Maison & Objet launched the latest interior design trends and products in Paris last week in an event that filled eight vast halls. Individual designers were nestled amid the big brands, everyone vying for attention.
Show-stopping luxury came in the shape of a Steinway piano studded with more than 1,000 black crystals at Lalique — and a towering peacock in opaque white glass at rival French crystal brand Daum. Despite its height, the 6ft bird was mystical and ethereal, with sapphire/diamond eyes and a crest of pearls.
Almost as impressive was Solid Nature’s stand. The Dutch company put up 40 monolithic “standing stones” — just a fraction of its range of marbles, Travertines and granite in more than 600 colours. A back-lit sliver of translucent tawny onyx was breathtaking, granites were stern in green and black, while soothing marbles came in cream and grey. The company plans to open a London office this spring.
MARBLE AND GLASS
Marble was definitely doing well at the show. Award-winning Welsh designer Bethan Gray, based in London, trawled Italy for the perfect marbles for her new table tops, which contrast two stones. She found a rosy pink and a timeless verde green to add to dramatic black and low-key grey, all with an edging of brushed brass.
Tom Faulkner, master of metal, placed a huge disc of white marble, with a wafer-thin edge, on a couple of tetrahedrons for a table-balancing act as elegant as it was audacious. Indeed, all the sharpest lines and shapes were geometric, from new gold and black china at Royal Crown Derby to clocks at Alessi and fabrics by Niki Jones, Laura Spring and Imogen Heath.
Glass was everywhere, too, on table tops, tableware and lights, but best of all were the Essentials glass pendants by London’s Innermost. Cutu Mazuelos and Eva Prego, of Madrid-based Stone Designs, love jelly moulds and the transparency of jelly itself — so they have designed hand-blown lampshades in red, blue, yellow or grey, which reveal the spherical bulbs within.
PALE SHADES AND DRAMATIC BLACK
In colours, pale is still popular — powder pinks, smoky greys, willow green, sky blue and a mustard yellow made a big impression. It was back to black, however, for the avant-garde, such as east London-based Charlotte Frances, whose inky cotton satins sported tropical birds and blooms. At Christian Lacroix, which showed with Designers Guild and Ralph Lauren Home at Paris Deco Off, black was trumps for a playing card pattern on wallpaper and fabric.
Iridescence, a new trend, featured on Tom Dixon pottery, and lampshades by TOBYhouse.
Retro is fashionable, but the big old established brands have the real thing hidden in their archives. Designs from the Seventies, Eighties and even Nineties have been revamped. Most striking is Slice, a 20-year-old idea by Pierre Charpin for France’s leading furniture brand, Ligne Roset, which has London stores in the West End and the City. New foams, glues and fabrics have become a mix-and-match melange of chairs and stools.
Missoni Home has rescued its dress print worn by actress Charlotte Rampling in 1971, and built a furnishing portfolio around it, while Ercol has even dusted off that old faithful — the room divider.
French maverick/maestro Philippe Starck has a lot to answer for. This high-profile designer has elevated kitsch to high design with his Triffid-like lemon squeezer, garden gnome tables and gun-shaped table lamps.
At Maison, we had a pink dinosaur coffee table. Even Italian style pundit Alessi has replaced the little bird on the electric version of its classic kettle (by Michael Graves) with a dinosaur — for Tea Rex, of course.
Behind the fabrics, enchanting tales have emerged. At BeatWoven, Nadia-Anne Ricketts has made music into patterns for Jacquard looms, with jazz, pop and classical cushion options. Weavers Melin Tregwynt have celebrated 150 years of Welsh settlers in Patagonia with warm wool patterns that are a little tribal. And the girls at Lush have put south London gardens, river boats, buildings and landscapes on to textiles and lampshades.
MADE IN BRITAIN
About 65 British brands came to Maison this year, in marked contrast to the scattering a few years back.
“The world loves our quirky design,” says Yorkshire-based Jake Phipps, who made his name with Jeeves and Wooster bowler hat lights.
Meanwhile Vicki Murdoch, light-hearted illustrator at Silken Favours, turns her endearing drawings of animals and fruits into a mass of cushions, and now wallpaper.
Furniture maker Russell Pinch, sitting on his elegant chaise, added: “Handmade in Britain has a huge cachet. And we’ve learned how to supply those larger markets.”