COURTESY OF ROCHE BOBOIS
BY FIEL ESTRELLA

Since the debut of its signature piece the Mah Jong sofa in 1971, French luxury brand Roche Bobois has continuously elevated and challenged the limits of craftsmanship and design. It’s a tasteful instant classic that is able to adapt to different preferences and needs, making it the perfect piece transforming any space into  your own personal idea of home.

The brainchild of painter, sculptor, and designer Hans Hopfer, the sofa is hip and versatile, allowing for experimentation and creativity with form and function. Its three basic elements can be mixed and matched in various combinations and positions, creating all kinds of shapes and dimensions—it’s like having an armchair, a corner sofa, a lounge chair, a bed, and so much more in one. And long before Roche Bobois collaborated with fashion houses for special editions, the Mah Jong sofa was already a stylish staple in its own right, hand-stitched and finely detailed using techniques found in haute couture.

In keeping with the brand’s tradition of working with designers and personalities the world over to turn customizable pieces into must-have works of art, they have called on 10 Filipinos in different fields, ranging from architecture and design to art and fashion, to take the Mah Jong sofa and do with it as they please. The results are not only unique and reflective of our colorful culture, but also socially relevant and proof positive of the chair’s versatility.

IMAGES COURTESY OF ROCHE BOBOIS
The Mah Jong sofa designed by architects Bobby Mañosa (left) and Ed Calma

 

Architect Bobby Mañosa has repurposed traditional textiles and textures from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao for a bright and distinct edition of the sofa, finishing it off with a woven laminated rattan base and a black leather pillow with T’boli motif details. In contrast, architect Ed Calma’s version stays true to its form, making use of a rich fabric in deep blue to create an “armor” that he likens to an armadillo.

Interior designer Chat Fores’ oriental-inspired piece pays homage to family and nostalgia, with patterns in earth tones and Japanese sashes that once belonged to her mother. Meanwhile, furniture designer Vito Selma’s signature woodwork brings a sense of serenity and warmth, the round wooden beads standing out against the sofa’s white cover.

IMAGES COURTESY OF ROCHE BOBOIS
Versions of the Mah Jong sofa by (clockwise from top left) furniture designer Vito Selma, interior designer Chat Fores, and artist Nikki Luna

 

Using denim and chambray, jewelry designer Bea Valdes channels the designs of travel posters with intricate embroidery. Fashion designer Paloma Urquijo-Zobel, known for her brand PIOPIO, worked closely with a master weaver to present a fresh take on traditional pattern using poppy neon colors.

Feminist and artist Nikki Luna’s Mah Jong sofa is both subtle and in-your-face, a brazen statement against violence in today’s sociopolitical landscape in the form of a neon sign set against plain white fabric. Jojo Lofranco also respects the chair’s form and essence, opting to transform it through painting in bold, definitive strokes.

 

IMAGES COURTESY OF ROCHE BOBOIS
From top: Accessory designer Bea Valdes with sister Marga Valdes Trinidad; designer Paloma Urquijo Zobel poses with her design

 

Geraldine Javier’s piece was a communal effort: the artist oversaw the design and stained the fabric, while her team contributed needlework and woodwork. The strange shapes on the sofa are various poses struck by Javier’s new dog. Finally, Costantino Zicarelli opted to turn the sofa’s basic pure white design on its head with a dark and gritty transformation. The finished product appears battered and lived-in, but no less comfortable.

 

IMAGES COURTESY OF ROCHE BOBOIS
Versions of the Mah Jong sofa by (clockwise from top) artists Geraldine Javier, Cos Zicarelli, and Jojo Lofranco

 

These one-of-a-kind editions of the Mah Jong sofa will be auctioned off during the exhibition launch “Interactions.” A portion of the proceeds from each sale will go to a charity of the artist’s choice, including PAWS, Tukod Foundation, AHA Learning Center, and the Asian Cultural Council. You might just find a place for one of them in your home—and discover that it fits right in, in more ways than one.

“Interactions” will be held on September 19 at the Roche Bobois Philippines showroom, located at 2100 Don Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati City.

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