“Je ne suis pas de tout un minimaliste,” declares designer Kenzo Takada at the Roche Bobois store on New York’s Madison Avenue, where we’re discussing his new collaboration with the luxury furniture brand. My French is a bit rusty, but the sentiment is clear to anyone familiar with the Paris-based Japanese fashion designer’s bold aesthetic: To Takada, more is always more.
His latest project is the ultimate in maximalism. Takada, an icon in the industry who retired from his eponymous label in 1999, has joined the ranks of designers Jean Paul Gaultier and Sonia Rykiel to put their creative spin on Roche Bobois’ iconic mix-and-match Mah Jong sofa. (The customizable lounge-style couch can be built to any size, shape and pattern combination you desire.)
We’re sitting on one of his designs, and I spend the entire interview resisting the urge to recline (because professionalism). The fabrics are inspired by kimonos worn during traditional Japanese Noh theatre. There are three looks, ranging from pastels to bright reds and yellows, and each is an elegant explosion of print, colour and florals that blends the Kenzo Takada sensibility with the signature patchwork style of the Mah Jong. “It really corresponds to my identity,” says Takada. “I love working with colours and patterns and florals. I think it’s time for something very fresh—joyful.”
I don’t blame him, considering minimalism’s recent dominance over the interiors world. But after years of mid-century, Scandinavian and Kinfolk-y rule, the design powers appear at last to be Marie Kondo’ed out. In addition to the Takada/Roche Bobois collab, brands like House of Hackney (known for its lush prints), RC Home (which exemplifies designer Roberto Cavalli’s no-holds-barred style) and Timorous Beasties (which ruled the late ’90s with its amazing full-on wallpapers) have found new relevance.
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“Minimalism has been big for a while, but trends tend to exist on a pendulum,” says Lisa White, head of lifestyle and interiors for trend- forecasting agency WGSN. “We’re starting to see a lot more colour confidence. And if you look at what’s going on with prints, it’s not just quiet tropicals; we’re getting maxi florals and enormous monsteras and palms. People are wanting to go full fantasy.”
Runways have, of course, been full-on peacock for the past few seasons, thanks primarily to Alessandro Michele’s brightly hued, overembellished vision at Gucci. “People want to make their lifestyles as exciting as—and sometimes more exciting than— their fashion,” says White.
Which (sorry, Kondo devotees) is exactly what the world needs right now. “There’s a lot of grey, depressing news out there, so people really want to have fun with things,” she adds. “It’s about pushing it—going all the way and letting it take you somewhere.” Hold on to your seat.
The Mah Jong sofa designed by Kenzo Takada in Hiru (midday). Image by: Zoé Fidji. Kenzo Takada’s collab with Roche Bobois includes pillows and ceramics, but the pièce de résistance is his take on the brand’s build-your-own Mah Jong sofa. He created three distinct fabrics that correspond to three moods: Asa (morning) features soft pastels; Hiru (midday) is all zingy reds, yellows and fuchsias; and Yoru (evening) is moody midnight blue, brown and gold. Upholstered “Mah Jong” sofa (price upon request, roche-bobois.com)
This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of ELLE Canada.