An Inspiring Time at Paris Design Week 2024

After several seasons of safe furnishings designed for nesting, Paris Design Week puts on its party clothes and heads out to celebrate design with a rush of exuberant color, bold pattern, and more than a few glasses of bubbly.

The night was cold but the party was on fire—almost literally. Schumacher held a event, titled “A Night of Mystery”, at L’hôtel de Bourrienne, during Paris Design Week in an ornate space in an Empire period building completed in 1790.

Throughout the crowded venue, what seemed like thousands of candles were placed on every surface, including the floor and piano. The atmosphere was joyous and warm (in all senses of the word), the passed hors d’oeuvres particularly delicious, the champagne cold and free-flowing. It was one of those parties where everyone had three other places to be, but no one left. A sense of post-pandemic optimism and joy floated through the rooms.

A woman gives a tarot reading with three cards in front of her as red lighting lights up Paris Design Week.

Seeds of Change

In the rear of the apartment were several tarot card readers. I sat down at my allotted time and drew three cards from the deck, half expecting some scene out of Carmen, the reader belting out “La Morte!” at full volume. (It didn’t happen.) I drew The Empress and two Pages. My very lovely, candle-lit interpreter told me that the seeds of creativity had been planted, and the spark of creativity would now move from theory to practice, from accumulation to actual output. Sign me up!

A circle window showing a blue sky and clouds sits on a white wall as Mathieu Lehanneur sits to the right, looking at it.
Photo courtesy of Mathieu Lehanneur

The idea of seeds and growth was a recurring theme around town during Maison&Objet and Déco Off. At the fairgrounds, Mathieu Lehanneur, the Maison&Objet Designer of the Year, said during an interview: “I don’t have a mission. I prepare the seeds. It’s up to the gardener.” Lehanneur has designed, among a great many other things, the Olympic torch for the 2024 games in Paris. His work often explores the connection between technology and humanity.

A black and white floral print sample of a wallpaper design from Paris Design Week.
Photo courtesy of Arte

Meanwhile, at the Arte showroom in St. Germain, seeds appeared in an haute couture-inspired wall covering called La Perle with a pomegranate pattern where the arils were hand-applied pearls. The pattern, in on-trend black and white, was the definition of fecundity.

A chair with a red fabric featuring black thistles over it from Paris Design Week.
Photo courtesy of Kevin Kerr

Impressive Finds at Déco Off and Beyond

In town, at Déco Off—which concentrates on fabric and wall coverings—the focus is less commercial and has remained a bit more confident. Even so, the offerings felt fresh and spontaneous. Philadelphia-based designer John Pomp had an exhibition at Triode gallery in St. Germain and was the recipient of a Créateurs Design Award for Best Product Design for his Sun Ra Totem, which—because of its black base—acts as a sort of floating beacon. (Créateurs is a peer-to-peer award program that celebrates architecture, interior and product design, photography, and journalism.)

A round iridescent lamp sits on top of a long, wide black lamp post.
Photo courtesy of John Pomp

London-based Fashion designer Ozwald Boateng’s collaboration with Poltrona Frau was a reimagining of the classic Chester Sofa, but in colors probably only dreamed of by its original upholsterers. “I introduced a new design language while preserving the familiar framework, illustrating the essence of design as a dynamic force that evolves tradition to prevent stagnation and ensure continued relevance. For me, the evolution of tradition is imperative. Otherwise, it risks becoming obsolete.” He saw the chair as a canvas for storytelling, incorporating new elements and giving it an update. “Design, with its transformative capability to shape experiences, can be a catalyst for fostering hope.”

A man in a red suit sits on a yellow chair with other suits in the wall blocks behind him.
Photo courtesy of Ozwald Boateng

A New Way of Living?

During Paris Design Week, Lehanneur presented a project called Outonomy, a sort of off-grid living space pared down to the most basic elements: a small living structure, a roof garden, a few entertainments. Again, he sees in his work the connection between the seeds he creates and hope that could potentially come out of it. “Outonomy is not fully complete. It’s not a turnkey project. It’s a seed, an idea. I created it to get feedback from the visitors to Maison&Objet. It is an open platform, an open idea. By myself, I’m not able to change anything. I need other people to take part in it. So I can only propose a seed, but if people want to live with and take care of this seed, it can turn into a hope tree.”

Story Stephen Treffinger

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