France is still ranked the #1 vacation destination in the world. Hotels, Wine, Dining, Art, Architecture, Ocean Villages, Luxury lifestyle, Shopping, Flea markets, Fashion, Cars, and Antiques.
If you are not from France - say perhaps an American or Brit, or even from Asia or South America - ( Africa already has many French speaking people... then French is the only foreign language you should learn other than of course "business English." The international language of education, science and business is English - but the language of design and art will always be French. After the fall of Rome, Athens, and Egypt ( and of course China ) Paris was the center of fashion culture and always will be. The best international designers whether interior design, product design or fashion design often emerge from the exquisitely cafe culture of Paris - Jean Nouvel, Starck, and the best brands - Louis Vuitton and Hermes. Paris runways and the history of the worlds biggest fashionista. Louis XVI left a legacy so deep it is permanently seared into the very heart and soul of its people. The French are not considered moral or even very nice ( trust me, I have many French relatives.) - but they are independently minded - following a little rebellious sland called America - to become Europes first revolutionary independent government.
The shopping boutiques in Paris to every fishing village or yachting marina that dots its ubiquitous coast lines - the influence of the neighboring cultures - wild flair of the Spanish, Joie de vivre of the Italians, Discipline of the Swiss, Germans, Dutch and English - France is the central hub and core of culture, cuisine, and art. The Louvre is the most visited structure on earth - peaking out at 12 million people a year last year. Monaco, Corsica, and other hide aways - call for the wealthiest .001 percent to do their dining, shopping, banking, and vacationing. Impossible to get around and insufferable to communicate - the average American is often afraid to enter into such an unwelcoming place such as Paris - but when you are the best and care nothing for outside culture, the French can afford to have such an attitude of superiority because - their culture is superior. The government leaders may not be perfect, and even their hotels have been known to be using artificial ingredients from time to time - but the wines, the food, the fashion and especially the interior design and architecture are unparalleled as they move through time. Italy and Rome have history - and the Germans have modernism - but the French combine it like no other.
France has national treasures and also amazing secrets in how it effects the rest of the world through its wines, art, designers and independent minds in general.
For example in addition to Karl Lagerfeld - who created Chanel and Fendi: France also is home to The number one furniture designer in the world - Herve Van der Straeten. According to Inson Wood of Inson Dubois Wood, an award winning New York City Interior Designer and Architect, Herve Van Der Straeten rules the roost when it comes to design. Wood says "Other than Le Corbusier and Jean Nouvel: Herve Van Der Straeten is by far the most incredible design force to come out of Paris - his designs are universal and have left an indelible mark on the furniture, lighting, interior design, and fashion world that will echo for generations to come." Wood goes onto to further emphasize this designer who is a product of the French hi-culture of fashion and design. "No other designer has kept such a low profile, but had such an influence on those in the know. Philip Starck is like Ikea compared to Herve. Herve is miles above anyone we have seen to date - his work is atmospheric, but unfortunately so are his prices. "
Herve Van der Straeten, a designer who lives in France is a product of that cultural vision - mixing old with new. High tech aluminums meet cast forged hammered bronze in his furniture and his ultra hi-end jewelry. He leaves no detail un-obsessed upon - no fabrication method is left unmodified. Van der Straeten, although not a French last name, is a human that could have only manifest himself having lived in Paris - the pinnacle of culture. There is no other city on earth quite as magical and romantic. We smile as the waiter throws the plate down with a clunk in utter disdain of us and his god cursed position in life - even at the 5 star restaurants we feel grateful that they will take our money and let us drink their precious red wines as if we are not worthy... for in someways unless we are Parisians - we aren't. As an expatriate living in New York and having lived in London and Vienna, I am proud to say that I was conceived in Paris - aesthetically speaking - the best city in the best country on earth. The city of lights - that has people who define the penultimate embodiment of snobbery and disdain for anything that is not perfect...including...(perhaps but doubtful )...themselves. This article appeared in Fluxus Monde and was written by Pierre Charles Villeneuve.
HERVE VAN DER STRAETEN
Hervé Van der Straeten was born in 1965 and is an independent artist-designer. Having first become known for his jewellery creations, Van der Straeten has since gained worldwide recognition for his collections of furniture and lighting, which have now become his main activity. Van der Straeten’s furniture and lighting are instantly recognizable from the way that contrasting materials, bold variations of form, defiant volumes and pure, elegant lines are combined with perfect proportions. The great precision and meticulous attention to detail with which the pieces are made are also clearly tangible. As well as having his own gallery in Paris, which displays a selection of both his unique and limited edition pieces, Van der Straeten designs and makes everything in his own dedicated bronze and cabinetmaking workshops. The artist- designer is also known for his projects with a number of French luxury houses, specialised in glass and porcelain, as well as for his work with the cosmetics and fragrance industry. Van der Straeten has received numerous awards from the French state during his career, including most recently the L’Entreprise de Patrimoine Vivant and the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.