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Lewis Kemmenoe’s Debut Collection Features One Very Of-the-Moment Material

“For as long as I remember I loved just making things,” says London-based designer Lewis Kemmenoe. “My parents told me that when I was eight, I begged them to let me go to art school, right then and there.” He may not have matriculated quite as early as he’d hoped, but Kemmenoe eventually enrolled in Central Saint Martins to study Fine Art, followed by a Master’s degree at the Royal College of Art, where he graduated in 2018. It wasn’t until several months ago, though, that he began working on his first collection of furniture: a series of chairs, tables, shelving, and lighting in burl veneer, plywood, and timber, either left in its natural state or stained with linseed to highlight the grain. “I love how I can take a geometrically perfect shape and apply something raw like a burl veneer to it,” he says of his choice of of-the-moment, ’70s-inspired materials. “This originally came from the idea of wanting to make really chunky elements that would have been too expensive to make from solid timber on a lathe. Veneer actually becomes the perfect method to do this in a way that really displays the character of the burl.”

Kemmenoe says that architecture has been a big inspiration for the collection. “I love the idea of looking at the structural aspects of buildings and translating them to usable, functional objects.” He also points to disparate references such as the palettes of Parisian fashion brand Lemaire, the playfulness of Memphis designer Shiro Kuramata and the materiality of woodworker George Nakashima. “In terms of direct influences, I love how Ricardo Bofill perfectly balances monumental aspects of his buildings with nuanced and delicate elements,” he adds. The forms he arrives at — a smart mix of rounded corners, scalloped edges and contrasting shapes — are a result of his interest in “displaying the structural elements furniture… how the materials that I use can determine the silhouette of the piece, but also be an integral part of the practical construction.” 

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