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'Future on Stage' at Maison&Objet 2024 spotlights emerging sustainability designers
Works showcased at Future on Stage as part of Maison&Objet’s 30th anniversary edition this January
Video: Anne-Emmanuelle Thion

'Future on Stage' at Maison&Objet 2024 spotlights emerging sustainability designers

Responding to TECH EDEN, the theme for the January edition of the Parisian fair, the Future on Stage programme highlighted 3 young studios for their innovative designs.

by Ria Jha, Jincy Iype
Published on : Feb 26, 2024

Maison&Objet commemorated 30 years of excellence in the home decor, design, and lifestyle sectors in its January edition this year. In observance of this milestone, the showcase in Paris, France transported guests to a wondrous future where nature and technology coexist in harmony. This year's theme, TECH EDEN, suffused most aspects of the Parisian design fair, using form and colour to communicate ‘surreal optimism,’ directing focus towards imagining a ‘futuristic biophilia,’ a new realm of wellbeing utilising design.

To take its vision forward, for the past two years, Maison&Objet has been organising a launch pad called Future On Stage, a platform that recognises French as well as international talents pushing the boundaries of design innovation, through material explorations and allied applications. As part of Future On Stage each year, three exceptional and talented young designers are granted an exclusive exhibition space, to receive more global exposure and gain assistance from industry professionals visiting the bi-annual international design event.

“To support young companies that are determined to make an impact today and tomorrow, the Future On Stage programme takes our forward-looking mission a step further in an evolving marketplace. Acting as an incubator, Maison&Objet accelerates the development of these remarkable young companies, these Digital Native Vertical Brands which have so much to offer, bringing real added value to retail buyers and architects wishing to assert their uniqueness with brands that will help them stand out,” shares Mélanie Leroy, Managing Director of SAFI and Maison&Objet.

In its fourth edition this year, Future On Stage reinforced the idea of a long-lasting partnership between innovation, creation, and sustainability. Chaired by Leroy, the Future On Stage jury consisted of Vincent Grégoire, director of Consumer Trends & Insights at NellyRodi; Philippe Lehr, director of Sales and Development at Designerbox; Franck Millot, director of Paris Design Week; Florence Delage, director of Sales at Le Bon Marché; Cristiano Benzoni, co-founder of Studio REV, and Vincent Romeo, founder of Blog Esprit Design and director of Agence 14 septembre.

The jury selected three emerging companies with genuine futuristic design approaches and methods, with key initiatives reconciling aesthetics and technology while pointing towards a brighter future. In attendance at the fair, STIR met with the winning designers and spoke to them at length, delving into their innovative designs and their unique comprehensions of the fair’s theme: France -based design studio Anga, Greece-based company BlueCycle and Portugal-based Tosco Studio.

Commenting on the choice of winners, Leroy relays, “The jury was very much unanimous in choosing these brilliant, disruptive and innovative projects. Each one offers forward-looking solutions combining technology, technique, craftsmanship and eco-design. Whether seen from the perspective of slow decor, sourcing raw materials, or the second life of a product, they all embrace the values of eco-responsibility, not as a marketing tool, but as something self-evident. When examining the applications, we make sure that this holistic approach does not come at the expense of design or scalability. As you will see, our approach has paid off.”

Founded by Suzanna Laskaridis, BlueCycle forms an optimal circle that is connected to the ocean. The company conceives furniture designs created from marine plastic detritus, designed with shapes and textures influenced by aquatic life. Recycled fishing nets and packing materials retrieved from the Aegean Sea are used to construct 3D-printed vases, benches, and chairs.

“Our first step was to collect marine debris between the Greek islands. A few years later, we developed our products with the aim of reintroducing the collected plastic into industry. After transforming old nets into pots and outdoor seating, we’re now putting together a homeware series that will reflect our latest research: we’ve found a technique for combining our own waste with two other derivative materials,” shares Laskaridis.

Founded by designer Joana Esteves, Tosco Studio is a Portuguese design studio working exclusively with concrete, transforming an age-old material into covetable design pieces. Based in Lisbon, Tosco Studio explores forms and colours to create irreverent pieces of furniture, lighting and objects, in a method termed as ‘ennobling concrete,’ elevating her designs above brutalism and towards elegance. "In Tosco, as in many creative studios around the world, the current and future trends flow through our processes. In our case, our pattern styles and some of our collection designs are strongly influenced by nature’s colours and organic shapes. When you look at a Tosco piece you can feel a strong connection to earthly tones and you can let yourself be involved and energised by the marble patterns and colour mixes. All this, in a way not seen before, working with a raw material usually associated with grey tones and hard surfaces and giving it a softness and fluidity that surprise most people," shares Esteves.

Cement is rarely regarded as a noble material and is more frequently utilised in the construction business. Esteves miniaturised cement to create tables, vases, and shelves with two-tone marble designs that embrace the organic flow of forms inspired by nature. “The aim of my research was to find a material that would give me total freedom to work with shapes and colours. After numerous tests, I bought a bag of concrete. It was a revelation! I was able to play around endlessly, obtaining completely different forms and a unique rendering. Giving nobility to the cement used on building sites has been a creative and technical challenge that has enabled me to change perceptions,” shares Esteves.

Anga, co-founded by Alexandre Alimi and Valentine d’Harcourt, presented their research-backed project called ‘21st-century marble,’ a material made out of recycled waste plastic with the appearance of marble. The idea took shape when Alimi stumbled across plastic waste and decided to conceptualise it to use as a raw material for his product designs, while still a student at Strate Design. Later, he partnered with d'Harcourt, an ESSEC student, to turn it into construction panels.

“By using his kitchen oven to melt fine plastic, a low-toxicity material that is seldom recycled, Alexandre came up with a recipe for a revolutionary material described as environmentally-friendly marble. We offer it in high-end panels for worktops, credenzas or surfaces (for offices, for bathrooms) and we're going to be offering it in the form of office furniture with Moore design,” shares d'Harcourt.

A dedication to Maison&Objet's forward-thinking vision, the Future On Stage programme featured three exceptional, emerging companies whose futuristic approaches skillfully combined sustainable design, craftsmanship, technology, and aesthetics. These innovative initiatives show established exhibiting brands and companies how to embrace sustainability in design and production methods, while also ethical and sustainable development in the retail and design sectors. As the design industry continues to evolve, Maison&Objet's standing as a worldwide leader is further cemented by its ability to support and expedite the development of young talents like them. Their design fables also interpret the design festival's relevant theme, proving how sustainably led approaches such as theirs can become ubiquitous in the larger design industries, heralding a future where we reconcile with nature through means of technology.

Tap on the head banner to view STIR’s interview with Anga, Bluecycle, and Tosco Studio at Maison&Objet 2024’s January edition.

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