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Warming up to Maison & Object

September 5, 2012

Arrived in Paris on a crisp day, a good 10-15 degrees cooler than when I left home and the shocking recognition that fall is in the air as trees here are already turning.

In preparation for Maison & Objet, held from Sept. 7-11 here are a few insights to help you make the best of the show alongside three vibrant adjunct events of choice:

  • Fashions Night Out: Taking place Sept. 6, the event for the first time encompasses all fashion centric neighborhoods;
  • Design Week: Essentially an Open House when literally hundreds of design-oriented retail stores, studios and galleries open their doors from Sept.10-16 to M&O visitors;
  • Le Cuir A Paris: If your time and money hold out, the leather show from Sept. 19-21 show features a multitude of techniques such as gilding, appliques, embroideries, patching and weaving of leather applicable to and likely to be popular in current and future home products from curtains to rugs as a new category of "home textiles" and especially decorative accessories.

As to M&O, the show - it's overarching lead theme this season is ESSENTIAL, which will be reflected in many exhibits but so will be its counter part, a re-emergence of luxury and historic inspiration.

Here is my edited version of Essential as M&O defines it in its introduction:
"The necessity to calm down, to return to clarity and the essence of life. To reach beyond a crowded noisy world to unburden ourselves of superficiality and uselessness. To choose the best to excess of all things. Minimalist luxury is re-establishing a bare serene timelessness. The contemporary spirit is contemplating Beauty in its most elementary. Discoveries in the techno-sciences are re-invigorating an optimistic vision of the future. Changing attitudes are maximizing sensory perceptions through tactile sensations creating a vibrant new spirit and highly desirable art of living".

However, two opposite directions are documented by at least one of the three regular trend forecasters who once again will illustrate their forward thinking in trend exhibits easily accessible along the front entrances of exhibit halls. Francois Bernard's (Elements), Vincent Gregoire's (Yes! Future) and Elisabeth Leriche's (Minimum) presentations echo the show's lead theme while Elisabeth Leriche who is also responsible for the Ateliers d'Art de France Trend Forum, presents a counterpoint to Essential. In her "Wonderhouse #2.

She focuses on anything but Essential by highlighting the return of the spirit of the late 19th Century. Chiaruscuro (I posted as a watchword in a blog dating a few weeks back), neo-Victorian Extravagance, Second Empire Opulence, Contemporary Dandyism, new Romanticism - those key words stand in stark contrast to the overall theme of the show - but are nevertheless upon us and important to note.

Also worth noting are three areas that will be greatly expanded for the September show.

Starting with home textiles, Hall 2 will feature the biggest names in household linens - with the exception of high-end decorator fabrics, which are presented separately in companies' own showrooms outside of M&O. The emphasis here is on bed and bath but heavily integrated with textile accessories, such as pillows and textile objects to complete the circle of the art of living. So important to this show.

Advance previews have it that international firms and promising designers both are presenting refined collections with patterns resplendent in rich deep colors, of among others deep ruby reds and emerald greens. (I forecast as much for the last two seasons, but now rich deep color is here.)

The choice of materials and finishes puts a focus on high texture allowing the fiber to express itself. Embroidered linens will be offered in vegetable dyes and in antiqued colors. In fact, the whole process of distressing (remember Chiaruscuro, which was first used and recognized to describe the intriguing effects of weather deterioration on the architecture of Venice) goes considerably beyond distressed denim. It recurs in prints and weaves designed to be pretend plains, i.e., pattern or weave variations are adding complexity and dimension to near solids.

Hall 6 will see a whole new orientation to home accessorie, which now account for 30% of the exhibition space and the total number of companies represented at M&O. No less than 1,000 exhibitors will be presenting accessories, with 200 companies exhibiting here for the first time.

Last but not least, Maison & Objet's indoor/outdoor segment, always a big hit for its creativity in design and its ever expanding role in decoration, is spilling over from its usual location in Hall 8 into several of the show's interior design segments. That includes Scenes d"Interieur, the hub for luxurious interior design settings in Hall 7 and others. This makes sense when you consider just how important the outdoors have become all over the world - a development which is changing the footprint of residential architecture and testing the boundaries of what is used to separate the indoors from the outdoors.

Regardless of your specific product focus, you will gain perspective by reviewing these three most important categories.