In the early days of this year's Paris Design Week 2024–the annual convergence of Maison & Objet and Paris Deco-Off where interior design brands from all over the world display their latest collections–a party filled with jet-lagged American designers ensued within the home of interior designer Garrow Kedigian. Masquerade was the theme for the night, a nod to the reason for the celebration: Christopher Farr Cloth Carnival fabric's 20th anniversary.
For the landmark occasion, the brand, which has collaborated with the Albers Foundation on numerous occasions, gave one of their staple prints new looks by enlisting interior designers such as Ben Pentreath, Robert Couturier, Jessica Buckley, and more with the brand creative director, Michal Silver leading the way. While these new iterations were tented at their showroom on Place Des Victoires, pillows outfitted in them adorned the apartment for the night. It was a busy week ahead, but did that matter? According to the empty champagne bottles thrown within the bathtub, the answer was no.
Fabrics and Wallpapers Galore
Think of Paris Design Week as a compact version of Fashion Month for interior designers. At Deco-Off, fabric brands will show their latest to editors, interior designers, and clients.
Harlequin, for example, offered a new contemporary design which features a print that appears as if hand painted. Manuel Canovas, well-known for their use of prints, presented a collection mined from an international point of view. Was that an echo of Chinoiserie? A hint of India? Colors palettes that transport people to Africa? People are becoming becoming more worldly, and this collection surely is a celebration of that. Speaking of which, Larsen had their take on African design, too. There were plenty of standouts here, but what was particularly enchanting were the ethereal linens, presented strategically against the light to show off their delicacy, and the velvets whose colors were so vivid that one could probably stare into them for eternity.
Of course, Loro Piana was up there. This year, they introduced a series of cashmere fabrics by enveloping contemporary curved pieces of furniture in them, from sofas to poufs. The result was a whimsical display of a heritage brand. Loro Piana's reputation with fabrics is a revered one, and it's only obvious as to why. De Gournay's showings within their salon were impressive, too. With their new hand-painted wall designs, they transported visitors to the Edo period of Japan: a soft color blue, purple, and silver for a twilight scene, and one of reds, light yellows, and green to depict springtime.
Alas, a hint of home: Ralph Lauren. This year, they've offered a selection of home fabrics that look like their wool suits and pants hanging on the racks of their flagship store on Madison Avenue (or this editor's closet). They've taken to the tennis courts for inspiration for their newer looks, with even a fabric that reminds one of the vibrant green courts. Omexco, the fabric and wallpaper brand based in Belgium, featured three new collections, each of which expertly merged organic materials together. There was a particular design that appeared like rattan but was made of stone. With the proper light, the reflections off of the material shone like seashells on the beach.
Thirty minutes outside of the city sits the fairground for Maison & Objet. Like the setup for, say, Freize or the Armory Show, it is a kaleidoscope filled with hundreds of vendors. Without energy, patience, and three shots of espresso, getting through it is absolutely impossible.
But, there are treasures. Many of which this year put technology up front, which was exemplified by many of those from the batch of designers in the fair's Rising Designers. " Two words stood out for us: High Tech and Savoir-faire," Dereen O'Sullivan, head of the Rising Talent Awards at Maison&Objet, says. "The recent emergence of new processes, such as artificial intelligence and 3-D printing, has opened up a whole new world of adventure for designers. This revolution raises several questions: isn't the excellence of the art of the hand being called into question? Finally, will the machine replace man?"
For example, Audrey Large explores the link between moving images and static objects by creating celestial sculptures. Aurelie Hoegy creates wavelike pieces made of tubular wood that are inspired by craftsmanship throughout the ages but morphed into futuristic shapes. The crown for this year, which was called "Tech Eden," went to designer Mathieu Lahanneur who received the title of this year's Designer of the Year. Lahanneur's design merge the worlds of design, craftsmanship, technology, and nature and some of his work has been exhibited at the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Elsewhere, young brands like Lafablight showed off their technology prowess, too. The brand has an array of excellent geodesic shades that cocoon light bulbs in celestial shapes. Many of the shades are a combination of laser cutting and handcraftsmanship. If the couture house Iris Van Herpen created lamps, it may be imagined that these are what they might look like.
Objects of Wonder
And then there are the design objects, which vary from simplistic silhouettes to surrealist shapes. Among the several new additions of dinnerware and ceramics at L’objet, the best was the surrealist candle and incense holder. The former was crafted as a face on one side, even sporting a gold nose ring. The former was crafted in an extended hand, with the incense held within its palm. Speaking of surrealism, remember the golden chair shaped like a rattan hat by Alberto Pinto from two years ago? Well, this season, they've introduced a few consoles whose legs are shaped like palm trees. For Pinto, more is always preferred.
Christofle, the brand that brought silverware to the bourgeoisie in the 19th century, has some exciting news, too. Along with their plethora of coveted items, such as animal knife holders, and diamond studded silverware (yes!), vintage pieces are coming to both the New York and Beverly Hills boutiques. To buy a piece from a brand with a thorough history is one thing, to buy an actual piece from back then is another status symbol.
What takes the cake is the Invisible Collection's exhibition at Feau Boiseries, a studio that is filled with antique wood paneling that ultimately tells the history of France. Ah, a paneling from Place Vandome in the 18th century here; one from an old Japanese bank there. There was a panel made for Jean Cocteau, that featured paintings of the legendary poet's friends. Where else in the world can you get this? Isabelle Dubern-Mallevays of the Invisible Collection knows how special these panels are, and choosing to display contemporary pieces alongside them was nothing short of moving.
It was as if time traveling while keeping one hand in the present-day; understanding how today's design is what it is, and appreciating the contributions of those of aesthetic prowess from a time before. Where else can a Fauteil Artur Chair upholstered in Tiger Mountain fabric by Dedar be appreciated with such glory? Or, those Chalse Mawu chairs by Laura Gonzalez? The Umbo Sofa by Hamrei–white, curved, and plush–was sort of like a canvas to its surroundings, yet, a statement on its own. It was a combination that emitted so much beauty that it commanded the gaze of those who got to experience it in person, allowing them to admire, wonder, and aspire to. I, for one, think that that is what good design is always meant to do.
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