Maison et Objet blooms with color and spirit

Heath E. Combs, Carole Sloan, September 19, 2003

Maison et Objet earlier this month was a home furnishings show full of color, spirit and mixes of fabrics — more so than most home shows in the last year.

Overall, ikats and paisleys were the fashion leaders, in terms of actual designs as well as influences on other designs.

Blankets and throws were surprisingly fashion-driven, offering new looks from sheer linen throws to blankets in fashion colors, tweeds and bulk yarns matched to sheets and pillow cases.

Apple green, a bevy of pinks and all shades of purple with lots of rich dubonnet dominated the color stories across all home lines. Stepped down orange — no longer citrusy or brash — was an important accent, used most effectively with apple green and pinks. The next-generation oranges were a rich terra cotta or burnt orange that brought these colors into focus as important members of the natural and brown family. Pink, which came back as a fashion favorite a year or so ago, has expanded its reach with soft, subtle shadings to the classic, exuberant Schaiperelli bold pink.

Tweeds were a key fabric statement, and the most exciting one used the signature of the softer the better. They ranged from thick, bulky yarns to delicate, almost sheer weaves.

Velvets were evident in almost every home textiles category — significantly less as a furniture cover. Silky velvets, many in stripe constructions, were high profile in decorative pillows, runners, bedding and window coverings.

Silk, from sheers to tafettas to heavy jacquards, made important fashion statements, with key looks ranging from classic damasks to shimmering sheers.

One interesting trend for home textiles at Maison et Objet is the extension of product beyond basic bed, decorative pillow and throw categories. European suppliers have long offered robes to coordinate both with towels and bedding ensembles. Today, the product extension ranges from rugs to slippers and totes to luggage and even simple apparel.

Embellishments, which had been a fashion favorite for several years, have been toned down. Glitter is subtle, beading is simple, albeit infrequently used, and sequins are understated, more as an accent than a dominant material.

Among the embellishments, embroidery and soutache trims were among the favorites, with much of the dramatic fashion using these effects found in the window covering fabrics.

For several years one of the more fashion forward segments, rugs continued that trend at this session. Important directions included the use of color and pattern with multiple patterning in a single rug creating a decorative fabric look.

Rugs, more than other home textiles segments, have been in the vanguard of contemporary design, and this time were more subtle, softened and curvy while still projecting a contemporary flavor.

And for those involved in more than just product development and merchandising — think bamboo. It's the display accessory du jour, used in huge, tall stalks as well as shoots.

And in an ironic twist, many of the collections from Third World countries that once were a major part of the fashion statements at European home textiles exhibitions, now seem all too familiar, the result of American importing from those countries.

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