As Maison&Objet returned from 7-11 September, ICON shares some of the best highlights of this year’s edition, the rising stars of design to watch and much more
Photography by AETHION
Words by Joe Lloyd
The first thing to note about this September’s edition of Maison&Objet—Paris’ premiere design fair—is just how enormous it is. Stretching across seven massive halls, it has a scale not seen since the onset of Covid-19.
By comparison, the (physically smaller) March edition of the fair felt like it was warming up after two years of pandemic disruption. There were over 2,200 exhibitors and 58,688 visitors over the course of five days, an extraordinary profusion in a world that was not long ago subject to six-person rules and strict restrictions on travel.
The fair carried a sense of creative renewal. Compared to its more strictly product and furniture design focused analogues, M&O has always had an incredibly broad remit. While the Maison section of the festival abounds with high design, the Objet section takes in a dizzyingly quantity of products.
Photography by AETHION
There were stuffed animal sellers, preserved sponges, organic fashion brands and high-end gym equipment. I arrived too late for the live cooking demonstration and tasting, organised by restaurant guide Gault&Millau.
The new Future on Stage platform, a showcase for young designers, features Pierreplume, a trio who transform fabric waste into lightweight acoustic textiles that resemble fine marble: the sort of exciting circular economy product that provides some hope for the future. But it also gives equal space to the far more whimsical LucyBalu, a Munich-based duo who create ‘streamlined design’ for cats.
There were touches of whimsy on display elsewhere. Francesco Balzano’s furniture for the Genovese leather and home decor brand Giobagnara blended neoclassical restraint and materials with surprising curved motifs. Nearby stood the installation by this edition’s Designer of the Year, Italy’s Cristina Celestino.
Photography Photography by AETHION
An architect by training and an interior and furniture designer by trade, Celestino’s work is fully-versed in the modernist canon. Her contribution to the fair, Palais Exotique, is a sophisticated restaurant interior with a slight Wes Anderson twist, with densely patterned seat rests and canvases displaying tropical plants.
One thread running through the fair was a profusion of new colour. There was an immersive installation—now obligatory in design fairs—by Atelier ATHEM that featured fabric-dressed corridors, swinging tentacles and bright lights accompanying wafts of perfume.
I was struck by the rich floatation of Korean designer Huh Myoung-wook’s ceramics, and the pastel-soft tones of Forestier’s hanging lights. One of this edition’s three trend exhibitions, Colour Power, presented some striking assemblages of objects drawn from an international swathe of studios and designers. Curated by Elizabeth Leriche, it neatly explored the way combinations of colours define the atmosphere of interiors.
Photography by AETHION featuring the Rising Talent showcase
The Rising Talent showcase in each edition of the fair spotlights designers from a particular country. This time, it was the term of the Netherlands. One of the chosen awardees, Théophile Blandet, exhibited a vast display storage unit in recast aluminium, with seven platforms on which to display things.
Atelier Fig, comprising Ruben Hoogvliet and Gijs Wouters, presented their Gravity collection, a fascinating set of bowls and candlesticks made from thin stripes of clay, in dense geometric patterns. Most fascinating of all, however, was Hanna Kooistra, who recreates functional objects of the past in new materials. An aluminium coffee pot from the Rijksmuseum collection becomes an architectonic wooden object, while a teapot gets clothed in thick rings of blue foam.
Parallel to the fair, veins across the city played host to Paris Design Week, a fleet of satellite events. Among the most rewarding was Fragments, a collection of furniture and objects designed by Anthony Guerrée using small pieces of fine marble. Presented by M éditions at Le Corbusier’s Maison La Roche, it saw Guerré’s limited edition chairs, stools and trays dotted throughout the pioneering modernist residence.
Photography courtesy of Giobagnara
Swedish Secrets, meanwhile, saw the elegant Hôtel Particulier of l’Institute Suédois transformed into a vast showroom for the best of Scandinavian country’s design. Flooring brand Tarkett presented a trio of collaborations with the designer Gustav Winsth, a shelving unit, bench and divider based with organic-looking, tiered lino bases.
And not far away at Espace Commines, the Paris Design Week Factory showcased a selection of the city’s young designers. This commitment to promoting the new alongside the well-established ran throughout M&O and the design week. It is to be hoped that this season’s other events follow their lead.
Maison&Objet ran from 7-11 September, and Paris Design Week ran from 8-17 September 2022.
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