Leatherworkers: Les Petits Nomades

As Louis Vuitton launch their new homeware range, Port speaks to the designers behind it: Atelier Oï, Patricia Urquiola, Humberto & Fernando Campana, and Marcel Wanders 

Launched in 2012, Louis Vuitton’s annual Objets Nomades collections allows leading designers to create pieces that channel the brand’s dedication to craftsmanship and quality. For the first time, this year’s Objets Nomades have been joined by Les Petits Nomades – smaller, decorative objects designed specifically for the home. The work of such celebrated names as Humberto & Fernando Campana, the Swedish design house Atelier Oï, Patricia Urquiola and Marcel Wanders, the new collection is now on display at the Fuori Salone in Milan.

In their re-scaled, domestic form, each object is a concentrated mixture of the designer’s unique vision and Louis Vuitton’s craftsmanship. The contrasting visions show the adaptability of the materials, and how they can be re-formed to be both functional and elegant. Each piece demonstrates an attention to detail, in the minute elements of the design, that is animated by an inventiveness, their voices undiminished by their size.

Here, Port talks to the designers who re-imagined the brand’s iconic leather into petals, diamond mirrors and origami flowers.

Origami Flowers by Atelier Oï

Atelier Oï

The project is concentrated on the ornamental and the objects are meant to integrate a home interior with an ornamental, but still functional, touch. We looked to nature for inspiration and a flower pattern that we derived from the monogram of Louis Vuitton. A bunch of flowers are a traditional present and this brought us to the idea of creating durable leather versions through being faithful to our creative processes based on our material manipulation – thinking how does a flat leather piece become three-dimensional and a flower? This way of working represents for us a direct association with Louis Vuitton’s know-how and ours.

Overlay Bowl by Patricia Urquiola

Patricia Urquiola  

Each overlay vase is the meeting of only four sheets, expertly assembled in soft and durable Louis Vuitton leather. With harmonious and full contrasting colours, the bowls are all individually handmade. Each is unique, an original sculpture and a beautiful example of the maison’s leather workmanship. It is a simple object whose value is given by the material and the way it was made.

Diamond Mirror by Marcel Wanders

Marcel Wanders 

We collaborated with Louis Vuitton to create mirrors that have been designed in two sizes. Both feature a central octagon that is circled by 25 smaller triangular mirrors and use dazzling geometric design to create poetic reflections. These mirrors playfully combine a rigorous geometrical design with subtle bright reflections revealed through the effect of surrounding light, bringing poetry and enlightenment to any room.

We were inspired mostly by the Louis Vuitton brand. These mirrors express Louis Vuitton’s long standing tradition of producing luxurious, iconic items. The company has a heritage of creating with attention to detail. To be able to reflect our individual nature and human spirit, while combining that experience with the craftsmanship that Louis Vuitton has become known for, is priceless.

Each mirror’s faceted rigid structure is enveloped in Louis Vuitton’s rich Nomade leather and reveals Louis Vuitton’s emblematic contrasting stitching. The mirrors are then mounted on a heavyweight brass stand with a marble foot.

Tropicalist Vase by Fernando & Humberto Campana

Fernando & Humberto Campana

The Tropicalist vase is a symbolism between Louis Vuitton’s flower icon and our Brazilianness – we like the idea of hybrids and conversations between different cultures. The design was inspired by the natural geometric composition of the quesnelia and bromeilad flowers found in South America, and also by wild and joyful natural elements. Nature is for us one of the most important inspirations. A construction of 176 two-tone leather-covered metal ‘petals’, the Tropicalist Vase is a statement to the different ways that Louis Vuitton’s materials can be crafted.

Photography Phillipe Lacombe 


Louis Vuitton’s New Objets Nomades

A look at Patricia Urquiola, the Campana Brothers and Raw Edges’ designs for a collection of objects inspired by travel

Now in its fifth year, Louis Vuitton’s Objets Nomades has seen some of the design world’s best and brightest interpret ideas about travel through an evolving collection of homewares, from a swing to a foldable stool. The project has been an ongoing opportunity for the French fashion house to partner with design talent from around the world, including Spanish architect and designer Patricia Urquiola, London studio Raw Edges and, most recently, India Mahdavi and Tokujin Yoshioka. Designers are given free rein, resulting in pieces as outlandish as the Campana Brothers’ cloud-like Bomboca sofa, but an emphasis on leatherwork and craftsmanship nods to Louis Vuitton’s heritage throughout. With the addition of 10 new designs, the collection now totals 25 objects imagined by 13 collaborators. 

Louis Vuitton’s Objets Nomades is at Palazzo Bocconi, Corso Venezia 48, Milan until April 9



Celebrating Gio Ponti: Molteni&C

We take a look at the new Molteni&C furniture that celebrates the genius of the pioneering modernist Gio Ponti and eight decades of Italian design

Small Table D.552.2 by Gio Ponti for Molteni&C
Small Table D.552.2 by Gio Ponti for Molteni&C

In 1929 the designer and architect, Gio Ponti, founded the magazine Domus. Focussing on ‘the cultural debate of architecture and Italian design in the 20th century’, Domus and Ponti would become some of the key figures that established Italy as a centre of modernist design. They were also the driving force behind one of the country’s largest design houses, Molteni&C.

Until the Second World War, Molteni&C had manufactured reproduction Louis XIV chairs, but with peace came economic growth. “After the war there was a need to furnish Italy,” says Giulia Molteni, the granddaughter of founders Angelo and Giuseppina Molteni. “Following the war, my grandfather found designers and architects who had a different idea of modernity like Le Corbusier and Gio Ponti. He thought it would be a great adventure and believed in it. On the appointed day they simply stopped producing the reproduction furniture, threw away everything they were working on, and started anew.” It was an audacious move, but one that worked.

Armchair D.270.2 by Gio Ponti for Molteni&C
Armchair D.270.2 by Gio Ponti for Molteni&C”

Today, Molteni&C comprises four subsidiary companies that are currently celebrating 80 years in business. Fittingly, in collaboration with Gio Ponti’s heirs, Molteni&C has recently reissued a selection of Ponti’s designs that reflect on their history within Italian design and give a potted history of Ponti’s illustrious career. The first, Small Table D.552.2, is made of solid rosewood with bronze legs and a transparent triangular top and was designed for the American market in the 1950s. Joseph Singer, of Singer&Sons, travelled to Italy from New York in search of new designs and ideas and it was his patronage of Italian designers that helped to establish the reputation of Ponti, Carlo Mollino, Ico Parisi and many others in America.

The second piece, Armchair D.154.2, was commissioned for the Caracas villa of the collectors Anala and Armando Planchart – “a game of spaces, surfaces and volumes offered in different ways to those who visit”, as Ponti wrote in Domus. Ponti had travelled to Latin America in 1952–3 and his conception of both the villa and the furniture was inspired by what he had found there; Italian art and design was mixed with a Venezuelan vernacular. This armchair, despite being explicitly Italian in design, embraces a softer, more organic form, enclosing the sitter and reflecting its domestic purpose. It is this sensitivity to the object’s destination, to the requirements of the modern home, that is at the root of Molteni&C’s post-war transformation.

Molteni&C continues to innovate and experiment with its products, a strategy remains at the core of the business’ ethos. “We put at least 5 per cent of our profits into research and development,” explains Giulia. “And we try to ensure that we find international designers so we are not too Italian.” Perhaps this is best evinced by Patricia Urquiola’s Night and Day collection for Molteni&C – a series of sofas, chaise longues and single beds that can be configured for the needs of the user and, as Giulia puts it, the “varying needs of modern homes”.