British invasion

Tunisian-born Brit designer par excellence Tom Dixon was everywhere in Paris this past January – the hardest-working man in show business, as they say. As one of Maison & Objet’s official Designers of the Year, Dixon delighted visitors with lighting, furniture and accessories: his booth in the always-inspiring Hall 8 featured a massive display of his prolific and varied output. Even his fashion design collaboration with Adidas was represented at the de rigueur concept store Merci in Le Haut Marais as part of their travel-focused exhibition entitled “Bon Voyage.” Alongside French designer Philippe Nigro, Dixon was also a guest of honour at a lavish cocktail party held at the newly opened Éclectic, a restaurant by Dixon’s own Design Research Studio located in the revitalized Centre Beaugrenelle at the edge of the Seine. He worked the room in a velvet smoking jacket, gliding effortlessly through the evocative space – described as a “happy marriage between Parisian chic and British eccentricity, a free-form tribute to 1970s architecture.”

Dixon was just one exhibitor in a vast field of Brits who made their presence known in the French capital. Venerated British designer Matthew Hilton’s furniture and lighting for both London’s Case Furniture and Portugal’s De La Espada were prominently featured, alongside lesser-known but talented design houses Pinch and Vitamin. Longtime U.K. design guru Terence Conran proved his indefatigability with one of the newer ventures in his empire – Content by Conran, a complete line of home furnishings whose price point rings in generally lower than what is available at his long-established and popular Conran Shop.

As expected, France was well represented as was Denmark, an undisputed global design capital. Canada boasted one of the most arresting booths at M&O, courtesy of Vancouver-based Molo, led by Stephanie Forsythe and Todd MacAllen. The architecturally trained designers continue to innovate with their Softwall cellular constructions, expanding Molo’s repertoire to include new seating and lighting options. 

1-Tom Tom Club

Brass, copper and gold were the predominant finishes at the Tom Dixon booth, evident in an assortment of high-gloss and satin-finish pendant lamps and gorgeous tabletop accessories. Featured prominently in Dixon’s Éclectic restaurant at Centre Beaugrenelle, Cell Tall Pendant (a) mimics cellular growth, and can be used in multiple geometric configurations. Each fixture is made from layers of minutely etched and polished brass, filtering light rays to throw a satisfyingly dappled glow casting intricate shadows on walls, floors and ceilings. The delicate shell-like dishes in the Form Bowl Set (b) are sculpted from fine sheets of brass and finished with a gold wash. Available in five sizes within a large set or a small set, the bowls provide much-needed glamour for the pared-down modern table setting. The Beat Light Pendant (c) was inspired by the sculptural simplicity of brass cooking pots and traditional water vessels on the subcontinent. Made from brass with a brushed exterior, the Beat Light collection includes fat, tall, wide and stout variations, and also comes in white and black; the pendants are spun and hand-beaten by renowned skilled craftsmen in Moradabad, northern India.

2—Pinch me

Founded by Russell Pinch and Oona Bannon in 2004, London-based Pinch showed the Lowry sideboard, which boasts a highly textural and visually dynamic surface formed through a series of solid wood fins of varying widths and depths. The fin sections also act as handles for the two central drawers and the cupboards at each end, each housing an adjustable shelf and integrated cable access in the base. Available in cherry, oak, black American walnut and Douglas fir.


Also by Pinch is the Twig series: bench, cube and column. Made of coppiced hazel wood, these solid volumes provide a great deal of flexibility as variably sized seating or side tables. The fully exposed young tree branches and stems form a visually compelling surface to Twig’s volumes, while highlighting the beneficial practice of coppicing in woodland management and utilizing its yield.

4—Cloak & dagger

The simplicity of the Cloak pendant lamp by London-based Vitamin combines the honest materials of glass and wood, the transparency of the thick glass dome revealing the wooden sphere contained within. An LED spotlight is embedded in the sphere, emitting a powerful yet diffuse glow. Hung singly, in a series or cluster, Cloak – available in either walnut or oak – is ideal for both residential and commercial environments.

5— Sheepish 

New Danish company Norrmade unveiled a number of novel offerings, including this whimsical Sheep Bench. Taking inspiration from the adorable woolly creatures of the pasture, the simple bench is available in natural or black-painted ash, and can be topped with charcoal wool felt. An attached sturdy loop functions as a tail of sorts, and tempts you to pull the bench from one room to another, allowing it to fulfill a multitude of functions.

6—Lounge lizard 

A new company formed in 2012 by France’s Nicolas Pichelin and Jean-Francois Michon, Structures commissioned Alexander Rehn of Germany to design the Cay Lounge, a flexible piece of furniture with complex planar surfaces and origami folds. Fabric-upholstered flat cushions create the facets atop the wood frame, and the Cay can operate as a chaise longue or a sofa, inviting you to splay your body in any number of ways until you find your own comfortable position.

7—Sweet  16  

Niterói is an elegant 16-pendant chandelier, with a pinpoint of light contained in each turned brass drop. It was designed by Matthew Hilton – British Royal Designer for Industry (2004, furniture design) – for his eponymous brand. Manufactured by Portuguese company De La Espada, Niterói is available in solid turned brass with an LED light source.

8— Paris Hilton

The Lucent coffee table by Matthew Hilton for London’s Case Furniture rocks a retro ’70s vibe with its smoky glass finish; the right angles created by the table’s glass structure create divisions inside that facilitate book and magazine storage as well as the display of objects. Available in clear, bronze or smoke, the coffee table is made of tempered glass, which translates into durability and safety. 

9—Come ply with me

Japanese designer Shin Azumi’s new chair for Case Furniture is called Loku. Produced using 3D plywood technology, the seat is cleverly molded into a shape that is both comfortable and supportive. It was designed for both commercial and residential use, providing variations to accommodate several applications. Loku is available in oak or walnut plywood with or without a leather seat pad, and options for its base are oak/walnut and metal, or tubular steel. 

10— Desk job

Featured at the booth of French design powerhouse Ligne Roset was a handsome wood writing desk by Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance. Its delicate form and curved contours are a refreshing departure from heavy authoritative desks of yore, and particularly appealing is the wool felt surround that wraps the edge of the desk, forming a low partition and a degree of privacy without sacrificing openness. Featuring a single tidy shallow drawer, the desk is available in either smoked oak or anthracite-tinted ash.

11—Cloud Nine

Molo has created a luminous, undulating overhead canopy light fixture that can be tailored to any individual space. Taking inspiration from the wondrous mobile constructions of Alexander Calder, this suspended mobile of softly glowing clouds moves with gentle buoyancy from overhead air currents. Illuminated from within by energy-efficient dimmable LEDs, the Cloud mobiles and pendants are available in warm white and daylight white colour temperatures. Resembling translucent rice paper, the material used is non-woven polyethylene, and is 100% recyclable, tear-, UV- and water-resistant.

12—The Tubes

The Trame radiator by Italian company Tubes Radiatori not only heats a room, but looks as good as a contemporary artwork. Installed against a vertical wall surface, a dynamic effect is created via horizontal bands of undulating radiant steel tubes, available in a plethora of colours.

13—Cool stool

Also by Molo is the Softseating collection of seating/table elements, with one version made entirely from paper and the other from a paper-like, 100-per-cent polyethylene non-woven textile, both of which utilize a flexible honeycomb structure to fan open into stools, benches and loungers. Each element has magnetic end panels, allowing an element to connect to itself, forming a cylindrical stool or low table, or to connect to other elements in series, creating long winding benches. Kraft paper Softseating is made from 50 per cent recycled cardboard boxes and 50 per cent new long fibre, creating a very strong and durable paper. Fire-retardant and acoustically absorbent, it is available in unbleached natural brown, black and a vibrant indigo blue. Textile Softseating is available in translucent white and has the option of being illuminated from within with LED.

14—Sofa, so good 

Designed by Philippe Nigro, one of Maison & Objet’s 2014 Designers of the Year, the Cosse sofa for Ligne Roset features streamlined organic contours and is available in two- or three-seater configurations. In French, “cosse” means pod, which perfectly communicates the idea of enclosure and cosiness. A sturdy but minimal wood structure supports the finely upholstered body of the sofa, whose remarkable comfort is due largely to the seat’s elastic-webbed suspension. Cosse is available in three upholstery finishes.