Jetsetting design enthusiasts will soon descend on Paris from Jan. 18–22 for Maison & Objet, one of the world’s premier destinations for discovering what’s next in design. The biannual showcase attracts more than 3,000 international brands presenting their latest and greatest. One of the show’s most notable programs, the Rising Talents Awards, spotlights the most promising young talent from one particular country—Italy, Lebanon, and the United Kingdom all got their dues in years past.
In 2019, Maison & Objet looks to China, whose burgeoning design scene reflects that country’s aim to become a global player in creativity and innovation. Luca Nichetto, a member of the Rising Talent Awards jury, says it best: “What is most interesting is the Chinese designer’s search for identity, to not just be a lookalike of Western design but how to fold in the centuries-old rich Chinese craftsmanship heritage and tradition. There is much proof they are going in the right direction.”
Below are six products that embody that vision.
It’s truly the year of the pig. Reminiscent of a porcine four-legged friend donning a hat, industrial designer Mario Tsai’s aluminum tube–inspired Pig side table embodies his “use less, design better” approach. “I always try to use less materials and production processes to create better designs. This not only reduces the cost to my clients but also saves resources and helps protect the environment.”
Guangzhou-based Bentu combines concrete, leftover stone aggregate, and waste from Foshan—the world’s largest ceramics hub—to forge sleek furnishings and accessories with the traditional texture of terrazzo. “We take useless materials of the current industrial age and transform them into commodities by means of industrial design,” says design director Chen Xingyu.
Design Academy Eindhoven alum Hongjie Yang dreams up gallery-worthy pieces, such as the otherworldly Synthesis Monolith Mirror, that pairs sharp lines with rubble-like tactility. “The works are like an archaeological dig, a discovery of something ancient which at the same time projects forward, a snakelike rock repeatedly shedding its skin to create a newer, more refined version of itself.”
Beijing-born Frank Chou witnessed firsthand the dynamic changes afoot in his hometown over the past few decades. His pieces—such as the Combo sofa, which blends witty combinations of leather, wool, and fabrics—seamlessly fuses architecture with artistry while embodying the spirit of contemporary Chinese living. “My designs come to life by satisfying people’s needs—promoting consumption patterns, aesthetic patterns, and even industrial forms.”
Chen Furong, founder of lighting, furniture, and accessories brand WUU, masterminds research-driven collections that blend hand-craftsmanship with modernist principles. “The ideal design combines functionality, forma, aesthetics, and user experience. We want to return an object to its original essence, allowing it to endure both in terms of aesthetics and usefulness.”
The interlocking terrazzo, glass, and marble By 3 TV cabinet/coffee table system captures Urbancraft founder Ximi Li’s raison d’etre: creating pieces that integrate East and West. “My works are influenced by my experiences in different countries and regions, my understanding and feelings toward different cultures, as well as my imagination. All the places I have lived and worked have left marks in my life and shaped my way of thinking.”