The annual French design extravaganza Paris Design Week 2023 brought together 350 venues organized into four geographic zones. The major event was again Maison&Objet, which featured 2,500 exhibitors across seven halls at the Paris-Nord Villepinte Exhibition Centre.
The well curated exhibitions both in and outside of the exhibition center featured commercial design, gifts, accessories, and works by a cross-section of both established and emerging designers. With so much happening we surely missed some great displays, but what follows are the best new products and shows we saw over the three days we spent traveling the busy halls of Maison&Objet and the streets of Paris.
1. Maison&Objet Designers of the Year: Muller Van Severen
The Belgian couple Fien Muller and Hannes Van Severen began working together in 2011, transitioning their backgrounds in photography and sculpture to skillful takes on furniture. Their work distills the function of classic forms into essential silhouettes that blur the line between formal furniture and artist expression. The pieces exist almost like artists sketches come to life.
“We have a primitive relationship with objects. Our approach, resolutely playful, lies between simplistic lines and bright colors. The contrast between the will to control the form and to impose minimalist conditions while letting the colors express themselves freely is a great source of amusement,” Fien says.
Their exhibition Oasis at Maison&Objet played with the presentation of works by presenting a mix of traditionally exhibited furniture and carefully stacked and artistically arranged still lifes.
2. Unusual Objects by Bina Baitel
Transdisciplinary designer Bina Baitel, who received the FD100 Award by the French President in 2019, created 28 custom objects for Tremblay Castle in Normandy, a private residence and soon to be artist residence and private exhibition space of gallery owner Christophe Gaillard, who also exhibited the works at his eponymous gallery during Paris Design Week.
The objects are both cleverly designed and immaculately crafted, most being handmade by France’s most prestigious craftsmen and workshops.
3. Vanity by GamFratesi for Gubi
A new collection of wall-mounted mirrors bring the often overlooked typology into the realm of bold statement pieces in the style and fashion Gubi has become known for. “We wanted to reinvent a type of mirror that had been all but forgotten in the modern day,” says designer Enrico Fratesi.
The project began about a year and a half prior when GamFratesi presented an early prototype to Gubi, “we know our clients very well, so we know what they are missing and what they might be interested in,” Enrico says. Enrico and his partner Stine Gam have have created many products with Gubi including the now iconic Epic collection of tables.
4. Alwa One table by Sebastian Herkner for Pulpo
Pulpo’s exhibit at Maison&Objet was filled with both new designs and refreshed icons. The coveted Alwa One table, made from thick bubbly handcrafted glass and silky powdered coated steel, is a Sebastian Herkner classic and is now available in a large coffee table size. Pulpo also showed new boule floor lamps with solid marble bases crafted in Portugal.
5. Alp lounge chair by Martin Hirth for Fést
Fést’s exhibition at Masion&Objet was colorful, imaginative, and tastefully playful. Founder Femke Furnée said the stand was curated to align with the brand’s motto, “optimism is a superpower.’’
The new Alp lounge chair, a statement piece from designer Martin Hirth, was inspired by the designer’s sculptural Orsay candle, also for Fést.
6. ENJOY: in quest of pleasures!
Curated by the trend consultancy Peclers Paris and created in collaboration with Maison&Objet, ENJOY brought together a group of works around the idea of a “quest for pleasure.” On view inside the halls of Maison&Objet, the brightly colored exhibition emphasized works created with a “desire to re-enchant” everyday life. “We need to return to forms of optimism,” says Patricia Beausoleil from Peclers Paris. Some of the designers on view include Audrey Large, who digitally sculpted then materialized her work via 3D printing in iridescent bio-plastic, as well as Rodolphe Parente, Uchronia Studio, and Yinka Ilori.
7. Face à Face by Pascal Mourgue for Fermob
During his lifetime French designer Pascal Mourgue created important works for Knoll, Lignet Roset, Tonon, and Fermob, including the clever Face à Face which earned him the Grand Prix de la Création award in 1985.
Now, Fermob has re-released this iconic table and updated it with modern touches like two USB ports and a convenient power socket. The fold-away door features a handsome desk blotter, a keyring, magazine rack, letter rack, glasses holder, and smartphone or tablet holder.
8. Frances Palmer, Tess Morley, and de Gournay
British hand-painted wallpaper company de Gournay presented works by American ceramist Frances Palmer and British shell artist Tess Morley. Mughal wallpaper framed a grouping of terra-cotta vases and seashell-laden mirrors and objects.
9. Clémence Cahu & Cube Architects
In the Marais district, Paris Design Week Factory organized three venues to champion emerging design. The exhibitions at Espace Commines and Galerie Joseph showcased original works from 90 studios in business for five years or less.
One of the highlights from Factory was the designer Clémence Cahu’s collaboration with Cube Architects. Known for her stylish PVC bags, this was Clémence’s first foray into furniture. She exhibited the Cortex chair in a bright Gumby green version of her signature glossy PVC – perhaps a playful take on Rodolfo Bonetto’s ‘Boomerang’ Lounge Chair from 1968.
10. Tawa by Shaddah Studio
For their submission to the second annual AlUla Design Award, Shaddah Studio, a multidisciplinary firm founded in 2015 by Watfa Hamidaddin and Deem Alhagbani, created Tawa, a hybrid design chair and rug.
The other four award winners were: the Naba Tea Tiffin by Ikkis, Gunjan Gupta; AlUla Terrains: Dates Serving Set by Teeb; Incense Heritage Collection by Sarra Hafaiedh; and Oil Lantern by Imane Mellah.
The next Paris Design Week will happen September 5-16, 2024.