Design

“Furniture finished by fire” — Smoke series armchair a must-have for Louise Malhotra

Nowhere is the dynamic juxtaposition of modernism and tradition more apparent in the Malhotra house than in the Music Room, with its glass walls and grand photographic panorama of the old roofs of Paris. And certainly the most dramatic pieces of furniture in this room — and, indeed, in the house — are the Smoke Armchairs by Moooi.

Described by as “furniture finished by fire,” this Smoke series armchair was a must-have for Louise Malhotra
Described by as “furniture finished by fire,” this Smoke series armchair was a must-have for Louise Malhotra

“We saw them in New York,” Louise remembers, “and I loved them on sight. They aren’t just chairs. They’re works of art.” The chairs are traditionally Victorian in form, with curving backs, low arms, and black-buttoned upholstery in soft black leather. “They’re very comfortable chairs,” Louise says.

They are also incredibly dramatic and enormously unusual.

Left: Much celebrated in his native Netherlands, Maarten Baas was recently given a major retrospective show at the Groninger Museum, which produced a coffee-table book about his design; right, a portrait of the designer
Left: Much celebrated in his native Netherlands, Maarten Baas was recently given a major retrospective show at the Groninger Museum, which produced a coffee-table book about his design; right, a portrait of the designer

Moooi is a company that treats furniture like art and commissions artists to create unique designs using mixed media. The artist contracted in this case was a young Dutch designer, Maarten Baas. Having carefully constructed a traditional, decorative wooden frame for his design, he set fire to the result. When the wood had achieved a satisfactory degree of charring, he doused the flames and soaked the wood with resin. The result is a shiny black flame-scoured surface, different for each chair but alike in form, process, and conception. In the way of all good art, the Smoke Armchairs are beautiful, intriguing, and meaningful.

None of the chairs are identical since the fire affects each frame differently
None of the chairs are identical since the fire affects each frame differently