As I am in the beginning of my own career as a creative entrepreneur, I am finding myself more and more curious about the stories of those who have gone before me. After my initial Designer Highlight last fall, detailing High Point Market through the eyes of two high-end Philadelphia Designer’s, I was itching to hear more from others in similar industries. So this Spring, (yes, that’s right. I’m counting February as a (really, really, really,) early spring) I decided to pursue interviewing other designers and entrepreneurs in similar business’ about what makes them tick. Each interview will be guided around a general prompt that is sometimes frivolous and sometimes more thought provoking. But all included in these segments are designers who have an immaculate ability in design who I think have a lot to teach those around them.
My first Designer Highlight of the series in 2016 is Claudia Strasser of The Paris Apartment. She has based her business around the beauty of Parisian Interiors. Because while “Italian design is wonderful and Chippendale is great; it’s not French.” She points out that from Marie Antoinette’s shoe collection to the wall detail decoration, “I don’t know how one culture creates so much so perfectly, but they did. They nailed it.” Claudia explains.
Do you know? I have to agree with her wholeheartedly. Before I ever stepped foot in Paris, I had stumbled upon her blog and became instantly enamored by the dreamy imagery and old world glamour that so inspires her work. As I pursued my own design education, I studied Parisian Architecture, Art, and Literature in various classes. And when I finally stepped foot in the City of Love, I immediately understood what has been apparent to so many across generations; from Ernest Hemingway and Audrey Hepburn right down to me. As I stepped out of the Charles De Gaul Airport for the first time, I was surrounded by the world that I had studied and come to understand the background of, and indeed, Paris is absolutely perfect.
Similar to my own story of discovering Paris after completing University: Claudia traveled to Greece in College and eventually wound up in Paris doing some excavation work on ancient buildings and structures. She says it was this experience which lent her to understand her love of working with her hands. She stayed on several more years in Paris as an au pair learning the lay of the city and the language. She lived in a Paris apartment while working there and was fascinating by the walls that were “like icing.” The markets near her in Clichy were like “Museums where you could buy stuff!” Those are the kinds of museums I want to go to!
When Claudia did return to America she worked in the corporate world and spent some time refining her eye for design. But she was driven by the idea of doing something on her own and working with her hands like she had so loved doing in Paris after college. “So, on a handshake I got the storefront in East Village and started filling it with flee market finds,” she tells me about her first shop in the affluent neighborhood in New York City. She began restoring antiques herself like chandeliers and night stands for sale in her little shop. The whole shop was inspired by her time in Paris, and she said the name just made sense; “The Paris Apartment” was born.
The business easily lent itself to a blog which she started in 2006, which was approximately when I stumbled upon it in high school. Claudia explains that many customers became clients as they were taken by the beauty of Parisian design showcased in Claudia’s shop. Her clients wanted her to decorate their own spaces for them. However, she soon found that she didn’t so much like lugging big samples to her client’s spaces as much as she loved shopping with them. She loved the idea of bringing people to design, rather than bringing the design to them. It was about this point in time when she began offering curated shopping trips to Paris, which are still offered on her website today. I’m dying to sign up and go back to Paris with my mom and a huge budget on a credit card, aren’t you?!
As we near that lovey dovey day on the February calendar, and since Paris is The City of Love, I couldn’t help by ask Claudia what the most romantic day in Paris would be spent doing. She hit the ball out of the park on this one! Here’s her guide To Paris for Valentines, or any romantic get away (complete with metro stops!)
The Perfect Romantic Trip to Paris from The Paris Apartment’s Claudia Strasser.
Claudia loves the hidden gems in Paris, “When you turn the corner, the unexpected happens.” She names Clos Montmartre Vineyard ** link** as the perfect place to begin a romantic excursion. The Musée de la Vie Romantique is in the heart of Montmartre and you will find “a secret garden for the perfect place to have tea after a trip up the gondola to Sacre Cour. It’s like stepping back in time.”
She then recommends taking a bottle of French wine, a baguette, a blanket, and your sweetie to a picnic on the bridge at the Seine which straddles the right and left banks, from tourists to entertainers, and the Bateaux- Mouche boats floating past. (Metro: Cité –Line 4).
In the afternoon make sure to take a slow promenade around the Parc Monseau, designed in the 18th century with all its original charm; “it’s one stop shopping for all-things-romantic including gardens, waterfall , and pond with statues and a grotto.” (Metro: Monseau- Line 2)
As evening approaches, there is no better spot to stay than The Hotel Costes in the 8th Arrodisement, ‘I can’t think of a place as chic, elegant, and romantic as the Hotel Costes. The décor, fragrance, music, atmosphere, service, gourmet restaurant, and gardens…it’s heaven on earth!” (Metro: Tuileries- Line 1) And truly immerses you into the atmosphere that is timeless-Paris. I was absolutely captivated by this last stop on Claudia’s itinerary, which is the illustration of today’s post. I can’t think of a better scene to spend hours upon hours in over wine or a café au lait.
As the world is a buzz about all things Valentine’s Day for the single and for the coupled of the world, I think this is the perfect itinerary for both! And if you’re like me and will probably be choosing the staying-in route for the busiest restaurant night of the year, I think that this guide to Paris is excellent day dream material.
What do you think? Does this inspire you to take a trip to Paris? Whether on the wings of your imagination or via a First Class Air France ticket I hope you get there for a little while this weekend.
Check back Friday for a highlight on an Interior Designer based out of The Derby State with the most elegant American style. You can receive it straight to your inbox by signing up for my mailing list. By doing so, you’ll also get insider info on a big announcement coming Leap Day!
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