BlackBlock concept store in Palais de Tokyo in Paris

Paris just breeds cool concept stores and collectives ranging from colette, to Surface to Air, Kiliwatch, and others, but one of the best contemporary/urban concept “spaces” has to be Palais de Tokyo. Located in the trendy 16th arrondissement across the street from the Eiffel Tower and above the treacherous “tunnel” where Princess Di was killed in a car crash, Palais de Tokyo actually houses a modern art museum, Jetson’s like caf%uFFFD, one of the best bookstores on art and design in the world, and Parisian artist Andre’s famous concept store, BlackBlock.

It’s not unusual to see skaters and Velo-hipsters hanging around the area (for one, the plaza is conducive to skating), and the caf%uFFFD inside with it’s exposed air conditioning ducts, neon and orange bubble lighting, and a funny menu transcribed painstakingly into bad English featuring veggie curries served in a banana leaf tends to attract a young, hip crowd.

Palais de Tokyo cafe attracts a young, hip crowd with funky curry dishes, salads, and drinks.

Typical of an interesting, open loft-space, BlackBlock, the concept store inside Palais de Tokyo, created by famous street artist Andre, isn’t really divided off from the other areas except for a chain link fence (just as the corresponding art bookstore across the way is “enclosed”) and topped with a ring of neon pink light which is Andre’s signature color. BlackBlock is arguably more of a street-inspired concept store than colette, mainly because it offers up many Andre wares including his signature “Mr. A” tophat guy in urban vinyl dolls, his denim collection, and collaborations with sneaker brands. The store is lined with brightly lit coolers where toys, limited-edition accessories, and art are displayed.

When it comes to BlackBlock, Andre explained that the concept of his store “was considered radically different at the time. Like my store, my graffiti in Paris was from a tough scene. Many of us, including myself, have been in jail for our street expressions.” But the store, which spun off of his artistic creations through a collaboration of efforts from friends and an eclectic mix of items ranging from apparel to urban vinyl dolls to music, was just the type of street expression that shoppers wanting inspiration from international subcultures were looking for.

BlackBlock fridges exhibiting accessories, urban vinyl dolls, limited-edition collections.

This is what’s so unique about Palais de Tokyo because it houses many subcultures in an oddly modern atmosphere in the middle of a city known for ancient architecture. This also makes the location perfect for various events which are hosted here ranging from fashion events for street and upper-urbanwear brands during Paris Fashion Week.

Across the way from BlackBlock behind the other chainlink fence is one of the best art, design, architecture bookstores we’ve ever visited -and we’ve been to many around the world. Entire sections are devoted to coffee table books from street artists such as Swoon, Shepard Fairey, Banksy, Space Invader, Miss Vans, and others. In addition, the wallcovering magazine rack is the place to find leading-edge titles for style, design, and other inspirational glossies, but it’s more along the lines of Acne Papers than say, mainstream Vogue.

Overall, Palais de Tokyo is an inspirational location simply to hang out and write or draw, which many young people do. Black tag books and scrapbook pages get filled here from people walking in and settling into the atmosphere of concrete, neon, and skylights, surrounded by books, art, urban vinyl, and good food.

Andre%uFFFDs new denim collection.

Cheshire Cat bags courtest of Andre at BlackBlock.

Loving this Andre pouf.

Limited-edition Andre collab sneaker in a don%uFFFDt-touch bubble.

Palais de Tokyo bookstore features some of the best art, architecture, style, design books in the world.

Inside the bookstore. Chainlink fence dividers give the space an industrial feel. Note BlackBlock across the way, housed by a band of pink neon light.

Graffiti and street art book collection is among the best we%uFFFDve seen in terms of global artists who are youth culture’s cultural heroes.

Magazine art wall collection in Palais de Tokyo.