This September I was invited to attend Maison et Objet Paris, an interior design and decoration trade exhibition, as the lucky winner of the competition held by InDesign Media running in partnership with Paris Design Week. Set across eight halls over five days at the Paris Nord Villepinte Exhibition Centre, the show featured both international and local designers with an emphasis on innovative European design. As an architect and design enthusiast I am always on the lookout for inspiring and innovative design pieces and there was certainly no shortage here. These are a few of my favourite finds and trends from this year’s show. Report by Melanie Richmond.
November 5th, 2015
One: Floating Flower Garden by teamLab
Created by Japanese digital technology collective teamLab the ‘Floating Flower Garden’ interactive installation was fittingly featured at the entry to the Hall 7 Now!Design A Vivre exhibition space, featuring innovative and conceptual new designs. The experimental installation featured 2300 flowers suspended in garlands from ceiling to floor within a bright white room, creating an immersive, dream like garden space.
Using the aid of sensors the individual strands of flowers levitated up and down around visitors creating domed empty space around each person as they moved around the dense ‘forest like’ garden, almost creating the sense that the garden had consciousness. The scale and full physical immersion of the visitor in the work created a really dramatic atmosphere; it was a really impressively executed installation.
Two: Precious installation – Inspirations Space curated by Elizabeth Leriche
Each year the Inspirations Space is staged to explore a theme relating to design and decorative arts, this year being ‘Precious’ exploring themes of luxury, rarity and value through the various mediums of a handful of invited M&O exhibitors. A few of the highlights came from ceramic designer Lucas Wegwerth, who has developed a process to cultivate crystals within the cracks of broken ceramics both repairing and transforming the original object, perfume designer Barnabe Fillion who attempted to create the ‘rarest’ of known scents – moon dust (which is reported to smell somewhat like gunpowder) and the Italian design team FormaFantasma who presented the ‘Yours and Ours’ installation displaying rows of blown glass containers each being shaped by the breath from a different designer (featured at the Milan ‘Fuha’ exhibition earlier in the year) and sealed with a brass clip.
Three: L’espace Conferences
– The Conference Space played host to 5 lectures a day – I managed to catch ‘Luxury, Innovation and Sustainable Development: The New Alliance’ presented by Cecile Lochard which discussed new models for the creation and production of designer goods brought about by the new generation of consumers who call for greater accountability from brands. While much of the discussion on sustainable materials and production has been well worn (sustainable timbers etc.), some new and surprising ones came up, in particular pineapple leather as a cheap and animal-friendly leather alternative, tough enough to be able to be used in upholstery as well as fashion applications.
Four: The Talents a la Carte
The Talents a la Carte stands showcased a handful of young and emerging designers and their highly experimental creations. With the designers on hand to talk about their creations the visitors at M&O were given the rare opportunity to meet the people behind the designs. One of the highlights came from Dutch designers Laura Lynn Jansen and Thomas Vailly who presented their 101.86 ° luminous shelf range. With a focus on the creating new or altered materials, in this piece the duo created a series of sliding and rotating clear backlit panels engineered to mimic the effects of crystals, refracting vibrant colour when overlayed on top of one another, allowing the user to play with light in endless combinations.
Five: ‘Masiv Oak’ Table – Swallow’s Tail Furniture
A standout design piece at the event came from Polish design company Swallow’s Tail Furniture who presented their custom made ‘Masiv Oak’ table – a heavy, sculptural timber tabletop supported by a fine, angular steel frame, offering an elegant contrast between the natural and industrial, heavy and lightweight, warm and cool, rough and refined materials.
In line with the current ‘greening’ of interiors trend, Dutch company Pikaplant exhibited their innovative range of self-maintaining planting systems – the ‘Jars’ range consists of a self-maintaining coffee plant in a sealed humid jar which continuously recycles the air and water inside the jar and requires only indirect sunlight, and the Kickstarter funded ‘Tableau’ range features a zero electricity plant watering tray which mimics the capillary action of plants to always provide the right amount of water and allows you to grow a range of different indoor plants or herbs with almost no maintenance– perfect for those not blessed with green thumbs.
Seven: Capsula Lights by Lucie Koldova for Brokis
M&O presented a strong contingent of contemporary lighting designers using traditional hand blown-glass methods, a favourite for its bold blending of forms was the decorative Capsula range by Lucie Koldova on display at the stand of Czech lighting producers Brokis. The series is made of two interlocking and overlapping blown glass ‘capsules’ encasing an internal LED tube light and are available made to order in a range of colours and combinations.
Eight: By Lassen Copenhagen
Proving that good design can stand the test of time the modernist designs of Danish architects and designers Morgens Lassen and Flemming Lassen still looked fresh amongst the large showing of minimalist contemporary Scandinavian designers. Of particular note on display was the ‘Saxe’ folding chair, first designed in 1955 by Mogens Lassen and now being re-produced to mark the 60th year of it’s design and the iconic fine-lined cubic ‘Twin Tables’ which have been released in a range of new timber and metal sheet finishes.
Nine: Seletti Display
One of the most fun and striking overall displays came from major Italian design retailer Seletti who displayed their often quirky objects in dramatically towering striped shelves. The display mixed up old and new products, of note was the newly launched ‘Still Alive’ collection designed by Antonio Arico featuring decorative objects comprised of contrasting materials fashioned together in unconventional geometric forms.
Ten: Sheep and Bambi Chairs by Takeshi Sawada
Although the playful Sheep and Bambi kid’s chairs by Takeshi Sawada have been around for a while, I thought they deserved a mention purely based on the level of interest they seemed to be gathering from the visiting crowds. The chairs definitely stand out amongst the relatively large showing of absurdist designs at M&O owing to their display of refined craftsmanship but really everyone was milling around because they’re just plain cute.
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