Interior design vs. exterior design; when will they ever meet? The Maison & Object show in Paris coincided with the Paris fashion shows. Not being an aficionado of haut couture, I do think that what I saw of the French showing of their interiors left me very disappointed and thinking they haven't moved on from the Provencal, fringes and lace decades of yesteryear. Who were displaying exterior 'objets'? Very few, so few they were next door to each other in a far corner of Hall 5A, with one or two exhibitors flung to the far corner of Hall 5B. As garden designers from London, we were anticipating seeing a lot of inspiring exhibitors and products. What a wasted opportunity, as I am sure many an expert in interiors is asked by the client to help with the furniture for the garden as well. There was just the one interesting furniture manufacturer, Les Jardin au bout du monde. The product designer Claude Robin has created wonderfully comfortable garden chairs in fine tubular steel in a riot of colours (sifter range) and aluminium frames with batyline slings (dripper range), just two ranges that demonstrate his style of harnessing strength with lightness.
Seriously disappointing to travel all the way from London town and the best of Show were Belgium companies exhibiting stylish, chic and contemporary planters and water features. Everything else was kitsch of the highest order. My mistake, we should have gone to Scandinavia to find the best in contemporary product design. As for Interiors, the French are still obviously bourgeois traditionalists!
A couple of exterior exhibits paid homage to the classical statuary that one would see around a French chateau or an Italian Villa Grande. Huge terracotta pots aged and wonderful in a romantic setting, but 'frostproof', maybe if protected!
The highlight of the day was to visit the Belgian company Domani. The scent pervading their display, of Viburnum flowers on huge bare stems, mixed with cherry blossom was worth the long walk to find them. They had cleverly addressed both ends of the style counter, with huge planters designed in the old vernacular but in modern materials and the old techniques of the finest craftsmen, producing textures and finishes that would look good in either traditional or modernist settings.
The trip was a long day to meet a few discerning suppliers but all the better for enjoying a very French supper in the Chatelet district before catching the last Eurostar back to Blighty.