La vie en rose

There can’t be a better design show to beat the winter blahs than Maison et Objet’s now! design a vivre. The objective of the show is to act as a crossroads event, bringing together the most innovation designers and design, creating opportunities to meet with others in the industry and see what’s new and what’s up and coming. Celebrating its 10th birthday this year, the show has consistently delivered on that mandate and is always the place at the winter fair where you are guaranteed to see a plethora of fresh, fun and exciting design.

Though there is always plenty of understated and elegant work, it’s the brighter, more whimsical products that seems to characterize now! Consider that, along with the show’s signature pink branding, and it should be no surprise to learn that Canadian-bred Karim Rashid was everywhere. You could hardly turn a corner without seeing his Karim logo scrawled across booth walls, so often in his trademark pink. Though Philippe Starck was Maison et Object’s designer of the year, it seemed Rashid’s ubiquity in now! overshadowed the former’s presence. The Starck-curated exhibit of the work of 10 young designers, in honour of the show’s 10th anniversary, was a great concept and showed interesting stuff; but tucked away in 7b with little to inform attendees on the details of the work shown, it left room for Rashid to steal the show.


“An undulating, cloud-like bench” or “a really huge organic blobular structure” is how Vondom describes its new Karim Rashid — designed bench, Lava (a). This bubbly piece is just one of several Rashid-designed indoor/outdoor pieces the company introduced this year, there are plenty of other bright, whimsical, pretty-in-plastic seating options to choose from in the collection, including Doux (b) and Surf (c).


The Slope writing desk, designed by Pinar Yar and Tugrul Govsa, was one of Gaea’s many new products debuting at the show. The desk’s shelves start at the top and move down the ladder-like shape to transform to a desk top surface at the bottom. Composed of oak and MDF, two versions — called tall and long — are available in black, white, pink, mustard, red or chocolate.


Previewing its Autumn 2010 collection of prints, Marimekko showed off Nanuk, which will surely become a favourite in Canada. Designed by Teresa Moorhouse, Nanuk features a white polar bear with a lush, leafy background and is a companion piece for the designer’s Sininen Gepardi cheetah-in-the-jungle pattern. There are three colour variations: a breezy blue, a glowing red-pink-green, and a graphic black-grey-white. marimekko.fl


Il Coccio has been a leader in the design of humidifiers for decades, but its 2010 Design Edition goes above and beyond. Coordinated by Giulio Iacchetti, the new collection includes nine pieces, designed by Patricia Urquiola, Fernando Brzio and Monica Frster, as well as a new edition of the famous Fischietto humidifier, designed by Achille Castiglioni in 1998.


Italian manufacturer Antonio Lupi has introduced a new line designed by Carlo Columbo. Featuring “aggressive geometry,” the technologically advanced material Cristalplant was the catalyst for the new Tratto and Washi sinks, and Cuna tub (shown). Intended for placement in the middle of the bathroom, this showstopper’s high backrest is set at a comfortable inclination, and while the base is square, the interior edges are rounded, for ultimate relaxing.


Ublo is a new line of outdoor furniture designed by Cedric Ragot for Qui Est Paul? Formed from rotation molded low-density polyethylene, the line is made up of a sofa, fauteuil and table. Tough enough to withstand temps between -60 and 50 degrees Celcius and resist UV rays, the pieces are long-lasting. But when the time comes, each is fully recyclable.


Kouch (b) and Ouch (a) are two Karim Rashid creations introduced last year by Casamania. In fabric or leather upholstery, over a fire resistant foam and metal structure, the sofa and armchair feature the soft organic curves and bright, playful colours that the designer is known for.


After it was introduced at the September edition of Maison et Objet, Vange’s Desile (named for its creator, Christian Desile) took h ome both Coup de Couer and Decouverte now awards. Made from bamboo and recycled PET, Desile offers two-way opening functionality and an amazingly efficient system, with 100 stacked chairs measuring just 2 linear metres.


Brand new to Molo’s Softlight collection is Cloud, the company’s first hanging lamp. Made with the paper-and-textile-composed flexible honeycomb structure that the Vancouver company is known for, the lamps are lit from within by LED. The hollow lattice forms of the Cloud lamps can be clustered to shape an undulating overhead canopy, allowing the user to create a custom cloudscape.


Youlka Design, a fairly new France-based company that sells the work of Polish designers, was showing several felt carpets designed by Joanna Rusin and Aga Czop. The collection is both fun and functional, with shapes punched out of the top layer of felt. The cutout shapes (in a variety of colours) come along with the carpet in a bag and can be mixed, matched and moved around, like a design puzzle.


The Bold chair, designed by Big Game, is new from Moustache. A surprisingly little piece, it’s composed of a tubular steel structure, with a thick polyurethane foam and textile cover that is actually removable. Available in purple, pink, dark grey, light grey, yellow, navy and black.


Following a successful re-edition of vintage ceramic pieces, Bitossi commissioned a new collection from Karim Rashid, a designer who consistently tries to focus on the present, rather than revisiting the past. However, Rashid so admired Ettore Sottsass’s Bitossi totems made in the ’60s that he was inspired to create Symbolik, a line of bowls, vases and totems. The Sottsass-inspired pieces incorporate signature Rashid shapes and colours.