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    Univers :  Decorative Items

    From the era of trinkets to the era of gadgets With the industrial production of objects accessible to the greatest number of people from the 1850s onwards, we enter the era of trinkets: small decorative objects accumulate and are exhibited in the bourgeois salons, on side tables, in shop windows and on fireplaces, from bronze statuettes to mantelpiece decorations, via the Gallé vase produced in series. At the beginning of the 20th century, all over Europe, isolated personalities or new schools rose up against this industrial production and against an architecture that was considered decorative. It was in Vienna, Adolf Loss and his book "Ornament and Crime" (1908), in Weimar, the principles of the Bauhaus, it was in Holland, the De Stijl movement, with Rietveld and Mondrian, while in Paris, Le Corbusier defined the principles of a New Spirit which can generically be called functionalism. 
    For functionalism, the form of the object and its material are subordinate to its function: from the right match of form, function and material a rigorous and rational beauty is born. In interiors, the integrated

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    Yiannis Ghikas
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    Alexandra Bennaim
    International Public Relations
    Philippe Demougeot
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    Emmanuelle Morice
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    ... elements that make up architecture are therefore favoured: anything that replaces it, whether furniture or trinkets, is doomed to disappear. Loos could thus write: "From a thirty-year battle, I came out the winner. I have liberated humanity from superfluous ornament. "Ornament" was once the adjective for saying "beautiful". Today, thanks to my life's work, it is a qualifier to say "of inferior value". "After the war, the arrival of new materials such as plastic will encourage the production of cheap, unbreakable and colourful objects, which will replace the old trinkets: it is then the beginning of the gadget era. In the 1970s, some designers broke away from the functionalist rigour that they assimilated to puritanism to produce suggestive and playful objects.  Today, the decorative object has not disappeared from our interiors: we no longer use it in profusion, but display it individually or in series. It can also give rise to skilful accumulations through affinities of shapes and colours, to create new still lifes.  
    Curiosity cabinets In the age of the disposable object, curiosity cabinets are fashionable because they revive the spirit of the collection and allow rare objects to be displayed that catch the eye and stimulate the mind. As such, Ikea has just published in its 2013 catalogue a piece of furniture inspired by scientific showcases, made for the exhibition of selected objects. Just like the old collectors who have been collecting nature's wonders, fossils, stones and crystals, compressions, eggs or stuffed animals since the Renaissance, we now find natural history objects made for display. In the Little Museum shop you will find naturalized birds dating from the 19th century in display cases or under a globe, old scientific equipment, pipette holders, pharmacy scales or perches. There are also study skins and skulls made of dodo, caloa or smilodon resin of marine curiosities, pearly nautilus, starfish, and white or black gorgonian spiders (gorgonia flabellum), mounted on turned wooden legs.  
    To the real objects of natural history, some will prefer the reign of illusion, with trophies and exotic animals made of cardboard, plush or wire, to form a large gallery of evolution or a Noah's Ark more dreamlike than scientific. Evocative of distant worlds, marine objects, astrolabes, terrestrial globes, armillary spheres, sextants, telescopes and compasses create beautiful scientific still lifes. In the same spirit, weapons and armour will have a very strong presence. The Tavernier ironwork workshop offers Renaissance knight's armour made of hand-embossed copper and steel, to be hung above a fireplace. For the mixture of styles in vogue today finds a deep resonance in the historicism of the Second Empire, the neo-gothic and the "troubadour style". A set of daggers, swords or katana swords will therefore be hung next to an African mask or a daimyo armour, to recreate the eclecticism of a Napoleon III artist's workshop.  

    Lights In a high-tech world and in the age of LEDS, the candle hasn't disappeared. Because it has what electricity doesn't: a smell, a warmth, a colour, a texture, a lively and dancing flame. At the table, we still love the lighting of the small glass or openwork metal candle jars that punctuate the tables with light and allow the guests to see each other. Large candleholders in silvery metal or candleholders inspired by Medici vases are also in fashion, giving a precious baroque touch to festive tables. Candles and photophores are grouped together on the corner of a fireplace, on a coffee table or on the steps of a staircase to create axes of light in the home.  
    If there was a time when one could love coloured candles with suggestive shapes, the fashion today is for old-fashioned candles and ivory-coloured church candles which spiritualise the space: models from the Côté Bastide house or from the Fénelon company, which produces imposing and massive candles up to two metres high, real wax columns. These candles or candlesticks are placed in the old-fashioned way on large wrought-iron candlesticks or on high carved wooden candleholders. Torchieres, these candelabras mounted on a rod in which large wax torches were placed, are loved for their imposing appearance and for the spectacle of their flickering flames. There are modern versions of the old torchieres, to be used outside and inside, made of concrete and clad with a Bio Ethanol firebox and glass protection. The girandoles, multi-armed candelabra decorated with glass crystal pendants, are also sought after for their beautiful transparencies: they can be placed on a contemporary table, where the luminosity of the Plexiglas, the transparency of the glass and the brilliance of the crystal exchange their reflections.  

    LEDS have revolutionised contemporary lighting. In the shape of a candle, it creates a subdued light and can be placed on a reception table for long-lasting, reusable lighting that does not have the drawbacks of wax lighting. Some models, such as those from the Smart Candle brand, push the illusion very far, which look like wax candles with the small LED bulb in the centre, while others, proposed by the Sunchine company, are lit and extinguished by blowing on them. 
    Mural decoration Because nowadays, objects are grouped together to create graphic ensembles, unexpected encounters, clever quotations or daring anachronisms. The same goes for decorative balls in wood, Longwy enamel, transparent glass or earthenware. Balls made of mercurised glass are particularly prized for their iridescent reflections: placed on the overmantel of a fireplace or in front of a large mirror, they will capture the light.   But what do you hang on the walls? The old touch-touch hanging is no longer appropriate. One prefers to strip off, one or two selected paintings or objects that one will accumulate to create rhythms, repetitions or counterpoints. Thus the juxtaposition or accumulation of mirrors above a bed or a fireplace. Venice mirrors and witch's mirrors haloed by the rays of the sun remain the models in favour. Convex mirrors allow fascinating optical games and give a reduced image of reality, like the prism of the camera lucida. There is also a proliferation of portholes and rounded mirrors of all sizes that give a fragmented image of reality. Two large mirrors placed face to face will enlarge the space and multiply the image infinitely. They give depth and light to a room and are a kind of augmented reality.     Our eye, accustomed to the graphics of advertising posters, signage and silkscreen printing, loves decorative numbers and letters that strike the eye and the imagination at first sight. In wood, zinc or luminescent, these letters make the walls talk and transmit messages full of poetry or humour. They also have the value of a sign and will inform the visitor about the situation of the kitchen or bathroom. We like them above all as counterpoints, subliminal messages, short poems or commandments to tell the essential.    Frames made of carved wood, gold plaster, mosaic, silver metal or stained wood are less used today to frame paintings than to surround the void. Placed side by side with mirrors and other frames, they form friezes or geometric compositions. Contrasts are also created by placing a contemporary photograph in an old frame, and diversions are made by placing a "poor" or "common" object in the centre of the empty frame, which thus becomes ennobled and takes on a different meaning. The fashion of the empty frame is not only decorative and undoubtedly needs to be given a deeper meaning.    The empty frame, beyond figurative painting, abstraction, conceptual art and the prohibitions that weigh on representation, seems to say that the image of images is always to come.

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