This biannual trade fair in Paris has just finished and in 2016 numerous South African brands took part. The reason? They are all part of the CBI programme – a Dutch government-funded initiative that seeks to assist designers from developing countries and help grow their businesses and access the export market. There were almost 30 designers on the CBI programme in 2016, of which the following were selected for Maison. Wanted got some insight into some of the brands’ highlights.

1. Skinny laMinx

Heather Moore, designer and founder of Skinny laMinx:

“I had never visited Maison before, and found the sheer scale and variety of things on show quite astonishing. With that in mind, it was great to have people paying attention to our stand, and taking time to find out more. It’s not easy to get noticed at such a huge show, and we were happy to get some great orders, as well as a lot of interested leads. I’m a huge fan of Maison et Objet’s Designer of the Year, Ilse Crawford, so my personal highlight was when she offered me some homemade baklava on a tray! Of course, the beautiful baskets developed by our very own Binky Newman of Design Afrika have always been a favourite, but I developed a new love affair with the exquisite embroidered cushions and woven rugs of Paris-based Lindell & Co. The workmanship, the quality, the colours, the designs – all had me utterly captivated.” 

2. Cowgirlblues

Bridget Henderson, designer and founder of Cowgirlblues:

“It was intense, amazing, exhilarating, overwhelming, humbling, encouraging, terrifying, inspiring, challenging, and an incredible privilege! Showcasing your business and products at a fair like Maison is intense – equal parts overwhelming and exhilarating.  The show experience is a paradox in many ways. It is humbling to see your own product in the context of so many other makers and designers, and to realise quite how much product there is on offer – and really great product! And in the midst of this cacophony, it’s also incredibly encouraging to have discerning international buyers notice, appreciate, and compliment your work. The Taiwan Design stand in hall 7 was very interesting – young designers are exploring material, surface, and technique in interesting ways. And I really liked Jonathan Adler’s stand: he uses colour in inspiring ways, and has a relatively light-hearted approach, which I enjoy.”

3. De Steyl

Deanne Viljoen, designer and founder of De Steyl:

“We received such positive feedback on the quality, originality and cleverness of the stackable concept of our 2DO products and were very happy to receive orders from amazing design shops we admire like Mahatsara, Bensimon Autour du Monde Home, and Iris Hantverk. The sheer scope of the show is overwhelming, but the lighting installation by teamLab in hall 7 was by far the most talked about. Our favourite brand we discovered was Bacsac in Hall 7. This brand designs gardening products and we loved their terracotta chantepleure (watering can) and “garden fetish” tools.  Quirky, quality design, incredibly beautifully made, and essentially functional everyday objects that will never get old. “

4. Design Afrika

Binky Newman, designer and founder of Design Afrika:

“Being at Maison & Objet with my colleagues on the CBI programme in Paris was inspirational.  I have returned to Cape Town with fantastic new ideas, but also the knowledge that the world out there loves our handmade baskets, many of which are woven in South Africa, and which we also source  from a number of other African countries, keeping age-old skills alive. A highlight was meeting Boubacar Ndomo of Mali, an extraordinary creative designer of traditional Bogolan cloth, better known as mud cloth. I had been inspired by one of his cloth designs in creating a one-off woven installation with Uganda basket weavers for their stand at Maison & Objet. He has been my hero for many years, and I was humbled to meet him at last. Design Afrika will soon be marketing his dramatic pieces in South Africa.”

5. Evolution Product

Amanda du Plessis, designer and founder of Evolution Product:

“I have always loved international brands Ibride and Seletti for the sense of humor in their products. A highlight for us was the enthusiasm of the international retailers and decorators. That and securing orders with retailers who we have drooled over for the past four years.”

6. Indigi Design

Natalie du Toit, designer and founder of Indigi Design:

“It was a highlight having such a dominant South African presence in two halls at the show this year, and that our designs and quality were on international standards. Our stand was buzzing with interest. Design that stood out for me was Pascal Oudet’s delicate and sculptural sandblasted wooden vessels in the French craft section – they just blew my mind. Exquisite!”

7. Minima

Jacques Cronje, designer and founder of Minima:

“Overall, it was an incredible experience.  At Maison you feel like you are a very small fish in a very big sea among some of the world’s greatest brands and designers. So the experience is two-fold: partly the experience of exhibiting there and putting your products on stage for the world’s comments and criticism, and partly just to be there and see everything else.  In terms of trends, personally I saw that the natural wood trend is very strong. Bamboo was also evident as an emerging trend. On the opposite end, I saw lots of bright colours – gold, green, and black – and in some instances opulence was very strong a trend. Some highlights were Wewood from Portugal, Ethnicraft from Belgium, Lovi from Finland, and Norr11 from Denmark. Danish design continued to impress with the classic Scandinavian style. I was also very proud of the South African presence at the show, both with my peers at the CBI stand, as well as the incredible collection presented by Source in partnership with the CCD.”

8. Vogel

John Vogel, designer and founder of Vogel:

“Aside from being in Paris with warm weather and blue skies, it was fun to be exhibiting alongside our fellow South African designers and friends.  It was also the launch of our export range, which is a collection of smalls made out of offcut timber from our furniture factory. We were encouraged to and inspired to move forward and grow the range. Some highlights included the clean simplicity of the Thai and Japanese designers, to the ornate sculptural master-crafting of East European designers. Kenneth Cobonpue of the Philippines had a particularly imaginative and inspiring exhibit called Cirque du Cobonpue.”

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