When off the shelf doesn’t cut it: the rise of project-specific furniture

New York City – ‘Collaborating with Herzog & de Meuron to create a new design language was an enriching challenge and a natural ideological fit.’ Molteni Group president and CEO Carlo Molteni is talking about the custom-made kitchens and bathrooms delivered by Dada – Molteni&C’s kitchen brand – for luxury residential tower 56 Leonard Street in New York City.

As a company whose ‘legacy is one of innovation and embracing new ideas’, Molteni&C is welcoming the rise of customization. No longer willing to pick something off the rack – furniture you could find in any other project – architects are working together with manufacturers to ensure that products are perfectly in tune with their surroundings.

The architecture of Herzog & de Meuron’s 56 Leonard Street in New York City served as inspiration for bespoke kitchens and bathrooms within.

Herzog & de Meuron’s designs for the kitchens and bathrooms at 56 Leonard Street, for example, are inspired by the sculptural form of the building. The 146 kitchens supplied by Dada feature rounded black-lacquered islands with sliding granite work surfaces. In contrast with the visual weight of these elements, glossy acid-etched mirror-glass cabinets aesthetically reinforce the linear structure of Herzog & de Meuron’s exterior.

Custom furnishings at Public include modern conveniences such as built-in USB ports and reading lamps. Photo Nikolas Koenig

The brand also collaborated on the fixed and loose furniture for 380 guestrooms at Ian Schrager’s Public Hotel – also in New York and also by Herzog & de Meuron. Responding to cultural shifts and, specifically, to the redefinition of luxury, the hotelier believes that ‘everyone deserves a one-of-a-kind experience’.

Naturally, one-of-a-kind furniture fits that concept. ‘People want a really comfortable bed,’ says Schrager, ‘but they could care less about sheet thread count. Luxury is now about experiences and how something makes you feel. Luxury is being democratized and is now for everyone.’ Eschewing opulence, custom furnishings are minimal yet refined and include modern conveniences such as built-in USB ports and reading lamps.  

Together with the designers, Molteni&C delivered one-off furniture pieces for many different areas of The Surf Club, including the public zones. Photo Adrian Gaut

The renovation of the Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club in Miami required a varied approach. Updating and adding to the architecture and interiors respectively, Richard Meier and Joseph Dirand developed a scheme that includes fixed and loose furniture for 72 guestrooms, two retail spaces and 30 apartments. Fixed furniture appears in the two penthouse suites, as well as in public areas.

Joseph Dirand’s interiors for the Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club blend past and present – with a nod towards the future. Photo Adrian Gaut

Giulia Molteni explains that for all three projects, the brand precisely followed the architects’ indications. ‘There are no standard pieces; 100 per cent of the furniture was customized. The architect presents a concept design linked to finishes with specific materials. Molteni&C intervenes from a technical point of view, considering the feasibility of production. Everything is custom-made and produced in house, on-demand.’

Requests for customization are rapidly increasing, with most architects seeking specific sizes, materials and colours. All this means that Molteni&C has to adapt, says Giulia Molenti. ‘Smart factory processes and flexible production are our top priorities.’  

Top image: For 56 Leonard Street, Herzog & de Meuron designed 146 kitchens whose glass cabinets reflect the aesthetics of the exterior.


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