Postcard from Paris, part one

Maison et Objet in Paris recently closed its doors, and after spending two days there, I’d like to share some trends that particularly caught my eye. This trade show, together with Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan, are absolute “musts” on my schedule. I often return from these shows to our studio in Hamburg with fresh new ideas about the future direction for my business. Over my next few blog posts I’ll introduce some emerging trends I am certain will soon make their debut in hotels across the globe.

Fun ’n’ games

In case you didn’t get the message, it’s now official — design is no longer just a serious business. It can also amuse and delight! One of the big inspirational themes at Maison et Objet this year was Funtasy, where the humorously irreverent and absurd side of design was seen at its most original. Some pretty fantastic ideas were on display, but for me there was plenty of general “fun to see” (pun intended) throughout the event.

Many product designs expressed a lightness of touch and wit, especially lights and decorative accessories that can be added effortlessly to interior spaces, transforming the ordinary into the interesting.

These lighter moments provide pleasant respite alongside the job of having to assess the viability of products and make decisions about which of them could successfully translate into our projects.

Online gaming has evolved into a vast virtual arena offering multifarious types of recreation for fun-seekers across the globe. Meanwhile, here in the analog world, traditional games are being cleverly reinvented and “designed” as stylish pieces of contemporary furniture.

I was delighted to see many examples of this at Maison et Objet. Billiards, tabletop soccer and chess boards were the lead players; some had that predictable vintage look, but many were manufactured in acrylic and glass, which highlighted their appeal as easy, lighthearted accessories — perfect for a hospitality environment!

There does come a point, however, when a practical “joke” is repeated so often it loses its appeal. This year it was the childish “balloon dog” known by all from parties and circuses everywhere.

It was ubiquitous in a multitude of forms at Maison et Objet, and — perhaps because it was ennobled by Jeff Koons — it’s considered “art” (trust me, it’s not). You’ll be reassured to know it isn’t about to become a trend; it’s just an amusing distraction for the time being.