Sculptural Furniture Design: When Luxury Meets Timeless Beauty
Studio MVW’s forms are experimental, modular and often inspired by nature, while materials and surfaces are show-stopping, from oxidised patinated bronze to glowing pink jade or creamy marble with graphic patterns.
The bespoke and limited edition furniture and objects designed by Studio MVW are an integral part of the creative vision of Virginie Moriette and Ming Xu. They are reflections of the designers’ philosophy about public and private spaces that transmit a vision of luxury, timeless beauty, and inspiration. As both collectible design and functional art, each standout piece transforms a room into an exceptional setting.
Since the beginning of their partnership, Studio MVW has been crafting award-winning furniture collections and limited-edition sculptural objects. Virginie Moriette and Ming Xu consider this aspect of their work as a perfect playground for exploration, allowing them to experiment on a smaller, more tangible scale that feeds into their imagination for larger architecture projects. With their centrally-located showroom in Shanghai, Studio MVW showcases their bespoke furniture and accessories collections which can be custom commissioned by individual clients. The welcoming space provides the opportunity for people to experience the work in person and see the available materials, patinas and dimensions that are possible for each piece. This one-to-one relationship with the client is an essential part of their process— not only to be able to touch and feel the object but because the piece is eventually designed to suit the owner. In line with their customised approach to furnishings they also design site-specific furniture for their own architectural projects as well as for others. For their limited-edition furniture collections and functional sculptures, Studio MVW works with the French art and design gallery, Galerie BSL. It is an ideal collaboration that roots their work in that creative space between art, design, and decorative arts. These unique pieces are meant to be seen and used but treasured for a lifetime. They regularly present their new collections at luxury design fairs including PAD Paris and London and The Salon Art + Design at the Armory in New York, and they have collaborated with leading auction houses including special commissioned work for Christie’s. The firm has received several prestigious awards including a 2018 Wallpaper* Design award for their JinShi Pink Jade Coffee Table which was named “best blusher of the year,” and in 2019 AD China included Studio MVW, for the fourth time in a row, on their list of top talents working in Architecture and Interior Design. There is a strong cultural dimension to the bespoke furniture and sculptural collections of Studio MVW. Each piece is an invitation to travel across time and space, like an artwork capturing the essence of a moment and translating it into a contemporary, innovative language. Seamlessly integrating Eastern and Western concepts about design and lifestyle into their creative process, the designers take inspiration as much from the formal elegance of the French Art Deco movement as in the philosophies behind traditional Chinese design. Abundantly creative, the designers infuse every collection with a sense of wonder and beauty. Colours are soft and sumptuous, materials are the finest. Whether the iridescence of the soft pink jade that begs one to touch it or patina surfaces that feel ancient and contemporary at the same time, the objects and furniture collections possess a particular allure that reflects their ability to evoke a sense of eternal beauty and a true passion for design. As with their architecture and interiors projects, nature plays an essential role in their furniture design. Earthly and ethereal elements such as organic forms, straited layers, milky stone or vegetal motifs, bring a life force into each piece that creates an emotional connection. Modularity plays an important role in the furniture collections as well. While each piece becomes a central talking point in any room, the work can be placed in various settings. A table or console can be set against a wall or free standing, that is to say, they need not be fixed forever in one place but are able to be seen, and in some cases used, in multiple ways. In this way, Studio MVW has found a way to reintroduce meaning and durability in a world defined by overabundance and disposable products. The work is designed to be cherished and valued over time – the new family heirloom to be passed onto future generations.
JinShi Collection: Luminosity and Sumptuousness
With their JinShi Collection, Studio MVW introduces a refined collection of limited edition jewels for the home, celebrating the beauty of pink jade. Jinshi, which literally translates as ‘golden stone’, features first and foremost natural pink jade, a rare gemstone remarkable for its powder-like transparency and uniquely sensuous appeal. But the various methods chosen by the designers to enhance its beauty are equally noteworthy, for instance their use of rose gold coloured anodized stainless steel or their choice to use hidden LEDs to backlight the material and give it a subtle glow. Surfaces seem to float and there is a lightness and transparency that belies the weight of materials. The collection includes two different wall lighting fixtures, five variations around the console shape, a 200 cm high freestanding mirror, a table light and two floor lights, a set of three smaller table modules that can be arranged in various ways, as well as a coffee table featuring a large round pink jade top. Since its launch in 2017, the Jinshi Pink Jade Coffee Table has become an iconic piece of collectible design, receiving a 2018 a Wallpaper* Design Award as one of the most significant designs of the previous year. In this piece, the 110 cm diameter wide top rests only on one of the three golden spheres so that it appears to be magically levitating over the base. This much acclaimed design was produced in two colour variations for the base: first in anodized stainless steel tinted in a subtle pink-gold brass tone, and second in an anodized stainless steel tinted in gunmetal grey. JinShi offers an interplay of curves and lines that defines a minimalist balance of forms while the sensuality of pink jade offers a refinement that is unique in today’s furniture design. The result is a collection of precious pieces combining craftsmanship and innovation, physicality and ethereality, and bringing a uniquely poetic dimension to any interior.
JinYe Collection: Ethereal Elegance
JinYe, which translates as Gold (Jin) Leaf (Ye) in Chinese, is an appropriate name for a collection based on the dialogue between a brass-coloured leaf with a subtle gold shade and the shimmering richness of Patagonia quartzite. This exceptional natural granite was born in a volcanic region in Brazil and is known for its durability and beautiful patterning. The Gold Leaf, an oblong circular shape cut in various sizes, is the central motif of the JinYe Collection, forming each element of the piece – top, shelf, sides – in a composition that looks spontaneous but is in fact technically very challenging. Like an otherworldly game of stacking stones, a console, coffee table or side table each reveals a new and different appearance depending on the angle from which it is viewed. Mesmerizing as well are the iridescent shades of the Patagonia quartzite, its graphic pattern made of deep black, pale gold and moiré brown, and the incredible twinkling of the quartz, feldspar, mica and other mineral inclusions. As if governed by the laws of nature, JinYe establishes itself as a both sophisticated and fundamentally organic collection where each piece stands as a miniature landscape for the home.
XiangSheng Collection: The Space Within
XiangSheng is a collection of oxidised and brushed bronze furniture that investigates, as much as it celebrates, the interplay between a solid form and the space within and around it. An inspiring take on negative space – a concept that is very present in Asian cultures – and which finds a striking expression through the use of a particularly substantial, solid material like bronze. XiangSheng I is defined by its verdigris patina, while XiangSheng II features an intensely oxidised bronze finish with a rich brown patina that deepens in hue and communicates a notion of change and life, while the brushed bronze, lining the inner side of its voids, echoes permanence. The XiangSheng II Shelving Unit asserts modularity and flexibility as it can be used as a partition, a table, or stacked vertically to create a book shelf depending on the space and on the user’s immediate needs. By playing with contrasts, the designers manage to create a form of visual coherence that finds its strength in a symbiotic relationship between opposites – the solid and the void, the physical and the spiritual, the East and the West, the fleeting and the eternal – which only find their true meaning together.
BlooMing Collection: Revisiting Traditions
Ming vases are one of the first references that come to mind when thinking about Chinese traditional arts and culture. The classic white porcelain vases with fine imperial blue embellishments were not a prerequisite, but certainly an exciting challenge for the Franco-Chinese designers to take up, and they did so with a very contemporary interpretation. Created during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), this Chinese icon finds new guises and functionalities under Studio MVW’s creative impulse. With its new, deep blue lacquered surface, this ancestral vase form, complemented by a straight brushed brass support, opens up – literally blooms and morphs into either a cabinet, a console, or as a light fixture, revealing the immaculately white secret interior spaces. Yet the word “modularity” hardly does justice to BlooMing’s remarkable flexibility. Beyond functional terms, the visual possibilities it creates, and its countless ways to occupy space, transform it into a different object every time and yet it is always defined by the essence of its Chineseness, which it delicately communicates. With BlooMing, Studio MVW asserts once again its talent in questioning the memory of forms and overcoming them in a truly contemporary crosscultural approach of East and West
Giorgetti Collection and others
The collection Giorgetti, made in collaboration with the eponymous Italian brand in 2013, blends function with elegance to create a series of timeless furniture pieces. The collection pairs richly toned walnut wood with subtle details like polished metal, leather cutouts and geometric forms. Ping, which in Chinese means screen or division, is a bold room divider dominated by a large repetitive circle motif made out of precious Canaletto walnut with a central leather detail. The mirrored edges reflect and refract the surrounding space adding movement to the room in which it stands. Ping, which was awarded an Elle Decoration International Design Award for Best Furniture Design in 2013, not only offers privacy and separation, but it is an artistic object that makes a statement. Yang, a subtle and poised chest of seven drawers with a circular mirror poised centrally at the top, received a Wallpaper* Design Award in 2014. Yang, meaning sun in Chinese, underscores the designers use of experimentation in the correspondence between form and function. Music is at the heart of Clair de Lune, a hi-fi cabinet with an integrated sound system and the possibility of Bluetooth connection. Contemporary technology has been discreetly embedded into this refined, modern piece. The cabinet has three interior shelves, two folding doors and a moon-like circular piece of onyx that is softly lit from behind for milky glow. Born from the idea of the importance of meeting and gathering together around the table, Fang reinforces the fundamental role of the table as piece of furniture to be at the centre of the home or office. It is an object of service and a place of conviviality and discussion.
The perfectly brown walnut top is complemented with leather touches and painted bronze metal. Available as a round or rectangular table. The intriguing form of the Ryui Coffee Table was inspired by a Chinese talisman that symbolises power and good fortune in Chinese folklore. Although its sleek shape plays off a traditional form, Ruyi feels almost futuristic, while its polished brass and marble surfaces keep it firmly in the world of luxury. The Louis Ming chair is a sculptural, hand-carved armchair that mixes the elegant, minimal lines of the Ming Dynasty with the comforting embrace of the iconic French Louis XIV chair. This standout piece is a direct fusion of the designers French and Chinese heritage, and a perfect example of how cross-cultural connections create new standards of beauty. Chunsun, which translates in English as spring bamboo, is a 3-tiered bookcase that consists of branching golden bronze metal tubes and milky-white marble shelves. One idea behind the design was an interest in connecting two materials – a natural one with a manufactured one – to show the harmony that can come between man and nature when done with purpose and intention.
This article is part of TLmag Special Edition: MVW Studio.
Cover Photo: JinShi Pink Jade Table