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Vase Shop

Part of a series of photos and texts that was published as The Good Life in 2014.

A Paris backstreet in the 3rd arrondissement, a part of town which the Chinese have made their own. There are some strange shops in the area but none more intriguing than the vase shop. You wouldn’t think it was a great business plan to open a shop selling only vases, and yet perhaps it was a smart move, after all it’s still here. Let’s imagine that you’re Chinese and you’ve just moved to Paris, arriving with several suitcases, stuffed with everything you think you’ll need and a few reminders of home. Probably you didn’t pack a vase, even though they hold an important role in the home. They are heavy and they tend to get broken, so suitcases are not the ideal place for them. No problem, the first person you ask directs you to the vase shop where you find a plentiful selection of them. Isn’t this how shops began? Have we lost something in our compulsion for convenience? There’s something heart-warming in the idea of leaving your house with the words “I’m just popping out to the vase shop.” It’s not just the very human concept of supply and demand. The benefit of the specialist provider is its ability to offer greater choice, a greater range of qualities and professional knowledge. No doubt one day soon the vase shop will be replaced by an on-line service with 24-hour delivery and an even bigger choice, but the human element will be missing and you won’t have quite the same relationship with the vase.