The top trade shows in Cologne and Maison & Objet launched design for 2009 with radical and even provocative homeware about to appear in our shops, interior design boutiques and on websites.
Philippe Nigro stole the show with his Confluences collection of sofas. Nigro, a long and lanky Frenchman aged 34, is a master of proportion and balance.
His sleek and comfy seats prop each other up in informal multi-coloured groups. “People are all different shapes, so why not sofas?” asks Nigro.
Ligne Roset’s energetic director, Michel Roset, has a 2009 portfolio crammed with more new design than any of his European counterparts, including the Italians. The range is wide, from the cleverest of compact sofa beds to a chic folded-metal bar stool.
'The old brands are holding their own through skill, quality and innovation'
Roset has nurtured pieces from VIA, France’s national agency of new design, and reintroduced models by octogenarian design star Pierre Paulin and launched a new Paulin chair, too.
Elsewhere around the shows, colours couldn’t settle on a single trend. Those already familiar rich berry shades will last another harvest.
Meanwhile, mono-modern maintains a strong counterpoint, enlivened with gleams of metal, but pewter, bronze, zinc and copper rather than full-on silver/gold.
Blues are coming through strongly but think aqua, turquoise, sea and mist, as well as sky and cobalt. And add a bit of citrus zing.
As for pattern, well, it’s everywhere, printed on to clever new nylon rugs that look like logs or bricks, and permanently tattooed in an abstract patchwork on to cupboards and chests. Wallpaper gets a 3D twist with laser cut-outs.
Trees are taking over; trunks, twigs, leaves and branches, hewn piecemeal into furniture, or drawn into patterns from abstract to photographic.
London shop owners predict a strong year for design. Viaduct’s James Mair is in agreement with Simon Chaplin, modern design shop owner in Pinner. “The old brands are holding their own through skill, quality and innovation.”
The Germans are adding design flair to their traditional excellent engineering. German brand Rolf Benz now has a showroom in London. Coming shortly are luxurious seating groups, and a stunning table with a single leg in sculptured concave/convex mirror-polish stainless steel.
Folded felt pieces joined together with large-scale rubber bands make up Clouds, a new design seen everywhere in Cologne and Paris. This fabric “system” is tricky. Eight-sided felted fabric shapes come in a box, to be joined at will into an Origami-style soft sculpture to fix to the wall, or hang as a room divider.
These felt pieces soften harsh walls, add warmth, deaden noise and make private spaces. Clouds will be arriving in London this spring at Ligne Roset www.ligne-roset.co.uk.
Viaduct: 1-10 Summers Street, EC1 (020 7278 8456; www.viaduct.co.uk)
Chaplins: 477-507 Uxbridge Road, Hatch End, Pinner (020 8421 1779; www.chaplins.co.uk)
Aram Store: 110 Drury Lane, WC2 (020 7557 7557; www.aram.co.uk)
Rolf Benz: 23-25 Baker Street, W1 (020 7034 1930; www.rolf-benz.com).