Direction From Paris

Carole Sloan, September 13, 2004

There was a vast array of American retailers — from Bloomingdale's and ABC Carpet & Home at the upper end, Dillard's and a lot of others in the mainstream, and Kmart and Target at the mass level — attending Maison & Objet in Paris last week.

And that's not counting the dozens of supplier types that also were marching up and down the aisles of this design-driven show that seems to get bigger every six months. It's one of the few home furnishings shows that embraces all home segments — from home textiles and furniture to pots and pans.

One of the ironies emerging from this Maison & Objet is that its international reach emphasizes the impact of the new sourcing focus in the home textiles world. As a number of visitors remarked, “This stuff is all beginning to look alike” — no matter where the particular supplier is based.

Home furnishings definitely has emerged from its long era of taupe overdose. This was one of the most colorful home furnishings shows in many a year — and the scope of color, while bold and lively, was extremely livable.

Many design teams tempered the color intensity with black and white.

The color story was extraordinary with the predominance of orange and its various shadings morphing into apricots and bronze casts and mixes with pinks, copper and reds. And the broad range of berry tones — new on the fashion scene, deep berries and a berry of shades from mauve to purple — was significant not just in home textiles but in rugs, lighting, accessories, tabletop and furniture.

Rugs, once again, were a standout in terms of design, especially in contemporary designs. Stripes, large dots and simple geometrics were design-theme favorites.

From the furniture perspective, the use of iron for indoor use was especially directional. It was used both as a decorative treatment for case pieces as well as the frames for upholstery.

Also interesting was the array of furniture for bathrooms and kitchens, a development that should be of interest to home textiles suppliers and retailers. It's a trend that goes along with the bathroom-as-a-spa environment and the kitchen as a real “living” room.

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