Image credit: Paris
It’s been a busy week. I’ve been to two trade shows, both extraordinary in their own ways, both in the City of Light, Paris.
Maison et Objet is a massive, buzzing bazaar of offerings with over 1,000 exhibitors displaying everything from carpets, cookware and houseplants to whole rooms you can assemble from flatpack.
It was so enormous the organisers painted red lines on the carpet to help you navigate from room to room. My companion and I felt like we were in The Wizard of Oz following the Yellow Brick Road.
And we still lost each other – twice!
Maybe it was the 3am start but I found at the end of the day I’d seen so much I was dazzled and frazzled and, looking back I can’t really remember a thing. It’s a strange thing but there was so much choice my brain couldn’t focus on any one thing. It was like when you’re looking for a film to watch these days and you scroll through Netflix and iPlayer and 100 channels and you simply can’t find anything you fancy!
Too much choice seems to be more confusing than liberating for the imagination.
One of the great copywriters of the 20th century, David Ogilvy (American Express’es tagline ‘Don’t leave home without it’ is still in use 45 years on) said ‘The deepest secret of creativity is the imposition of constraints’. And oh, how I understood the wisdom of his words at the next show we visited.
From the start Paris Deco Off felt like a treat rather than an assault on the senses. It was housed in many shops and involved wandering the streets of the right and left banks, looking out for the beautiful lampshades that indicated a showroom.
Image credit: Lampshades
Logically it should have been more trouble than having everything under one roof but somehow it wasn’t. It was a delight to find and visit the shops. We had the feeling that we were part of something special and secret – just for us rather than organised to extract the most money in the smallest floor space possible.
I took many fewer notes than I had at Maison et Objet, but I vividly remember more than a dozen fabulous items.
Little Greene’s new wallpaper collection was a highlight.
Part of it is that the content was curated and specific – only wallpaper and fabric were on show. The monkey mind was soothed and because it didn’t have to jump around so much it sat down quietly and ate a banana. Leaving me to bask in the lush velvets of Manuel Canovas fabrics and the stunning botanical prints of Osbourne and Little’s latest offerings.
So a lesson learned. Less really is more.