The MAISON&OBJET interior trade fair in Paris rises to new heights as it celebrates 20 years with a smorgasbord of indulgent designs.
MAISON&OBJET, run biannually in Paris, has long held its own on the yearly course of international interior design events. Dwelling at the intersection of business and creativity for two decades, it seeks to reveal new, unique and industry-leading solutions to visitors from all around the world.
The lifestyle show boasts a diverse variety, a “360° product offering”, encompassing interior architecture, accessories, decoration, design, fragrances, furniture, tableware and textiles. Proclaimed as being at “the multicultural crossroads of contemporary living,” it also holds two additional annual fairs: MAISON&OBJET ASIA and MAISON&OBJET AMERICAS.
This year’s MAISON&OBJET PARIS event, held at Paris-Nord Villepinte Convention Centre from September 4 to 8, again offered the unexpected as it was remodelled in response to ongoing market evolutions. The MAISON (home) range featured décor pieces, lighting and fabrics under the banner, “100% interior decoration” and included special themed halls: Eclectic Be Surprised, proving a well of atypical inspiration; and Cosy: the Softest Interiors, which was centred on welcoming, comfortable, even “cocooning” design. On the other hand, OBJET (objects) offered interior accents from the most useful to the most trivial. The Craft: Metiers d’art Esteemed Know-How hall displayed the rare wares of craftpersons and art producers. Cook+Design: Creativity Sits Down at the Table transformed kitchenware into a treasure trove of playful objects that promote the art of dining, cooking and gastronomy in general. Fragrances: Tomorrow’s Scents provided an array of olfactory signatures to enhance spaces, while Complements offered finishing touches that evoke a unique ambience. The quirky Fresh: Highly Colorful World, Kids: the Childhood Kingdom, Fashion: at the Forefront of Fashion with handbags, jewellery, scarves and clothing, and Beloved: Love at First Sight, a sector for perusing personal beautification products, rounded out the OBJET zone.
Trendesign’s highlight of the event was, without a doubt, the immersive Floating Flower Garden. After its incredibly popular World Unleashed and the Connection installation for MAISON&OBJET’s 20th anniversary celebration in January of this year, teamLab were back to amaze last month. The Japanese design team set about cultivating an abundant interactive installation for the September 2015 fair. This sensory experience featured vines of blooms – 2,300 all living and growing – which levitated in relation to fair-goers’ movements throughout the space.
Choreographed to always keep the viewer at its centre, the work included a dynamic sensory element: each flower was paired with a partner insect and its scent became stronger at the time of day that insect was most active. This resulted in diverse combinations of scents across the event.
“Flowers and I are of the same root, the garden and I are one,” reflected teamLab’s Hideaki Takahashi, who was responsible for the audio component: an enchanting soundtrack of intermittent synth and soothing nature samples. “The spatial awareness of ancient Japan can once again bloom through digital technology,” he added, linking the installation to the country’s historically Zen theologies and high-tech contemporary identity.
INDULGING IN OPULENCE
The new Luxury Design and Interior Decoration Hub was heralded as the setting where “creativity, innovation and technical solutions come together to create a temple of design, a luxury lifestyle unique in its genre, reaching out to buyers from all around the world”.
The halls comprised: Scenes D’Interieur Gallery: the Stamp of Excellence, an upscale setting for the most beautiful signatures in decoration; Now! Design À Vivre: the Soul of Design, which focused on sustainable, functional innovations and design experimentation; and also MAISON&OBJET Projets, a platform dedicated to cutting-edge technical and high-end decorative interior design. French firms honoured in Projets included: Atelier Sedap for its Micro Blade, recessed plaster profiles housing LED lights; Ateliers d’Aubusson for La Canopée, a uniquely crafted tapestry of blue and ecru cotton; and Maison & Maison for its sculpted marble chimney Origami. Belgium design house 2tec2 presented the Lustre Collection, a dynamic woven vinyl floor covering and was joined by countrymen Quincalux, who offered Q-Wing, an ergonomic door handle mounted on a rosette with spring. Germany’s Hey-Sign was also chosen for the acoustic insulating design Welle: a wool-felt-on-aluminium divider.
An Inspirations Forum with Trends Area, pop-up book store and conference space was also located at the heart of the new Luxury, Design and Interior Decoration Hub. This zone was appointed with all-things precious by MAISON&OBJET Observatory members. “The fair’s theme Precious came forth as a metaphor for that which is rare and unique. It distinguishes the return of well-crafted decorative arts but also the fashion of excess,” explained François Bernard. Also an Observatory member, Espace d’inspirations: Precious designer Elizabeth Leriche saw the concept as a sensible itinerary and worked with raw materials to create a captivating inspirations space. “I want to evoke something along the lines of alchemy, which leads us to the second part of the exhibition, where preciousness becomes more intangible, more poetic and mysterious,” she announced in the lead up to the event.
Member Vincent Grégoire was responsible for the design and scenography of the pop-up store, where he invited fair-goers to be “immersed in a dream world that explored the symbolism of the forbidden fruit and the Garden of the Hesperides” (the collective name for the nymphs of the evening and also the golden light of sunset in Greek mythology).
TOASTING DESIGNER OF THE YEAR
Fair-goers were invited to feast their eyes on MAISON&OBJET PARIS Designer of the Year – September 2015 Dorothée Meilichzon’s ELLE Déco café, a striking setting enhanced by skillful 3D painting. Her colourful cut-outs with curved lines, neon outlines and overlapping forms created welcoming alcoves in which visitors could relax for lunch or a well-deserved coffee break.
The interior architect, furniture designer and interior decorator studied industrial design at Strate College Designers and the Rhode Island School of Design before launching her design studio CHZON in 2009. With a passion for history-imbued objects and a penchant for highlighting the handmade, Meilichzon’s interiors are invariably intriguing and often interpret her quirky sense of humour. Contemporary elements, typically from small craft collections, allow her graphic spaces to exude a unique mood, yet also timelessness versatility and appeal.
Now with a number of hotel and restaurant interiors in Paris, London, New York City and Ibiza to her name, the accomplished designer also treated visitors to an insightful seminar, discussing her café concept, career highlights and offering advice to aspiring young creatives.
OFFERING TALENTS A LA CARTE
A delightful addition to the MAISON&OBJET menu, the Talents à la Carte showcase introduced designs by six up-and-coming French studios.
The Parisian architect turned object designer is greatly influenced by the savoir-faire of the applied arts from the 18th century and is driven by material experimentation. Neveu finds inspiration in the famous Parisian auction room, Drouot, and his designs are also born from his fascination with biomimetics: the imitation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems.
Cutting his teeth in the Netherlands and Germany, this showcasing designer looks to low-cost materials and endeavours to break-down co-dependencies of different design elements in his work. Notable examples include his award-winning project Sillon: a collection of fun chairs, meticulously cut from a single plastic sheet that can be melted and recycled when their life cycle is complete, and his hypnotic and celestial Halo Light.
The award-winning collaborators combine designer Jansen’s poetic sensibility for form and context with mechanical engineering graduate Vailly’s fascination for processes and their implications. Whether they are growing stone objects (CaCO3 stoneware) or investigating the colourful nature of light (new material 101.86°), their complementary strengths combine for a design approach intertwined with the exploration of natural phenomena.
This eccentric, boundary-pushing artist juggles working as a designer with his role as a performer. Gillet’s experimentations lead him to combine the different arts he has mastered in subversive art pieces. Career highlights include a residency and performance at the Museum of Contemporary Arts of Val-de-Marne (MACVAL) in 2012, working on a retrospective for American artist and social activist Keith Haring at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris and a much-talked-about exhibition dedicated to male nudes at the Musée d’Orsay.
The designers are linked in relentless attempts to imbue meaning in their design output. They share a passion for craftsmanship and Ettore Sottsass’ radical approach to design. Like trailblazing Sottsass, history-buff Dach and pragmatic Zephir are inspired by observations of even the most mundane daily behaviours – “mythical relationships between man and objects” – which they transform into rich, eruptive and complementary design concepts. The duo has been lauded for its Rite design, a “ritualistic object” (mirror, tableau and two hooks arranged on a wooden rail) intended to house objects that are in “a state of movement” with you as you enter and exit your home.
The two designers met and bonded over their mutual fascination for objects that embody the identity of the society in which they were produced. Set in five continents, their experimental design projects are tightly linked with local human and material resources, elaborating scenarios and strategies that toe the line between plastic arts and design. For example, their Backdrop series uses light-reflecting folds of stainless steel to represent New York City: robust and impervious. Meanwhile, their scenography Gradin for the exhibition Conversations Electriques at the Centre for Contemporary Culture in Montpellier pays homage to phonebooks, which were once indispensable but have now been rendered obsolete.
Photography: Courtesy of MAISON&OBJET