Maison & Objet – from a Swedish perspective

This year started with discoveries of the huge trade shows for design in Paris. I had decided to visit the two most interesting ones in January, Maison et Objet and Playtime Paris. The first one a huge fair for mostly the interior and lifestyle design market and the second for the kid’s fashion and interior as I’m always curious about trends on the children’s market.

The 19-23 of January I set out to Parc des Expositions Villepinte to see the first one. I’ve heard so much about it and how huge it was so I was prepared for a long day of walking the isles. And indeed this is a huge one! With eight gigantic exposition halls and an area of 246.000 sqm and over 3000 exhibitors it is challenging. Compare this to FORMEX Stockholm with 114.000 sqm and 900 exhibitors. Luckily you’ve got five days to cover the show so you can take a good look one part at the time. My main interest is as always textiles and wallpapers but of course anything with surface patterns will catch my attention!

It would be impossible to write a blog post about this without setting a limitation for myself, so I thought the most natural one would be to tell you a little about the Swedish design represented at the show. This fair took place in the same weekend as Formex so it was interesting to see some Swedish entrepreneurs who decided to go big and hit an international fair.  I thought mostly old and experienced brands would dare, but no, on the contrary many were fairly new and not yet big businesses!

Someone dreaming big is the new Swedish interior brand ” LILY and the Wall”. They make wallpaper for nurseries and kid’s rooms but their aim is not to lean on the typical Scandinavian style but to create something with a universal language. The different wallpapers describe Lily’s travels through the world visiting different cities like Stockholm, London, Paris, Rome, Barcelona etc with one special city on each wallpaper design. Along with the purchase comes a book with the story about Lily’s adventures so you and your kid can read together and follow what happens on the wall! “We want children to know that the world outside is full of dreams” says founder team Mona and Sam Shaje. Carrying motifs from all over the world in their selection they decided to go for an international fair to be able to find their audience. See more about them here: lilyandthewall.com

The opposite design strategy goes for Brita of Sweden who designs rugs and runners with minimalistic patterns in bright colours that immediately strikes a Scandinavian tone. Having a solid production since a long time this family run company already has their products sold worldwide.  Their geometrical patterns really work in any environment and put that Scandistyle to a home. britasweden.se

A very dominating theme on the trade shows is ecological materials and products. A Swedish brand working very consciously in this area is my friends over at Day&Me Stockholm,  specialised in bed linen dyed with only natural substances. The process was well explained with examples in their booth by the director Cliff Lilja. In this case not only the cotton is organic but the colours are made from only natural dyes. Beautiful look and feel! Check dayme.se! 

Up and coming brand to keep an eye on is the lovely “Garbo and Friends” by designer and creative director Susann Nemirovsky founded in 2012. Here you’ll find organic cotton for the small ones in soothing colours and the absolute most adorable patterns! I’m really full of admiration for the collection line they presented here which you can pop over and check out on their webpage garboandfriends.com

“Jamida of Sweden” is a brand for trays, placemats and some other kitchen related items such as aprons f.ex. The founder Joakim Sohlberg has collected a little group of friends and pattern designers to create a few very different collections that appeal to several tastes and which complement each other. You can read very nice presentations of the designers on jamidaofsweden.com

To be honest there were many others worth mentioning but I wanted to share my reflection on walking this show as a spectator from a surface pattern and textile designer point of view as well without making this too long… I know many of you are interested in if this is a good opportunity to make future contacts for commissions, outright sale or licensing being designers yourself. We want to network a little so to speak. Well, I found that aspect very limited on this show. Most brands are either founded by the very designer who makes the patterns and products themselves or there are bigger ones but they mostly use in house designers. Apart from this you’ll find retailers of all different shapes and sizes and they are only interested if you have a product line.  But for inspiration and trend spotting, absolutely, this is one of the most important interior and lifestyle fairs. Beware that the vigilance of potential copycats stealing designs is high in the business, so if you’re not a retailer they will ask you questions if you ask for catalogues or other information.

The same goes for the next tradeshow I visited, Playtime Paris, although I find there are more players using freelance illustrators and designers in the children’s lifestyle area, so the possibility to make interesting meetings is higher. But more about this in the next post!

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