French design on show

Singapore's design scene gets some French flair when Maison&Objet comes to town next year.

The twice-a-year major design trade fair from Paris will have an Asian showing here next year from March 10 to 13 at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Center.

Singapore's version will be called Maison&Objet Asia, and comprise 150 exhibitors showcasing lifestyle wares, such as furniture, textiles, fragrance and jewellery, as well as interior design.

Mr Philippe Brocart, managing director of organisers Salons Francais Et Internationaux, says Singapore is a perfect fit in Asia for the show which started in the City of Light 18 years ago.

International big names in design, such as contemporary French furniture label Ligne Roset and British furniture design star Tom Dixon, regularly show their latest collections at the original Maison&Objet.

Emerging designers pop up there, hoping to get noticed and snag deals with retailers. Aesthetes and apartment-therapy types haunt its halls, hoping to uncover the Next Big Design Thing.

In town to announce details of the show, Mr Brocart, 49, says it had been down to two venues: Hong Kong and Singapore.

Singapore was "the choice for us" because it is "really the ideal platform to do business", he says. "Everything is easy to reach, from the hotels to the exhibition space."

The Singapore version will be a scaled-down, annual event compared to its French sister, which sees about 3,000 exhibitors in January and September.

Spread over 6,500sqm, Maison&Objet Asia will also be about 95 per cent smaller than the 130,000sq m Paris show, which takes up nine halls at the Paris Nord Villepinte Exhibition Center. About 76,000 people visited the show last January.

Like in Paris, exhibitors will be carefully curated by a team assembled by the organisers. They will be selected for their range, quality, branding and regional sales presence.

Organisers decline to reveal how much they charge for exhibitors to participate, and the show's total mounting budget has yet to be finalised.

The casual home decorator, however, might be disappointed that ticket sales will not be open to the public as the organisers want to keep it solely a trade event.

Still, they can content themselves with other design events.

The annual International Furniture Fair Singapore, took place at Singapore Expo in Changi over the weekend and ended on Tuesday, while design festival SingaPlural which ended Friday, has various design events in Orchard Road and showcases works from local furniture designers.

The inaugural Design Society Festival, which ran last week, explored various creative design disciplines and had workshops and a film festival.

Mr Brocart is unfazed about the possibility of design fatigue from too many shows lined up around the same time.

Confident that the trade show will offer design hounds something different, he says: "Only about a quarter of the show is made up of furniture exhibits, so it is an opportunity for retailers, architects and interior designers to see not just new furniture collections but everything to do with lifestyle and living."

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