Maison et Objet is one of the most important European events for interior design, with an impressive mix of quality exhibitors displaying the latest designs in home furnishings, fabrics, wallpapers, lighting, tableware, and gifts for the home.
The show filled eight huge halls at the Paris Nord Villepinte Exhibition Centre out in the suburbs of the city. Here the undoubted stars were fittingly from Paris itself – the Bouroullec Brothers, Ronan and Erwan. Not only were they the official “Designers of the Year”, but also presented substantial new designs – a voluptuous sofa at Ligne Roset, a rug for Nani Marquina and a range of tableware for Alessi.
All of these products will be in London shortly – Ligne Roset has stores in Mortimer Street, W1, Commercial Road, E1, and Fairfax Road, NW6; Alessi has a boutique at 22 Brook Street, W1; and Woven Ground at 570 King’s Road, SW6, is the official stockist for Nani Marquina.
Much has been made lately of a “retro” movement in design, a nostalgic look that echoes the interiors of the 1950s, with abstract patterns and rather hard-edged colours. You could see something of this in Paris. The Bouroullec Brother’s sofa - entitled Ploum (left) - could almost be a generous update of those shell-like shapes from the middle of the last century. But its streamlined high-tech construction and buttoned, stretchy fabric make it markedly modern.
Step back in time
In the centre of the city, a new event it its second year with the slightly odd name of “Deco Off” embraced nearly 70 fabric and wallpaper showrooms, who vied with each other to present enticing displays of new designs.
Here, Sanderson gave a taste of their new 1950s wall and fabric collection, with lots of red, lime, grey and black used for abstract archive-based patterns of leaves, flowers and even people.
The talking point here was a newly-decorated, 19th-century apartment above the showroom, rented for the occasion, and shared with sister brand Zoffany, whose new Intaglio collection is an architectural assembly of wall-high Corinthian columns (right), prints of buildings, an old London map and the vivid green leaves of Richmond Park. I loved it.
In the same street, Pierre Frey flirted with the 1950s, showing a charming toile depicting Marilyn lookalikes having lots of fun on the beach. All these patterns will come to the showrooms of Design Centre Chelsea Harbour, SW10, within a few weeks.
A bold new direction
At Maison, screaming colours offset by stark monotones created a genuinely new aesthetic for Designers Guild who were celebrating a collaboration with fashion house Christian Lacroix.
Inhibition had been thrown to the wind as a track-stopping full-size zebra (surmounting a stripy sofa) charged through a wall of black-and-white classical prints (left). There were also florals and stripes in outrageous colour combinations all mixed up together.
This stand was manifestly successful, being crammed with international trade buyers and interior decorators. Tricia Guild herself had turned dahlia flower heads into a striking wallpaper with new photographic, print and paint techniques to create a soft, hand-painted finish. A particularly pretty pattern featured fine drawings of topiary trees made at an English stately home. To take a look, visit the Designers Guild’s showroom, at 267 King’s Road, SW3.
New Brits on the block
Walking around Maison’s special hall for cool, contemporary design there were Brits at every turn, with stands high on style and confidence. Ahead of the game as always are the British European Design Group (BEDG), where a bold band of designers sharing a stand showed some really original work. The BEDG, led unswervingly by director Karin-Beate Phillips, have taken more than 3,500 British companies, institutions and individuals to explore markets abroad since 1991 (bedg.org).
This time around, I particularly liked wallpapers by Lindsay Alker, inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, and based on lino-cuts (lindsayalker.com). Markedly more delicate were bespoke panels by mogwalldesign.com. London’s own Piyush Suri (based in Cheshire Street, E1) had hung in lengths his entrancing fabric hand-prints, in natural cottons and linens (handmade-interiors.co.uk).
I also discovered Denise O’Sullivan’s outré tableware, inspired by “a love of kitsch, fashion, Englishness and vintage finds on traditional English shapes.” Designs include pink and mother-of-pearl flamingoes; black, gold and platinum skulls; blue, pink and black roses, and cupcakes (deniseosullivanceramics.com).
Other bright Brits included Donna Wilson with new designs for her quirky “portrait” cushions, plates and more, nestling among knitted creatures. Donna’s rugs were on the stand of SCP (with shops in Curtain Road, EC2, and Westbourne Grove, W2) along with furniture (scp.co.uk).
Elsewhere, a thicket of hanging pendants in brilliant polished copper and dull aluminum heralded the presence of Original BTC (also in Design Centre Chelsea Harbour). Original BTC founder, Peter Bowles, bought 100-year old Davey Lighting a few months ago, thus gaining access to another impressive source of British design and craftsmanship, which was also on display at a shared stand at Maison et Objet.
For more by Barbara Chandler, visit her regular blog page.