Paris when it sizzles

 The exhibitors at Outdoor_Indoor – a show-with-in-a-show at Maison & Objet – couldn’t have asked for better weather: hot, sunny and mid-summery, in mid-September, no less. Those of us taking a break from covering the show were drawn to an oasis of outdoor furniture outside Hall 8, O_I’s home. (Where better to test drive the latest chaise longue or armchair?) There we basked in the sun, thumbed through the press kits we’d just gathered and – sampling white peach Häagen-Dazs, or sipping Veuve Clicquot (served from a converted Airstream trailer) – felt glad to be alive. At least I know I did. 

Outdoor_Indoor shared Hall 8 with another show-within-a-show: now! design à vivre, dedicated to the work of  “the next generation of designers.” For the second year in a row, it also had an offsite element, called now! le off. It took place at Les Docks: Cité de la Mode et du Design: a very cool concrete structure, with a skin of steel and etched glass, on the banks of the Seine.

Now! le off is part of Paris Design Week, initiated last year to support and embellish Maison & Objet, the long-running jewel in its crown. Design Week turns the entire city into one big design lab; the 2012 edition encompassed more than 180 shows and exhibits throughout the city – in design and art galleries, stores and agencies, cultural institutions, hotels and restaurants.

Any week in Paris is a good week. But with the sun blazing away in a blue, blue sky; the Jardin des Plantes, Jardin du Luxembourg and Jardin des Tulieries in full bloom; and design to be discovered all over town – well, Paris Design Week 2012 was a real sizzler.



French firm Fermob was the hit of Outdoor_Indoor, with a dozen introductions. My three favourites: a) the first rocking chair in the Luxembourg range, made of aluminum tube and slats, from Design Frédéric Sofia (available in 24 colours); b) a reinvention of the iconic low armchair in the Luxembourg range, with an aluminum frame and a seat made of flexible polymer (a footrest is also available), in two-tone colours to be confirmed; and c) the two-tone Ultra Sofa, incorporating the frame and seat in a single piece of waterproof fabric, also from Design Frédéric Sofia.


Ingrid Michel and Frédéric Pain are the designers behind Binôme, specializing in outdoor furniture with a primitive yet space-age feel: think The Flintstones meet The Jetsons. Case in point is Fantôme, a chaise longue made of resin, fiberglass, lacquer, oak and robinia.


Italian company Emu introduced several pieces, including these two knockouts. Snooze (a) is a reinterpretation of Emu bestseller Siesta, a relaxing armchair designed in 1980; it’s available in a wide variety of colourful, highly resistant technical cloth. The MIA collection (b), designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, is easily adapted to both indoor and outdoor settings; it comprises stackable chairs (with or without armrests), high bar stools and two tables (one round, one square), with a sheet-metal foldable top. MIA is available in red, white, grey and black.


Portland, Oregon–based Snow Peak specializes in equipment, lighting and supplies for climbing, hiking and camping. The Garden Take Chair Bamboo is a shorter version of the comfortable and portable bestseller. Its combination of laminated bamboo and stainless-steel framework allows for easy folding and carrying.



All products from Japan’s Cuiora – with design by Takumi Shimamura of Qurz Inc. – are made from twisted pieces of 100-per-cent-recycled paper, glued together to make a flat band. The collection includes a bowl, multi-use pot, cushion and two types of lamps. My favourite is a stool with strong, durable bands, in six fresh colour combinations.


From Berlin-based llot lov comes Matt, a “knitted light” – actually a lighting element that can be hung as a single piece, knotted in a group, or set on a hook on the wall. Three different yarns – angora, merino wool and cotton – are available in several colours.


Based in Denmark, Design Nation works closely with designers who are masters of their trade and craft. One such creature is Søren Ulrik Petersen, whose Lambda Table is simplicity itself: two stained black ash trestles and a top of solid wood. 


Friis & Black (a.k.a. Lishet Friis and Uffe Black) is the design firm behind Wallpapered, a table of ash wood and plywood with a printed graphic pattern. A reinterpretation of the paperhanger’s trestle, it’s easy to set up and to fold away after using. Part of the Danish Craft collection, a curated selection of contemporary Danish craft and design for the international market.


Netherlands company Soonsalon characterizes Madam Rubens – a whimsical collection of stools with foam – as “a plump but sophisticated lady.” Designed by Frank Willems, and made of foam, wood and PU coating, Madam R comes in five models.



A Red Dot design award winner, Revolve transforms from sofa to bed with a single-movement rotation of the backrest. Genius. In the upright position, the backrest and rear part of the seat unite in a single U-shaped volume embracing the seat; a specially fabricated hinge effects the transformation. Designed by Croatian team Ivana Borovnjak and Roberta Bratovic for Numen/ForUse.


Nathalie and Patrick Cassagne are the French designers behind FIVA (which stands for Fabricant d’Inclusions en Verre Acrylique). Their latest project is a series of acrylic pieces: Bench of Feathers, Bench of Nails and (shown) Bench of Straw.


Echo, from France’s Iridescence, is an iridescent table lamp made of acrylic glass and brushed aluminum. As the observer’s position changes, so too does the colour of the lamp.