The Paris design fair Maison & Objet is a staple of the international interior trade. Its September 2020 event was held online only, with significantly reduced attendance in 2021 and a postponed January 2022 event. But it’s back this weekend, with over 1,800 exhibitors and an agenda that seeks to redefine high-end design.
Describing the theme “New Luxury: From Uber Luxury to Lux Populis” as a “two-pronged” trend, outgoing show managing director Philippe Brocart, who left earlier this year to work in a building Technology company tenure month.
“There’s clearly a new trend, a new kind of luxury consumer that’s totally different from the consumer we were a few years ago,” Brocutt said. Who are these new luxury consumers? “Those influencers, Instagram boys and ladies,” he said.
Over five days at Maison & Objet, designers will showcase products designed to combine craftsmanship and high technology with pop culture and inclusive values - “Lux Populis” in the title.
The theme is also inspired by ideas from outer space and exploring uncharted territories. Pieces such as the Upside Down chandelier by Marie-Lise Féry for Magic Circus Editions are crafted in brass and Vetraarti mouth-blown glass for a mid-century sci-fi feel.
The fluted Gravity console table, which looks a bit like a fresh playdough, is a new product from Ginger & Jagger. Actually, it is made of marble or high gloss paint. It connects function and sculpture, interestingly exploring the concept of gravity in a precariously inclined pose. The designer calls it a “delicate balance” [ . . . ] Pulled by the invisible forces that connect space and matter”.
Vincent Grégoire, creative director of trend agency Nelly Rodi and consultant to Maison & Objet, writes that “Lux Populis” is the result of “uncertain times” in which “people feel the need to be different, emotional and experiential, to transform fantasy. pushed to the limit”. This, he claims, has resulted in a playful pop culture aesthetic.
For example, the AP Collection chairs are a collection of modern armchairs with plush teddy bears. Although these designs are handcrafted using luxurious fabrics, they may be an acquired taste.
Then there’s Mickey Sparkling by Leblon Delienne, a gold version of the Mickey Mouse statue by Thomas Dariel, and Hopebird by Jaime Hayon for Bosa, a bird statue with hand-painted 24-karat gold details. Hopebird is put together with Hayon’s Baile collection for Bosa, a collection of masks, tables and vases in geometric and bold colours.
Even legacy brands are exploring interesting new frontiers, such as Lalique, who will be presenting their selection of historic glassware designs in a new shade of blue.
But other exhibitors have different interpretations, such as the e-commerce platform The Invisible Collection. Co-founder Isabelle Dubern-Mallevays said: “The ‘new luxury’ is not about spending more money, but about making a more prudent decision – investing in quality pieces with lasting appeal.”
There are also many awards as part of the event. Paris-based architect Franklin Azzi, who is currently renovating the Tour Montparnasse in Paris, won the 2020 Designer of the Year award, but only now has the chance to present his installation RETRO FUTUR, described as for “an immersive exploration of his creative process as an architect”.
This year’s Rising Talent Awards focuses on Japanese designers. The winners were selected by a jury led by architect Kengo Kuma, who created innovative designs ranging from deconstructed paper lanterns to furniture that celebrates rusting, to PVC pipes formed using glass blowing techniques. They are Yuri Himuro, Haruka Misawa, Satomi Minoshima, Yuma Kano, Baku Sakashita and Kodai Iwamoto.
Over the past few years, the sprawling halls of Maison & Objet have tended to tire your legs. This year, a series of designers have created different cafe and restaurant areas in order to provide more resting space. Tristan Auer has teamed up with tea company Mariage Frères to design a ‘beach club’ that includes life chairs and a pontoon bridge.
In addition to the family, Mathieu Lehanneur will present a version of his classic Renault 4L, commissioned for the car’s 60th anniversary. Called Suite No 4, the revamped EV has a transparent back, solar panels, a lemon-yellow velvet dashboard and a sofa bed built into the trunk area.
Nor is it all focused on Maison & Objet, as Paris Deco Off (March 23-27), a separate event focused on wall coverings, fabrics and independent showrooms, will also be at Saint-Germain in the heart of Paris area held. In addition to its show at Maison & Objet, the Invisible Collection will be presenting a new collection of furniture in collaboration with Dedar fabrics in the decorative panel showroom Féau Boiseries, one of several other satellite events.
Maison & Objet, March 24-28; maison-objet.com
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