‘Paris est plus belle sous la pluie. Paris is more beautiful in the rain.’

The City of Light may conjure visions of strolling enchanted cobblestone boulevards, dappled and glistening wet from the mist of winter raindrops but in Los Angeles, where the day was doused with a less-than-magical downpour, designers braved the elements to hear from top industry experts presenting Paris Preview: The Insider’s Guide to Maison & Objet and Déco Off, launching Pacific Design Center’s 2018 DESIGN INSIDE|OUT lecture series.

For many in our industry, Paris is always on the designers’ minds, but January makes for a special kind of Parisian passion when Maison & Objet and Déco Off are upon us.

Erika Heet, Editor in Chief of Interiors magazine, hosted a panel of Paris design connoisseurs including A-list designer Timothy Corrigan, who retains offices in both L.A. and Paris, Rocky Lafleur, an influencer and Business Development Director for Kneedler|Fauchère at PDC, and Paris native and interior designer, Emma DeRoche, to share the creative influence of all things French, as well as their tips for navigating Maison & Objet and Déco Off.

Maison & Objet literally means “House and Objects,” but to designers, it means a design experience like no other. From January 19th-23rd, 2018, this international trade show takes you into three major sections: Maison is interior decoration, Objet is concept and retail, while the third, Influences, encompasses luxury, design and architecture.

Déco Off, hosted concurrently from Jan 18th-22nd, is a free cultural event featuring pop-up shops and inspiration galore that originally was intentioned as a “quick-fix-to-a-major-Maison-oops.”

“Déco Off, started by accident, in sort of the organic way merchants and business work. There was a big windstorm during Maison & Objet, and they had to shut down some of the halls because it was too dangerous,” said Rocky Lafleur, “Fabric houses lost 2-3 days of trading and this was so impactful for dealers, they lost a lot of revenue. The show-makers wouldn’t give them a refund, so they said, ‘Voila!’ and started Déco Off.”

Originally conceived as an opportunity purely for textiles, the ‘lifeblood of design,’ Déco Off has since expanded its roots into all realms of the disciplines.

During the panel discussion, Erika Heet took the speakers back to their first experiences at Mason & Objet and Déco Off.

Timothy Corrigan said jokingly, “I moved to Paris in 1987 when I was 10 (Laughter) … I wish! But, actually, I lived there for 7 years and ever since then I’ve made Paris my part-time residence. To me I feel more at home in Paris than anywhere else.”

Corrigan explained what makes this fair unlike any other, “You have exposure to product that you don’t see in showrooms. It offers a new perspective from one-man artists, muralists, etc.,” Corrigan said. “Even the stores where I thought, ‘I don’t even want to step foot into that one,’ I’d go in and find something really special and unusual.”

He urged participants to challenge themselves to explore not just the recognizable brands in order to find the ‘true gems’ such as the local muralist he uses in current projects. Rocky and Emma agreed, expanding on the human connection created by these major shows.

Rocky Lafleur talked about ways to enhance the design industry at events like these. “I think the way we can make it better is to be better ourselves and get back to creating community,” Rocky said. “There is power in unity. If people come together they create things that didn’t exist before.”

“I love the vibrance. I think it’s a beautiful way to unify us in the positive and beautiful things. We need that as human beings to feel connected,” Emma agreed.

According to this panel, the other not-to-be-missed attraction also comes for gratis: Parisian people watching.

“Sitting at a café and simply watching people passing is a sport. You just have to do it and spend an afternoon. If you haven’t done that in Paris then you’ve missed the number one attraction,” Emma laughed.

“On a Saturday morning you can see a young family with little kids going into some obscure museum. And that is what is so special and lovely about the French,” Corrigan said.

Rocky agreed and laughed, “And on a Saturday afternoon I like to sit at a sidewalk café anywhere in the 6th and watch the old women promenade with their red coats and hats and make-up and they simply — promenade. They know exactly who they are, they know exactly where they are. And they’re there!”

For more insight on future panel discussions and Design Inside Out events, please refer to the PDC’s website, http://www.pacificdesigncenter.com/