The future of home and interior design has arrived in Paris

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The future of home and interior design has arrived in Paris

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Top: Danish furniture company Gubi tries to adopt warm colors to decorate its booth at Maison & Objet Paris this year, which ended Tuesday. Left: Bonbons by Luca Nichetto, Verreum, are used as small tables to have smaller objects for added fun in the open space. [MAISON & OBJET]

PARIS - Deciding whether to go look at fabrics displayed as a part of a model living room or a booth that focuses on showing only a single piece of fabric in an array of colors, may not sound like an important decision to the average person, but this is a crucial decision for home interior professionals who are dedicated to finding harmony in the items put in one space and knowing what the top trends in lighting design and upholstery are for the sake of their clients.

This type of decision-making is crucial and critical for new and returning visitors to Maison & Objet Paris, one of the largest global expositions on home decor and interior design items for any space, including home, retail shops, hotels, galleries and museums, offices and public buildings.

It is surely necessary to have a game plan ready before jumping in the maze that is this massive event. The size of the convention and the countless items it introduced throughout the five days of the event can be overwhelming. Unless you have a plan of what to do at the Paris event, which attracts about 70,000 visitors each year, feeling lost in the flood of small and big interior items at Paris Nord Villepinte is very easy, especially if you are swimming among items shown by the more than 3,000 brands from around the world exhibiting their products in a space that’s about 30 percent larger than the largest exhibition hall in Coex, southern Seoul.

A comfortable pair of shoes and a bag with wheels is a must if you plan to pick up as many catalogues and information sheets as you need for future reference.

This year’s event, after the expo celebrated its 20 year anniversary last year, ended Tuesday and unveiled some new features for those hoping to get more comfortable in the world of interior design. First, it took the first step of bringing the experience of the event online. Additionally, it has launched a new hall named “Influence” where conceptual ideas are made into real-life products.

The make-up of the contents in each hall are updated each year. This year, Hall 1 includes “Eclectic” items while Hall 2 has “Cozy” ones. Halls 3 and 4 house luxury items under the name “Elegant,” and Halls 5 and 6 feature a variety of cookware, complements like perfume and air diffusers. The “Influence” section is located in Halls 7 and 8.

“Why do designers come here?” said Designer and founder Ilse Crawford of Studiolise, who’s named as the Designer of the Year for the event, “Because of people.”

“We connect with [consumers] and clients, and people need to feel the furniture,” she said. “When you sit on something, you then understand why the chair is designed that way and that’s the way to build trust.”

The journalist-turned-designer most recently worked on delivering a new first class lounge for Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong that tries to find a point where luxury meets comfort. A piece of advice she gave was to always think about human involvement in a given space, otherwise one will be stuck living in a smaller place than before.

Like the designer of the year’s comment, this year’s Maison & Objet seems to have a lot more items that consider both comfort and style. Danish furniture company Gubi also followed suit. Its booth was filled with warm tone furniture and objects such as a dark orange sofa and beige chairs.

La Perla has also taken warmer colors with a combination of off-white and grey, while Mirabello Carrara, who is presenting licensed products for Trussardi and Roberto Cavalli, showed lighter variations of orange and gold. These booths show fully-decorated rooms featuring the colors of the companies’ textile products and puts them up front, as the global expo has been catching up with the trend of widespread use of differently textured or patterned textiles, including curtains, bedding, night gowns or even cushion covers.

The Mantova-based design company Seletti decided to not be scared of using colors and unique design ideas. It is not only collaborating with Diesel to come up with tabletop items such as dishes, but also worked with Toiletpaper to come up with large-size rugs, bags, and cups featuring eye-catching designs using images of fingers painted with red nail polish and other body parts. It has also unveiled new editions of items from its collaboration with Diesel which features food containers and flower vases shaped like portable toolboxes and red cones used at construction sites.

Design can create new ways to look at the items we use in our everyday lives. A very simply-shaped tooth brush can gather a number of onlookers because it doesn’t require any tooth paste. A laptop keyboard cover, made of either a very thin piece of wood or leather provides the feeling of direct contact with natural materials. All of these items fall under the category of “good fit objects” for anyone’s bathroom or study.

And who says fitness and games can’t become fancier? Technogym’s running machine and elliptical machines are getting shiny with its reflective material used to accentuate the design elements. And Flix Mobile Luxury’s foosball, a type of mock soccer game table that could easily have been considered not suitable for a tastefully decorated home, now gets to say that they can be the one bringing excitement to any home or office.



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Left: Mantova-based Seletti has collaborated with Toiletpaper to come up with unique pattern rugs. Right: Cho Min-sang who has worked as a lighting consultant brings his own installation, “Weather Light” to this year’s edition in an attempt to find a way to make himself better known as a designer. [LEE SUN-MIN, CHO MIN-SANG]

A life-changing venue

Again this year, some of the Korean regulars brought along aspiring artists to give them more international exposure. The Korea Craft and Design Foundation and the Seoul Design Foundation brought along large contingents of artists and designers to Paris, while local schools like Hanyang University and Seoul National University also sent students to the globally renowned event.

While these types of international events are usually considered the introduction to the industry for many designers from Korea, some who have already established a name for themselves use the opportunity to show off what else they can do.

Cho Min-sang, CEO and designer at MS CHO Studio, joined the event this year to make himself better known as an artist than a consultant. Cho, who studied metal craft during his school years in Korea around 2000 and continued developing his talents in design in the United Kingdom, has been working more as a lighting consultant than an artist throughout his career in the industry.

“The more I consult with clients on lighting installations and the necessary illumination levels for a requested area, the more I have grown passionate about making lights of my own that can be perfect for the space I am commissioned to work with,” said Cho.

Using a 3D printer, Cho created a wavy light installation that resembles a ribbon. Affixed to the structure are gold flakes and OLED lights developed by another Korean company, LG Chem. LG approached him a few years ago to find a way to use OLED in versatile ways. His work was set in a booth covered with black walls to detail the flowing movement of his hanging light installation.

Some Korean designers went for more affordable and wearable options like jewelry. Nam You-Jin of YOUJIN NAM Studio brought along geometric earrings, necklaces, and bracelets decorated with red gemstones.



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Left: Teamlab’s work with lights that change colors with movement has drawn much attention. Right: A small clock made by Fox Trot. [LEE SUN-MIN, MAISON & OBJET]

A one-stop shop

The expo, which is only open to interior design professionals, has become more accessible to those interested in just a few items that they would like to have in their home or office and aspiring interior designers trying to get their foot in the door of the industry.

If a designer located in Belgium makes a chair that goes perfectly with the desk of an office worker in Korea, potential buyers can go to Maison & Objet’s newly launched online platform called Maison & Objet and More, or MOM for short. On the new website, shoppers can choose to browse many different items such as a piece of furniture or fabric, tableware or kitchenware, or other smaller items to accent their space.

Information on each brand itself and the materials used to make the item as well as prices, availability, and shipping information are available through the site.

It can be a place of inspiration for future designers and artists, and a practical information hub for retailers and customers.

“We are trying to make furnishing the home easy and fun,” said an official at the exhibition who explained the new service to visitors.

“Someone who missed checking out certain items they wanted to see during Maison & Objet can do so anytime after the event.”

BY LEE SUN-MIN [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]
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