Maison et Objet in Paris has always been a major fixture on our design calendar, offering up the means to view a vast quantity of new releases from small and large companies from Europe and beyond, encompassing craft, fabric design, furniture, kitchenware and table top items. Some see it simply as a buyer’s supermarket, but it’s also a great place to gauge the mood and direction design is taking for the year.

And this year more designers than ever appeared to be in town – perhaps owing in part to a particularly spectacular launch that took place on the eve of the show. The deep-pocketed entrepreneur and visionary Cedric Naudon revealed his concept for a neighbourhood in the Marais called La Jeune Rue, where a total of 25 shops will be taken over by the world’s design and architecture elite, who will transform them into the ultimate local cheese shop, speakeasy, tool shop, cinema, tapas bar and art gallery. In their number are Andrea Branzi, Francesco Mendini, the Campana brothers, Jaime Hayon, Oki Sato, Ingo Maurer, Michael Young, A+A Cooren, Jasper Morrison, Patricia Urquiola, Tom Dixon, and the turnout for the launch was a PR’s dream.

Back at the hangars of the Parc d’Exposition, the mood was fresh. Colour infiltrated collections in all manner of nuances and pairings. Even the resolutely monochrome seemed to have caught the bug: utilitarian Belgian company Objekten introduced a rainbow of wall-hung storage; Haymann, whose monolithic pieces are usually distinctly desaturated, debuted alabaster tables in delicate hues of yellow and pink; and Michaël Verheyden - who has made an art of mixing classic black and tan leathers with marble, woods and brass - offered a dusky pink rose suede to his finishes, alongside a chartreuse and sage green suede. Less colour-wary companies such as Muuto, PCM, &tradition and Normann Copenhagen put out pieces in especially powerful hues and made punchy mixes central to their new collections.

There were a number of new names making their debut in the hallowed halls – among them were Coedition, an impressive new brand from France’s design emporium Silvera featuring pieces by Michael Anastassiades, Victoria Wilmotte and Patricia Urquiola; Dadadum, the initiative of a young Swiss graphic designer who has got Alfredo Häberli, Joerg Boner and Nicolas Le Moigne bringing ‘Swissness’ to stone tables, wooden chairs and metal shelving; and Bosc, a new brand of upholstered chairs and sofas born out of a 40-year-old family-run furniture-making business from Les Landes (Bastiat), with the help of local hotshot designers, Jean Louis Iratzoki and Samuel Accoceberry.

Also launching during the fair was Retegui, a new design arm to a long-established marble merchants, now producing shelves, bowls and a table from marble; Norrmade, the new brand from long established Danish designers Claus Jensen and Henrik Holbaek, which showed a well-honed, unmistakably nordic collection of furniture essentials; Rodet, a company producing institutional steel furniture, who underscored what seems to be renewed interest in tubular steel by launching a contemporary domestic collection by Fred Rieffel and V8 Designers; and finally Nude, yet another artful branch of a more industrial company, (Turkey’s Sisecam Group), launched its collection of glassware for the home, including decanters and glasses collection by Ron Arad.

Among the shiny new creations were some striking reissues from Venini’s new 'Mille e una Notte' centrepieces, which use Carlo Scarpa’s murrina technique, to Kalmar’s reedited 'Fliegenbein' lamps, and France’s '510' stackable steel-tube school chair by Gaston Cavaillon made a comeback courtesy of Label Edition.

When fair blindness set in, the galleries and exhibitions of the Marais provided fresh inspiration and air, while Merci’s regular Saturday night shindig offered a much-needed dose of vichyssoise and bubbles.

TAGS: FRANCE, MAISON ET OBJET