The eighth Design Parade in Hyères, France

The eighth Design Parade in Hyères, France

The annual Design Parade has marched into the French town of Hyères for its eighth showcase at the historic Villa Noailles. Taking over the villa’s incomparible modernist grounds - which also host the annual Festival International de Mode et de Photographie in Spring - this year’s Design Parade includes presentations by the likes of Aldo Bakker, and India Mahdavi, as well as a new generation of young talent.

One of the most anticipated exhibitions each year arises from the annual Design Parade competition, which just saw young French designer Mathieu Peyroulet Ghilini pip nine other finalists to scoop the top prize for 2013. Selected from almost 250 entries from around the world, the short-listed designers are exhibiting their works in a group show housed appropriately in the villa’s vaulted ceiling rooms.

A judging panel comprised of Bertjan Pot, Nipa Doshi of Doshi Levien, British designer Max Lamb, Hay Design founder Rolf Hay, among others, came together to select Ghilini as the winner of this year’s Grand Prix du jury. The illustrious prize consists of several features, such as a year long research scholarship at Sévres Cite de la céramique, a €5,000 grant from Galerie Kreo for a personal design project, an exhibition space at next year’s Design Parade, as well as the 2015 editions of Passagen in Cologne and Designer’s Days in Paris.

Julie Richoz, who swiped last year’s Grand Prize, is presenting the fruits of her residency at Sévres in Villa Noailles’ new gallery space. Honing in on the defining characteristics of porcelain, from its translucency to whiteness, the ECAL graduate developed a range of floating perfume diffusers with separable cup, dish and bowl components. Also on show is Richoz’s collaboration with CIRVA - a family of interlocking glass vases - and a streamlined, suspended lamp for Galerie Kreo, which all resulted from the Grand Prize win.

Design Parade’s winning qualities further manifest themselves in two other exhibitions. In the gymnasium, Aldo Bakker, who served on the jury panel in 2010, has also teamed up with Sèvres on a range of six abstracted objects. In Bakker’s signature way, each of these ambiguous pouring objects hint at the archetypal functions of a vessel, handle and spout, though they are far from clear.

Elsewhere in the Villa, the mesmerising graphic objects of India Mahdavi (including her perforated jewellery designs for JEM) are being shown in the hall and sun lounge room, while Dutch designer Bertjan Pot’s playful collection of lighting and furniture hold court in the swimming pool and squash room.

This year’s show also highlights the work of unsung design hero Marcel Breuer, whose work also adorns the Villa. Thirty of the modernist designer/architect’s furniture pieces and documents will be on display, alongside a monograph, to serve as the perfect counterpoint to the show’s young spirit.

A 1920s villa atop a French hillside might seem like small confines to showcase the best emerging talents in the fields of fashion, photography and design, but the Villa Noailles has nailed this to a ’T’. The building, which was designed by Robert Mallet-Stevens, has been neatly divided so that each participating designer has his day. No space is left unturned, which allows the work of even more established designers to be seen through a fresh lens - a special trait that keeps us coming back year after a year.

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