February 7, 2010By Colin EatonArchive

Trendspotting at
Interior Design Fair

Paris-Update Maison et Objet Vincent-Gregoire,-Nelly-Rodi-Elsewhere

Vincent Grégoire’s “Elsewhere” installation for Nelly Rodi. Photo: Colin Eaton

Trends come and go, but during the last few editions of the twice-yearly Maison et Objet interior-design trade fair in Paris, issues of sustainability and provenance have come to the fore, along with color, fun and originality as antidotes to the gloom of the economic recession.

At the January edition, there was also a clear message that promoters and exhibitors are looking to new markets to survive, especially in Asia, where consumers are starting to reject “mass luxury brands” in favor of high-quality, one-of-a-kind products and designs.

Some wonderful examples of the reaction to mass consumerism and “sameness” include the Atlanta, Georgia, company blabla, which designs and produces hand-knitted toys, all sustainably made in cooperatives in Peru.

Another was young architect-turned-furniture-and-accessories designer José Pascal, who creates furniture from raw metal and wood. His “Modu Chair” can be converted into a

Paris Update-Maison et Objet Jose-Pascal-Modu-Chair

José Pascal’s convertible “Modu Chair.”

lounger, high chair, book shelf or table simply by turning it. Pascal is based on Rue des Vinaigriers near the Canal Saint Martin in Paris’s 10th arrondissement.

Among the individual exhibitors, one stand always delights with its vibrancy and energy: Bobo Boom, a Marseille-based company under the creative direction of Mitri Hourani. Its lamps, lampshades, chairs, tables and other products are all made of recycled materials. This year’s theme was “White but not only,” a nice change from the jolly colors normally used and an illustration of another trend seen at the fair: adaptability.

Waterford Crystal, the crystal-glass-manufacturing company named after the city of Waterford, Ireland (and now owned by luxury-goods group WWRD Holdings, which also owns the Wedgewood and Royal Doulton brands), has also proved its ability to adapt by not only surviving bankruptcy and emerging as an invigorated brand, but also by becoming relevant to a whole new generation. Moving away from the rather staid designs of the past, it now offers a range of iridescent colorways and parallel ranges by designer Jo Sampson, among them shimmering mirrors and furnishings, including a small drink cabinet. Particularly novel are the nesting vases that can be used together or separately as a vase, bowl or combination of both.

“Elsewhere,” the theme of the January edition of the fair, was imaginatively demonstrated in the installations of three trend-forecasting agencies. Vincent Grégoire titled his installation for the Nelly Rodi Agency “Beyond” and created an abyss of outer space in which extreme distances open up unexpected creative perspectives. The ceiling lighting installation designed by Grégoire himself was particularly celestial.

For her “Landscape” theme, Elizabeth Leriche created a spiritual getaway to teleport the imagination toward new horizons, while François Bernard offered an installation called “Heliotropic,” an “Elsewhere under the sun.”

Maison et Objet itself is looking to new horizons in Asia and will hold its first international session in Singapore this March. Other new initiatives include Designer of the Year, Asian Designer of the Year and “Talents a la Carte” in Turkey. These are clear signals that commercial design concerns are focusing on the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries and more particularly the Asia-Pacific or ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) zone and dreaming of new silk routes for the 21st century.

Colin Eaton

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