French trade show Maison & Objet brings design buzz to Miami

The ceiling in the SEMPRE exhibit at the Maison & Objet show at the Miami Beach Convention Center on Monday, May 11, 2015.
The ceiling in the SEMPRE exhibit at the Maison & Objet show at the Miami Beach Convention Center on Monday, May 11, 2015. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

A four-day stretch of cocktail parties, gallery showcases, collection launches and professional talks will begin Tuesday, all surrounding an event at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

If the lineup for the Maison & Objet Americas trade show sounds like a certain art-focused week in December, that’s by design.

“They are committed, we are committed and the city is committed to leveraging this design-centric show and building it into what Art Basel has been after 13 years,” said Rolando Aedo, chief marketing officer for the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We do feel there’s an opportunity to make it happen even quicker.”


Masion & Objet Americas will showcase luxury designs in high-end interior products at the Miami Beach Convention Center May 12-15. Video by Charles Trainor Jr/Miami Herald Staff

Organizers of the luxury design trade show that is held twice a year in France attended Art Basel Miami Beach over the last few years and met with organizers to learn from their years here.

“That was a process where we looked at what they did and we used their experience,” said Philippe Brocart, managing director of SAFI, a subsidiary of Ateliers d’Art de France and Reed Expositions France that owns and operates Maison & Objet.

The original show was founded in Paris in 1995 to showcase trends in high-end interior design and products from couches to bars, lighting fixtures and decorative pieces. Now, it is held twice a year in Paris — in January and September — and, since last year, each March in Singapore.

For its expansion into the Americas, Brocart said the organizers were seeking a destination that would draw from the United States and Canada as well as Latin America.

“It was clear Miami was the right location to attract both North and South American visitors,” he said. “The other point is we are looking for a city which is related to art, to design, to architecture. This is really the case today for Miami Beach.”

The event will be held from Tuesday through Friday at the convention center and is expected to attract mostly interior designer, architects, high-end retail stores, hoteliers, restaurant owners and department store buyers. On Friday from noon until 5 p.m., it will be open to members of the public.

Brocart said more than 10,000 visitors had pre-registered late last week, exceeding expectations, but he wasn’t sure what the final attendance would be. The much larger Paris events welcome a total of 160,000 trade visitors each year.

This year, the event will be held in just one hall at the convention center. The show will use two halls in 2016 and 2017 while renovations are ongoing, and all four halls in 2018.

“We want to have this show every year,” Brocart said. “So we committed to be here for a long time, I hope. It’s going to be an annual event. Every year, we will be in Miami; we don’t plan to move to other cities at this time.”

As part of an interior design and lifestyle summit, the event will also includes talks daily from designers such as David Rockwell, George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg, Karim Rashid and Paola Navone.

About 300 brands from 24 countries will be exhibiting this year, including several from Miami or other parts of South Florida.

When Nisi Berryman, owner of Niba Home in the Design District, heard that Maison & Objet was coming to Miami, she knew she wanted to be a part of it. In addition to exhibiting at the convention center, the store will host a conversation and book signing with designer James Magni on Thursday.

“It’s always been my favorite show, by far the best curated, the most beautiful displays, the most inspiring,” she said. “So I’ve been several times to Paris and I was so excited it was coming here. I couldn’t believe it, actually. Once you think about it, it makes sense.”

Berryman said local businesses were encouraged to participate because organizers wanted the flavor of Miami to be represented at the show.

Brocart said the show established a partnership with the Design District, where several stores and galleries are hosting special events.

“This is clearly something that we want to encourage,” Brocart said. “I would say that the general idea is we want for people coming from outside Miami to create a full experience. They can come to the show and then they can go for example to a museum, they can go to the Design District, DCOTA [furniture and design showrooms in Dania Beach]. We want them to stay in Miami for a week.”

Paul Makovsky, editorial and brand director for Metropolis Magazine, said the show has urged attendees in Paris to get out into the city and experience design trends in real life.

“What I’m seeing is that Maison & Objet in Miami is doing very much the same thing,” he said. “There’s a lot of offsite events, satellite galleries and events that people can go to and visit. It really starts to give you this flavor of what’s happening not only in design but also connecting you to the city and celebrating what’s going on.”

Local companies and brands, by now well versed in the crowds and buzz that major events such as Art Basel can bring, are capitalizing on the attention they expect to follow the design show.

Marcia Martinez, vice president and partner at Zakarin Martinez Public Relations in Miami, said her firm’s design, real estate and hotel clients have all responded to the arrival of Maison & Objet.

Even though this is the event’s first year in Miami, she said the 20-year history in Paris lends plenty of heft.

“It brought the media and industry credibility,” Martinez said. “That’s really what everybody’s going after here. It’s quite a market to people to reach that influential crowd in that world. International media are all descending, so everyone wants to seek that attention and tell their news at that time.”

Carlos Rosso, president of condominium development at The Related Group, one of the event’s sponsors, said he expects to be “super busy” for the duration of the show.

“We have events every day,” Rosso said.

He said Miami has already established itself as a destination that takes design seriously, with high-profile architects and interior designers working on projects throughout the region and the Pritzker Architecture Prize award ceremony being held Friday at New World Center.

Craig Robins, CEO and president of the real estate development company Dacra and co-owner of the Design Miami show that occurs in conjunction with Art Basel, will speak at the show about the Design District’s evolution.

Robins said he thinks raising expectations to Art Basel-like levels is unfair, but he believes Maison & Objet will be a solid addition in its own right.

“I think it’s going to be a really great catalyst to a lot more focus in our community on design and it will also bring a lot more attention from around the world to Miami as a center for design,” he said.

For the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, which has worked to position Miami-Dade as a luxury destination, the arrival of a high-end design show is welcome — especially in mid-May, when demand and room rates are far removed from their winter peak.

“They’re looking to make Miami the capital of interior design for the Americas, and we’re very, very excited about that prospect,” the bureau’s Aedo said.


What: Maison & Objet Americas

Where: Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Dr.

When: Open to the public from noon-5 p.m. Friday

Cost: $35

More information:


▪ The Balance Project BOOMSPDESIGN presents a breakfast/talk with Maison & Objet’s Designer of The Year, Zanini de Zanine, and curator Beto Cocenza about their work reconfiguring childhood swing sets into designs that makes sense for modern-day gardens and city squares.

Thursday, May 14, 9:30 a.m. Miami Ironside’s Bocce Ball Court, 7610 NE 4th Ct., Miami; 305-438-9002 RSVP required to

▪ Ornare is hosting a discussion on Brazil's impact on the design and real estate aesthetic in Miami. The event will also celebrate Brazilian-born Zanini de Zanine (Maison & Object's Designer of The Year and Ornare's collaborator). Panelists include local luxury developers; Brazilian products and projects designers; and brokers and real estate agents.

Thursday, May 14, 5 p.m. Ornare, 4040 NE 2nd Ave., Ste. 103, Miami; 305-438-0260 or

▪ A cocktail reception celebrating 20 years of Maison & Objet at Palm Court will be hosted by Miami Design District, Ocean Drive magazine, and Maison & Objet Paris. Includes small bites by Ella, a pop-up by chef Michael Schwartz, and cocktails courtesy of Grey Goose.

Thursday, May 14, 6:30 p.m. Palm Court in the Design District, 140 NE 39th St., Miami; RSVP required.

▪ Miami Ironside’s tenants will open their studios, shops, and doors for the Campus Collective Party to close out the chicest week in May. Guests are invited to experience the Upper East Side/Little Haiti design campus at night, where live music will be accompanied by food and specialty cocktails by Villa Azur’s new restaurant Brasserie Azur. French design duo Mel & Kio will also give a talk about poetic wall art and share a performance in the Coveringsetc showroom at 8:30 p.m.

Friday, May 15, 7 - 10 p.m. Miami Ironside, 7610 NE 4th Ct., Miami; 305-438-9002 or

▪  The de la Cruz Collection, in collaboration with the Miami Design District, is spotlighting Flower Block, a collection of outdoor seating designed by Miami native Emmett Moore. Each seating element utilizes local concrete construction blocks as the primary material. The seats, presented in a variety of Caribbean colors, represent the local architectural style and explore the idea of proportion and the human body. This continues an ongoing body of work that debuted at DesignMiami in 2014.

de la Cruz Collection, 23 NE 41st St., MIami; 305-576-6112 or Installation is on view Tuesday, May 12 - June 13.

Galena Mosovich