Maison et Objet 2011, Paris
A firm favourite on all design globetrotter's calenders, the january installment of the bi-annual Maison et Objet serves as the perfect place to pick up a good dose of new-year inspiration.
First stop was the buzzing halls of the Parc des Expositions where the mood was upbeat and the offering plentiful. As well as some new discoveries, like tabletop company Y'A Pas Le Feu Au Lac, lighting company Goodbye Edison and brand new office accessories upstarts L'Atelier d'Exercices, it was also comforting to see esteemed established companies such as Ligne Roset and Alessi firing on all cylinders and launching larger and more eclectic new collections than ever before.
Nothing works up an appetite better than weaving your way round halls, and Paris des Chefs, an ancilliary event, which is gathering pace and presence every year during January’s Maison, ensured that food was all part of the agenda. As part of the gastronomic drive, Guzzini mounted a food design exhibition at the entrance to hall 3, for which 30 french designers had been invited to innovate for the table – the results included a multi-functioning cheese board by Normal Studio, a honey pot with stepped spoon support by Francois Azambourg and a melting pot by Arik Levy.
A programme designed by Nicolas Chatenier of Peacefulchef put 20 of the world’s most talked about chefs together with 20 designers/architect/creatives, and asked them to present concepts they developed together on the stage of Hall 4’s amphitheatre. Pairings included Jean-François Piège (Thomieux) and India Mahdavi, Davide Scabin (of Combal Zero, Turin) and Oliviero Toscani Magnus Nilsson (Fäviken, Sweden) and Christian Kjellvander, (songwriter singer of the band Loosegoats).
Out of the confines of the fairground, the city was equally eager to please. A Glass House on rue Rambuteau showed innovative heaters by Paris-based 5.5 designers, Galerie Kreo had an exhibition from those talented students of ECAL, Toolsgalerie gave in to the bright and decorative with a series of vases by Sebastiaan Straatsma, while the highlight of the 'salon off' was without doubt the Meet My Project exhibition where 20 designers including Francoise Azambourg, Matali Crasset and Daniel Rybakken showed their latest prototypes looking for a manufacturer.
The best happening of the fair though, took place late on Saturday night, when a large slice of the Parisian gastocracy took over Le Chateaubriand, and its resident chef, the venerated Inaki Aizpitarte fed le tout with 12 courses of his most innovative bites (squid ink coated leek, powdered porcini sprinklings, discs of bone marrow combined with scallops, Mukhwas-coated mango…) to the some of the hardiest but also hungriest critics.