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Terracotta Coffee Tables by Simone Bonanni

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Obon is a collection of three tables inspired by an ancient, earthy, irregular material: terracotta. With its origins lost in the mists of time, terracotta is at the base of millenary archaeological finds all over the world. These precious discoveries are evidence of our timeless creativity and desire to leave a sign, admire and ritualize. The tables’ design is the result of a patient process of combining shapes and volumes. Their graphical purity blends into the structure of ceramics creating a unique mix of new and antique. Enjoy a pure touch of earthiness in a sophisticate world.

Simone Bonanni: The initial idea was not to design a set of three side tables. Originally, my aim was to add to the refined world of Moooi a new “touch of craftsmanship” which was freshly handmade and beautiful with no makeup. At this point, the choice of a new set of side tables represented just the perfect tool to achieve this, a good white canvas where to experiment.

I immediately thought that these products should be very simple in shape but rich in material, devoid of visible technical details, soft and defined by reassuring contours. This is how I imagined the set of Obon tables for Moooi. Pure, irregular and graphic, the outcome of a meticulous process of simplification of shapes and many hand drawings. I imagined the Obon tables balanced between irony and rigour, two aspects that together describe my way of seeing the role of a designer and the aesthetic philosophy of Moooi.

The choice of terracotta came naturally with the drawings and outlines of the tables. From the beginning, the idea was to introduce a series of objects which appeared to be handmade and that could create a natural and gently imperfect tone. I wanted to make the object look beautiful for its spontaneity and genuineness, not for its complexity.

We went through many samples of the material and tested more than twenty finishes both glazed, for the top, and natural for the edge and the base. Together with Luigi, an expert ceramicist in Veneto (Italy), we experimented with a new process of antiquing the surface of the terracotta. We worked on its tactile aspect with the inclusion of various thicknesses of chamotte, aiming to generate a perfect mix between the present and the past. It was fundamental to enclose such a graphically “educated” product in a special surface!

The search for the right finish and the technical development of such large volumes in a material that is difficult to control represented a real challenge in terms of serial production and probably contained a good dose of innovation even for an experienced professional like Luigi. The problem was not producing a perfect Obon Table, it was more about replicating them with the same quality, refining the technique day after day. A challenge that Luigi and the Moooi team have been able to accept and win big!

Currently, the Obon Tables are produced regularly and distributed all over the world. I love this project because it is rich in humanity and brings with it traces of the careful and manual work of the heroes of our Made in Italy. This is how the Obon Tables were born. Special thanks to Bart, Aaron, Luigi and Rumiko.