Kenzo Takada's Parting Gift to the Everlasting Mah Jong Sofa
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Kenzo Takada’s Parting Gift to the Everlasting Mah Jong Sofa

Kenzo Takada’s Parting Gift to the Everlasting Mah Jong Sofa

Home & Design | September 21, 2021
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By adding Asian elements to Western design, Kenzo Takeda’s unique brand is showcased in Roche Bobois’ new generation of Mah Jong furniture.

The year 2021 marks the 50-year anniversary of a ubiquitous sofa in high-end furniture: the Mah Jong lounge sofa, created by Hans Hopfer. It’s a piece that has seen many collaborations with prolific fashion houses, such as Missoni Home, Jean-Paul Gaultier, and the recently deceased Kenzo Takada. And with a month away from Takada’s death anniversary, Roche Bobois has unveiled their new generation of Mah Jongs. 

Mah Jong Outdoor by Hans Hopfer, upholstered in fabric by Jean-Paul Gaultier

Raising the Stakes

Modular, distinct, and extremely comfortable. These are words that people normally associate with the Mah Jong, though its “acquired taste” comes difficult to most, due to its lounge-like nature. The idea of cushions being laid on your bare floor without any frame or legs can make an awkward experience for those not attuned to this certain style. As a centerpiece, it also presents its design challenges. 

But over the years, the creativity of both clients and designers has been tested by the Mah Jong sofa—convincing them to lean into the customizability of the collection. After all, each person has a composition unique to themselves and their space.

Now, clients can enjoy the Mah Jong on a raised platform, which gives new ways to find comfort in its free-form nature. This is a first in the history of the company, following the release of the Mah Jong Outdoor. These solid beech platforms give a new look to the sofa that is welcome to most and waited for by many. 

Reconnecting with Nature

Among the newly-updated fabrics from Roche Bobois’ designers, we also find what we can assume to be the last Mah Jong that Kenzo Takada designed during his lifetime. 

The new platforms with stained wood.

His previous designs on the Mah Jong: Asa, Yoru, and Hiru (morning, afternoon, and night in Japanese) show the flexibility of his work in 3 various color swatches. But in this newly updated look, we see Kenzo’s playful use of patterns and striking colors—now integrated with elements inspired by nature. The Umi, Natsu, and Irune compositions exude something both familiar and new to fans of the Kenzo Takada Mah Jong line. The different finishes on the bases also add another level of customizability and function

High Fashion, a Staple

When placed side-by-side with the new works from Missoni Home and JPG, we can truly say that Roche Bobois continues to innovate through creativity and collaboration.

We’ve always seen the Mah Jong in loud patterns and designs, which makes the iconic piece an attention magnet. It’s possibly why Roche Bobois has kept a strong relationship with these designers, as these names are almost synonymous with the sofa itself. Each designer brings a distinct look to the table—giving us even more options on how to present the Mah Jong in a room

This also brings forward the idea that Hans Hopfer’s first iteration of the Lounge Sofa (as it was originally called before RB renamed it into the Mah Jong sofa) started out as a blank canvas or block of marble. Not only could you change the arrangement of your pieces, but you can also select from a cacophony of designer fabrics.

Japanese-Parisian Design Legacy

If you do a quick Google search on the phrase, “most Parisian Japanese designer,” one name should come up on top of the list: Kenzo Takada. Having spent most of his career living in France, Kenzo has been bringing Japanese design to the rest of the world. Working with other known personalities in the industry and collaborating with Roche Bobois, he has built a collection of the retailer’s best sellers. It’s no mystery that he has played a big role in the history of the Mah Jong.

Being the only Japanese designer among an ocean of European talent, his unique brand has always paid homage to its Asian roots, wherever they went. Although we never saw his iconic tiger on Roche Bobois’ pieces, fans of Kenzo could easily spot his work anywhere. 

Today, we commemorate such dedication to design and creativity, as we appreciate the long journey that the Mah Jong has taken and the contributions that Kenzo had made.

Mah Jong Composition in Kenzo Takada: IRUNE
Mah Jong Composition in Kenzo Takada: NATSU 

The new Mah Jong is now available to the public—with the first set of this collection due to arrive in the Philippines by mid-2022 at the Manila showroom. Currently, the Mah Jong Outdoor is on display and has been catching the attention of both fans and newcomers to the Roche Bobois family.

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Tessa Alindogan studied architectural interior design in Inchbald School of Design in London, and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Masters Degree in Education in Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, California. Aside from being the principal designer of her company, A Design Group and working on several residential and commercial projects since the early 90s, Tessa is also an accomplished artist who does modern abstract paintings—her medium is acrylic on canvas.
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