The Paris trade fair – Maison et Objet

Maison et Objet Paris fair

This fair is on twice a year and it’s essentially where shops come to shop.

As a trade fair it’s not open to the public – it’s an intense display of salesmanship, visually overwhelming from the minute you step through the first set of doors.

Exterior shot of Parc du Exibition for Maison et Objet Jan 2012

.. It’s also a fraction of the size of the annual Milan fair apparently (where I still have yet to venture..).

I jump on the Eurostar from King’s Cross in London at 7am-ish on a Friday and I’m at the fair by 11:30 CET. I come back Saturday night completely unable to process any more information and struggling to remember my own name, although I must have said it over 1000 times in the course of 48 hours and in real danger of handing over my business card and introducing myself to my boyfriend when I see him again.

I saw Maison et Objet the first time maybe 2-3 years ago. It blew me away then and it still does now. It’s so big with so much to see and consider, it feels like rolling my entire life time’s worth of shopping trips into one – and I’m a ‘young’ woman now– so the math is scary.

This fair is on for 5 days and there are 9 exhibition halls featuring hundreds upon hundreds of exhibitors, some fully manned with representatives wielding multiple languages to suit every need. Everything is interconnected via covered walkways, so you’re fully immersed in product design of every conceivable description from start to finish and chances are you will succumb to sensory overload within a few hours. But then you have an overpriced sugary drink and continue anyway…

Maison et Objet Jan 2012

The exhibitors are there for one reason and one reason only – to sell their product. It is truly amazing to see the energy, time and effort that has been put into some of these displays and like any high street shop they vary in size and execution.

Some companies have enormous prime locations within the exhibit halls, featuring elaborate displays designed and constructed to impress. One such display looked as though the luxurious ground floor of a sea facing mansion – complete with full length windows, wrap around porch, outdoor plants and chirping birds – had been air-lifted into that very spot, inorder to provide a suitable setting to show case all the products on offer. What better way to get an idea of how beautiful this season’s glass jug would look on your table, after making hand squeezed lemonade for your friends on a beautiful summer’s day – even if you don’t live in a mansion by the sea.  It’s all highly charged with aspirational living, which is of course to be expected. They’re in the business of selling dreams and it’s entirely fascinating to step into each one along the way.

Stuffed giraffe at Maison et Objet

The big spectacular displays can be mind blowing, outrageously seductive and you’ll be sure to find plenty of things you may think you need – but know you want – however I always need to remember that more often than not, I’ll end up finding something fantastic hiding away in a smaller exhibit stand just around the corner or in the next hangar-sized exhibit hall. So there are no short cuts here. It’s all about patience and above all – comfortable shoes.