Among the myriad of brands vying for attendees' attention at the Maison et Objet 2012 were a handful of particularly innovative products—a high-tech foosball table not least among them—that caught our attention. In our multi-part look at the massive design fair, we start with the following standouts for just about every area of the home.
For the bathroom, Paris-based Sopha Industries offered a new collection of sinks fashioned from Murano hand-blown glass. Known for making the kinds of ultra-luxe fixtures you'd expect to find in palaces or private yachts, the brand used the glass to impressive effect in these modern basins, molding it into bulb-like shapes in bright, transparent colors. To preserve the unusual shape, each piece had to be heated over 1,000 degrees.
Family-owned French company Toulet has been making high-end billiards boards and foosball tables since 1857. So it's hardly surprising that, three years ago, they decided it was time for an update. Working with France's International School of Design, the company created a cutting-edge billiards table from car scraps and steel, and finished it in the same ceramic varnish used by Rolls-Royce. Richer still, a built-in hi-fi system lets players plug in an iPod, transforming the table into a giant jukebox. Likewise, a stunning new foosball table was rendered in clean, modern lines and finished with shiny steel fixtures.
With jagged lines and bright colors, funky new seating by Kenneth Cobonpue makes a splashy statement. Clusters of reeds along the back of the red armchair (which is now available in an outdoor version) add organic texture, but are also surprisingly resistant to pressure and provide ample back support.
Italian design authority Alessi came armed with two series for the home, both creatively crowd-sourced from a recent competition.
Students at Michigan's Cranbrook Academy of Art employed local silver- and metal-smithing talent in a series of projects for the kitchen. Among the four designs that were selected for the Fall collection, the Banana Holder caught our eye. The two-part piece comes with a multi-purpose "V-tray" that arranges fruit in line—delivering a simple alternative to traditional bowls.
For the office, the students of Swiss design school ECAL created a smart desk series. The accessories include a minimalist tape dispenser, a multipurpose hook, an elegant pencil case and a spare paper organizer consisting of two metallic lines.
How best to serve eggs? That was the question asked by French celebrity chef Pierre Gagnaire in creating his ingenious and poetic serving dishes. "Le nid" (literally, "the nest") shelters a soft-boiled egg in a white shell while Gagnaire's egg cup perches a decapitated shell on three yellow, Atomium-like spheres.
New lamps from France's Forestier look as light and airy as inflated balloons—a visual trick helped along by their translucent sailcloth construction. The diaphanous lamps mimick fixtures made from blown glass, all the while retaining a sporty element thanks to the fabric.
Fashioned from cast resin, the lamps from Hive obscure their light source with a mesmerizing latticework of curving lines. Large and globular, the hanging lights also change color based on commands from a remote control.