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Label Famille │ Courtesy of Paris Design Week
Label Famille │ Courtesy of Paris Design Week
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8 Lessons From Paris Design Week 2016

Picture of Paul McQueen
Updated: 8 September 2016
We’re only at the midway point of Paris Design Week 2016 and already there is so much to take away from this colossal event that is unfolding like an intelligently designed Scandinavian chair in 200 exhibition spaces, from galleries and cultural institutes to concept stores and restaurants, across the city. An offshoot of the Maison&Objet trade show, Paris Design Week is renowned for showcasing the work of up-and-coming designers and giving the public free access to the latest collections and prototypes in the heart of Paris. Here we take a quick look at eight key lessons on the future of furniture and home décor that every DIY interior designer needs to know.

The Outdoors Are In

The graphic design agency deValence have given PDW’s branding a facelift that looks like it was delivered by a bracing gust of Alpine wind. They took inspiration from the signposting of great hiking trails, developing their own vocabulary of arrows and other basic symbols. In effect, their posters and banners have transformed the city into one giant treasure hunt, with the displays themselves prioritizing visibility and enhancing a sense of movement. Take note award-winning graphic designers of tomorrow, 2017 is going to be all about simplicity and adaptability (and perhaps a taste of the great outdoors).

Poster for Paris Design Week 2016 │ Courtesy of Paris Design Week
Poster for Paris Design Week 2016 │ Courtesy of Paris Design Week

Keep An Eye Out To The East

Though there is plenty to marvel at that was created inside Paris’ city walls (or at least within the confines of the périphérique), the PDW is always looking outwards for creative inspiration. This year, its gaze is locked firmly on the east. The guests of honor are representatives from China, Ukraine, Estonia, Finland, Flanders (this is the exception that proves the rule!), the Czech Republic and Lithuania. So don’t be surprised if you feel an eastern wind of change blowing through your local interior design boutiques in the months ahead. Additionally, more than 65 brands, some new and others established, exhibited alongside the international set for the first time this year.

Object from the Centre Culturel Ukrainien and Fleux presenting Normann Copenhagen│ Courtesy of Paris Design Week
Object from the Centre Culturel Ukrainien and Fleux presenting Normann Copenhagen│ Courtesy of Paris Design Week

Even Brands Have Birthdays

It seems like an extraordinary number of important brand milestones have converged on this year’s PDW: THG and JCD Delephine are celebrating their diamond anniversary; Lobmeyer’s historic MET light collection is half a century young; the Magis boutique has been at the Centre Pompidou for 40 years; Céline Wright has had her own boutique for half that time; Ferm Living has been in partnership with Fleux’ for 10 years; and the Ateliers de Paris has been in business for just as long. Phew, that is a lot of candles to blow out! One-hundred-and-ninety, in fact, give or take any minor miscalculations. When a company hits a landmark like this, it’s usually about the time they produce something spectacular. The smart buyer would be checking their websites for birthday surprises.

Suspension, 50 years of the MET │ Courtesy of Paris Design Week
Suspension, 50 years of the MET │ Courtesy of Paris Design Week

Taking It Easy

If there is one thing that Paris Design Week 2016 wants to promote above all else, then it’s slowing things down. The event is about more than seeing what’s going to be coming into the stores soon, it’s about taking the opportunity to speak to designers and learn what it is that inspires them. For the moment that would be slow design and upcycling. This sustainable form of design crosses all disciplines from lighting to soft and hard furnishings. Among the finest examples on display are Caroline Moissonnier’s handpainted furniture, Triode’s offerings from the Gabriel Scott studio in Canada and New York, and the works of the Empreintes arts and crafts concept store in the Haut-Marais.

Commode Sayulita, Caroline Moissonnier, Moissonnier │ Courtesy of Paris Design Week
Commode Sayulita, Caroline Moissonnier, Moissonnier │ Courtesy of Paris Design Week

The Bigger And Woodier The Better

There is a pretty clear trend emerging from the showrooms of the special projects; big is good and so is wood. In greater detail, the focus this year is on kitchens, dining rooms and other areas for eating and drinking. Moreover, the preference in terms of scale and style is industrial. Whether it’s a massive island from Boffi, a luxury hidden kitchen from Cormier, or a truly vast dining table from Joe Sayegh, it is the quality and texture of the woodwork that is front and center. If you are looking to make over one room (or corner) in your apartment, make it the one in which you eat. Go big if you can and either way, get as much of the Bois de Boulogne in there as possible.

Projet Boffi Code, Boffi Cuisine, Photo │ © OlivierHelbert and Courtesy of Paris Design Week
Projet Boffi Code, Boffi Cuisine, Photo │ | © OlivierHelbert and Courtesy of Paris Design Week

Someone’s Had A Lightbulb Moment

For the very first time, lighting specialists have shown at the PDW. As you might expect from a bunch of people who work around electricity all day, they have come up with some hair-raising new products. The best or worst of the bunch, depending on your taste, has got to be the portable, book-shaped lamp created by Lumio. You can’t read it and you might not even be able to look directly at it, but it will no doubt come in handy on a gloomy winter’s day in one of Paris’ cafés. The key lesson here: maybe nothing should be as it appears.

Portable lamp, Lumio, Max Gunawan, Lumio chez Colette │ Courtesy of Paris Design Week
Portable lamp, Lumio, Max Gunawan, Lumio chez Colette │ Courtesy of Paris Design Week

The Next Big Thing?

The now! le Off exhibition at the Docks – Cité de la Mode et du Design showcases the work of 100 designers, representing 20 nationalities, chosen by Chantal Hamaide, the editor-in-chief of Intramuros. Two Rado Star Prizes are contested each year: one awarded by a jury and the other by the public. The former has already been won by Élodie Rampazzo for her exquisite selection of office furniture. Seven projects have been shortlisted for the public prize: Balance trainer by Alexandre Dubreuil Studio, Wood & Plastic Cutlery by Riccardo Randi, Luminaire Cumulus by Lison Barbier, Contenant, Cuir de caractère by Laetitia Fortin, Luminaire Bolla by Claudio Gatto, Tapis Eclipse 1 by Yade, and Cogoyo, collection Panampanam by Léa Bart. The winner will be announced on Thursday night!

Luminaire Bolla, Claudio Gatto and Contenant, Cuir de caractère, Laetitia Fortin │ Courtesy of Paris Design Week
Luminaire Bolla, Claudio Gatto and Contenant, Cuir de caractère, Laetitia Fortin │ Courtesy of Paris Design Week

Who Said What?

The PDW Talks are always a great way to get an insight into the working world of the designer, whether that’s product, interior or architectural design. The emphasis this year is on the practice of design and the status of the designer in a business caught between the demands of industrial logic and those of the art market. Like all good debates, the evenings have thus far posed more questions than they’ve answered. One question is clear, that all aspiring designers should be asking themselves how they plan to balance creativity and economy.

Label Famille │ Courtesy of Paris Design Week
Label Famille │ Courtesy of Paris Design Week

A Preview…

For those of you unable to make it to any of the Paris Design Week locations, or those needing a little extra encouragement to get out the front door, the video below should give you a taste of what’s on offer.