jewellery is elegant yet infused with playful twists, like Victor the lobster, a beautiful specimen perfectly reproduced in gold with emerald eyes. Her shows draw crowds as there is always a surprise in hand. At the last one, which took place a few months ago at the Pierre-Alain Challier Gallery in the Marais, she presented Tralala, an erotic bed full of promises. A Parisian figure down to her fingertips and a night owl with an inbuilt radar that directs her to the right place to be, Beltrami was a fixture of the Bains Douches. She enjoyed the freedom and the eccentricity of the place to the point that she would sometimes take a plane just to spend an evening there, going back in the morning without having slept a wink!

1. Was the former Bains Douches a favorite haunt of yours?
One day my friend Fabrice Coat walked by some public baths called 'Les Bains Douches' in the 3rd arrondissement. Two amazing caryatides caught his eye. He went in asking if he could buy them. The owner said they were not for sale but that if he wanted to buy the place, he was welcome. So Fabrice went ahead, thinking he would open a bar for his friends, antiques dealers, etc… He hadn’t foreseen that all the punks from Les Halles, all these lost souls eager to find a new home and a bit of love, would just settle in with their suitcases! Me and my friends also felt very much at home. The place was ours. The people we didn’t like were barred, however important they were. Farida Khelfa was at the door managing the entrance with lots of authority and DJ Philippe K invested a lot of time in Les Bains. It was pure magic. It was the first time we could all be together without having to write anything down in our agendas. We went to Les Bains the way we went to university, to learn all the pleasures -and vices - of Paris nightlife. At the time, I was one of the few who had a job. So I often bought rounds of drinks or bottles. One day my bank manager calls me and says: “Mademoiselle Beltrami, you must be a very clean lady indeed as you have gone 4,000 francs overdrawn at Les Bains Douches.” The hitch was that well-known people – we didn’t have a clue who they were by the way – soon started to hustle on the steps trying to get access, hoping to mix with this crazy, free, creative crowd of insiders that dared refuse them. To get in you had to be part of our “club” unless someone caught our fancy and got included. Our set was a mix of gays and straights, all colours and nationalities blended together… WE were the “beautiful people” NOT the celebrities. This was the secret attraction of Les Bains Douches. Then Fabrice said we needed to admit a clientele that would buy their drinks. The celebrities walked in and Les Bains became the craze of Paris.

2. What is your favorite latest spot for a night out?
The restaurant La Belle Époque on the Rue des Petits-Champs – a street I love and my favourite address since 25 years. The place has a great decor, good food and, most of all, whenever you go there you bump into friends.

3. What is the most romantic place in Paris? 
The Palais Royal.

4. What projects are you working on at the moment?
Giving the maximum exposure to my erotic bed, Tralala, and a pair of chairs in sculpted wood that I recently presented at Pierre-Alain Challier’s gallery.

5. What is your favourite design event in Paris?
Giving the maximum exposure to my erotic bed, Tralala, and a pair of chairs in sculpted wood that I recently presented at Pierre-Alain Challier’s gallery.

www.mariebeltrami.com

 
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Marie Beltrami, Pascal Beltrami and Jean Michel Voge
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Studio Putman
 

Olivia Putman

To Olivia Putman, who in 2007 took over the artistic direction of Studio Putman, the design agency created by her late mother, the iconic Andrée Putman, Paris stands out as a unique city for culture and lifestyle. Quite the place to be… Her privileged upbringing as the child of two highly sophisticated and intellectual movers and shakers – her mother stamped the Putman style all over the world, her father, Jacques Putman, was a contemporary art collector, editor and critic – turned her into the quintessential Parisian with an international flair.
Her education came in the form of a “silent training” from her mother who she would often accompany on work trips (holiday memories include sleeping on a couch at Morgans Hotel in New York). Nights out at the Palace and Les Bains Douches as a young lady saw her rubbing shoulders with the likes of Yves Saint Laurent, Andy Warhol, Vincent Darré and Christian Louboutin, who is still one of her closest friends. After a stretch in New York, she returned to Paris in 1990 to pursue a career in landscape design, working alongside Louis Benech on the layout of the Tuileries gardens, before joining Studio Putman seven years later. “To keep alive Andrée’s spirit, her singular approach to design, while establishing my own identity was a big challenge,” she says.
Today Studio Putman’s signature is written all over major projects: hotels, such as the Can Faustino in Menorca; sets for museums and luxury events; commercial spaces in Asia and Europe, as well as private projects. Design remains an ever-important sector for the Studio which creates objects and lamps for Lalique, Christofle, Nina Ricci and Nespresso as well as furniture for Silvera, Fermob and Ralph Pucci. Known for her restrained, fluid, contemporary approach to interior design, Putman affirms herself as an “ambassadeur extraordinaire” of the Parisian way of life.

1. Was the former Bains Douches a favorite haunt of yours?
Les Bains Douches was an amazing club, a place where anything could happen. The atmosphere was very show off and eccentric, influenced by the fashion, art and advertising set. People from different worlds mixed easily. One could come across a famous movie star dancing with a student. I used to spend my nights between the Palace and the Bains Douches, which were conveniently located at walking distance! I met wonderful people at both places and have stayed close with many I met there.

2. What is your favorite latest spot for a night out?
I am much more into private parties nowadays. I’m not really up to speed on the latest hotspots… Time flies…

3. What is the most romantic place in Paris? 
I love walking along the Seine. The ever changing light and the way the monuments reflect on the river is enchanting.

4. What projects are you working on at the moment?
I’m due to present a new furniture collection in Hong Kong this month. I’m inaugurating the new VIP lounge we did for LAN Airways in Santiago in Chile. I will also celebrate the 15th birthday of “Préparation Parfumée”, a scent Andrée imagined in 2001, with a beautiful party at the Milan Furniture Fair.

5. What is your favourite design event in Paris?
I can’t say I have one in particular. I think it’s great that Paris has more and more events which are all so totally different. 

www.studioputman.com

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Nina Ricci, Eric Cuvellier, Xavier Bejot, Studio Putman

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