No one ever wrote a song lauding January in Paris. But buyers flock to the City of Light in droves during those dark winter days for the semi-annual trade fair, Maison et Objet, a sprawling event on the outskirts of the city with over 3,000 exhibitors. Sadly, fewer buyers showed up this time, perhaps unsettled by the terror attacks that rocked the city last November.
Those who did come found a lively mélange of new products and even new ideas, a commodity that has recently been in short supply. And for trend watchers, it turned into a visual banquet.
1. Mood Indigo
Blue was the color du jour, especially in upholstery ranging from Ligne Roset's Marola by Phillipe Nigro to Fendi's Sloane sofa by Toan Nguyen. Neither midnight nor navy, it's a hue that's somewhere in between. It was usually paired with grays and whites and soft-but-cool azure tones. Roset's Un et Deux coffee table by Marie Christine Dorner sported an azure top.
Arcade, the stylish Murano glassmaker, presented a lush range of textiles in this cool palette and Lalique introduced Geo, a limited edition vase by Mario Botta in cobalt. There was more than the usual amount of white and blue dinnerware including Ginori's traditional Babele, available in an extravagant array of 65 shapes, Blue Ming by Marcel Wanders for Vista Alegre and Piero Lissoni's ode to the '80s, "shabby chic" bone china dinnerware for KN.
2. Comeback Kids
The craze for revivals showed no signs of stopping. Arne Jacobsen's Bellevue lamps were lovingly presented by &Tradition; his alphabet series warranted an entire booth, created by Danish firm Design Letters. Italian company Amini filled a stand with Gio Ponti rugs (heavy on the blue hue). And work by French stars of the '70s and '80s, Roger Tallon and Marc Held, were resurrected by Sentou Gallery, one of the oldest design shops in Paris (it opened in 1947).
A small German porcelain factory, Ritz Marwitz, which has been producing the work of Bauhaus-era designer Hedwig Bollhagen, showed off its striking wares at the fair for the first time. Ligne Roset looked backwards to a 1980 lounge series, Plumy by Annie Hiéronimus that invokes hippy crash pads as well as Slice, a chair by Pierre Charpin that was designed in 1998 for Cinova, but rarely seen. Rex Kralj introduced the world to the furniture of Niko Kralj, a little known mid-century Slovenian designer.
3. Tech Talks
New developments in technology and materials were finally on view. BlackBody's soft lighting strips—OLEDs that can discreetly and invisibly wrap around a picture—made a stunning display. A young Japanese woman, Koichiro Kimura, and her company, Miyavie, introduced furniture made from a synthetic material originally invented to package pharmaceuticals—think sophisticated Styrofoam: It was an exercise in plane geometry; the pieces looked as though they were cut from big slabs of ice.
Hisle presented a cordless, rechargeable LED lamp that travels from indoor to outdoors—perfect for sidewalk bistro dining. There were also lightweight concrete shell chairs from Lyon Beton and a toothbrush that doesn't require toothpaste, this from Misoka, a Japanese company touting Nano Mineral Ionic Technology. Proctor and Gamble won't be pleased.
4. Bling Boom
Walking from one hall to another was like traveling to an alternate universe. In one, a woody midcentury-modern look was ubiquitous (no groundbreaking news here); in the other, excess was the order of the day; The winner of the bling prize had to be Lalique's crystal-adorned Steinway piano, which will go on a global tour and be auctioned off at the end of 2016.
Other strong contenders: Marcel Wanders' stately silver grandfather clock for Christofle, and a limited-edition rug from Italian firm Sahrai, adorned with Swarovski crystals. (Don't even think of going barefoot). Opulent restraint was everywhere. Gold and silver were the coins of the decorative realm, with only muted color, if any, to join them.