In the now!

I was hoping to run into Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec at Maison & Objet in Paris this past January, as they had been designated feature designers at M&O’s show-within-a-show, now! design à vivre. The last time I saw the Brittany-born brothers was a few Orgatecs ago in Cologne; we shared espresso at the Vitra booth, and I found them as singularly charming as their work. Alas, our paths never crossed in Paris. I had to settle for a special exhibition of their work (from Algues, the iconic modular plastic screen for Vitra, to Ovale, a delicate new collection of tableware for Alessi) and to discover two new introductions on the show floor: the voluptuous Ploum sofa for Ligne Roset and the vivid Losanges rug for Nanimarquina. Bravo, Bouroullecs.

I did have the pleasure of meeting six of the seven designers exhibiting under the banner Japan Design – each coolly composed and elaborately polite in the Japanese manner. There’s a purity to Japanese design that is refreshing amid more baroque offerings, and Japan Design proved to be one of the show’s most popular attractions.

Equally popular was the somewhat cramped area of now! devoted to novice and small-scale designers who couldn’t possibly afford renting one of the show’s big booths. It was here my eye was drawn to a platform full of white and silver and fluorescent-coloured objects – sensuously curved and angled – tucked into a space the size of a postage stamp.  They turned out to be the very first range of products by affable young Brit Simon Pattison.  “I look to create simple, functional objects for the table that excite the user,” he explained. “I set myself a challenge to create designs that are serious yet play on their relationships with their functionality.” With training in art, design, pottery and silversmithing, Pattison is a talent to watch.

Below, you’ll find works by Simon Pattison; three of the Japanese designers (all safe and sound in Tokyo, I’m happy to report, and touchingly stoic about the situation in Japan); and the Bouroullec brothers. You’ll also find other items that caught my eye, from companies in France, Denmark, Italy, Switzerland and Taiwan.



For Barcelona-based Nanimarquina, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec have
reinterpreted the traditional Persian
rug using the ancient kilm technique.
Losanges, available in two sizes, is the playful result, combining 13 colours through the geometrical rhombus shape
(a great challenge to North Pakistan

craftspeople). The Afghan wool is spun
by hand, allowing for unique colour
tones to be highlighted, which make
each rhombus different and each rug
one of a kind.


“We pictured it like a ripe, voluptuous piece of fruit.”  So say the Bouroullec brothers, whose sponge-like Ploum sofa – available in three- and four-seater versions – is indeed a deliciously
refreshing piece of work. The quilted fabric employed comprises a thick layer
of stretchy polyester quilting sandwiched between two superimposed woven layers, held in place by points of stitching.  With its generous croissant shape and low profile, Ploum “offers an extreme level
of comfort while offering the body the chance to adopt a number of possible postures.”



Says the noted British designer, “I thought about the old telephone, lying face down on its cradle, and asked myself if it wouldn’t be better the other way round,
so you could see the screen and dial the number without picking it up.” Et voilà: his DP 01, a DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications) phone for Swiss company Punkt. The handset is designed to be stable on a flat surface, allowing for hands-free communication. DP 01 may be placed horizontally or mounted on a wall.


Birmingham, England–based Simon Pattison launched his very first range of projects at Maison & Objet. The vibrant and curvaceous collection of tableware reflects Pattison’s extensive training in
all aspects of design – from graphics
and brand development to ceramics and
silversmithing. “Within my work I look
for relationships between materials,
processes, colours and finishes, in
different mediums including ceramics, metal and wood,” says Pattison. “These vessels are constantly evolving.”


QisDesign is part of Quisda, a leading Taiwanese tech firm. Its Crystal Light,
an LED lighting fixture, is composed of various “crystals,” which shimmer with silver and sparkle like diamonds. Each of these is connected by a magnet, allowing the user to assemble them into various forms. The user can also change the light mode with a remote control to create different colours and lighting effects.



The Saari collection from Italian furniture maker Arper was designed for waiting areas in restaurants, hotels and such. Available as a one-, two- or three-seater sofa, or as a bench, Saari is distinguished by its precise, clean lines. It comes in a wide choice of materials and colours, with a four-leg base in steel -– painted, chromed or veneered.


The cheerful, textural Pinocchio rug
 from Danish company Hay is made of
100-per-cent pure new wool. Available in three sizes, it comes in three different colour ranges: Multi Colour (shown), Orange and Coral/Black.


The distinguishing feature of Joko –
developed by Studio Bartoli Design for Italian company Kristalia – is its single fused shape, which is soft and organic. Joko’s continuous surface can be
upholstered in leather and in fabric in different colours and versions.



Tokyo-born Kota Nezu has designed everything from industrial products to automobiles. His Jellyfish prototype is “a stool with built-in LED and a water tank. Your natural movement of sitting on it will produced stunningly beautiful ripples; you will feel as if you were seated on the water.”


Satoshi Umeno’s Bind is both side table and magazine rack. Says the Tokyo-based designer, “Messy piles of magazines that would otherwise be left scattered on
the table can be stored underneath and
added to over time for an artistic look.
The stylish and functional table fits comfortably beside a bed or couch.”


Says young designer Kaori Aoi of jou-jouer, her set of acrylic cubes, “These days,
we live in a society of mass production
and consumption. This toy was created
for people who live, not only for today,
but also for the future. This toy helps to develop the imagination and creativity
of people.”