AT Europe: Paris - Foire de Paris

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One million dazed Parisians wandered through seven halls worth of home improvement possibilities at the Foire de Paris -- a huge, overwhelming 12-day annual trade fair for the home -- earlier this month at the ugly Porte de Versailles convention center.

Visitors spent an average of 450 euros on furniture, decoration and equipment for the kitchen, bath, garden, pool, wine cave and every aspect of the home. Some chose merely to look, and to dream...

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And what better place to do that than the futuristic home improvement utopia of Hall 7, where the finalists for the Grand Prix de L’Innovation introduced cutting edge products from French and international brands, rewarding innovation, design and technology for kitchen, bath and household appliances.

Dyson presented its mini powerhouse of a vacuum cleaner, the 4 kg, 35 x 25 x 20 cm DC12, introduced in Japan a few years ago. Singer France was showing off its Samba, a 21st-century iron that magically rises up on tiptoe when you lay it flat, to avoid “I Love Lucy”-style iron burns on your dress shirts.

The French lingerie queen Chantal Thomass’ washing machine -- looking a bit tarty in pink-and-black boudoir buttoned upholstery motifs -- has special settings for lingerie. “Vedette,” the French word for starlet, is a limited edition from Fagor Brandt, and one of the 300 machines can be reserved here.

But the thing that had all the small space dwellers drooling was the good-looking, compact Espalux Expansion all-in-one-square-meter kitchen (“Tout en un m2”), pre-wired and equipped with a combo oven, sink, undersink dishwasher, mini-fridge, stovetop and counterspace. Ready to install, all you have to do is decide on the customized decor.

(And why not this blown up digital image of an irresistible orange flower?)

- Kristin Hohenadel blogging from rue Vieille du Temple, Paris, France. She can be reached at kristin.hohenadel @ gmail . com

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