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Le Cabinet de Curiosités de Thomas Erber: Back to Paris

Dec 11, 2015

Le Cabinet de Curiosités de Thomas Erber has grown from a network of 25 to 140 international creatives handpicked by trendsetter, former journalist Thomas Erber. 6th edition of unique designs by CDC runs in Paris until 24 December 2015.

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“Stay gold pony boy, stay gold…” states the novel The Outsiders. The 6th edition of the Cabinet de Curiosités de Thomas Erber is back in Paris in three emblematic locations of the capital city: concept store Colette, hotel Les Bains and gallery Le Molière in Palais Royal.

Thomas Erber’s long career in lifestyle, fashion, travel and luxury journalism provided him an international network of designers, artists and brands, and enabled his work as a trend-setter and consultant for designers, artists and brands.

In November 2015, Erber gathered around 140 guests to Paris to reveal the essence of his travels and continuous encounters with originality and sense of elegance.

TLmag: How would you define Le Cabinet de Curiosités de Thomas Erber in a few words?

Thomas Erber: The Cabinet de Curiosités de Thomas Erber is a creative hub of true humane people that come together once a year in response to the new wave of modern digitalization. Congregating all these different artists into one space asking them to sublimate their expertise has allowed people to return to a sort of generational authenticity.

What is the meaning and aim of this 6th Edition and journey across Paris at Colette, Les Bains and Galerie Le Molière at Palais Royal – to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Cabinet de Curiosités de Thomas Erber or to offer a holistic travel in Paris – the “Ville-Lumière”?

TE: It’s both. The very first Cabinet happened in Paris in 2010 and – after travelling around various cities of the world during the past five years – it was important to me that this 6th anniversary edition 2010–2015 of the Cabinet to be in my hometown. From my perspective, every edition holds its singularity, and I have organized it in a slightly different way than the first one.

In 2010, I had about 27 guests, this year there are over 140. Some people have joked about it becoming a sort of ‘Erber Basel,’ but despite its considerable growth, it’s important to me that the Cabinet maintains its intimacy. This is possible as long as I maintain a personal relationship with each of my guests. This is the reason why it takes me so much time to set up the show for every edition I have been setting up throughout the past five years.

Are elegance and originality still your key words in achieving this human and craft-led project?

TE: Yes, definitely, they both go hand in hand and have in common the fact that it’s becoming more and more complicated to define the value of art, fashion, design and photography, partly because of the excessive marketing of today’s society.

Paris is your hometown, and the Cabinet de Curiosités de Thomas Erber is born here at Colette before travelling all over the world – to Browns in London, Andreas Murkudis in Berlin, Maison Kitsuné in New York and Siwilai in Bangkok. What would be the next step forward?

TE: The next destination would be Milan. I’d like to do a last round in Europe before setting off to different continents, but the plan is to head out towards the transatlantic and land in Los Angeles in 2017. I have wanted to go play with the Hollywood cats for some time now. Why not going back to Asia and to celebrate the end of the decade in Paris in 2020?

How would you re-define Paris and this international acclaimed Cabinet de Curiosités de Thomas Erber through this exceptional venue happening in three different locations?

TE: For me, it’s a sort of intuitive initiation, a kind of emblematic edition and ritual, and I think it fits well my intentions.

What is the singular and plural vision of the creative scene you’d like to showcase and communicate at the age of the 21st century? There are no limits and boundaries to the disciplines you are covering. Is it more a question of benchmarking the real and unique talent at a global level?

TE: It’s about putting forth artistic diversity in a unique way. It weaves together the bizarre and the beautiful and creates a sort of continuity and global understanding of the art, design and fashion worlds.

How do you curate these successive editions over the years? It seems to be hectic and time consuming but at the end, is there the satisfaction and pleasure to achieve unique pieces with a great sense of humane touch?

TE: It is indeed very time-consuming. The way I usually curate the artists of the cabinet is through word-of-mouth. For instance, I’ll meet with a creator and he will recommend that I meet up with their friends, or I’m at a dinner and the person sitting next to me is [creative director] Pierre Hardy and we start talking and get to like each other, and that in itself lights a spark and eventually leads to their participation in the Cabinet. In short, if a person wants to take part in the Cabinet, I need to meet with him or her, find them pleasant, like what it is that they do, and check their creative process and methods of fabrication. So yes, it’s very time-consuming but at the same time very humane since there is an intimate relationship that ties a bow between passion and admiration. The alchemy only works if there is mutual warmth towards one another.

It is a very ambitious project and retrospective gathering 60 existing guests of the past editions with 15 more guests for this 2015 edition and special guests. I know some of your permanent guests like Melinda Gloss, Maison Kitsuné, François Champsaur and special guests such as Bassam Fellows from Connecticut or the French artist and wood engraver Zoé Ouvrier. How do you select them and what is the secret recipe of your alchemy?

TE: The way it usually works is that there are three different groups of participants. The first being the permanent guests, those that have been a part of the adventure from the start; then those of the new edition plus the ones of 2010 until 2015. And when I’m abroad, I add up a group of local artists. Having local guests participating in the Cabinet is important, as it is a good way for me to discover a new culture and share a new professional experience over the course of a year. It’s also a great opportunity for me to value and promote their talents and creativity on a wider and more international scale. This year, instead of the local guests and because it would have been too easy to do the ‘Parisians’, I decided to put forth a group of guests that I named ‘Anniversary Guests,’ which represent a group of people of various talents that I have already worked with in the past and who I particularly admire.

For the scenography, you are closely working with architect Isabelle Stanislas. Can you describe what has been her contribution to the project? How does she link the three places to be of Le Cabinet de Curiosités de Thomas Erber?

TE: Isabelle Stanislas is a good friend that I met several years ago. I ran into her at the opening of the Domaine des Étangs, an incredible hotel that she designed near Bordeaux. I first asked her to participate in the Cabinet as an artist and creative guest, for which she designed a fabulous dining table. As time went on and we got closer, we eventually ended up doing the scenography of the exhibition together. •

Cabinet de Curiosités de Thomas Erber in Paris, France, on 23 November–24 December 2015 at concept store Colette, design hotel Les Bains and gallery Le Molière – Palais Royal.

Main image
Thomas Erber. Photo Elina Kechicheva

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