Maison&Objet, the major trade fair for design that takes place in Paris annually, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. In 2014, the fair expanded to Singapore, and this week, it launched Masion&Objet Americas, setting up shop at the Miami Beach Convention Center. We spoke with Maison&Objet’s managing director Philippe Brocart about the expansion of the show and the decision to come to Miami.
WHITEWALL: Why did Maison&Objet originally want to expand to the United States? Why Miami?
PHILIPPE BROCART: We were looking to build upon on the strength of the Maison&Objet brand internationally, and sought a regional hub from which to extend our reach into the booming U.S. and Latin American high-end decor and design markets.
Miami is clearly the best location to attract buyers and interior designers from both North and South America. The city has already proven to be a strong lure for art, culture, architecture, and design, and so many star architects are working on big projects in the city. Even the Pritzker is being held in Miami Beach for the first time.
WW: How was the timing of May chosen? Why not have it in December to coincide with the crowds for the art fairs then?
PB: Maison&Objet puts on three other fairs during the year, and we need to coordinate with the international calendar of design and decor exhibition as much as we were able. We also need to contend with additional logistical concerns like the availability of the convention center, which is unavailable in December due to Art Basel, when hotel space is both scarce and expensive.
WW: Last year the fair had its first edition in Singapore. Did you learn anything from that first time that you’ll apply to the Miami edition, whether it is institutional partnerships or visitor experience?
PB: When we launch a new fair, we need to remain true to our DNA, but at the same time adapt to the local context. In Singapore more than 30 percent of the exhibitors are from Asia, and in Miami we will have exhibitors coming from not only from the U.S. but also from the many South American countries.
WW: The fair will have about 300 exhibitors, and expects around 10,000 visitors, which is much smaller than Paris, which typically gets 80,000 visitors every fair. Do you expect that the audience in Miami will grow to be comparable to Paris? Or is it a completely different market?
PB: We will grow step by step. It took us more than 20 years to achieve those numbers in Paris from a similar starting point, but there is undoubtedly enormous potential in the Americas market.
WW: How will the exhibitors compare in Miami to those in Paris? What will we see more or less of?
PB: What is interesting in Miami is that more than 40 percent of the exhibitors do not show in our Paris fair, so even for those visitors that attend Maison&Objet Paris, they will have an opportunity to discover a broad range of new brands and products.
WW: How would you describe the fair for someone attending the first time in Miami?
PB: New, trendy, high end.
WW: The fair turns 20 this year. Will there be any celebratory aspects to the Miami fair around this anniversary year?
PB: The Miami Design District will be hosting an enormous celebration on May 14th during the fair in honor of this anniversary.
WW: The Designer of the Year award this year will be presented to Zanini de Zanine, a younger designer from Brazil in South America. Does the fair see the award as a way to attract or pay homage to design and design collectors in South America?
PB: Our platform for all the Americas, not just the U.S. market, so we were hoping with our winner to be able to highlight the remarkable creativity and talent coming from Latin America.
WW: Do you think design fairs will eventually become as ubiquitous as art fairs, internationally?
PB: Art fairs have been very innovative in this field of globalization, and I do believe that design is following this trend through various design weeks partnering with trade shows like ours.
Maison&Objet Americas is open in Miami through May 15.