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Say “Non” to the Winter Blues: How Maison&Objet Warmed Our Spirits During a Chilly Week in Paris

exterior trade show sign in Paris with snow
Entrance to January's Maison&Objet design fair in Paris; Photograph ©Anne-Emmanuelle Thion

When we first set foot in the expansive Paris Nord Villepinte Exposition Center, home to Maison&Objet’s January 2024 iteration of its prestigious decoration-and-design trade fair, we concluded that the show’s exhibitors had been given three unofficial mandates: be bold, be inviting, and be conducive to generating thoughtful conversations focusing on environmentally-friendly interior spaces. Creatively challenged by January’s theme – TECH EDEN: Towards a Paradise Regained – and in eye-catching booths lining the aisles of the towering, interconnected fairground buildings, exhibitors displayed their solutions for an ecologically-responsible future in which technology and nature could co-exist harmoniously.

woman in orange beret at design show in Paris
Photograph ©Anne-Emmanuelle Thion
A light snow had fallen overnight in the Paris area, so the vehicles entering the fairgrounds were already grinding it to slush by the time we arrived on the first of 3 days at the fair, but the palpable spirit of joie de vivre within the brightly-lit expo halls acted as a stark contrast to the gloomy weather outside. Maison&Objet turns 30 years old this year and is successfully celebrating its growth from a small but influential entity, to the premier showcase of French-inspired and elevated interior design solutions for the home, retail, and hospitality sectors. Not only does it hold a vast international trade show twice per year, but as an organization, Maison&Objet supports Parisian showrooms and manufacturers through its In The City program, hosts awards events such as The Rising Talent and Future on Stage Awards for young businesses, and administers the virtual marketplace, Maison&Objet and More (MOM), allowing design-trade professionals to continue conversations and purchase one another’s brands online. Sifting through this wealth of talent, our goal was to answer the question: How can luxury interior design be ecologically sustainable in the future?

To find the answer, we looked at emerging design trends through the offerings of Maison&Objet’s participants. Allons-y!


all-yellow exhibit at design fair in Paris
Outonomy installation by Maison&Objet's Designer of the Year, Mathieu Lehanneur; Photograph ©Felipe Ribon

Everywhere we went, the world of design heralded the hope of renewal. We experienced the possibility of a future open to merging innovative technology with the concept of biophilia: humans’ innate tendency to seek connections with nature. The creative strategy agency, Peclers Paris, developed the theme TECH EDEN for this purpose. Nowhere did we find the theme better exemplified than in Mathieu Lehanneur’s monochromatic, sunny-yellow installation, Outonomy. Chosen as Maison&Objet’s 2024 Designer of the Year, Lehanneur – also the designer of the 2024 Paris Olympics torch and cauldron – explained his ethos as inspired by survivalist notions, but he didn’t want “to go down the road of the bunker.” Instead, he created the Outonomy project as a new way of living autonomously in “an ecosystem of life that’s both minimal and optimal. A place to invent and reinvent ourselves.” As such, he created Outonomy as a self-contained biosphere, both functional and artistic, evidenced by Lehanneur’s use of plant-propelled air purifiers, a roof wind turbine, an aesthetic fish pond, and even an upholstered punching bag – all in optimistic yellow!

Man standing in doorway of yellow exhibit wearing white
Maison&Objet's Designer of the Year, Mathieu Lehanneur; Photograph ©Felipe Ribon
Biophilic design connects those who live and work in purpose-built design spaces to the natural environment in a responsible manner. By sourcing locally to reduce impact on the supply chain, designing with living flora and fauna, utilizing fine sustainable organic materials and fabrics, and merging with contemporary reclamation technology to repurpose waste into decorator objects, the luxury market can look to the output of visionary designers like Mathieu Lehanneur for eco-friendly inspiration.


colorful pink, green, and orange retro fabric workshop
Candy Box exhibition by luxury fabric workshop, Manufacture Prelle; Photograph by Félix Dol Maillot

As we explored the fair, we noticed the kidney tables and vinyl couches of the mid-century modern trend, long enjoyed by those nostalgic for “Space Age” design, was transitioning to a re-imagined 1970s “Flower Power” organic aesthetic. Perhaps because the early 2020s were dark and shuttered years for the planet, the sleek, neo-modern lines of 1950s and ‘60s décor no longer held the same appeal as it once did. Comfort was the theme in aisle-upon-aisle of the fair, as well as in the Parisian showrooms participating in Maison&Objet’s In The City program. We were impressed with the low-slung, overstuffed studio chairs from DOOQ Furniture that felt like a tangible hug. We longed to curl up on the gigantic, curvy sofas designed for outdoor entertainment from Maison de Vacances, or kick off our shoes to relax on the oh-so-cozy indoor seating offered by the Pierre Augustin Rose Gallery. What impressed us most was the regenerative esprit of contemporary furniture that allowed their occupants comfort, space, and room to breathe.

We discovered design elements of the re-emerging 1970s style throughout the fair and in Paris showrooms that reflected Maison&Objet’s TECH EDEN theme, including objects mimicking fluid shapes taken from nature, small velvety armchairs that could be floated around a room for intimate conversation, furniture pieces and accessories made from sustainable French Oak, and adjustable globe lighting. Remember macrame wall hangings? Luxury fabric workshop, Manufacture Prelle, and premier design collective, Uchronia, teamed up to create an invigorated version of the knotted hanging as a super-sized grouping of tassels, an object of whimsy sure to coax a smile.


woman sitting on a flowing seat made of rattan
Artist and Rising Talent Award winner, Aurélie Hoegy, with one of her rattan furniture sculptures; Photograph by Bruno Pellarin

A particularly memorable natural fiber from the 1970s, the rattan vine, was the woven base material of such “Flower Power” staples as the regal Peacock Chair and the hanging Egg Swing. Contemporary artist, Aurélie Hoegy, a 2024 Maison&Objet Savoir-faire Rising Talent Award winner – chosen by trend forecaster, Li Edelkoort – had transcended the boundaries of what we thought rattan was capable and elevated the vine by twisting, weaving, and plaiting it into wildly expressive sculptural objects and furnishings. The undulating, contorted forms were exquisite to behold; feeling drawn to approach her creation on display, almost believing it could breathe. Working from her Parisian studio, Hoegy is a dynamic artist who invested in the survival of the ancient craft by traveling to Bali to learn from rattan masters. Her oeuvre emphasizes ecological responsibility while producing transformative works from renewable resources.

3D printed & wood pieces
Marquetry pieces featuring 3D printed embellishments by Rising Talent Craft winner, Studio Line & Raphaël; Photograph ©Anne-Emmanuelle Thion
The Maison&Objet Rising Talent Craft winner chosen by Stéphane Galerneau, President of Ateliers d’Art de France, was the young business that best exemplified the art of traditional crafting combined with advanced technology. After viewing examples of their work, we agreed the award bestowed on Line Pierron and Raphaël Cuevas, partners in Studio Line & Raphaël, was exceptionally well-deserved. In one of the clearest examples illustrating the TECH EDEN theme, the duo married Cuevas’ expertise as a cabinet maker with Pierron’s skills in 3D printing to produce marquetry furniture and accents enhanced with 3D-printed embellishments. Cuevas described the resulting creation as “a painting in relief.”


Three themes of designer Elizabeth Leriche’s installation, What’s New? In Décor: About New Territories!: Meta Vegetal, Deep Sea, and Mineral Desert; Photographs ©Anne-Emmanuelle Thion

When we toured What’s New? In Décor: About New Territories! – creator Elizabeth Leriche’s three-pronged show installation connecting nature with future-focused themes for home décor – we noted how her vision embodied a dramatic quality evocative of cinematic storytelling. As we stopped in each room of the exhibit, we found ourselves immersed in the multi-layered environments she called Meta Vegetal, Deep Sea, and Mineral Desert. In Leriche’s words, “This space presents fictional ecosystems where the major challenges facing our earth are playing out: water, plant life, and minerals.”

Leriche’s approach in About New Territories! was less that of a conservationist, and more that of a visionary. It appeared her goal was to inspire eco-entrepreneurs within the design community to create sustainable systems using innovative technologies, thereby protecting the environments to which she paid homage in her installation. In Meta Vegetal, she imbued the rooms with densely packed patterns of bright greens, pinks, and browns. In Deep Sea, her color palette shimmered with iridescent greens, blues, and pinkish purples. In Mineral Desert, her colors shifted to sand, chocolate, and rich tans. Our final impression of her work was that she whole-heartedly interpreted the TECH EDEN theme as a call to find global solutions for the vast ecological challenges the future will bring.

Maison&Objet returns once again, September 5-9, 2024.
For more information, visit their website.


GRAY is a proud media partner with Maison&Objet.


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