Girls’ joys, boys’ toys

At the beginning of each year in Europe there are several big furniture fairs that are “must dos” for interior designers.

This year we’ve already visited IMM in Cologne, Maison et Objet in Paris and Ambiente in Frankfurt, and then coming up in April is Salone in Milan.

Of course we go to hotel shows too, but the ones I’ve just mentioned are the best for independent, creative and inspirational design.

However, 2014 has brought a surprise! There’s a new twist in “branded” design.

Most people are aware that prestigious fashion labels also have their own lines of interior furnishings, and they were all on the catwalk at Maison et Objet:

  • Missoni
  • Roberto Cavalli
  • Emanuel Ungaro
  • Fendi
  • Etro
  • Versace
  • Kenzo
  • Hugo Boss

As usual, Missoni pieces were made from colorful fabrics and the brand’s renowned zig-zag patterns; Etro combined its paisley motifs with tone-on-tone floral ones; Roberto Cavalli showed vibrant bedspreads; Kenzo had its minimalist Japanese flair; and Hugo Boss used black and white with silver accents. Every year Fendi exhibits several well designed furniture collections that incorporate opulent materials like shagreen, silk and mother of pearl, all with beautiful details that are somewhat conservative too.

But “driving” its way into interior design this year was a complete Bentley furniture collection displayed with a famous Bentley Cabrio auto at the entrance to the stand, as well as an Aston Martin on show at a booth for accessories and tableware. Silversmith Robbe & Berking presented a flashy model of a BMW where all the parts usually made from chrome were switched out for massive silver ones, and Italian furnishings company Exteta showcased a classic RIVA boat at its booth.

Obviously “furniture branding” has discovered a new group of clients — the (rich) boys!

Men’s interest in furniture design seems to be growing, guided by well-known “toys.” So is it fashion for the girls and cars and boats for the boys? Luxury associations sell!

Perhaps the next step in “designer hotels” will evolve from partnerships with fashion labels to cross-branding with automotive manufacturers. What do you think?