Allison Grant’s The Collection

Allison Grant’s The Collection

Introducing unknown British designers to France would seem challenge enough to most people. But Allison Grant, the mastermind behind The Collection, went out on a much more audacious limb, setting out to make British wallpaper hip in Paris. The former management consultant, whose move to the city gave her the occasion to transform a weekend hobby into a niche business, says that “for years the Parisian apartment aesthetic has been pristine white walls”. After opening her niche boutique in Rue de Poitou in February 2003, “back in the days when the northern Marais was still an up-and-coming neighborhood,” the entrepreneurial mother of four began working slowly with Paris decorators. “Rather than having people paper an entire room,” she says, “I encouraged them to hang a single strip. That way it’s not wallpaper and it’s not art, but something in between.” Grant originally showcased the work of young British artists such as Tracy Kendall, famous for her hand-painted screen-printed wallpaper featuring stark, blown-up images of ornate cutlery, and Deborah Bowness, who uses a mix of hand-painting and photo montage to create stunning trompe-l’oeil effects. The Collection received an instant style endorsement when French fashion designer Christian Lacroix was called in to do the interior decor of the shop’s next-door neighbor, the exclusive Hôtel du Petit Moulin. Lacroix had a coup de coeur for Bowness’s trompe-l’oeil library and papered the hotel lobby with her “Genuine Fake Bookshelves,” turning them into one of The Collection’s best sellers. Grant has now expanded her original all-British stable to work with designers across Europe. The Collection recently transformed French artist Sophie Cordey’s delicate watercolors of park scenes into wallpaper and also produces Cordey’s whimsical objets for the home. These include the Pois de Senteurs-felt spheres that diffuse essential oils and other fragrances around the home-and Nids de Vie, felt spheres that can be planted with seeds. Plans are afoot to launch The Little Collection, a range of miniature chairs, stools, tables and modular bookshelves for children.

33 rue de Poitou, 3rd, Métro: Saint-Sébastien-Froissart. website

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Originally published in the July/August 2009 issue of France Today.

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