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My report from Maison& Objet 2016

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I have not seen natural light for hours. I can’t help but notice that all around me people are wearing flat, comfortable shoes because by evening each of us will have walked six miles or more. My mood oscillates between feelings of disappointment and elation as I move briskly from stand to stand and there is no time to stop and gaze aimlessly at the multitude of curiosities which pass before my eyes. This is Maison & Objet in Paris, the annual international trade fair for interior designers which brings together the world’s best suppliers and fills eight vast halls with an unbelievable array of products. Dedication and discipline is required to get through all the stands in just four days. This is a smorgasbord of the latest manufacturing innovation leading to triumphs or failures, order books full to bursting or businesses left to reflect on what might have been. Everything rests on the newly-unveiled collections and how well they are received by the interior design professionals, architects and retailers from Europe and beyond.
This year, it was all about glass accessories and sculptures and the boundaries which could be stretched. Like the ripples created when a stone is thrown into still waters, the best ideas from last year have proved inspirational to creative minds across Europe. The ripples have become waves, with a multitude of trend-setting designs being spawned. In contrast, the latest offerings from furniture and lighting manufacturers were disappointing with little to catch the eye compared to recent exhibitions.
It wasn’t just the Italians who were demanding attention. I stumbled on sublime glass creations by a British craftsman, Stuart Akroyd, whose sculptures and vessels looked assertive and confident with masculine overtones. They wouldn’t fit in to a pretty cottage interior filled with lace and floral patterns. These masterpieces are modern and witty, with an air of austere simplicity.
The discovery similar accoutrements fabricated from reassuringly tough materials but with gentle shapes continued. There was a range of subtly coloured glass vases which seemingly melted on tree branches resembling birds’ nests. I fell in love with their organic shapes and their link to nature, which is often so lacking in our urban homes.
The colour of glass is crucial to the overall look if it is to become a statement piece. This determines whether the result is ordinary and instantly forgettable or refreshingly dynamic, adding a splash of colour in an otherwise neutral interior space. There was plenty of colour in Paris! Even glassware was adorned with abstract patterns adding a spectacular elegance to any dinner table setting. Having walked the length of a marathon through hundreds of stands and having looked at thousands of exhibits, I can conclude that the colour of 2016 is most definitely blue. Whether your favourite shade is a deep cobalt, vivid ultramarine, electric or Prussian blue, with carefully chosen accessories, your interior will once again feel modern and trendy.
Next year in Paris I want to be wooed again by fresh collections from the world’s lighting and furniture manufacturers, but for now, I’m excited by the fabulous new array of finishing touches which are available. Investing in a beautiful glass ornament, sculpture or vase can transform a tired sideboard or console table refocusing attention from the old to the new.