Maltese-born designer Francis Sultana finds inspiration in the architecture and heritage of Baku, as well as the aesthetics of the inimitable Coco Chanel in his new range of furniture, debuted at the London Design Festival
The marriage of Coco Chanel’s signature ‘poverty deluxe’ aesthetic (think tweeds, and materials such as straw and rattan) and the architectural and design heritage of Baku are not an obvious pairing, yet it is precisely this vibrant mix that has inspired Francis Sultana’s latest furniture collection. The interior and furniture designer, who originally hails from Malta, launched his fourth collection ‘Narmina’ at Claridges as part of the 2017 London Design Festival. Inspired by his travels to Baku, he focuses on the art of marquetry, supporting the crafts industry by employing techniques such as patinated bronze. “Baku has always excited my imagination,” says Sultana. “Its romantic position on the coast of the Caspian Sea, the meeting of East and West, the old and the new, and most importantly the love of craftsmanship that you see in architecture and in interiors, all inspired my work in Narmina.”
This is evident in the materials he has chosen for the collection, which include mustard yellow velvets, emerald green tweed, as well as lighting and accessories in rock crystal and mica finishes. “For me Baku is a city that juxtaposes the ancient and the new, the medieval fortress of the Old City with incredibly contemporary buildings such as Heydar Aliyev Centre by Zaha Hadid Architects,” muses Sultana. “Within the collection I have mixed the strong diagonals in pieces such as Jacopo cabinet with its chevrons in blue marquetry, with the sinuous almost undulating lines in the Victoire chaise, which reminds me of Zaha’s roof line.”
And then there is the Chanel connection, of course. “Coco Chanel was the ultimate 20th-century fashion icon,” says Sultana. “She forged her signature by producing luxe sportswear from humble textiles like jersey and cotton.” With such eclectic influences, we’re looking forward to his next foray into furniture.
Photography by Martin Slivka