THE H IGH- STREET HERO JOHN LEWIS
Doshi Levien for John Lewis: the designer collection that will be at the top of everyone’s shopping list this year
This February sees renowned British design duo Doshi Levien
– best known for their furniture for Moroso and B&B Italia – launch their ‘Open Home’ collection for John Lewis. Consisting of 13 key pieces including armchairs, sofas, tables, lighting and rugs, it makes ‘ high design’ accessible to everyone.
At the pair’s Columbia Road studio, Jonathan Levien explains how the concept came about. ‘A few years back, I attended a talk at ELLE Decoration’s British Design Awards given by John Lewis’s buying director, Christine Kasoulis. She inspired us to come up with a concept for affordable, high-design pieces for the home. Coincidentally, the store’s head of design, Philippa Prinsloo, was working on a similar idea!’ It was the start of a two-year design process. ‘ We hadn’t worked for a UK client for many years [since Tom Dixon commissioned their tableware for Habitat in 2001] so we spent a lot of time thinking about British homes,’ says Nipa Doshi. ‘We wanted to create something with a sense of approachability – we call it warm modernity.’
The collection is not intended to match. Each piece works in its own right, viewed from any angle. ‘These designs don’t have to be
up against a wall anymore,’ says Levien. ‘I think of the architecture of the home as a canvas,’ adds Doshi. ‘ We use furniture to define the space. That was our starting point for this collection.’ A highlight is the ‘Nami’ chair, named after the Japanese word for ‘wave’. It features a curved backrest that is intended to evoke the motion of the sea. ‘ We think of the chair not purely as an object, but as a space around a person.’ Tall enough to enclose the sitter, it alters depending on how it is positioned: turn it facing outwards from the room and it becomes a private space; turn it forwards and it is welcoming.
You’re unlikely to see anything quite like the ‘Open Home’ collection elsewhere on the high street. The armchairs and sofas are constructed from moulded foam: liquid polyurethane is injected into fibreglass moulds and set at varying degrees of hardness. It’s a manufacturing technique that was introduced to John Lewis by Doshi Levien. ‘If we used a cut-foam technique, it would be very easy for a small workshop to copy the designs, and it wouldn’t allow us to create these organic structures,’ explains Levien. ‘Open Home’ available from February ( johnlewis.com; doshilevien.com).
Clockwise from above ‘Pondok’ sofa, £2,499; ‘Mudra’ grey chair, £999; ‘Falcon’ table lamp, £199; ‘Nami’ blue chair, £1,119; ‘Ballet’ side table, £299; ‘Phulkari’ rug, £495; ‘Sangam’ coffee table, £899, all John Lewis ( johnlewis.com)