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Publication Date: 2019-03-05

Behind the Design

Studio Visit: Mawlana Furniture

Based in Cambridge, Ontario, MAWLANA furniture and home is a collective of like-minded craftspeople that work together to create artistic, heirloom-quality furniture and home accessories. For the most recent installment of our Studio Visit series, the team of creators —comprised of Brett Paulin, Alex Stap, Lana Orosz — delves into the details behind three different chair designs and a stylish credenza that feature materials such as walnut, leather, and brass, to create designs that are both contemporary and timeless.

Khwarizmi Stool. Photo by Alex Ortega.

Q: What inspired you to design the Khwarizmi Counter Height Stool?

A: When considering the design for this stool we took inspiration from the materials we were using. We wanted harmony between the proportions and angles in the frame to achieve a sturdy and balanced silhouette. The upholstery adds subtle tactile detail that we hope entices interaction and a sense of comfortability.  

Q: Did you see a void in the marketplace, or did you design it for a particular project/space and then realize it had broader appeal?

A: With this piece, as with all of our pieces, we believe that there will perpetually be a market for well-made furniture. Our intention is to make what we love what we do, and we love designing furniture.      

Q: Could you talk a little bit about your background as designers?

A: The three of us have varied backgrounds and have lived many lives before coming to work together. Brett approaches our work from the perspective of an interior designer and artist, whose first foray into the design world was working as a display artist for Urban Outfitters in his early twenties. Alex is now a master craftsperson, who in another life found his way to carpentry though traveling the world as a musician. Lana has traveled to many markets around the globe, amassing a collection of found and vintage textiles, which has inspired her to become a very creative and skilled textile artist.

Q: What is your process of creation?

A: Our process is collaboration. Often we take inspiration from our materials and the skills and styles that we individually bring to the table.  We design with each other in mind: when and how to leave space for collaboration and stylistic details that are inherent to us as individuals, how to edit and how to push each other further. Through this process, we believe we are able to produce a cohesive line of furniture and accessories that represents us all as a team and as individual craftspeople.

Luchtig Lounge. Photo by Alex Ortega.

Q: What was the inspiration for the Luchtig Lounge chair? What makes it special/unique?

A: The Luchtig Lounge Chair is designed by Alex and inspired by classic mid-century Danish furniture. In Danish, Luchtig translates to “light” or “airy.” When viewing the chair from the side profile, the light or airy sense is represented by the way the frame appears to be holding the seat in mid air. This chair has a contemporary and slightly futuristic spin on classic design. There are subtle angles and enhanced proportions in the frame’s construction, paired with traditional mid-century fabric upholstery and an elegant spindled back.

Sluyters Dining Chair. Photo by Alex Ortega.

Q: Could you talk about the inspiration behind the Sluyters Dining Chair?

A: The Sluyters Dining Chair in named so after Jan Sluyters who is known for his varied painting style while being prominently remembered as an expressionist painter.  We thought this title was apt as the initial inspiration for this chair was based on Japanese design.  During construction and prototyping the chair began to incorporate aspects of midcentury danish design. Finally the chair was outfitted with a braided cushioned seat, which could span a few modern styles.     

Q: What inspired the braided leather seat detail?

A: We love how the braided seat adds elevated detail without being ostentatious.  We wanted to create another level of interest that would enhance the design and add a greater sensibility of comfort. 

Elder Credenza. Photo by Alex Ortega.

Q: What is your favorite feature or detail of The Elder Credenza?

A: Our favorite detail on the Elder Credenza is the quarter sawn white oak inlay balanced against the elegant naturally textured walnut. 

Q: Where would you like to see this piece? (what room in the house, what type/style of interior?

A: We believe this piece can be diverse in its setting. The Elder Credenza would be just at home in a midcentury modern, contemporary interior as it would in a more industrial, modern setting. The linear cabinet design contextualized with the natural wood grain and fine detailing would add warmth and interest in many rooms. 

Q: How would you describe your overall aesthetic?

A: Our furniture and accessories exist to be shared, enjoyed, and loved. We create contemporary heirloom furniture with hand made details that celebrate the quality of materials that we use and techniques employed to craft them.   


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