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Trend Perspective

January 25, 2009

If not the first, at the latest the second thing one does in covering
this show is to look for the organization’s "trend pathway" which
stretches across the entrance line of several of the halls.
Presentations are put together by experts the show organizers draw on,
including some of the leading home editors. They are to provide helpful
indications of where design is headed and/or how consumer behavior is
influencing our future home product choices.

Most of the time, these exhibits do point the way to new style and
color developments, but this time, they are very hard to crystalize
because several of the exhibits add more confusion than clarification.

A very strong push is made for the return of brilliant primary colors,
some observed budding in hall exhibits, such as bright citrus yellow,
orange and more often a hot pink the French call cerise -  but barely.
More disturbingly, the messages coming out of the trend exhibits are
muddled - or, as Michelle Lamb, a respected U.S. trend and color
forecaster put it succinctly: "Why do I feel that I am just looking at
a bunch of stuff?" Stuff, indeed.

Only two of the trend exhibits made any sense. One, called Metiers
d’Art by the Atelier de France, had a cohesive exhibit of objects best
described as "enhanced elements of nature," i.e., the artists choosing
raw materials of nature by their intervention turn them into art
objects. This neatly dovetails with the overwhelming interest and
commitment worldwide to environmental issues and a return to nature for
design enrichment and inspiration.

The other, "Valeur Refuge" or Values Refuge, extols the virtues of
classical objects and skills we have all but abandoned — but which are,
according to the presenters, being re-examined for the quality they
bring to our daily lives: books, newspapers, pets, burning logs in a
fireplace, handmade leathers and crafts in an effort to bring back the
charms of the classically familiar.

"We are revisiting the Classics," the exhibit states, "with a twist on
traditional chic. The handmade and Artisanship are once again respected
and appreciated." Let’s hope so!

The third exhibit: "Color Patch" was indeed confusing in its message,
except to promote primary colors so bright to border on neon lights. I
am not sure what to read into stacked pieces of wood in bright colors
assembled at odd angles, or chests of drawers with each drawer a
different color and festooned with different hardware. However, the
champion of the exhibit for its presentation value alone is a
wall-size display of Post-Its by 3M forming an eye if you looked
closely and blinked. Artful and effective.

"Iconoclash," a strange amalgam of super graffiti and oddly assembled
objects, on the other hand left viewers puzzled — including this one — as
to changes ahead for design or consumer aspirations related thereto.

Actual show exhibits were, mercifully, more intelligible. Bedding
displays by Kenzo, Yves Delormes, Sonia Rykiel, Malo and Anne de
Solegne, among many others, offer a breath of fresh air with bright
pinks, leafy greens, brilliant yellow and orange added to mostly white
ensembles and in mostly floral patterns. Subtly swirling abstracts hit
a contemporary note but make no commitment as to new directions in
these uncertain times. Speaking of which, there are no revolutions on
view here, just reworks of the tried and true.

Only one display reflects a different aesthetic: Bassetti shows an
ensemble it calls "Grand Foulard" in watery blues that look weathered.
To strengthen this point, the design is shown against a scene of Venice,
which knows a thing or two about weathering. The design also shows clear
Moorish overtones, derived one suspects from the days when Venice was
still called Constantinople.

Ocean blues, by the way, refuse to go away and look great in this as
well as displays by Malo, Sonia Rykiel and Descamps.
Purples are still in the running but less prominent. Both purple and the hot
pink referred to earlier also appear in upholstery as a much needed
color injection when paired with the ubiquitous grays.

Alas, gray and black are now also prominently integrated into bedding,
with an extension into lingerie and loungewear where it is offered by
bedding vendors. Slips, gowns and, yes, bed jackets, may be of fine
silk jersey knits but are often offered in gray trimmed with black
lace. Other versions were seen in taupe with matching lace for an
equally somber look.

I worry about what you look like in these in the morning without
make-up.