I got to spend a gloriously sunny Saturday exploring the latest in Parisian Art-Design-Sex-Architecture-Food aboard the Buzz Bus, the latest adventure offered to the public from the hipsters at Art Process. From 11am until 5pm, about two dozen of us (all Parisians, I gathered) were escorted around by minibus and given insider peeks into the worlds of fashion, sex, architecture and design, all which — according to Eric Mézan of Art Process — influence and mingle with the world of contemporary art, Art Process’ primary expertise. Although it’s all in French, Eric and his team also speak English. Considering most of these places are inaccessible even to locals, it’s a great opportunity that visitors shouldn’t miss!
The Buzz Bus
On Saturday the other Buzz Bus guests were made up of Art Club members (where you get a discount on all of the Art Process events) and first-timers who heard about it through friends. The atmosphere was convivial and laid-back…no art snobbery here! To set the tone, our first stop was La Musardine (122 rue du Chemin Vert, 11th), the erotic book publisher with its own bookstore near Père Lachaise.
La Musardine Erotic Bookstore
We were given a tour of the different sections, from erotic literature, art books and comics to DVDs (more porn than erotica there) and practical guides (including the Sexy Paris 2007 guide to the city’s swingin’ clubs and La Musardine’s own amusing series of "Osez…" (Dare to…) guides for everything from spanking to getting wild in the wild. Best of all, it looks just like a regular book store, not a porn shop, so you don’t have to worry about the seedy aspect. And for all you ladies out there, they’ve got the "Dieux des Stades 2007" in stock!
The friendly staff at La Musardine answer all your questions.
The next stop on the Buzz Bus, fashion week oblige, was the Showroom ME2A, a dynamic agency which specializes in up-and-coming French designers. In particular, we were shown the latest Ready-to-Wear collection for Impasse de la Défense, by the designer Karim Bonnet.
The ME2A Showroom, Paris.
The showroom is in an elegant Haussmanian apartment near the Champs-Elysées. This is where, during Fashion Week, all of the buyers come to choose what they’ll sell in their stores next season. Although we could look, nothing was for sale. We’d just have to wait until Spring…
Caressing the gorgeous ball gowns in the showroom…
But this chic setting is a far cry from the actual ateliers where the clothing is created. We hop back on the bus to go see Karim himself at the Impasse de la Défense.
The studio entrance at Impasse de la Défense, where his artistic clothing got its name.
Born in Paris, his heritage is a colorful mix of French West Indies, Tunisien, and even Brittany, which explains his affinity for nautical stripes and old lace. He has a team of artists that hand paint every article of clothing in this studio (the actual sewing is done in a separate location) for a unique, avant-garde creation.
Eric Mezan (speaking) and Art Club manager Isabelle Sciamma (with the blue earrings) present Impasse de la Défense.
And since we must eat, we headed to Sale e Pepe (30 rue Ramey, 18th, M° Jules Joffrin), an adorable little Italian bistro with signs on the door announcing "no freezer, no microwave". This is serious Italian food! We had a grilled aubergine starter, home made pizza, and the most delicious pasta dish I’ve had in years. The pastas were "O"-shaped, like Spaghetti-O’s, but thank goodness they didn’t come out of a can! The lunch menu is just €15, the dinner menu is €20.
Our gang had to sit downstairs, but the best seats are definitely upstairs where you can see the kitchen at work. It’s blissfully smoke-free, the servers are really Italian, and it’s off the beaten track enough that French celebs can eat there without body guards (we saw Thierry Lhermitte, who was also in the American film La Divorce).
Our next stop was just around the corner on foot, a design company with their own boutique, Atypyk (17 rue Lambert, 18th).
Isabelle introduces one of the Atypyk designers, Ivan Duval (center).
Atypyk is a bright showroom selling the hilarious (and useful) objects by the designer duo Ivan Duval and Jean Sebastien Ides since 1988. The objects are all created to fulfil a need…kick a habit, find out who loves you, install a cow in your kitchen, find your happiness, get lucky, express yourself at work, quiet your noisy neighbors…and are guaranteed to get a laugh, like these cake plates and no-sew button replacements.
Their creations are 99% made in France!
Finally, we visited the cool offices of Naço, a "Gllobal architecture, Design and Visual Communication Agency" which combines interior and exterior architects and as well as designers in one place. Their innovative designs incorporate all of these aspects with the latest technologies and an aesthetic approach to uniting humans with their environment, not setting them apart from it. They’re even working on building a "better electric bike". Hmmm…maybe you should just go have a look at their website! Their offices in the 12th are located through a garden courtyard, where an ancient wooden barn has been given a steel and glass façade.
The Naço headquarters
Just around the corner is their architectural art gallery, Galerie Cédille (38 rue de Citeaux, 12th) of objects and furniture designed by contemporary architects. The current exposition is "Feiyue Makeit", with creations by Odile Decq and Benoit Cornette, Jakob & Mac Farlane, Coop Himmelb(l)au, François Azambourg, Torolab, LCP united, Yu Ting, Guillaume Linard, Cassio Vasconcellos, and 36 recyclab.
If you’d like to reserve a place on the next Buzz Buss (every 1st Saturday of the month starting January 6), then go check out the Art Process website for more info (because the Buzz Bus is new, it’s not on the site yet, but you’ll see the Art Bus, which is the same concept but with a contemporary art focus). It costs €50 for the day, or €35 for Art Club members.