Better and Better
As everyone braces for the predictable disruptions of an all public transportation strike which began here Monday morning, exhibitors and visitors to this show are likely to be shortchanged by a day, an unhappy coincidence with its expansion requiring more, not less time to cover.
Reminding me that in an earlier blog I remarked that this show was "bigger and better" than any before it. I subsequently talked about the "bigge,r" but I haven't talked about the "better." However, the better is as much news at this show as is the bigger.
The overall lift in quality is largely due to the broader integration of interior design and architectural sources. However, "better" is nowhere more evident than in Hall 7, where several of the best-known international brands are exhibiting. The presence of Fendi, Kenzo, Missoni, Roche Bobois, Flamant and, for the first time, the Ralph Lauren lifestyle, combine to make Hall 7 Quality Central. The intention of the show's organizers couldn't be clearer: to simply make M&O the most important and most complete exhibition of the Lifestyle Arts. There is even talk about bringing back some of the prestigious home textiles firms come January - companies which chose to present their latest and greatest in their own showrooms last year.
Even Veuve Cliqot maintains a stand in Hall 7, complete with a bar and seating area where champagne is served (for a price) with a choice of companion canapes or sweets being offered. The whole set is preceded by a whimsical pavilion, seemingly spun of thin air and curled wires sheltering imaginary chairs. The sculptural structure was created by two Brazilian brothers with the intent to recreate "the Garden Arts of the 19th Century dedicated to degustion in plein air." With Veuve Clicquot on board, it can't get any better than that.
Jean Paul Gaultier seems mattress-obsessed with his floor-level upholstery for Roche Bobois, which calls to mind the lounging mattress pads surrounding the rooftop swimming pool at the Los Angeles Mondrian, the first boutique hotel created by entertainment entrepreneur, Ian Schrager, a concept he later repeated at his hotel in Miami.
Kenzo's entry, on the other hand, has a Zen-like quality. Both his upholstery and his enormous cocktail tables are low slung. Sofas and chairs tend to be covered either in bright red velvet or amethyst leather - but never one to bypass whimsy, he has added a series of small hassocks, portable by their leather straps. Those can be covered in furry sheepskin, floral or menswear patterns or even with woven Oriental motifs referencing back to the designer's heritage. His cocktail tables are enormous. One tabletop, set on a recessed based seems to float above the floor, another, in black lacquer, divides into four equal squares, each with a hidden drawer. A showstopper is an undulating kidney shaped settee - its seat covered in golden yellow velvet, the back in a finely ribbed corduroy-like texture suggesting needlepoint in a tapestry design blending olive and silvery greens with gold tones.
Fendi's offerings are to be taken more seriously. Simple upholstery shapes covered in classic fabrics, such as a navy blue stripe on naturals canvas used but also a beautiful daybed in velvety olive green terry trimmed in golden yellow seem more likely destined for luxury yachts than your average patio. All of its products are branded with the company's familiar horse logo.
Purely outdoor offerings are fewer than were last September but include the presentation of light and airy open mesh furnishings as well as amazingly imaginative shapes of umbrellas or other shade producing shelters. Some are complete self-enclosed structures that look like garden pavilions to offer exceptional comfort and luxury.