MILAN — Fendi is once again teaming with Design Miami, running from Wednesday to Dec. 5, with the Rome-based luxury group partnering with Mabeo, the furniture and accessories brand founded by Peter Mabeo in Gaborone, Botswana in 1997.
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Consulting with artisans spread across the country, Mabeo is shining a spotlight on the techniques and craft activities of Botswana, resulting in 10 pieces of furniture.
The collection is called Kompa, meaning something that is complete. While some products in the collection were the sole responsibility of individual artisans, others were conceived by collaborating craftspeople working with different techniques.
The Loma Stool is a multifunctional work made of three objects in one that can be used as either two storage containers, two stools or, when joined together, as a side table. Presented in two material iterations, Mabeo engaged artisans who practice ancient methods of pottery making in Botswana, with expert woodworkers. Further reflecting the multifaceted collaborative nature of the collection, the inside surface of the Loma Stool is painted by artists located in a desert region of Botswana.
Two works in the collection more directly reference the collaboration with Fendi, the brand’s artistic director of women’s wear and couture Kim Jones, the house’s director of accessories and men’s wear Silvia Venturini Fendi and her daughter Delfina Delettrez Fendi.
“I appreciate Peter’s respect toward his country and its culture and savoir faire — which immediately created a link with Fendi — as well as the importance of human connections and feelings,” said Venturini Fendi. “The people involved are at the center of the project, that is why it is named after Mabeo’s most senior [in age] craftsperson, Kompa. It’s a collection of 10 functional pieces that push the boundaries of traditional materials and techniques, where the African artisanal heritage is explored and translated into today’s forms. For example, there is a cabinet realized by basket weavers. Like it often happens at Fendi, materials are not as they seem, clay and wood look like leather, it’s very intriguing.”
The Efo Stool riffs on the Fendi double-F motif and fuses clay and Panga Panga wood, while the Maduo Chair is a direct translation of a piece of O’Lock jewelry designed by Delettrez Fendi for the house.
Other items range from the the Chichira Cabinet, a basket woven cabinet with drawers to the Gabi-Gabi sculpture, the largest piece in the collection, constructed from hand-beaten galvanized metal sheets and with wooden drawers.
“I was immediately inspired by Peter’s work, his vision, and of course the fact that he was working from Botswana where Kim Jones used to live as a kid,” said Delettrez Fendi. “It felt surreal to jump on a video call and see him riding in his car through that fantastic African landscape: it felt like as if we were traveling together. We had a group chat where he would send us images and I would ask him what kind of trees were surrounding him or what kind of materials we could work with. It felt like going back to the essential, while creating special things.”
Mabeo also reinterpreted Fendi’s signature Peekaboo handbag, approaching craftspeople living in a desert environment where plant-based materials are scarce and using traditional methods of tanning, treating and stitching, with components cast in metal and hand-carved in wood.
Accompanying the collection is a limited-edition publication that acts as a visual record of the various road trips, meetings and works in progress as well as schematic drawings for each of the 10 pieces.
Mabeo launched their products internationally in 2006 after 10 years of making bespoke furniture for commercial projects locally. The studio has collaborated with designers including Inès Bressand, Patty Johnson, Garth Roberts and Patricia Urquiola.
Fendi was the first luxury label to collaborate with Design Miami, debuting at the art fair in 2008, when it sponsored the Design Talks, roundtables with the world’s leading designers including Aranda/Lasch, brothers Fernando and Humberto Campana, Tom Dixon and Arik Levy.
In 2019, the fashion house collaborated with design studio Kueng Caputo, formed by Lovis Caputo and Sarah Kueng, to create pieces meant to decorate the exterior colonnade of the brand’s headquarters at the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana in Rome. Caputo and Kueng created 10 pieces, named “Roman Molds,” combining the brand’s supple Selleria leather with terra-cotta bricks.
Over the years at Design Miami, Fendi has teamed with the likes of Dimorestudio, artist Sarah Coleman and architect and designer Cristina Celestino, among others.