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Fantasy or French Provincial? What’s New at the Show!

Twice a year, the home interiors industry gathers at the Parc des Exposition for the Maison et Objet trade fair. Promoters claim it’s “More than just a trade show. MAISON&OBJET is a magnetic pole for all professionals — design, home-fashion, objects, tableware…”

Right they are, with 12 “quartiers,” within each to explore a different decorative world and style — “fodder for giving you fresh ideas, or changing tracks, inspiring you, and creating your own world — a true reference in the world of decoration, creation and design, a mosaic of trends, new talents and new concepts…”: Ethnic Chic, Textile, La Table, L’Espace, Côté Déco, Accessoires Maison, Musées, Editeurs, Scènes d’Intérieur, Projets, Côté Meuble and Now! Design à Vivre.

Interior Architect, Martine di Matteo, and I landed there fresh at opening hour on Friday morning to what seemed like utter chaos! Thousands of visitors (reserved for industry professionals) and exhibitors were flowing ‘en masse’ into the overwhelming exhibition center from all over the planet, just to see what Paris had to offer this season.

All the usual suspects are there in full force, plus the unusual suspects — there are more than 3000 exhibitors with which to overload your senses. And that’s exactly what you can expect. Aisle after aisle of beautiful things that are guaranteed to enhance your home life by Europe’s finest designers and manufacturers.

It’s habit to wheel a briefcase ready to take on paper brochures and business cards, but you’d be amazed how ill-prepared some of the exhibitors are. They’ve transported and displayed all their worldly wares from far and wide, yet, seem to forget their business cards or brochures ready to leave with potential clients. Go figure!

This year’s show was different in many respects from past performances. As usual, the Italian designers made a bigger splash in color and design than the French, particularly in contemporary furnishings. The French prefer to make a twist of the past rather than create from a clean slate…but they do it with tremendous style and taste.

Overall we found the showrooms more colorful and filled with fantasy. Past years have left us bored with shades of taupe and shapeless form, but not this time! There was a very regal flair, too, to fill our heads with aristocracy. Marie-Antoinette’s own head popped out from way more than just the guillotine at many a stand!

The term “French Provincial” was always ingrained as “a style of architecture or furniture characteristic of the provinces in 17th- and 18th-century France.” But in today’s world, it takes on totally different meaning. In France of today, it’s a slice of French countryside — the aristocracy who are no longer living like they did in Versailles, but more like the gentlemen farmers who lived in simpler châteaux in the countryside — rustic, welcoming, warm and relatively simple. Showroom after showroom display distressed furnishings, rusted ironwork and antique reproductions…mostly by the French, of course!

I have a feeling Marie would have preferred it, as she did her Petit Trianon over the more formal Versailles. It’s all there and there’s still time to catch a glimpse — as the show continues through tomorrow.

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Adrian LeedsA la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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P.S. My daughter’s fabulously furnished West Village New York City studio apartment is still available for sublet February and March while she is volunteering at an orphanage in Cambodia…it’s perfectly located in the West Village and is half the rate of a hotel! Minimum 5 nights. Contact Erica Simone at [email protected] or call 1-917-346-2450 for more information…soon!


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