French design show Maison&Objet Asia pulls out of Singapore for next two years, future unclear

Visitors take photos with the display pieces at Maison&Objet Asia, a furniture and lifestyle accessories trade fair held at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre in 2014.
Visitors take photos with the display pieces at Maison&Objet Asia, a furniture and lifestyle accessories trade fair held at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre in 2014.PHOTO: ST FILE

After just three shows in Singapore, the annual design show Maison&Objet Asia will take a hiatus for the next two years - due to poor response from European brands that the organisers had hoped would exhibit here, amid a sluggish global economy.

A decision was made by the show's organiser Salons Francais Et Internationaux (SAFI) just 10 days ago not to hold the 2017 fair. It was to be held at Marina Bay Sands over four days in March. The 2018 show will also be suspended.

Mr Philippe Brocart, managing director of SAFI, said in an interview with The Straits Times tonight: "We made the decision to concentrate our efforts and resources on our Paris shows and our digital platforms. It was difficult for us to make the decision (not to hold the Singapore show) because we have invested a lot."

He noted: "The idea of having a Singapore show was to bring the Maison&Object concept here, to show a balance of European and Asian brands."

Maison&Objet Asia is the regional offshoot of the design trade show that began 21 years ago in Paris. It is known as one of the best interior design trade fairs in the world and is held every January and September in the French capital.

It came to Singapore with much fanfare in 2014, and introduced new brands to the design scene here.

Mr Brocart had an inkling of things to come from exhibitor responses after the recent September edition in Paris. "We got feedback that many brands could not commit to the Singapore show next year, and would rather concentrate on the European market."

A poor economic outlook added to SAFI's decision not to hold the show for now. Its American show, held in Miami, is also on hold for the next two years.

The fair's hiatus spells bad news for home-grown architecture firm Woha.

Its co-founders Wong Mun Summ and Richard Hassell were named Designer of the Year for the 2017 edition. This is the first time a Singapore architect or designer has been awarded the accolade in the history of the French design show.

The title is given to architects or designers for their body of work. The architects were scheduled to put on installations and exhibitions at the event venue.

They were also slated to conduct MasterCrit sessions, where they would give feedback to participants about their design concepts. They were also planning to launch a product line.

Mr Brocart says that Woha has been invited to the Paris edition in January to give a keynote speech, and plans are in the works for them to be involved with the September show.

natashaz@sph.com.sg