It was more than South Beach meets South of France at the inaugural Maison&Objet AMERICAS, where there was great participation from all over the world at the recent Miami show.
By Marilyn Nason
For 20 years, the renowned Paris-based Maison&Objet trade show has drawn crowds to the City of Light. Recently the organizers have adapted its successful formula to launch annual events in Asia, Singapore and, this year, in Miami to tap the North, Central, and South American markets along with Mexico.
Comprised of 350 exhibitors (of which 36 percent were exclusive to the Maison&Objet AMERICAS fair) from 24 countries, the event attracted 8,600 design professionals from 80 countries for a total of 11,000 visitors.
The U.S. version of M&O that was held at the Miami Beach Convention Center also offered great names from the interior design and architecture community as speakers. Paola Navone, Karim Rashid, David Rockwell, Kelly Hoppen, George Yabu, Glenn Pushelberg, Dror Benshetrit, Will Meyer, and Piero Lissoni were among the professionals who shared their vision while elaborating on strategic perspectives.
Proving the positive reception among buyers was the official announcement before the initial show had opened its doors that M&O AMERICAS would be returning again next May in Miami. Furthermore, show management declared that by 2017, the success of M&O AMERICAS will encompass all of the exhibit halls offered by the Miami Beach Convention Center (this first edition filled approximately half of the space).
Not surprisingly, since the original Paris edition has always considered lighting to be key when assembling the perfect look for living rooms, dining spaces, master suites, and outdoor garden spaces, there were plenty of cutting-edge table and floor lamps as well as sconces and chandeliers.
While most of the attendees at the Miami rendition acknowledged they had never been to the Paris or Singapore versions of the show, several American interior designers indicated that the pieces that each exhibitor selected for the Miami Beach event were relevant and would be exciting additions to their high-end clients’ interiors as well as for hospitality or light commercial settings.
Of particular interest to many buyers in attendance was the fact that many of the pieces on display were handcrafted with natural or reclaimed materials — and that the actual craftsman was on-hand at the booth to explain his/her design process.
Many overseas exhibitors emphasized designs that would serve as powerful fashion statements wherever they are placed, and several companies made it a point to display lamps and lighting fixtures that would provide the dual purpose of illuminating the total area (i.e. ambient lighting) as well as highlighting a single item such as wall art, a mirror, a classic rug, or a textile pattern. In addition, real wood lamps – from pendants to table and floor lamps – drew considerable interest. One company developed a flexible wood veneer that provides a unique aesthetic quality to its lamps with finishes ranging from ash, beech, and ebony to grey oak and colors from yellow and red to green and blue.
Just as the use of natural materials was a strong focus among lighting exhibitors, several companies also played with scale — from offering overpowering large dimensions down to small, diminutive and downright dainty sizes.
There was also plenty of whimsy on display, from vintage, one-of-a-kind table lamps whose body was a reclaimed telephone (several versions) or an old-fashioned camera to a large, covered metal tin.
Another aspect of the M&O AMERICAS event that made it stand out was the show organizer’s ability to extend the buzz beyond the walls of the Miami Beach Convention Center to include the city, such as the festive Design District, museums accessible through a partnership with Museum Month, exploration of the Ironside area, and happenings at the famed DCOTA design center. Among the M&O AMERICAS events was a party for Designer of the Year Zanini de Zanine as well as Rising Talents, which was held at the New World Center designed by Frank Gehry and drew a crowd of 575 guests. According to show management, visitors had ample opportunity to sample the “Miami experience” amid cocktail parties, live music, and hip gatherings.
The success of the inaugural M&O AMERICAS is also attributed to the support of the city – from the Convention Center to the Visitors Bureau and the Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine who presented the Designer of the Year Award. It is hoped that M&O AMERICAS will emerge as a highlight of the Miami calendar similar to Art Basel. In 2016, the show will return to the Miami Beach Convention Center from May 10 to 13.