This Cape Town Designer Makes Velvet Couches and Stone Tables Inspired By the Moon
The first piece of furniture interior designer Mia Senekal ever designed was like something out of Game of Thrones. “I have to laugh,” she says. “It was in college.” The complicated chair made of strips of hooped iron now lives in her mom’s garden with ivy growing all around it. With its rounded curves and luxurious upholstery, her first furniture collection released under the brand name murrmurr is acres more elegant.
After nine years in retail interior design Senekal found a calling in furniture design and launched murrmurr in August. “Furniture is a combination of creative and functional thinking, which I find a beautiful challenge,” she says. The name murrmurr is inspired by murmuration, the phenomenon that occurs when hundreds of starlings or swallows fly together in close formation forming swooping patterns in the sky. “They are synchronized; naturally and instinctively in touch with the process,” Senekal says. “That’s how I see and find myself in the design process. It is a process of natural harmony and flows endlessly. Unlike the swallows, there are some disruptions in my ‘patterns’ but I try to straighten them out quickly.”
It was staring up at the sky every evening from her balcony in Cape Town that inspired her first collection, called Moon. Each piece in the collection recalls a phase of the moon: waning, waxing, crescent, full or new. The blue Full Moon Armchair is deep and rounded; the cut-outs in the marble of the Quarter Coffee and Side Tables symbolize the negative space created when most of the moon is in shadow. “I was enchanted by the endless flow of the moon and the shapes that it created,” Senekal says. “There was a story to tell, and I can’t design without a story.” The pieces weren’t initially meant to play off one another but their story is the thread that binds them.
The pieces were designed separately over the period of a lunar cycle. Senekal started by measuring about 30 chairs and couches and used these findings to define her own ergonomic principles on which she based all of her prototypes. The best lesson Senekal learned during the making of murrmurr’s first collection, though, is to not get so stuck on a design that you become rigid. “A great piece needs to evolve and move with the process of manufacture,” she says — which serves as a great metaphor for a design practice, if not life.