DESIGNER OF THE YEAR - MAISON&OBJET PARIS 2023
On the occasion of the Maison&Objet fair in Paris, which elected Raphael Navot as "designer of the year 2023", here is a look back at a joint interview between the designer and Nicolas Roche, about the Nativ collection he imagined for Roche Bobois.
How did your collaboration begin?
Nicolas Roche: I was exposed to Raphael’s work two years ago during an exhibition. I was impressed by his very unique and modern approach to woodwork. The “Patchwork” table was created through discussions around the use of wood. Naturally, from here, the collection expanded.
Raphael Navot: For my first experience designing furniture for a large-scale distribution, I wanted to revisit a traditional know-how, such as parquetry to create contemporary pieces of furniture. Wood fascinates me, like all the different patinas and characteristics that develop over time.
How did you choose the materials?
Raphael Navot: I wanted to use high-quality natural materials as much as possible: not only solid wood, but wool, cotton, ceramics and mineral coatings. These materials create a warm, welcoming atmosphere while also offering true comfort.
Nicolas Roche: The “Nativ” collection is sensual, textured, and vibrant. The nubuck leather gives the sofas a very soft, shimmering look. The pure wool rugs are made to be walked upon with bare feet… Nothing is smooth, nothing is still.
Why is the collection called “Nativ”?
Raphael Navot: The organic forms used throughout the collection echo our body language. The human body has hardly changed in 200,000 years. Yet, the world of design is constantly looking for new methods of expression. We are so familiar with these organic forms because they are part of us. They don’t necessarily just fit in with what is happening today – they could have existed before or after. A language that is universal.
Nicolas Roche: Raphael’s style is not specific to any one culture, space, or time. The “Identities” chairs, the “Underline” sofa, and the “Walrus” armchair all have a classic style and are familiar, yet offer something that hasn’t been seen before.
Is nature a source of inspiration?
Raphael Navot: Yes, in the most primitive sense. The fixtures are shaped like pebbles or stalagmites. The “Primordial” bookcase, with its irregular and mineral features, is reminiscent of a tribal object, like a bookshelf built from clay and dirt thousands of years ago.
Nicolas Roche: Except that the shelving introduces a notion of geometry, as if humanity controls nature. There is a dialogue between culture and nature, geometric mastery and spontaneous forms are present throughout the entire collection. The “Patchwork” table is a good example: a very simple oval with an extremely complex design, like that of a puzzle with 320 wooden pieces in a pattern that never repeats itself.
Behind this design, we can see the influence of the craftsman…
Raphael Navot: It’s this type of craftmanship that interests me. The fact that Roche Bobois brought the best of European savoir-faire to this collection was a true gift. The discussions with Roche Bobois’ network of craftsmen taught me a lot. The craftsmen saw this project as a challenge, but they always sought to find the best solution without making compromises. As a result, the collection is extremely faithful to the initial intentions.
Nicolas Roche: Raphael’s dedication and generosity is seen throughout this collection. Which is why our collaboration probably won’t stop here…
Raphael Navot is a designer. Born in Jerusalem in 1977, he graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven (Netherlands) and currently lives and works in Paris. He is known for designing the Silencio club in collaboration with David Lynch as well as the Hôtel National des Arts et Métiers. He has also designed the new interiors of Roche Bobois’ historic showroom located at 207 boulevard Saint Germain.