Maison&Objet, having exported its concept internationally with sister editions in Singapore and Miami, is struggling a bit in its home seat of Paris. The 20th edition in September saw a new layout, with Halls 7 and 8 restructured, partly in an effort to increase exhibitor numbers. Brands that had previously shown in Hall 8 were relocated to Hall 7, which mostly caused regular visitors to scratch their heads and study the floor plan more diligently than before.

The guiding theme this time was Precious, as explored by trend analyst Elizabeth Leriche, who believes that the idea of something that evokes rarity, precision, and the unexpected is becoming the new form of luxury. Displayed in her space were projects by artists and designers that addressed the natural world and beauty, such as Kam Tim’s crystal rock sculpture, Lionel Esteve’s gold-leaf foliage, and Olga de Amaral’s golden woven-textile artworks. Simplicity and honesty in design was a common thread throughout. Danish brand Hay unveiled Palissade by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, a new collection of outdoor furniture in galvanised steel. A combination of dark green curvy and angular shapes, the pieces are decidedly modern whilst reflecting the colours of nature.

String, the Scandinavian furniture brand, presented String Works office furniture by Swedish architects Anna von Schewen and Björn Dahlström. This comprises of ergonomic, height-adjustable desks that can be lowered to sitting height or elevated to standing height. Detailed features include duo-surface desk panels. A first-time exhibitor that caught our eye was valerie_objects, founded earlier this year in Antwerp by Axel Van Den Bossche, Frank Lambert, and art director Veerle Wenes. On show were playful brass furniture pieces incorporating brightly-coloured polyethylene surfaces, by Muller Van Severen (photographer Fien Muller and sculptor Hannes van Severen), plus several outdoor pieces such as a lacquered steel rocking chair with a yellow textile seat, ideally configured for soaking up the rays.

Other initiatives were about meaning and authenticity. People of the Sun, a non-governmental organisation in Malawi that connects local artisans with international designers through collaborative projects, displayed the fruits of its work with Berlin-based hettler.tüllmann (Katja Hettler and Jula Tüllmann). The nest #1 and nest #2 chairs were designed in Berlin and produced using indigenous basket-weaving skills in combination with elegant, high-end wood craftsmanship.

Stealing the show at Stelton, the Scandinavian producer of kitchen products, was Francis Cayouette’s filter coffee maker in matte-black stoneware. Forming part of the Theo collection, it follows on from the teapot and cups launched earlier this year. The Canadian designer describes it as being “simple and back to basics”. As he says, “You have to relax, take your time, and go against this on-the-go coffee culture and the electrical devices.” Cayouette is one of nine designers to have collaborated on the first lighting collection by new Danish brand Watt a Lamp, named after the 18th-century Scottish engineer and scientist James Watt, an important player in the invention of electric light. Founded by Michael Waltersdorff, the brand’s first collection was curated by Danish designers Rikke Hagen and Andreas Lund, and consists of an innovative series of items bridging technical know-how and unpretentious design.

On the kitchen front, KnIndustrie has widened its Beyond Basic collection with the inclusion of a Soup set in addition to chocolate, pasta, and rice casseroles. The removable Canaletto walnut handles are a lovely touch, as are the treatments to the stainless steel, such as the warm, bronze-coloured external finish on the soup casserole, the dark brown coating on the chocolate casserole, and the white nanotech ceramic surface on the interior of the rice casserole. All of these come exclusively packaged in dark brown wood. Over at Vitra was an extension of its Home Complements range of accessories, featuring the work of Alexander Girard, the late American architect widely known for his textile designs. On view were black coffee mugs sporting sets of blue or green eyes, paper napkins with colourful graphics, and the gorgeous, heart-filled Home Sweet Home guestbook. Especially for Christmas, Vitra has added Nativity Scene to the Girard collection, as well as a red wooden doll with a mischievous grin called Little Devil.

This article appeared in DAM53. Order your personal copy.