I’m a sucker for a good “concept store,” although I’m getting a little tired of the term. Can we come up with another name for them that sounds less – pretentious? Regardless, all the aspects that make them distinct from “regular” stores are also what make them so fantastic. You can find things you’ve never seen before, and perhaps products that are exclusively sold in that store. As far as gift-buying goes, these types of stores are the place to go.
I stumbled across this gem, called Usagi, on a dreary, rainy day a few weeks ago; one of those annoyingly cold days that just doesn’t belong in July. The minty green colour of the facade and image of a doll-faced girl with “bubbles” in her eyes immediately caught my eye. I didn’t have time to go in until a week later, when it was much sunnier. When I did finally step through the door, I politely asked if I could take some photos of the place for my blog. I was fully prepared for rejection, assuming for some reason that I wouldn’t have enough authority (?) to step in and photograph, but the man who helped me was more than welcoming. Gideon was his name, a painter and musician hailing from New York (you can see his work here). It’s always a pleasure to come across fellow Americans while out and about in Paris, and honestly, it’s not that hard of a thing to do – this is a very international city.
And speaking of international, let’s get into the background of this store… Usagi translates as “rabbit” from Japanese, and is a mysterious and multifaceted symbol of Japanese culture. The usagi is both warm and mysterious, familiar yet spiritual. Images of rabbits can be found throughout temples in Japan and is a major motif in Shintoism, a ancient spirituality that has intimate ties with nature. The Japanese theme doesn’t stop at the name: The owner of of Usagi, Michiko Horie is also Japanese, and so are many artists and creators she represents in this space. It’s not exclusively Japanese, but you can definitely feel the culture here.
The little triangular shop with whitewashed stone walls is sandwiched between two massive windows, which let in some beautiful, bright light. Down the teeny spiral staircase, you’ll find a gallery space where art shows take place. You’ll find a lot of handmade jewelery here, as well as a custom line of clothing, some accessories, small prints, art objects, funky shoes, postcards, and even Michiko’s own paintings. There’s really something here for every budget. I highly recommend visiting Usagi! It’s just a blink away from the famous Colette and the Tuileries gardens.
32 rue Saint Roch 75001 Paris
Open from Tuesday to Saturday 12h-19h30
- UPDATE: Unfortunately, this store seems to have gone out of business since the publishing of this post.