In & out in Paris

I spent three days in September in Paris in the “now”: two days at Maison & Objet’s now! design à vivre and a day at M&O’s now! le off. 

For the uninitiated, show-within-a-show now! design à vivre occupies Hall 8 at Paris’s pleasant Parc des Expositions; and show-outside-the-show now! le off takes place at Les Docks: Cité de la Mode et du Design, an artful industrial space on the banks of the Seine between Gare d’Austerlitz and the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand. The former features the coolest indoor and outdoor furniture at Maison & Objet, from both large and small companies; the latter showcases the work of “emerging talents and young artists.” This edition of now! le off – now in its third year – was a truly international affair: on hand were 110 designers from 20 different countries. Both shows are highlights of Paris Design Week, also in its third year, turning the City of Light into Design Central. 

Following, you’ll find my favourite indoor and outdoor introductions at now! design à vivre and three innovative items that drew me in at now! le off.

When I wasn’t inside checking out the latest design, I was strolling though the grand avenues, squares, boulevards, formal gardens and narrow, meandering street of Paris – whose charms keep a person firmly in the “now.”


1-CZECH FUSION Based in the Czech Republic, Brokis keeps alive the age-old Bohemian glassblowing tradition. The Capsula pendant light designed by Lucie Koldova is composed of two convex capsules, one overlapping the other and then fusing into a  singular sculptural form.

2-LIGHT & HEAVY Hamburg’s Concrete Home Design aims to “make concrete beautiful.” Case in point: its new Lamp Idée Folle, designed by Clément Terreng, which adds crystal glass and textile cable to the  rough-with-the-smooth mix of materials.

3-GO WITH THE FLOW For a first collaboration with Matière Grise, the design team of Andrea Quaglio and Manuela Simonelli created the aluminum Ponant coffee table. Meant to mimic a lightweight flowing fabric,  the metal is folded in soft, curving lines. Ponant is available in a wide range of colours. If desired, two tables can be stacked to form a two-colour box – “rather like a simplified origami.”

4-EARLY BIRD Lee Jung Hoon – part of the sizable Korea Craft & Design Foundation contingent at Maison & Objet – creates and constructs furniture of uncommon delicacy. His Wormhole Cabinet is made of red oak and aluminum. From a technical perspective, bending, wood turning and ottchil (traditional Korean lacquer art) are the main techniques used to make this work.

5-INSIDE THE BOX A multitude of intros from Normann Copenhagen included Box, created by Peter Johansen. Says the designer, “Even though the Box table is made of lacquered steel, it has a light feel, just like when two pieces of paper are glued together.” Available in two sizes, it comes in cream, cement grey, turquoise, blue green and midnight blue.

6-NEON BRIGHT The elegant Neon table designed by Sebastian Herkner for Paris-based Haymann is available in round and oval versions, both small or large, in pink, green or orange. It’s made of onyx, acrylic and steel.

7-CLASSIC LINES Terence Woodgate designed the Lansdowne sofa – a low-lying modern interpretation of the classic English chesterfield – for London’s SCP. It’s also available as a conventional armchair or chaise longue, or as a versatile modular sofa system to allow for L-shaped configurations.

8-EASY DOES IT Home-furnishings companies Fab, Massivkonzept and One Nordic have come together to create the online “global home for design” Hem, based in Berlin: “Our heart is truly global, with teams working from Berlin, Helsinki, New York, Pune [India], Stockholm and Warsaw.” Among its debut collection is the Alle table by Staffan Holm, made of oak and birch, and able to be assembled without tools.

9-DUAL PERSONALITY Among the offerings from La Subtile – a new creative industrial studio in Rennes, France – is Pupitre, a metal bench for kids that transforms into a desk. According to the young designers, “Pupitre is an emblematic creation of the La Subtile studio, representing its values of freshness, industrial creativity and refinement.”

10-ET TU, BRUUT? Says Dutch designer Ruud van Oosterhout of the latest addition to his Bruut furniture collection, the Maison Deleneau sofa, “I never had the urge to design a sofa until I met a couple who asked me to make one for their boutique hotel.” After much experimentation, the result is a sleek beast in traditional fabrics like mohair. A poof is also available.


1-BY THE YARD The Yard collection by Stefan Diez for Italy’s Emu features two-tone elastic straps fastened to an aluminum frame. It includes chair, armchair and rectangular table (fixed or extendable) in versions with aluminum and stoneware tabletop. Yard is available in a new matte finish in black, red, blue, brown, white and a fresh shade of green.

2-IN BLOOM Lotus is the name of a collection from My Croisette, comprising planter, lamp and lounge chair, all made of polyethylene. The latter – suitable for use both indoors and outdoors – is designed to resemble the silhouette of a lotus flower; several of them can be stacked onto a spindle for storage.

3-HERE COMES LE SOLEIL Maiori Design’s La Lampe is a state-of-the-art collection of solar lamps. It draws its inspiration from the historical streets of Paris; back in 1677, its réverbères (gas lamps) earned the French capital the nickname City of Light. La Lampe can be used as both a hanging or standing lamp.

4-ON THE DOUBLE Based in Burgundy, Binome – the duo of Ingrid Michel and Frédéric Pain – designs its own furniture and sculpture: “We are inspired by everything we see in our environment, including nature.” The Akène bench brings together raw concrete, smooth resin and oak.

5-BILINGUAL Through a collaboration with famed London-based designer Terence Conran, Fermob has created a fusion of British and French outdoor living styles. The Kintbury table and chairs feature the intricate cast-iron work that is a hallmark of the quintessential French furniture manufacturer.


1-3D LACE LinLin and Pierre-Yves Jacques – a.k.a. LP Jacques – are expert artists in the field of digital production; their work is informed by the ambience of Paris, where they spend most of their time. Sky Lamp is part of their Lacelamps collection, made with 3D printed patterns and a glossy black bell. It casts magical graphic shadows on the wall.

2-BUBBLE TEA Wonbin Bok, Taehee Lee and Diao Fan are students majoring in Furniture Art (Department of Living Art & Design) at Sangmyung University in Seoul, South Korea. (I like the president’s greetings on the website: “To our dearest students who will begin a new era with fearsome intelligence and burning ambition! Our Charter is premised on creative, practical and competent humanistic principles
that are founded on truth, justice and love for the past 70 years.”) I couldn’t take my eyes off their Flavor-Ambient, a table inspired by the process and ceremony of drinking blended tea, with its various flavours and scents. In the trio’s rather poetic words, “Just as blended tea refreshes our daily lives, we wanted to express that sensibility in our furniture. Various polymers containing water and light are in harmony and make a pleasant and light atmosphere.”

3-CROWD FAVOURITE In 2012, Sylvain Charpiot and Samuel Javelle met at a campus FabLab creation project in Lyon, France. They have since created a robotic arm 3D printer that they refer to as Galatea, named after the sculpture made by Pygmalion, the mythological Greek sculptor; this Galatea is capable of 3D printing very large objects, including furniture. As the newly formed company Drawn, Charpiot and Javelle showed a chair and vases. The layer quality of these objects is extremely uniform, smooth and consistent, creating an eye-catching effect.