Design enthusiasts are descending on Paris from January 17 to 21 for Maison&Objet, a key destination for discovering what’s next in home furnishings and accessories. The biannual showcase attracts more than 3,000 exhibitors to present their latest offerings across eight expansive halls at Parc des Expositions de Paris Nord Villepinte, and of its most anticipated programs is its Rising Talent Awards, which spotlights promising young designers from one particular country for each edition.
To commemorate its 25th anniversary, the fair is looking inward by surveying emerging talents from its home country of France. “Few countries boast such a rich heritage in the fields of decorative arts and design,” says Philippe Brocart, managing director of SAFI, Maison&Objet’s parent company. “That tradition is now being extended by an exciting new generation that’s pushing the boundaries of their craft.”
To select this year’s rising talents, the fair tapped a jury that consists of designer Pierre Charpin, Fondation Lafayette Anticipations president Guillaume Houzé, Galerie Kreo co-founder Didier Krzentowski, Ecole Camondo director René-Jacques Mayer, Ateliers de Paris director and art historian Françoise Seince, and interior designer Pierre Yovanovitch.
Mayer cites two trends that are shaping the emerging design sphere in France. “Designers are developing stronger links with craftsmanship, distinguishing themselves less with industrial products than with objects produced in limited quantities using traditional savoir faire,” he says. “Secondly, they’re no longer interested in simply designing a chair, but developing products that are much more societal—their overriding aim is to solve problems.” Below, a guide to the award recipients, who exemplify those points.
A self-described “wild and sociable man,” Adrien Garcia splits his time between Paris and a dilapidated 17th-century castle near Nantes. “I need its empty, rundown spaces,” he says, referring to an oak bench based on a 15th-century model he discovered in its chapel. He’s currently developing his first full-blown furniture collection in an austere sculptural style partially inspired by land artists like Andy Goldsworthy.
“I like the idea of repetition, but with subtle variations,” says Julie Richoz, a Franco-Swiss product designer whose recent collaborators include Alessi, Louis Poulsen, and Tectona and who has lately been focusing on textiles and colored glass. She recently completed a series of round, elongated vases during a residency at CIRVA in Marseille. Krzentowski describes her work as “poetic, functional, and delicate—she assembles images and uses a wealth of references to create something new.”
“I want to turn on its head the paradigm that color is only a finishing touch,” says Laureline Galliot, who trained as both a dancer and textile colorist at ENSCI-Les Ateliers in Paris. She approaches color through unconventional methods, like drawing with cartoon animation software that runs on VR headsets. Mining Fauvism and German Expressionism, her latest products are gestural and pictorial—they include a polychromatic series of ceramics and a personality-rich rug that layers a power-clash of bold, saturated brushstrokes.
The pieces created by Mathieu Peyroulet Ghilini appear wildly different from one another, but are united by one overarching theme: his love of investigating form. His work, which ranges from trestle tables to elephant-shaped mirrors, has landed at the Centre Pompidou and Galerie Kreo, and “doesn’t advance on paths that are marked out,” says Pierre Charpin. “His curiosity leads him to be detached from the predominant trends of the moment.”
Natacha Poutoux met Sacha Hourcade at ENSCI-Les Ateliers, where they collaborated on a project that reimagines the traditional workstation. After stints working for India Mahdavi and the Bouroullec Brothers, they established their own studio to focus on household electronics, objects whose design are often left in the hands of engineers. To wit: a part-glass air humidifier resembles a sculptural vase, and a portable ceramic hard drive also offers natural convection heating. “We want to bring design to fields where it’s not necessarily expected,” Poutoux says.
“I like the weight, texture, and smell of things,” says Wendy Andreu, an alum of Design Academy Eindhoven who first made headlines with Regen, a series of objects fashioned from a waterproof fabric she developed. Since then, Andreu has masterminded furniture whose form and texture meticulously mirrors how it’s made. “I don’t aim to hide defects or polish things,” she says. It’s a winning approach—she counts Rick Owens and Faye Toogood among her clients, and recently joined prestigious Milanese design gallery Nilufar. Her latest products run the gamut from an eight-legged patinated steel stool to a series of aluminum bookshelves designed in collaboration with Bram Vanderbeke.