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Maison & Objet, First Impressions

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The biennial Parisian rendez-vous Maison & Objet (M&O) proves once again that decorating plays a major role in the consumption activities of wealthy countries and those on their way; more than 3400 exhibitors (400 of which were part of the Paris Meuble show, recently transferred back to the M&O show) are presenting their latest products to buyers and the media.

This means that there is something for every taste and every budget, and it would be wise to know where to set foot before entering one of the seven pavilions that comprise the show.

For chic and refined French décor (and others also), visitors can go to Interior Scenes where they will find high end manufacturers and editors.

It is difficult to decipher trends in a universe where everyone claims a personal style. Of note: furniture from editor First Time, designed by Éric Gizard, and from HC28 (a new editing company), created by François Champsaur, who skilfully blend lacquer and colour.

As for the textile editors, it is slightly clearer; these are Asian-inspired patterns with richly-coloured motifs and other dragons. This trend is also found in the tableware, at times with a contemporary twist.

In contemporary design, the Now section alone is worth the detour. Famous names in design are found here, many of them in Italian furniture, to the point that it seems like a mini Milan show.

Certain models that were presented in Milan last April are here in their final production form, such as Molteni's beautiful leather sofa, Skin, designed by Jean Nouvel. French editor Artelano goes Urquiola with new items from the show's star, that most Milanese of Spanish designers: Patricia Urquiola. Baccarat, also in this part of the show, is banking on the big names in design to renew its savoir-faire. Philippe Starck is showing a chair trimmed with crystal and a trompe-l'oeil vase.

The tradition-design formula is still popular, with names like Lladró (Spanish specialist in porcelain figurines), who, after banking on Jaime Hayon, is relying on Londoner Bodo Sperlein, the Reichenbach manufacturer, in collaboration with Paola Navone, and Royale Tichelaar Makkum, reuniting the latest names in Dutch design.

The new editing company Éno (Édition Nouveaux Objets), who created a lot of buzz last year, is still banking on efficient function, although not boring: Sébastien Bergne's grinding-stone platter, Laurence Brabant's marble mortar, Arik Levy's fireplace accessories.

Back to Asia, which definitely marks this show; between modern "kawai" (cute) as found at Alessi, and ancient handicrafts, Japan played an important role. Here again, the savoir-faire that characterises Japanese artisans is recreated by today's designers. The Yamagata Koubou company, supported by the Japanese government, demonstrates this perfectly.

Transaltion by Susan Silver