At Design Miami/ 2021, Fendi unveiled its collaboration with Botswanan design studio Mabeo. Kompa is a furniture collection that merges traditional African artisanship with luxury design, reports Nafeesa Saini.
The 17th edition of Design Miami/ returned in December last year, when artists, creative talents and collectors converged over the year’s theme of “visions for a more equitable and interconnected future”. A standout exhibitor at the fair was a collaboration between Italian luxury house Fendi and Botswanan furniture and accessories brand Mabeo, and its associated design studio.
Creative meetings in Rome between Mabeo’s founder, Peter Mabeo, Kim Jones, Silvia Venturini Fendi and Delfina Delettrez Fendi birthed the idea of a collection that spotlights interrelated techniques. With this in mind, Mabeo strived to achieve a holistic approach through close consultations and collaborations with various craftspeople across Botswana.
The result is a 10-piece furniture range named Kompa, after the project’s oldest artisan, and refers to something that is complete. The objects are a combination of individually made pieces and joint efforts of the craftsmen, using materials and ancient techniques unique to their local environments. Boundaries of design and tradition were imaginatively stretched, as these custodians of specialised crafts adopted more fluid perspectives in pursuit of innovation.
One exceptional creation is the three-in-one Loma Stool that can serve as two storage containers, two stools or a side table when joined together. Showcased as two material iterations, the stool embodies the project’s holistic theme as it is the brainchild of wood carvers, potters and painters from the country’s desert region.
Two additional designs of the collection are subtle nods to the Fendi heritage. The efo Stool channels the house’s double F motif with a fusion of clay and Panga Panga wood. The two are independent structures that fit each other seamlessly.
The Maduo Chair takes inspiration from a piece of O’Lock jewellery designed by Delfina for the Italian house. The chair’s construction pays homage to the original through geometry and joinery, spotlighting expert craftsmanship that melds Fendi’s luxury aesthetic with functionality.
Other objects in the range include the wave-like and basket-woven Chichira Cabinet and the Foro Chair created from clay and Panga Panga wood. The largest work is the Gabi Gabi Sculpture, with wooden drawers, fashioned from hand-beaten galvanised metal sheets. The Gabinyana Table Lamp sports a similar albeit smaller shape to the former, while the Shiya Seat is handcrafted from plywood and hardwood. Mabeo also reinterpreted the signature Fendi Peekaboo bag, working with desert-dwelling craftsmen to harness traditional techniques of tanning, treating and stitching, and using metal accents and hand-carved wood.
Accompanying the collection’s release is a limited-edition visual publication detailing the process of putting together the range, including his journeys between the artisans, meetings, schematic drawings of the objects and works in progress.
This story first appeared on Prestige Online Singapore.