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Exclusive interview with Commercial Director of Maison&ObjetWednesday 18 November 2015
Paris Design Week is renowned for exceptional designs by brands from around the world showing their latest and most innovative products. We love this show! Paris’s most creative week in September will enliven design showrooms, brands, concept stores, museums, galleries, boutiques, hotels, and restaurants around the city of light. COVETED Magazine got the chance to talk with Franck Millot, Commercial Director of Maison & Objet Paris and Paris Design Week, about this year’s edition of the design event.
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COVETED – This event is a great opportunity to share and exhibit new talents. Could you tell us how Paris Design Week started?
Franck Millot – Organizers of the MAISON&OBJET fair, strictly for professionals, we wanted to propose a unifying event, accessible to all, which gives all design enthusiasts the possibility to enjoy the excitement that the show generates for one week. Its first edition took place in 2011, as you remember. It was also an opportunity for us to meet emerging design talents: young designers, new brands, those that move the world of design and make it better.
CM – The event takes place at « Cite de la mode et du design » in Paris, the building is located on the site of the old general store « Quai d’Austerlitz » and was built by the architecture firm Jakob + Macfarlane. Were « The Docks of cite de la mode et du design » chosen as the main venue of the event for a particular reason?
FM – Firstly because it is the City of Fashion and Design. It is the calling of the place, to give Parisians a place to gather around and discuss design, to make the general public aware of it. But we were also captured by the place itself, which was the subject of a daring architectural approach, which is still quite rare in the heart of Paris. It therefore has a certain symbolic dimension which we thought was important. And then finally, because we needed a place large enough to accommodate more than 80 participants and the first floor of the building seemed to lend itself perfectly to the projects we had.
CM – We are aware that there are also associated events including « Talks » organized by groups of architects, designers and artists in other emblematic Parisian locations. What are the subjects of these “Talks” and how are they chosen?
FM – New this year, we decided to organize « Talks” on various topics related to current issues of design. Our desire was to densify the world of PARIS DESIGN WEEK a little and make it more didactic. We obviously have a vested interest in educating the general public about design and to raise its stakes in its current questions. Four panel discussions will therefore be held at the Docks – City of Fashion and Design, culinary design, the relationship between form and new uses, the design of participation to enhance the luxury brands of the world and the emergence of new production patterns in the world of design. All these themes were chosen with input from Chantal Hamaide, editor of Intramuros French design magazine. She will also lead the discussions, which will involve well-known figures from the world of design: Alberto Alessi, Jay Osgerby, Edward Barber, Patrick Jouin or Matali Crasset.
CM – There is also “Le Parcours Spécial Projets”, on the subject of professional Interior Architecture. Could you tell us more about it please?
FM – « Le Parcours Spécial Projets » is new this year. We put in place to echo the resizing of Maison & Objet PROJECTS, one of the sectors of the show Maison & Objet which offers a selection of all the exhibitions specialized in producing innovative and very well made typologies – extremely varied. This will include things from floorings to walls to switches and doorknobs, through the development of welfare facilities; swimming pools, lighting, etc. In short, a global offering of all the architectural finishes that can give character to the achievements of high-end projects. Special Projects the course proposes the visitors to discover these in the showrooms at PARIS DESIGN WEEK, throughout Paris.
CM – We cannot forget the call to projects « Now ,! The off » now its 5th edition, open to all new and emerging design talents and publishers. To participate you must download the application form on Paris Design Week’s website. What is the process to participate and what benefits could we have if selected?
FM – Our sales team is constantly in discussions with brands that design both for Maison & Objet, and also for PARIS DESIGN WEEK. But for « now! le off », we launch an annual call for international projects, to capture the attention of young talents worldwide, relayed on our networks and those of our partners. Among all the projects for which we receive an application, we naturally proceed to a selection, retaining only the most interesting and the most successful.
For young talents who submit us their application, it is a platform that allows them to gain visibility, to make themselves known, to show their work, to socialize and to build a network. All with a much more affordable investment to participate in a salon. Last year, over 17,000 visitors visited « Now! le off ». Moreover, it is not uncommon that we find, after some years, some designers that were exposed in « Now! le off », in the living room at Maison & Objet.
CM – Last year Mexico was the invited country for ” Now! le off “
What about this year? Could we have the fortune of knowing the country invited for this edition?
FM – This year we are pleased to present « Wonder 500 », a group of Japanese designers, sponsored by designer Ken Okuyama. We also introduce the students that work in a large Korean university: Yeungnam University. We also present at « City of Fashion and Design » the work of young talents from Indonesia, Singapore … This 2015 edition will be marked by a strong Asian presence.
CM: Does the jury change every year? If so, under what conditions are they chosen?
FM – The jury actually changes every year. Its members are chosen by RADO and Maison & Objet in collaboration. We are targeting influential people in design, with an eye and extensive design culture, but also with a keen interest in young designers. It is important that all the jurors be motivated by curiosity and taste to find new talent.
CM – The Swiss watch brand, Rado joins the Paris Design Week for the 3rd time to give the RADO STAR PRIZE, a contest involving all New Design Talents exhibitions and Now! le off. Could you explain us what this competition is about?
FM – For three years now, we have worked with RADO for the RADO STAR PRIZE; we give two awards, the Jury Prize and the Audience Award. The principle is simple, amongst the projects selected to participate in the exhibition « Now! le off » in, the Docks – City of Fashion and Design, we choose ten projects that meet a particular criteria established by the jury, that stand out for their creativity and innovation. This year, the jury met in late June to decide which of them would be awarded the Jury Prize. It was then that they finally decided to appoint two winners tie, the Dancers projects by Aurélie Hoegy and the Project S by Julien Levasseur. The projects that were not awarded a prize by the jury then compete for the Audience Award, through a vote on the www.radostarprize.fr site. Voting will be open until September 9th. The project with the most votes will receive the Audience Award. Both awards will be formally presented to the winners at the official evening « Now! le off » the next day, Thursday, September 10.
CM – Paris is one of the most important capitals of the world, first, because it is the most visited and also because of its immense cultural richness. It is common knowledge that Design in the French capital used to be an issue concerning a reduced group, whereas nowadays it has become a real melting pot of personalities with different perspectives. This democratization of design has also allowed us to gather around and has invited us all to be part of it, being that this event’s main success.
Great power involves great responsibility, as they say. So, what is your goal and what are the repercussions of Paris Design Week to the world of design?
FM – PARIS DESIGN WEEK is only a medium, our role is to highlight and publicize the talent and work of designers, publishers, industrialists. We exist only through the sum of the energies that are mobilizing in September. Ours objectives are multiple: to help bring out new talent, provide a launch platform for new collections, to publicize new creative places in Paris. Being closely connected to Maison & Objet, we also aim to promote the creative image of Paris in the competition that will be delivered to major cities. To attract the attention of professionals and the media are about 3,000 companies and designers in Paris at the show and in the city at the beginning of September.
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CM – Thank you very much for accepting this interview. Lastly, we would like to know your advice for designers / future designers. Could you give a tip to this young generation of designers?
FM – A tip that many already apply: in a globalized and interconnected world, think big! The markets, collaborations are possible almost anywhere in the world. It has never been easier to communicate and make yourselves known throughout the world: social networks, internet, etc. and events like PARIS DESIGN WEEK are there to show your talent.