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Paris Window Shopping

Written by Candace Ord Manroe

Just returned last week from the big French furniture and fabrics market, Maison de Objet, in Paris, overwhelmed by so many gorgeous products I think you'll love. I'll be posting in multiples, with pics...way too much to share in a single blog.

First, I want to show you the coolest thing I saw OUTSIDE the showrooms. It's art displayed in the window of an antiquarian book shop in the St. Germaine area, near our hotel.

Sculpture by Danielle Marie Chanut, mother of shop owner, Valerie Chanut, Librairie F. Chanut, 41, rue Mazarine, 75006 Paris. Phone: 01-43-54-04-70. Price: E1,500++

Sculpture by Danielle Marie Chanut, mother of shop owner, Valerie Chanut, Librairie F. Chanut, 41, rue Mazarine, 75006 Paris. Phone: 01-43-54-04-70. Price: E1,500+; Photos: Julie Maris Semel

I passed the shop on my way to the cash machine and had to get more info on what I saw in the window. What appeared to be a vintage shrine constructed of seashells (my passion—both the shells and  the vintage shell art made from them) actually turned out to be a new sculpture not only utilizing old shells but old books (my other and equal interest). My first thought was: Desecration! My second was: Way cool.

The shop is Librairie F. CHANUT, 41, rue Mazazine. Owner Valerie Chanut oversees the voluptuous leather-bound and gilt-edged antiquarian books (most are in French, but she has a fair number of illustrated children's books in English). Her mother, Danielle Marie Chanut, is the artist. Because French culture has more antiquarian books than buyers (so I rationalize), it's okay for Madame Chanut to put surfeit pages to creative use in her sculptures. At least this way, they get the attention they deserve. Beautifully marbleized end papers are scrolled into columns; illustrated pages become architecture. Some of her sculptures include entire books, cached away in a special niche—sort of an updated, arty version of a medieval book casket—for these literary gems.

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This is another of Madame Chanut's pieces displayed at the shop.

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