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Prelude to Maison & Objet

January 21, 2009

As I was looking forward to exchanging the bitter cold of New York for the balmy mid 30s temperatures forecast for Paris this week, I spent time scanning advance information on events planned for the show itself and related cultural news and new retail destinations which, together, make Paris such an exillerating and inspiring place to be.

An unmissable international event, Maison & Objet (Jan. 23-27) invites professionals from around the world to discover the most complete and high-quality range of global decorative products on display by more than 3000 exhibitors, 45% of whom come from outside France. Here, home fashions innovators are given a unique platform to express themselves. M&O Editeurs, M&O Projets, Now!, Design a Vivre and Scenes d”Interieur are regular show segments providing a broad overview of contemporary currents, stylistic, technological and social changes influencing the design and production of day-to-day objects which surround us.

The show celebrates and honors some of the most famous names in design – Karl Lagerfeld will be this year’s honoree - while at the same time nurturing the talents of the future with competitions for young designers and exhibits of their ideas under the headings “Talents a la Carte” and “Atelier d’Art de France.”

For the second year, the Meuble Paris exhibit will be held at the Paris Le Bourget Exhibition Center co-jointly organized with Maison & Objet. Meuble Paris opens January 22nd, one day before the opening date for Maison & Objet.

Under the general umbrella of “Antidotes,” the summary description of M&Os trend specialists of what is to be unveiled at this January segment of the acclaimed biannual show, you can sense protest to the tried and true but not a revolution to upend all we have come to know and cherish.

“Experimenting with change,” the exhibitors claim, “consoles us with anti gloom remedies,” modest solutions to our problems, not miracles.

Among those remedies: to stay closer to home and to enjoy and share with family and friends a simpler quality of life focused on each other, good food, good conversation and above all, comfort.

As a sign of just how important food, its quality and preparation and entertaining at home have become is evident in the total amount of space, exhibits and events devoted at M&O this time around to kitchens, their design and equipment as well as the focus of family life and entertaining – in no small part because the walls between the kitchen and other living spaces have come tumbling down. They were erased years ago in the US as formal dining rooms virtually disappeared, living room and home entertainment areas became one, and the kitchen emerged as the most important gathering spot in the home.

(More on the always innovative, sometimes provocative, food-related exhibits in a later blog to come). However, they are not to be missed as major mood indicators for what consumers want most out of life at this moment.

Bright Colors are expected to make a major comeback statement at this show “to cure the ambient grayness,” which may refer both to the prevalence of drab neutrals as well as the economic outlook in general. Color is meant to be the shock therapy against uniformity and monotony, a chromatic explosion transforming color into a vehicle for strong emotion. Art, design and architecture will use saturated colors in a jubilant aesthetic at the crossroads of digital and street art. A pixilated, fluorescent rainbow.

Expect mega doses of innovation in textiles at this M&O, literally transforming the fabric of our lives and home. Trendease’s Jennifer Castoldi, who travels the world to divine trends, sees “new fibers revolutionizing the textile industry.” She sees fabrics used in ways previously unimagined. “For furniture, fashion, healthcare, sports, transportation, architecture, and beyond, the world has new applications for textiles imbued with and made possible through technology.”