Here's a roundup of the standouts, from a sly new spin on matryoshka dolls to the year's (surprising) hottest hue from Paris's Maison + Objet, one of the world's most influential interior design shows.
Pinky orange honeysuckle may have been anointed Pantone's much-ballyhooed colour of the year for 2012, but it seems the rest of the design world has another favourite: turquoise. (At least if the wash of blues at Maison + Objet is to be believed). Unquestionably, multiple variations on turquoise – from morning-sky misty to Caribbean Sea intense – dominated upholstery, home accessories and even wall coverings. Most notably, French furniture company Ligne Roset featured a selection of its iconic seating produced in various soft blues. Turquoise also married nicely with neutrals at Roche Bobois. Denmark's Normann Copenhagen showed tableware in deep teal. Honeysuckle, should we send out a search party?
Some looked like exaggerated squeezes of toothpaste; others evoked David Hockney's painterly depiction of timber. Mostly, exaggeratingly large twisting ropes or tubes stood out as a design element that originated from a practical purpose – although it was also used solely for decorative texture. Thomas Eyck, a "design publisher" from the Netherlands, showed poufs crafted from large cords of knitted wool. Vitamin, a startup line from London, is now moving into production on suspended lamps wrapped in colourful monkey's-fist knots.
Thank the continuing economic anxiety – or the desire for an under-the-mattress banking alternative. Whatever the case, storage options for loose change and valuables are expanding beyond conventional safes and piggy banks. Like a damaged shipping crate dipped in gold, the Millionaire safe by Portuguese company Boca do Lobo is presumably meant to be ironic. Less so – but no less dramatic – is the steel-framed chest by French furniture designer Erwan Boulloud that has been burned and stained to menacing effect and sculpted as if buckling from the weight of an antique safe nesting on top. For loose change, Italian design studio Seletti offered the Money Box, a new bulb-shaped porcelain bank daintily decorated with Victorian-style illustrations.
Maison + Objet's Designer of the Year, Japan's Tokujin Yoshioka, has worked and collaborated with crème de la crème brands such as Hermès, Swarovski, Issey Miyake and Kartell. But for this installation, he has grown crystals and transformed them into haunting natural sculptures. These include a crystallized "sofa." Still immersed in its murky blue aquarium, it looks like a less inviting version of furniture you'd find at an ice
Three more individual highlights (in no particular order)
20 Hangers by Italy's Alice Rosignoli for Ligne Roset: Make use of all of them, or better yet, use just one for an in situ sartorial vignette. This suspended hanging system could well become a fixture of high-end boutique hotels.
Bougies Russes Candle Holders: Just when you thought you'd seen every possible interpretation of the matryoshka doll, Stephan Lanez (for promising new French manufacturer By Marcel) designed six frosted bell-jar candle holders that stack inside one another when not in use.
The Faint table by Patricia Urquiola for Italian manufacturer Glas: Here, an already sleek piece benefits from a clever trompe l'oeil; one side finished in white gradually fades to transparent glass – like freeze framing a magic trick.