Louis Vuitton hosted a remarkable show of its Objets Nomades furniture collection around the opulent Palazzo Bocconi in Milan. Design duo Raw Edges’ offering was the Concertina range, including a fold-up chair, a light and a matching table; onoffice spoke to its creators Yael Mer and Shay Alkalay about the project.
What inspired the look of the Concertina collection, and its folding mechanism?
It is not every day that you get the chance to work with a company like Louis Vuitton – how many brands exist for around 150 years that are so well known and precious? We really wanted to take this opportunity to create something special to fit this long-lasting heritage of luxury.
It meant coming up with an idea that, even if it’s complicated to achieve, we could still do, with a company like LV. So following the brief, we started working on developing mechanisms and geometries for collapsible chairs.
Usually collapsible furniture is very light, flat and purely practical; here we wanted to make something that when you open it it is special in its appearance – quite large and volumetric. It’s ended up looking like a flower; actually that wasn’t completely intentional, but the more we developed it, the more it looked like flower, so we thought… let it be a flower.
How was this initial idea developed into the final designs?
We wanted to come up with a new mechanism of foldable armchair, to create a sitting piece that grows from flat to full, from small to a very inviting armchair. In the beginning we looked into concertina structures (like the flexible part of the accordion) but the result was a bit too complex and not very comfortable, so we simplified it until it was easy to fold and nice to sit on.
Once we cracked the principle, we adapted it into a coffee table and a lampshade, which was joyful as has less constraints. The name Concertina is a reminder of our own process.
Can you explain the choices of colours and materials?
The first step was how to sort out and develop the new collapsible mechanism. It was only later that we started looking into colours and materials; some of them were sort of a default since LV has its leather expertise. We liked the idea that usually collapsible furniture is more about ‘dry’ function and in this case we explored the usage of warm precious materials such as wood and leather. We also felt from the very beginning that green leather would work beautifully with the wooden structure, and it did.
Were you involved in the installation?
We were not involved in the installation, it was the LV design team’s idea to use the duplication of the items as the main concept behind the scenography, which we think is fantastic. We also really like the tropical room where our green Concertina armchair and table have been placed.
What else are you launching in Milan this year?
We’re presenting the final version of our Lake rugs for Golran; they have a colourful combination of patterns that looks different from each angle.