October 08 2010
Lucia van der Post
Jean Paul Gaultier, best-known for Breton knits, skirts and corsets for men and his playful way with everything he touches, has now turned his creative talents to coming up with some charming and witty pieces of furniture for the French furniture company of Roche Bobois. In a world which is not noticeably short of sofas, wardrobes, cupboards and rugs, Gaultier has managed to make us look at these well-explored objects with fresh eyes by the simple expedient of adding some typically Gaultier-like touches. They’re original, they’re desirable and, above all, they bring a smile to the face.
First up, he’s sprinkled a bit of Gaultier magic over the long standing Roche Bobois classic range of low seating, the Mah Jong range, first designed in 1969 by Hans Hopfer. Every now and again Roche Bobois gets a distinguished designer to liven it up – Missoni and Kenzo have each had a go. This year it’s Jean Paul Gaultier’s turn and he’s come up with two very different looks. One is all breezy Breton marine blue and white stripes (first picture), playing on the nautical theme he’s so famous for and giving all the cushions some crisp edging and red pom-pom buttoning. In the showroom the whole range is displayed on a blue and white striped rug cheekily signed with his Jean Paul Gaultier logo. It’s called “Sailor” and you can almost smell the ozone.
The second look is much more lyrical and he calls it “Haute Couture” (second picture) for the obvious reason that it draws on many images from his best-loved catwalk collections – lace, kisses, calligraphy, tattoos, dollar bills and scarves. There’s lots of variety within the “Haute Couture” line but all of it works together, being in the same mood, so you can mix and match in any way you like. You can also start slowly buying a few cushions at a time, each one costing about £895.
Jean Paul Gaultier, it appears, has long been fascinated by the notion of devising furniture that was halfway between a suitcase and furniture because he himself spent so much time travelling and often never unpacked at all. “A suitcase,” he says, “can be a piece of furniture too.” This explains his brilliant wardrobe which is in essence an articulated trunk on wheels (third and fourth pictures). It’s very handy for those who don’t plan on staying somewhere long, don’t want to spend a lot of money on built-in furniture which they then can’t take with them.
It’s an enchanting piece made from a silver anodised aluminium frame and embellished with some of Gaultier’s totemic tattoo motifs. It opens up to reveal shelves, drawers and hanging space and then folds up to look quite compact. It is so pretty that it would be a decorative asset to almost any bedroom. It’s made in a limited edition of some 250 pieces and costs £11,500. Harrods are going to display the full Gaultier collection all through September, otherwise visit Roche Bobois stores.