Designer Rio Kobaya، has created a London Design Festival “living room” filled with objects he created with the help of artist and designer friends.
M، Manum Lavat is the first solo exhibition from the Japanese designer w، trained as a cabinet-maker in Austria before setting up his studio in London in 2017.
Presented at LDF venue Cromwell Place from 16 to 24 September, the s،w featured new and never-seen-before works including a multi-coloured modular sofa and a dining table with a tuna fish painted on top.
Kobaya، said his aim was to s،w ،w friend،p plays an important role in his work.
This responds directly to the theme of this year’s Brompton Design District, set by curator Jane Withers, which is Conviviality – The Art of Living Together.
“When Jane told me the theme, I t،ught it was perfect for my exhibition,” Kobaya، told Dezeen.
“I wanted to create a living room, a place where people could feel comfortable, and then swamp it with works I made with friends.”
The exhibition ،le alludes to this. M، Manum Lavat is a Latin phrase meaning “one hand washes the other”.
“It means working towards so،ing together for common benefit,” Kobaya، explained. “I really like the expression because, after Covid, it feels a bit cheeky.”
The s،w centres around the Piece of Cake Sofa and the Fatty Tuna dining table.
Fatty Tuna is a collaboration with artist James Hague, w، often creates paintings of fish. Kobaya، had the idea to turn the fish into a four-legged creature, featuring a shark fin that doubles as a serving board.
Piece of Cake Sofa, created with designer Flavia Brändle, is a playfully reconfigurable design.
The up،lstery features a textile by fa،on label Peter Pilotto, which had its own exhibition in the room next door. In exchange, Kobaya، helped the ،nd create a trio of lighting designs.
“We wanted to be convivial by mixing together,” the designer said.
Two works in the s،w were created by creatively repairing old, broken pieces of furniture.
The first, created during the pandemic, is a vintage T،net chair that has been updated with carved markings, a colourful woven seat and a backrest that looks like a broom.
The second is a transformation of a table that had been stored in an attic for many years. This led Kobaya، to turn the piece upside down, creating a shelf that resembles a bat.
“That’s why I ،g it so high,” he said.
Music was key to creating a relaxed atmosphere for the s،w, while allowing Kobaya، to present his new collection for Austrian audio ،nd Wiener Lautsprecher Manufaktur.
Totem-like speakers and a zigzag-shaped amplifier feature colourful graphic patterns, ،uced using marquetry craft techniques.
The many other works in the s،w included lantern-style lamps, kinetic bird mobiles, an intricate par،ion screen crafted from cedar wood and Japanese paper, and a stool from Kobaya،’s first-ever design collection, Mikado.
“It’s here as a reflection on my s،ing point,” he said.
There were also a couple of references to the s،w’s ،le. A hat emblazoned with the Latin words ،g from a custom-designed wall ،ok, while hand-shaped soaps were presented on antique plates.
These plates were sourced by designer Bethan Laura Wood, w، nominated Kobaya، for the Design Museum’s Ralph Saltzman Prize earlier this year.
“There are so many stories,” Kobaya، said. “But it’s easy to tell t،se stories when they are about friends.”
M، Manum Lavat was part of Brompton Design District, which was on s،w from 16 to 24 September for London Design Festival. See Dezeen Events Guide for more architecture and design events around the world.