Since 1904, it has been the largest object bazaar in France. Curious or connoisseurs, we jostle within the 220,000 m² of the Porte de Versailles Exhibition Center to take a look at everyday objects, furnishings or decoration presented by some 1,000 exhibitors at the Paris Fair. At the heart of this huge display, we come across the stands of major furniture brands as well as those of independent designers. The mail alarm mechanism from the Tarn faces the Spanish cloth designed to remove all traces of scratches on the cooking plates. A hodgepodge of creations, sometimes surprising (like this foot door handle that allows you to open the doors without having to use your hands), but the majority of which are intended to be in tune with the times. Sustainability, eco-responsibility and made in France are now well established at the Fair.
Indoor compost and coffee capsules
In front of a stand displaying infinitely reusable and recyclable coffee capsules, two young women are deep in conversation with the seller. Elodie, in her thirties, works in marketing and readily admits “significance” of the ecological argument. “The savings argument is even more of a sell-out, especially given my daily coffee consumption, she laughs. I see more and more eco-friendly coffees, but this is the first time I’ve seen reusable capsules.” While many large distributors are gradually changing their manufacturing methods, most of the real innovations in the field come from small companies.
There are many stands linked to ecological awareness: vegan varnishes, autonomous energy stations, water purifying filters, odorless indoor compost… Even if the big brands occupy a prominent place in the exhibition, a not inconsiderable crowd gathers around the small creators. “The more original the concept, the more we can be interested in it”, said Marianne, “visit of discovery” with her husband, Claude. And the ecological side? “It’s a plus, that’s for sure. Our grandson encouraged us to change our habits, in particular travel, so we come here with a slightly more discerning eye.”
Wheels for all bikes
In the part dedicated to the participants of the Lépine international competition, the atmosphere is more about technological creation than innovation applied to everyday life. This does not prevent participants from embracing current trends: “There are a lot of creations related to soft mobility this year, explains Barbara Dorey, the competition’s general manager. Whether it’s bicycles, energy stations, helmets… The issues of disability and inclusiveness are also at the origin of many innovations. In the heart of Pavilion 1, a track has been installed so that visitors can test electric wheels which can be mounted on any type of bicycle. The only downside is the price, which remains prohibitive for many purses: more than 600 euros for a single wheel, although it is replaceable and repairable as desired. “The Lépine competition is more centered on inventions than innovations, concedes Barbara Dorey. But each inventor creates to provide a response to a need, whether civic or personal.” Last year, the most important President of the Republic Prize went to Frenchman Frédéric Leybold, creator of the “Géocoeur”, a defibrillator warning device. This year’s winners will be revealed on Sunday evening May 7th.