Maison&Objet Paris: French stylist and designer François Bernard on 2017 trend theme

The new edition of Maison&Objet Paris fair will take place from 8-12 September. Each year, M&O defines one overarching theme for the season based on emerging lifestyle trends. The new theme chosen for the upcoming show is Comfort Zone.

French stylist and designer François Bernard’s will take over the Inspirations Space to present a selection of objects by exhibiting brands, and the Bookshop-Café with a variety of sources illustrating the theme.

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“The organisers expressed their desire for a more pragmatic approach, which would incorporate new developments in the fair’s layout and offerings to optimise visitor experience,” he says. “So the Inspirations Space becomes a preamble to the fair itself, so to speak. From now on, it will present an insightful overview of the fair – somewhat of a suggested itinerary or user’s manual, to provide guidance without taking away the magic of discovery.”

His reflective work on comfort touches on various topics, starting with a presentation on the changes in seat design, from Moissonnier’s Louis XV Bergère chair to the Samuel Accoceberry’s latest design for Bosc. This exhibition and the others being shown will mainly feature pieces contributed by Maison&Objet exhibitors.

The underlying principle was to spotlight the products on display at the fair so Bernard developed a game, an illustrated alphabetical exhibition around the notion of comfort, using exhibitors’ products. “Armchairs are showing increasingly enveloping shapes; they hug the hips, provide lumbar support…

Nuvola sofa, Gervasoni.

Their design has been adjusted to soothe our pains. Nowadays, a comfortable chair should be a sort of anti-shock pod for our aching bodies,” he says. “We like to nestle in folds of fabric as thick as duvets – just look at Marie-Christine Dorner’s Cover for Cinna or Paola Navone’s Nuvola for Gervasoni.”

For Bernard, the ideal chair is basically “a cushion propped up on four legs”. A pillow on legs, as he describes it.

“This is just what the dream chair looks like, one that relieves physical tensions and washes away any trouble weighing on your mind. And, let’s be honest, it’s also a fun way to humour the child inside each of us. Take this AP Collection chair, for example, the one covered with dozens of stuffed animals: it clearly betrays our need for nesting,” he says.

AP Collection.

Bernard says that comfort is now reaching outside the home into the public sphere: train stations, waiting rooms, cinemas and offices.

“The products presented at the fair make it possible to live and work both together as a team and entirely on your own. Wall-mounted capsules, movable partitions, wall coverings made from insulating fibres, ergonomic elements that shift our perception of comfort. People work standing up, now, too. And when they do need to sit, they do so on isokinetic ball chairs, Pilates balls, wobble stools. Paradoxically, lack of comfort is our new idea of comfort,” he adds.

Ballo seat by Humanscale.

Commenting on other trends he spotted for the September 2017 fair, French designer says that softer lines are increasingly replacing the right angles, seats take on organic shapes inspired by pea pods.

He continues: “The ‘Pod’ is today’s perfect shape. For some years now, we have seen these famous sleeping pods pop up everywhere around us, in pioneering companies like Google for instance, which provide employees with these bubbles where they can shut themselves in and recharge. Organic-shaped furniture, like the Beatnik chair to be presented at the fair by Donar, contradict the linear furniture trend we had seen in the past few years.”

Beatnik chair by Donar.

In addition to the Bookshop-Café, the Inspirations Book will shed light on the theme from various perspectives, while the conference space will provide an opportunity to further explore the notion of Comfort with a five-day programme of debates on current related trends.

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