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Last Looks

January 26, 2009

Leave it to Flamant, the incredibly successful Belgian home furnishings retailer, to clear up the trend questions. One of the store’s hallmarks has always been its uncanny ability to look around the corner for what’s next.


The company, which has flirted with opening in New York for several years now, has just chosen instead to open its fifth unit in the Eurozone until it sees positive signs that the retail debacle in the States starts to stabilize.


It helps to communicate its message to visitors of Maison et Objet that it occupies one of the largest exhibition sites at this show.


For what’s new: Get ready for a new wave of Country – yes – but we all know revivals never look quite the same. For one, "cute country" and funky flea market accessories are out. What’s taking their place is a highly sophisticated and very rustic style that relies heavily on chunky unfinished woods assembled into primitive looking pieces of a very commanding scale. Dining tables are banquet size, as are sideboards or console tables - each presenting ample opportunity to display equally rustic objects of equally imposing scale, many of them directly taken from nature. They turn into vehicles for easy service and entertaining for a crowd. Case pieces loom large, offering ample storage as well as display spaces.


The one color that brings this neutral and naturally golden environment to life is a brilliant cherry red added in accessories, such as throws and pillows on natural seating. With its choice of bright red over the trendier shocking pink or orange seen spotted throughout the show, the company has chosen the one bright color that will always be a classic.


Ralph Lauren references notwithstanding, the Country presentation is rounded out by two summer porches, complete with inviting wicker and ceiling fans.


But that’s not all for Flamant. Some of its more contemporary settings, also staged in neutrals, make use of the new saffron and light apple greens that tap into current trends, including the nubby boucle textures it uses on upholstery pieces and decorative throws with multicolored fringe.


Last but not least, background walls painted a dusty mauve and dusty pink, and upholstered pieces covered in deep amethyst velvet, for a more transitional statement it makes elsewhere. The colors alone hint at Victorian references, also seen in some spots in other parts of the show. It may be a direction worth watching – and fearing.


The deeper but brighter than navy blues we have watched coming up in the States appear here as well, in more predictable nautically inclined settings complete with photographs of sailboats, surfers and repro accessories of nautical instruments and lighting fixtures more often found on boats.


Outside of Flamant, some of the most interesting expressions of the super rustics that are taking the place of Country past are at C&G, which plays the forms found in nature to the hilt and in very large scale. Again, woods are left as they come in from the cold and are augmented with metal pieces and with animal hides, primarily ponyskin and antique leathers, to complete the chalet look of your dreams. Among the many outstanding pieces, a huge round platform bed stops you dead in your tracks.


Round beds – the kind which used to be reserved for honeymoon suites in Las Vegas or Reno where quickie marriages were often performed, are eyecatchers at several different stands, among them Fendi and Missoni.


Round is catching on as a favored shape as part of an overall trend of curvier, all soft-edge furnishings. A huge round bathtub at Italian resource Exteta is shown here with a giant overhead "rainfall" showerhead. Speaking of bathtubs, oval ones glow in the dark in bright orange, blue or green.


The piece de resistance, however, has to be the indoor infinity pool for the home at Yves Pertosa.


Still on the subject of curves, a specific innovation seen often here is the multi-tiered occasional table grouping – round or oval – that combine in different configurations to accommodate overall large seating arrangements. Fendi showed them in purple and silver shagreen, Kenzo in red lacquer, but these were only two of many stalls featuring them.


So much to see, so little time, at Maison & Objet.