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Icons Reimagine An Icon: "Interactions" By Roche Bobois Manila Features A Collaboration With 10 Creative Filipinos

Since it was founded in 1961, luxury furniture company Roche Bobois has been synonymous with chic, sophisticated style and form, and has become well known (and well loved!) for its inventive customizable pieces and striking collaborations with world-class architects and designers.

A stalwart in iconic Parisian design, Roche Bobois introduced an elegant way to present its celebrated signature piece—the Mah Jong Sofa. Created by painter, sculptor, and designer Hans Hopfer in 1971, this icon in the Roche Bobois history and repertoire fulfills its purpose of delivering total freedom of function and form. The Mah Jong offers limitless options: it can be an armchair, straight sofa, corner sofa, armless sofa, lounge chair, or day bed; a space in which to play, entertain, or simply laze away. It encourages experimentation and breaks the rules of formal living; it allows one to arrange the elements in precisely the manner and form that suits them best, changing the landscape of our living spaces.



Through the years, the iconic signature piece has been “dressed” by prominent fashion houses, such as Missoni Home, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Kenzo Takada, in a myriad of fabric collections. “Merging glamour and comfort, the non-conformist design satisfies Filipinos’ love for commune and get-togethers,” says Eugene Lorenzana, managing director of Roche Bobois Philippines.

This year, Roche Bobois Manila called upon 10 creative minds, Filipinos distinguished in their fields, to each create their own interpretation of the iconic Mah Jong Sofa: Bobby Mañosa, Ed Calma, Bea Valdes, Vito Selma, Paloma Urquijo-Zobel, Chat Fores, Jojo Lofranco, Geraldine Javier, Costantino Zicarelli, and Nikki Luna.




In a special preview to the media last September 5, Roche Bobois unveiled the work of these icons for an icon, inviting all to witness a splendid display of Filipino culture and ingenuity to the world of design. “We wanted to have a diverse mix of collaborators so we selected first based on the field of expertise—architecture, interior design, art, fashion, and industrial design,” explains Lorenzana. “Then we selected based on their achievements and how each has contributed to art, culture, and even commerce. With their talent, passion, and individualism, all 10 collaborators reflect the spirit of the Mah Jong.



Following the philosophy of showing Filipino identity, the group of Arch. Bobby Mañosa designed a Mah Jong with a symphony of patterns and forms taken from a range of indigenous weaving traditions. Arch. Ed Calma, on the other hand, began by sketching ideas onto the sofa and created a piece that was upholstered in a unique and chic way that could be used as a signature for Calma’s interior projects. Chat Fores, known for her decorous, artistic aesthetic utilized her mother’s old obis (sashes) from Japan to create a special, sentimental tribute, and brought forth a stunning display of oriental culture. World-renowned furniture designer Vito Selma found himself using wood for his Mah Jong, naturally, finding inspiration from Filipino transportation culture and aiming to provide people comfort and beauty simultaneously. World-class jewelry designer Bea Valdes displayed her globally recognized intricate craftsmanship in her Mah Jong, using embroidery and fabric manipulation with denim and chambray, to create a playful and casual piece. Fashion designer Paloma Urquijo-Zobel of dynamic, funky brand PIOPIO repurposed traditional textiles, namely the Inabel, to introduce new colors to the traditional Santiago pattern, using retaso to fill the edges to stay sustainable.

Meanwhile, fresh aesthetics and bold concepts brimming with social relevance were seen in the Mah jong iterations of several Filipino artists. Artist and feminist Nikki Luna used her Mah Jong to make a strong statement against the very violence that pervades Philippine society, focusing on freedom, or perhaps, the lack of it now. Jojo Lofranco chose to express movement and interplay, blending the Mah Jong’s sculptural form and painting together to create a transforming and moving energy in one solid foundation. Geraldine Javier treated her sofa as a communal activity, overseeing the design and staining the fabric while five others displayed skillful labor in the needle and wordwork. Costantino Zicarelli, on the other hand, had the urge to go against the white, clean canvas he was given in the Mah Jong, taking the opposite direction by dressing the sofa in black.



In “Interactions,” each collaborator and artist created just one Mah Jong sofa, ensuring that these very pieces to be exhibited on September 19 are exceptionally prized pieces in any home. A portion of the proceeds from the sale will go to the artists’ chosen charities, including the main beneficiary Asian Cultural Council (ACC) Philippines Foundation, Inc., PAWS, Tukod Foundation, and AHA Learning Center.

There is much to look forward to with Roche Bobois Manila in the coming years, with the promise of more local collaborations on the horizon. “We’re welcoming more local design talent to integrate their aesthetic within Roche Bobois, and we’re excited to promote another collaborative design project with another iconic Roche Bobois piece in the future,” Lorenzana reveals.


Save the date for “Interactions,” Roche Bobois Manila’s Mah Jong exhibition launch on September 19. The Roche Bobois Philippines showroom is located at 2100 Don Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati City and is open daily from 10 AM to 7 PM. For inquiries, call (+632) 5198240 or visit