Every country seeking to nurture and promote young design talent should have something based on the French institution VIA. VIA (which in translation stands for the Organisation for the Valorisation of Innovation in Furnishing) has a simple mission – to act as a platform between student and self-supporting designers.

See a selection of VIA's prototypes from their anniversary exhibition
They do this in a number of ways: they fund the production of prototypes and host exhibitions around the world; they provide support and advice for designers and they open channels for discussion between fledgling and established designers, distributors and manufacturers. Crucially each step of this support is expertly executed and VIA’s exhibitions are always a highlight of any fair, both in terms of selection and curation.
Started in 1979 by CODIFA (Committee for the Development of French Furniture Industries) with support from the French Ministry of Industry, VIA next year celebrates its 30th birthday. Celebration comes in the form of a retrospective exhibition at the Centre Pompidou – ‘VIA Design 3.0’ - showcasing 40 prototypes from across the 30 years that chart a history of emerging French talent.
With prototypes from the early days by names like Philippe Starck, Jean Nouvel and Jean Marie Massaud it’s easy to see how keen the eyes at VIA have been through the ages at talent-spotting. More recent success stories like Matali Crasset, Francois Azambourg and Philippe Nigro prove that, like French wines and cheeses, VIA is only getting better with age.