Thanks to a recent trip to Paris, I'm officially a speed-dating convert. Let me set the scene: I was in one of the most romantic cities in the world, anxiously sitting at a table across from an empty chair (champagne in hand, to take the edge off) soon-to-be filled by a stranger (who will hopefully entertain my Frenglish). It was equal parts horrifying and tantalizing. Welcome to my first-ever speed-dating session.
But I wasn't there to find my next potential love interest, I was there to learn about the biggest upcoming design trends.
At the design fairs in the France, I went on micro-dates with some of the country's top designers to learn everything about their respective businesses, trend forecasts, and design tips..all in a matter of minutes. Here is what my not-very-romantic, but very informative speed-dating experience taught me about the French design trends that are on the rise right now.
Global warming is no longer off the table for discussion. In fact, it was brought up on most of my dates. Sure, the laissez-faire mentality runs deep in France, but designers of all kinds are actively working to ensure that the design industry takes responsibility and is greener than ever.
It might sound counter-intuitive, but makes lighting that is easy to throw away. As in, they work exclusively with recyclable materials like paper (hand-folded by the architect wife half of this married duo) or wood, because "even if our creations are designed to endure time, we are fully aware that nowadays things change quickly."
Another of the many French brands that have really upped their repurposing game? makes gorgeous genderless bags out of reclaimed wood and leather.
$66, Vanilla and Buttercup Yellow Origami Lamp, Tedzukuri Atelier
When they aren't throwing it way back, the French are busy designing, well, the furniture of the future. Take this hanging desk by for instance. This primetime working spot is wired to also make it the perfect charging station for your phone or tablet. Seated or standing, this is the kind of desk creative workers around the globe are desperately in need of.
A slightly less conventional take on furniture design, 's animal-shaped furniture line (yes, you read that correctly) boasts impressive sculptural design and features USB ports as well as an LED light.
Contact for pricing, "Filou" writing desk, Drugeot Labo
We are beyond envious of how seriously they take their personal time. Going back to the office after a holiday can feel impossible, but French brands like want to make it a seamless transition.
"You are quickly getting to work...eating fast, thinking fast, going home fast; sleeping too little," says the founder and creative director, Sylvie Bétard. "The functional office has become a privileged place where people should stop, breathe, enjoy, reflect, and eliminate the shock caused by our hyper-activity."
The best way to adopt the slow lifestyle trend at the office? By creating a work environment that is thoughtful. Beautifully-crafted officeware encourages a moment of appreciation and is on the menu from here on out. C'est la vie.
$58.79, Large Desk Organizer, La Petite Papeterie Française
Of course France is big on tradition, but today's designers are more than happy to turn it on its head. Think: using your great-great-great grandmother's embroidery method to create a line of hand-stitched images of Rihanna mastering the theme of various Met galas. Okay, maybe not that extreme... but pretty close.
Take the team at Carron, for example. I immediately loved the way their quirky designs still had an authentically storied feel. Because they do: each of their ceramic designs is "made in the crafting tradition to recover the old's shape's memory, but also to reinvent today's dish."
Also keeping tradition alive without feeling stale is . The 220-year-old practice of epinal imaging — used to portray political and historical events, educate children, and tell stories — was on its way to disuse when co-owners Christine Lorimy and Pacôme Vexlar took over the historic brand and brought the art back to life.
$65.50, "Toi et Moi" Rectangular Saucer, Carron
Across the country, there is a wave of making art more accessible, and raising the question, "What makes art truly valuable?" Is it the beauty it brings to your life or the hefty price tag?
Founder of , Antoine Ménard, has created a line of sculptural mobiles that are not only available at an affordable price point, they also give the owner autonomy over the piece. Each one comes with a variety of interchangeable parts that you can arrange however and whenever you want.
From $94.78 to $298.77, Mobiles, Virvoltan