Live from Paris, with Philippe Brocart

In the middle of Paris Design Week and the digital fair, the Managing Director of Maison&Objet Philippe Brocart reveals the positive trend of this unusual edition that bridges the gap between online and offline

Philippe Brocart © JAG
Philippe Brocart © JAG

The Paris Design Week is the first physical trade event for several months. What is the main purpose that prompted you to confirm the initiative?
We’re very happy that we were able to put this edition together. I have to thank my teams for their commitment, even when it was so hard to foresee what was coming in the midst of the COVID situation in France. But together we decided that our industry really needed to get together and re-start their business. Paris Design Week is the perfect format for this purpose in the current context: showrooms, gallery or outdoor exhibitions invite people to stroll again and get inspiration safely. We therefore got a tremendous response and enthusiasm from the professionals who organized great showcases and from the public who came in all along.

Bibliothèque historique de la ville de Paris. Ph © Anne Emmanuelle Thion
Bibliothèque historique de la ville de Paris. Ph © Anne Emmanuelle Thion

Could you give us an early feedback about it? Who are the visitors and what are the most appreciated events?
Our visitors are a mix of professionals, retailers coming from all over France to get their supplies and new products for the end of year season. We also have students, a lot of editors, and influencers. One of the good surprises is also to welcome a large number of local public, families and design addicts who particularly enjoy installations in Parisian landmarks. For instance the Mobilier National at the Eiffel Tower has attracted a lot for visitors and so has Pierre Gonalons at the Hotel de Soubise. Lastly, our Paris Design Week Factory spots in le Marais gathering international and young talents have been much visited during the first weekend.

M&O has debuted as Digital Fair: a feedback?
Ever since the beginning of the COVID situation we’ve seen a significant increase in registrations and connections on our MOM (Maison&Objet and More) platform. The website was actually launched in 2016 to serve as an online version of Maison&Objet, all through the year. And it has become an outstanding attribute for brands to receive complementary leads since many years, and especially since March. It was as natural extension for us to organize a Digital Fair in September to amplify and concentrate the level of interactions needed by the market at that time. After a couple of days, we can confirm thousands of international buyers connected every day, hundreds of participants to each conferences and – the most important – almost every brands registered connections with new buyers.

Paris Design Week Factory. Ph @ Greg Sevaz
Paris Design Week Factory. Ph @ Greg Sevaz

Are you already working on the next January edition? Any anticipations?
We’re getting ready indeed. We’re trying to figure out what will be the best format according to different scenarios; we’ll need to be flexible, anyway. Whatever we will do, it will serve international brands and design buyers. This is our mission as a tradeshow: we’re passers, we have to help and spread the inspiration in the best possible format. So far, we’re scheduled for January 22 to 26 at the Parc des Expositions de Villepinte as usual, and we will be very excited to showcase our Designer of the Year, Franklin Azzi, with his immersive installation about the evolution for the workspace over the ages.

Could the combination of virtual and physical events be a new exhibition format for the future?
Definitely we believe, since the creation of MOM, in the complementary roles of online and offline tools. But design products required to be seen and touched, this will never be replaced by digital event.

Conversation, Philippe Brocart & Ramy Fischler. Ph @ Julien Cregut
Conversation, Philippe Brocart & Ramy Fischler. Ph @ Julien Cregut

You were the protagonist with Ramy Fischler of a Conversation about ‘tomorrow’s world and its habitat’: shortly, what is your opinion about it?
I’ve always liked the way Ramy has this ability to extract himself from the present to project a near future where the design thinking is a core strength. Working on new ways, on new needs, has never been so present in every designer’s mind, and I’m glad Maison&Objet has been the backdrop of such a forward thinking project.