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Unbridled desire and unbounded imagination for the Maison

By Ricky Toledo and Chito Vijandre, The Philippine STAR Published May 28, 2022 5:00 am

“When people come to Paris, it is to tap into an expertise and this one-of-a kind-lifestyle which can be found nowhere else,” explained Philippe Brocart, the general manager of Maison & Objet, which is a most awaited biannual trade fair in the design, home décor, and lifestyle sectors.

It just concluded its second post-pandemic session where industry professionals were only too eager to meet again in person to make new discoveries, exchange ideas, and get a pulse of market trends.

Chiqui Veneracion, Maison & Objet’s Philippine Office representative, has been at the forefront of bringing design-driven Philippine manufacturing to the show, where Design Philippines—organized by the Center for International Trade, Expositions and Missions (CITEM)—has been exhibiting regularly until the pandemic made it necessary to switch to the trade fair’s digital platform, Maison & Objet and More (MOM).

An Art Deco setting at Maison & Objet

Although plans for a booth have been moved to the September show, Design Philippines was still represented in the recent edition through the selection by international tastemakers of three Filipino products at The Best of MOM setting, which included an edited group of creations by top brands.

The fine craftsmanship of Philippine products fit right in with the show’s theme: New Luxury: From Uber Luxury to Lux Populis, which explores new paths that draw on haute-couture artisan craftsmanship and high technology on one hand, and pop culture and the values of inclusivity on the other.

A setting from The Invisible Collection featuring the new collection by Vincent Darré x de Gournay

“In uncertain times, people feel the need for something different, the need for emotions and experiences, the need to push fantasy to the limits,” says Vincent Grégoire, trend hunter at international style and innovation consultancy Nelly Rodi, a forecasting expert for creative industries.

The collection of Vincent Darré x de Gournay at The Invisible Collection

“Clearly there is a new trend, a new luxury consumer, who is totally different from the ones we had a few years ago,” says Brocart. He cites the rise of “those influencers, those Instagram boys and ladies” who know and promote the new codes that are driving the intense craving for a new kind of luxe.

India Stacking Vessels by Utopia & Utility

Uber Luxury

Uber Luxury is about utilizing the best resources, from traditional fine crafts that have been perfected for generations to the latest technology, the latter tirelessly enhancing the artistic dexterity of the hand, giving rise to something so precious, prodigious, and outstanding — with one foot rooted in the wisdom and experience of the past and the other decidedly in the future, where our desires are unbridled, our imagination unbounded and beauty has no limits. Grégoire cites the uber luxuries that have been created of late: The Rolls-Royce Phantom Oribe done in collaboration with Hermès, a refined bespoke car for a Japanese billionaire — envisioned as a “land jet” incorporating private air travel’s serene exclusivity; the breathtaking, cathedral-like Dujiangyan Zhongshuge bookstore designed by X+Living in the Chinese city of Chengdu, a veritable hall of mirrors that provides a surreal, spellbinding experience for book lovers; as well as the success of designers whose limited-edition furnishings border on art.

The Dujiangyan Zhongshuge bookstore designed by X+Living in Chengdu

“In the increasingly visionary design world, designers are developing materials hand in hand with physicists, incorporating threads of silk, copper and LED into fabrics, whilst settees are morphing from simple seats into fully connected objects,” observes Grégoire. “What’s more, the waiting lists are growing ever longer for these exclusive objects of desire.”

Armchair from The Invisible Collection

With a small minority as the target market, catering to a quest for beauty and transcendence and encompassing an almost spiritual dimension, the sky is no longer the limit. The ultimate luxury? “Heading for the stars and blasting off on one of Virgin Galactic’s commercial space flights, or spending a night in the first-ever space hotel dreamed up by an American startup.”

Sideboard and lamp from The Invisible Collection

Lux Populis

If Uber Luxury’s influence is “from the top down,” Lux Populis is “from the ground up.” Grégoire cites Virgil Abloh, who “capitalized on the expectations of an audience that emerged from popular cultures hungry for recognition, who don’t care about good taste.” It draws energy from the street, mixing genres including the precious and ordinary, for a playful, bold result that isn’t afraid to be provocative. Boldly showing off on social media and provoking an avalanche of new images transmitted by influencers to millions of followers, this is the domain of speed, fast fashion, and a shared festive experience.

Mickey Sparkling by Thomas Dariel, Leblon Delienne

In search of experiences and younger generations, the new rules of this kind of luxe involve pop-up style and event-based “cool-laborations,” like Dior co-branding with Air Jordan sneakers and Gucci opening a pop-up garden within the Roblox video game. “The mix of different worlds, gamification, inclusivity, the virtual worlds of the metaverse and pop-up and temporary items meet this need to exist,” says Grégoire.

Baile Collection by Jaime Hayon for BOSA

Lux Populis’ stimulating kind of energy was seen at the fair in furniture like AP Collection’s contemporary armchairs with stuffed toys, handmade in luxury fabrics; Leblon Dalien’s Mickey Sparkling made in collaboration with French designer Thomas Dariel, a tribute to the famous mouse and the Pointillist movement; and Jaime Hayon’s Baile collection for BOSA of animated birds, vases and candlesticks that look like they are going to a masquerade ball. The pieces of Lux Populis no doubt bring a joyful celebration, a circus for the masses, if you will, during these times when they need it most.