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Private Obsessions

As a ‘more is more’ kind of person I’m prone to collecting a whole lot of tat, but there’s something to be said for people who collect specific (and I mean highly specific) rather than random things. At Paris design fair Maison&Objet this past September I was drawn into ‘Obsessions Privées’, an exhibition devoted to the ‘private obsession’ of the collector, curated by leading French style consultant and designer Elizabeth Leriche. It formed part of a series of three exhibitions under the umbrella theme of singularity and individuality, and paid homage to the ‘compulsive art of personalising the private space through objects of desire and pleasure, with high emotional voltage’. A rabbit warren of rooms revealed a variety of fascinating, gorgeously displayed collections – one featuring dozens of vintage toasters, another an assemblage of bijou Christmas decorations. There were walls covered with intriguing masks and whimsical plastic shopping bags, shelves adorned with an aviary’s worth of ceramic birds, or green glass vessels, and cubicles devoted to sneakers, vinyl toys or bright plastic brushes – of the latter, each on its own a humble domestic item but, grouped together, creating a dazzling visual display transcending their mundane, everyday purpose. I fell in love with a collection of vintage French Vallauris lamps that looked like ancient Egyptian artefacts. The exhibition made me recall my mother’s curious collection of decorative, chicken-shaped glass and ceramic pots – they filled the shelves of a big yellowwood kist in our kitchen, and threatened to spill out altogether. They served no purpose that I know of (other than to be opened and closed, and occasionally dropped and broken by clumsy child’s hands) but as a collective the chickens made for a diverting brood. Then, discovering a yen for Zen at the dawn of the nineties, she tired of her mini-obsession and gave them all away, never to be seen again. What do you collect? Connect with us on to share your objects of desire and pleasure or drop us a line on Text: Leigh Robertson