Navigating Global Trends

The latest installment of Paris Design Week showcased styles that focus on relaxation and comfort in addition to an updated take on modern, thought-provoking design.

03/30/2017 By Robert Allen, Irena Peer

whimsical oasis whimsical oasis

As a trusted encrypted compass, Paris Design Week provided a wonderful opportunity to experience how other creatives are looking for today’s latest design interpretations of the world we live in, and translate this experience into ideas for future product introductions.

Those were 96 saturated hours where the coming together of nations through art and design proved to be a comfort like no other. While Maison et Objet and Deco Off are the main events of Paris Design Week, it was thrilling to also tour the Flea Market and visit favorite local spots, as well as discover new ones. Though overwhelming, seeing so much at once helped to spot pattern and connections that crystallize into main trends and ideas.

There were two main themes running throughout that particularly resonated, and a few subsequent trends underneath those umbrellas that materialized. Here are some predictions on what will drive our global design community very soon.

Home as a Safe Haven/Sanctuary

1. Tropical Wonderland
As an antidote to the winter outside, the displays were filled with lush greenery, tropical prints, and animalistic designs. Crocheted and ceramic plants by Gervasoni and L’Objet, among others, monkey lamps by Seletti, and especially the cuddly chairs by AP collection felt more like companions in a room than decorative pieces. The different elements of wildlife came together as a whimsical oasis in an attempt to surround ourselves only with things that bring comfort.

2. Cocoon
Deep-seated and deep-padded furniture with rounded shapes in a range of warm, muted colors was luxurious yet cozy, inviting, and pampering. Furniture makers like Ligne Roset, Ungaro, and others showed fully upholstered pieces, featuring a variety of dimensional quilting techniques. Scandinavian-inspired color schemes were pleasant and soothing. The overall vibe, although very modern, was tactile and enveloping, contributing to that feeling of comfort and safety.

3. Moon and the Silence Within
Silence was a chosen theme of the Maison et Objet trend exhibit. In a meditative setting, visitors were urged to enhance their well-being through silence, which allows us to recharge and gather ourselves. Here, there was preservation of silence in a space that requires listening and attention. This was manifested in a lunar theme that emerged in several variations throughout the Maison et Objet, with orbs and giant glass domes that seemed to take on an almost religious aura. This group of objects was quietly minimal with clean lines, beautifully balanced proportions, and sensual roundness of forms. Uncluttered by non-essential details, it helped the viewer to pause and find the silence within, offering sanctuary in our homes as well as our minds.

Modernism 2.0/Search for Meaning

4. Raw, Imperfect, Handmade
Merci dedicated its entire display to the imperfect and the handmade, celebrating the process of making and the history of the object. Making or even mending, as a new performance art, was on display at Maison et Objet, Deco Off, Merci, and even Le Bonne Marche, where in the center of the store, shoppers could watch their denim being customized with embroidery or other features in an atelier encased in clear glass. Fueled by dissatisfaction with a throwaway culture, there seems to be a renewed hope that design and how we consume products can make a difference. At Merci, Tom Holland was repairing clothes selected from a pile of vintage garments, with the “beautiful darn meant to be worn as a badge of honor.” Broken plates were put together by Audrey Harris, artist of Kintsugi (a Japanese art of repairing broken pottery), embracing the flawed and imperfect.

5. Search for Common Roots
While the populist movements around the world react to globalization by becoming more insular, designers continue to search for common roots. This year again, there was a strong showing of designs inspired by ancient crafts and traditions, sometimes in a loyal interpretation, but often with a personal take, taking advantage of current manufacturing methods and materials and creating a unique language rooted in a multitude of origins. Marble Objects, beautiful and tactile, inspired by primitive human tools and hand-carved in Greece by U.K. Elementary Editions, were featured as part of the Silence exhibition. Imperfetto lab’s presentation of usable art/furniture was polished and minimal, emphasizing the sculptural forms and materiality of the objects. Baskets and home accessories by Neo, though archetypal in their exaggerated forms, were woven out of thick and soft neoprene yarn.

Irena Peer joined Robert Allen in 2015 as director of design and merchandising for Robert Allen Contract. Her experience in design worldwide demonstrates an endless devotion to the industry. Curious about the world around her and how different elements live together, Peer sees design as an intersection of pragmatic and poetic, and as a service profession.

Photography by Irena Peer, Robert Allen Contract

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