STIR Article Maison and Objet Paris header image
Originally published in STIR®



Get enlightened and inspired by the incredible design and color trends Jackie encountered at Maison & Objet.

January 2013. Paris. The coldest and snowiest winter in more than a decade. Did this diminish my enthusiasm for attending Maison & Objet (M&O) ― Europe’s largest design exhibition and one of the most important international industry events for interior design and decoration? Not one bit! I knew the “more” of M&O would fuel my creative juices for the rest of the year.

If you’ve ever attended this show, you can certainly relate when I say the magnitude of wares to take in is almost insurmountable. And you can understand how necessary it is to determine what’s imperative to see and what can be left to the end if time permits — which it usually doesn’t.

In the past, I’ve recounted color direction, design trends, and notable introductions from inspiring manufacturers and designers. I’ll touch on that, but I want to focus on an equally important story — the “more” of M&O, the special exhibits and the corresponding seminar, which captivated me with thought-provoking, future-trending insights.

These installations, under the umbrella of “Vivantes Inspirations” (“Living Inspirations”), are curated by some of the most influential philosophical thinkers in the French design community. These innovators stretch the boundaries of conventional design, nourishing our creative minds and souls and acting as creative inspiration for some of the colormix™ 2014 color palettes and drivers you’ll see later this year.

Francoise Bernard’s “Pionnier” delves into self: examining our lifestyles and priorities, and attempting to connect to material things rather than simply consume them. We must cherish our relationship with time, move at a slower pace, wait for coffee to brew and bread to rise, make and repair things with our own hands, and appreciate craftsmanship and the home. We need to feel a comfort and closeness that comes with intimate spaces and interacting within those spaces in new and uncomplicated ways.

Francoise says, “Pionnier is a state of mind as much as it is an art of living. A mix of a practical spirit and poetic beliefs in search of scientific legitimacy, the style is developing in harmony with nature and time. It does not contrast nature with the city, old with new, innovation with old hat.”

“Renaiscience,” curated by Vincent Gregoire, explores the world through a mad scientist’s microscope, in which our homes become private laboratories and homeowners are the scientists. We take inspiration from microscopic revelations that evoke a new design aesthetic. The weird and curious become commonplace, so we must delve even further into the unknown for inspiration, using our private labs as a “platform of riches.” Innovative processes and forward-thinking design are “exploring the outskirts of reality.”

Lastly, I’ll touch on two exhibits from Elizabeth Lariche. The premise of the first one, “Nourritures Premieres” (“Foods First”), is that “food is inspiring creativity … it celebrates vital energy and the pleasure of the senses.” Metal shapes inserted inside beehives become wax vases. Dangling root vegetables become a textural chandelier. Milk drops photographed in slow motion explore the wonders of this primal and vital food source. Lariche’s “Wondernature” encourages us to revisit the Garden of Eden and to delve deep into our cultures and traditions to reinvigorate those arts and crafts. The garden becomes symbolic; we explore nature as nourishing, tamed, enchanted and immersed, providing endless inspiration for creative development.

These exhibits contribute immensely to the overall experience of Maison and help the Sherwin-Williams team cultivate our thinking as we prepare our forecast for the coming year.

Of course, we look to all of the exhibitors for clues to color direction. We pay close attention to newer exhibitors, who often have an interesting story to tell. Case in point: Kokura Stripes Japan, which exhibited for the first time in 2010. This year their “Sound of Silence” collection, designed by art director and textile designer Noriko Tsuiki, was subtle yet breathtaking. The inspiration behind it is what most intrigued me. Tsuiki used a weaving technique from the Edo period (17th to 19th century). She revived it by studying ancient documents, “creating a new form of traditional art to be appreciated by the contemporary world.” Her inspiration comes from “the changing seasons, the sound of rain, moonlight, streams of water and sometimes even in the resonance of classical music.”

The integration of synthetic and natural materials was another theme seen in several spaces: SDA Decoration introduced Frosting Basin, a sink with an amazingly smooth, creamy white acrylic for the lining of the basin, and a pedestal made from raw, organic wood. I was also impressed with new introductions to their “Wood and Ice” collection, which is a wonderful marriage of natural wood and clear resin. Axel, a highly brushed light gray stain applied to French oak, was especially stunning. The color was in abundance at the show. Dark espresso is gone and I couldn’t be happier! Neutrals, naturals and grays ― from cool to warm ― dominated. Vanessa Mitrani’s “Dark Collection” glass vases and ceramicist Rina Menardi’s gray and slate blue hues supported this trend.

Wires, cords, lines and geometrics were important design elements and created amazing and equally important negative space ― a theme the Sherwin-Williams team has been exploring and researching as an upcoming dominant trend.

As usual, I could go on and on, but I don’t want to give it all away here. Be sure to look for the introduction of colormix 2014 in June at NEOCON, and attend our color trend presentations across the U.S. this fall.