Today's Daily Candy posting of Le Whif chocolate and coffee inhalers reminded me of my visit to Le Labo Shop in the center of Paris last month. I happened upon the tiny storefront on Le Bouloi by accident that afternoon, and, weary and rain-damp, I was immediately energized by the concept of it all. For all the talk of concept shops these days, after all, very, very few hit the mark.
Le Labo is the retail, street-level front of the think tank Le Laboratoire. Founded by scientist-Harvard prof David Edwards, it is literally, a collaborative space for scientists, designers, architects and artists to create and present new tangible ideas exploring culture, humanitarian, economic and educations considerations. David, in fact, is behind the artscience movement, which considers contemporary methods of human creativity via multiple channels and the intersection of art and science.
Among the creative minds on work and on view here are product and furnishings designer Mathieu Lehanneur (who also designed the interior), sound and electronic aritst Ryoji Ikeda and manga artist Junko Murata.
Below ground (entered not through the bright blue stairwell that leads there from the inside of the store, but via an outside door near the entrance) is the real hub of it all, Le Laboratoire. There a kitchen and dining acts as mad culinary lab. It's aptly called Cafe ArtScience. Here is where Le Whif products were apparently conceived, or at least enjoyed. They are coffee and chocolate-based inhalers and sprays designed to provide the satisfaction of the real thing. Something out of the future, indeed, but, like virtual sex or traveling, not sure it's the way I want to enjoy two other of life's greatest pleasures.
There is a mini library of architectural and design books. And beyond doors I almost didn't dare open there is a cavernous space which showcases highly conceptual projects.
The show on view when I was there was out of this world, and I'll post about it next.
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