Je ne sais quois

Identity - - [email protected] LARGE - TEXT: JOANNE MOLINA

Once again, the City of Light will come alive amidst the grey Paris sky this Jan­uary when the world’s most cut­ting-edge de­sign­ers gather to cel­e­brate French and global de­sign at the Mai­son + Ob­jet trade show. This year, the show will fea­ture the theme ‘Ex­cuse my French’, con­jur­ing the no­tion of am­bi­gu­ity sur­round­ing French style, and will hon­our Ger­man de­signer Se­bas­tian Herkner with the high­est ac­co­lade: De­signer of the Year 2019.

“There’s a re­newed cu­rios­ity about the French abroad, a sort of fas­ci­na­tion at the mo­ment,” says Vin­cent Gré­goire from Parisian trend fore­cast­ing firm Nel­liRodi. For him, the move­ment is linked to glob­al­i­sa­tion. “In a world where things are be­com­ing stan­dard­ised, peo­ple are look­ing for some­thing dif­fer­ent,” he con­tin­ues.

All of these threads will be brought to­gether at the show’s Trend Fo­rum, where visitors will find a se­lec­tion of prod­ucts em­body­ing the new French scene – in­clud­ing some im­per­ti­nent dé­cor in­spired by The Palace of Ver­sailles’ Hall of Mir­rors. The nu­anced spin will in­clude a small truck parked in the mid­dle with items jux­ta­posed against the clas­sic set­ting.

“There will be dis­rup­tive, dis­so­nant el­e­ments and a spirit of con­tra­dic­tion,” prom­ises Gré­goire. “They’re an in­te­gral part of that je ne sais quoi.”

And given the show’s theme, Se­bas­tian Herkner is a wor­thy choice for De­signer of the Year.

With no less than 21 projects in the works with in­ter­na­tional de­sign houses, in­clud­ing Moroso, De­don, Thonet and Lin­tello, he has re­ceived some 30 awards over the least decade in recog­ni­tion of his in­no­va­tive yet tra­di­tional work.

“It’s ab­so­lutely vi­tal we re­vive all these tra­di­tional forms of crafts­man­ship be­fore they get lost for­ever, as they’re an in­te­gral part of our cul­tural her­itage,” says Herkner. “Dif­fer­ent cul­tures, skills and life­styles all fuel my in­spi­ra­tion,” he ex­plains.

Known for his ded­i­ca­tion to us­ing colour and di­verse ma­te­ri­als, it was ac­tu­ally his in­tern­ship with Stella McCart­ney that led to his fas­ci­na­tion with and skill for com­bin­ing hues. “Colour is of­ten the very last thing de­sign­ers think about. For me, it’s al­ways the start­ing point for the whole de­sign process.”

Stel­lar pen­dant light by Se­bas­tian Herkner

‘ Ex­cuse My French’

ta­ble for Edi­tion van Treeck by Se­bas­tian Herkner

Se­bas­tian Herkner

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