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Impression from Day One

January 23, 2009

Although arriving visitors from the US report nearly empty airplanes, the opening day crowd at Maison & Objet did not seem to be diminished by the worldwide recession. Whether attendance holds up for the duration of the show remains to be seen, but exhibits today were as crowded as ever.


Judging only by what I saw today in Hall 5, primarily devoted to settings of full interiors which generally signal pretty quickly newly emerging trends, it appears that the flood of neutrals which engulfed the September 08 show are still holding. Only the percentages of one versus others have changed, albeit not much. Click here for today’s slide show.


The grays and the taupes still have it on enveloping walls as well as fabrics and furniture, with drift wood finishes, either coaxed out of the underlying woods or achieved with paint, dominating as far as the eye can see. Both these and the ever advancing black and silver have now entered mainstream.


What does look fresh is what is being done with upholstery pieces to liven up things ever so lightly with some new twists. Mis en Demeure, for instance, experimented extensively with contrast piping and contrasting buttons to hold tufting in place. These added lively notes against solid gray and taupe linen or velvet backgrounds injected a healthy sense of fun and irreverence to otherwise nearly authentic traditional frames. Apricot or an acidic yellow-green were sometimes used as outline welting on furniture frames. At other times, black or deep moss piping focused attention on silhouettes and added a distinct sense of personality. The use of combination of fabrics has returned as well shaking up the monotony of too many tonal fabrications.


The most interesting development to my eyes, however, is the many new metal pieces which have been integrated into interiors, stretching eclecticism far beyond where we have been. In the past, either painted wood pieces and/or fiber furniture in its many variations have been the main ingredients to lighten up the all wood mix of old. Now metals, which came on the scene more or less as an occasional accent over the last few seasons, take center stage. What had been occasional seating or small pull-up tables to be used chair- or bed-side have grown into whole seating groups, including important dining tables, armoires and campaign chests of drawers. Metal trunks, already seen over the last two seasons, are holdovers that fit right in with this trend.


Most are finished in black or an off-black gun metal color. Some are structured of industrial pipes and put on wheels for easy mobility. Some are offered with reinforced nailtrimmed corner construction. But the  most arresting are those done in paint finishes that combine pewter with copper tones or bluish overcasts, all implying a time-worn quality, blow-torch effects, even hints of rusting. Quite a few of those are at Becara. Others can be seen at Provence et Fils and Robin du Lac.


Right next door at Comptoir du Sud, pretty much the same color scheme of the most popular neutrals prevailed, but what looked new here as well as at Becara was the unexpected combination of much simplified, even stylized shapes of traditional French furniture, much of it delicate echoes of the curvilinear Louis XV period with what can only be described as outsized neo-baroque accessories, i.e. lamps, mirrors and other decorative objects of considerable scale and aggressive carvings. In one setting, a black Louis XV chest is set against the background of a 17th century tapestry, a revival to watch, and accessorized in neo- baroque fashion.


Expressions of baroque shapes were also in evidence at Terre di As in a variety of lamp bases, mirrors and wall brackets - all in worn white. Also noteworthy in accessories and quite beautiful were objects fabricated in resin composition with a metallic glint which can be used as object platforms or freestanding "sculpture" in a room. These and a show-stopping group of oversized gold "nuggets" used as vases at O-Living. 


More M&O news to come tomorrow.