Toit de Paris: a piece of the French capital at home

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Would you like to get a little piece of the soul of Paris at home? Constance Fichet-Schulz can make your dream comes true! I met the founder of Toit de Paris, to learn more about this poetic project.

What’s Toit de Paris?

Le Toit de Paris began with the idea of a decorative object representing a piece of the soul and history of Paris to cherish at home. And it’s also a way to discover Paris from a different angle.

For Parisians, the address has a meaning. We are all attached to a particular borough, because of its associations : we studied there, we met someone there, and so on… The idea is to be able to afford to get a little bit of the 10th, the 4th arrondissement… We came up with the concept of FRAGMENT, a piece of roof from Paris that we screen-printed to indicate the origin of the piece, so that you know on which roof we went to get it. We also added a map of Paris to locate your fragment. This way, you know on which roof we discovered it. We also added a map of Paris to locate your fragment so that, a bit like an archaeologist, you can go to locate the roof and find out where this little piece comes from. The cost we imagined for this object is fair, not too pricey so because we believe that Paris belongs to everyone.

Imagine a tourist who visits Paris and wants to come back with a little piece of the capital in his suitcase. For him or her, an object has been created that bears the imprint of a traditional technique of roofing used on the roofs of Paris, that is the “cleated cover” or “couverture à tasseau” in French. And the next object in preparation, CAPTURE, will comprise zinc chips, using a technique that is vanishing from construction. This means you may have in your hands the last shavings of the rooftops of Paris!


Paris and its roofs, a no-brainer for you?

When I was younger, my parents brought me a little piece of the Berlin Wall, which for me is a palpable piece of history. When we think of Paris, we think of grey… the grey of zinc. Zinc roofs are part of the capital’s heritage. It was at the beginning of the 19th century that these emblematic roofs were bestowed upon Paris. This goes back to the time when Napoleon started the great Haussmannian works. The roofs -which come to less of a point than in preceding styles , enabled more living space for the Parisian. They were were made from zinc because it is an economical, malleable material. This is also the origin story of the little maid’s room (chambre de bonne in French)!

This is for the seed, but how did the idea germinate?

In 2019, I launched the Genius Factory. The motivation is to highlight the work of craftsmen. An individual is offered the opportunity to learn a craft in Paris. For example, they might explore the leather goods business for two hours, and they will leave with a small object they made – a wallet, perhaps. I met extraordinary talents and discovered exciting trades.

I had to think of a small object to make for each workshop. An object with meaning that was also to be accessible to neophytes. Sometimes we had ideas that were not feasible in the workshop, which I would write down in a small notebook because the objects were so beautiful that I wanted to keep track of them. One day, I met a gilder, Aurora, who showed me maps made with gold leaf. I thought it was great! My husband being passionate about history, especially that of Paris, I naturally thought of making a map of the capital in gold. But then, my question was: what object could host this plan? We had to find an object with a soul, a story.

I happen to live on the fifth floor of a Haussmann building myself and opposite is another such building. One day, I gazed into the distance, at the sparkling glinting roof which had caught my eye and I had found my support’s object! It was 2020…

So here it is, you have your idea, but this is only the beginning of the adventure

Of course, 2020 was not a year like any other. I had the chance to meet a key person for this project just before the lockdown, to think about the project.That was Rémi Riccoboni, who has his own roofing company. His deep artistic sensibility and passion really got the project off the ground. He agreed to lend zinc sheets and help with the cutting, folding, silkscreening etc. During the lockdown, I did the drawings, the prototypes and the research. My mother is a graphic designer, she is the one who draws the plans of Paris, the address and the year, which are screen-printed on zinc. In the summer, the first tests were done, followed by a first prototype in September. And in October, I launched a Crowdfunding campaign on Hulu and people really started to join the project.

Where are you getting those pieces of roof?

It’s thanks to a real collaboration. Living heritage companies take care of roof covering. When they remove the old zinc leaves, they go on a recycling circuit. We buy these sheets from them and turn them into an art object. And this is what is really new!

How do you go from a piece of recycled zinc to a work of art?

The sheet is collected, cut, sanded and cleaned. Then the graphic design of the Paris maps is silk-screened. Using silk sheets, the paint is placed exactly on the zinc sheet. It’s pretty new to do it on zinc, so we didn’t know what it was going to look like. What’s great is that you never have the same piece, it’s really a unique object. At first we started by collecting leaves from the 15th and 10th arrondissements. But they were very damaged, so was the silkscreen of the sheet. You can watch the video to see the process:

What are your next plans?

The know-how of Parisian roofers is in the running for recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. So it’s really an exciting time. We’re following the work in progress. It’s good for us at the moment, because there are actually a lot of zinc roof restoration projects going-on! And in the long run, we have the ambition to work on national monuments. After Paris, why not Versailles? 😉

Ready to collect a little piece of Paris? Visit the website.

Cover photo of Raphael Metivet, the other photos are by Constance Fichet-Schulz.

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