Collection IV, created with designer Ini Archibong, continues and extends Sé's founding principles of producing furniture that is sumptuous and sculptural, restrained yet expressive, and made to last from the finest noble materials such as bronze and marble. The partnership also reflects Sé's passion for working with emerging designers who share its principles and aesthetic tendencies: the intention being to produce characterful heirloom pieces of exceptional finish.
Entitled Below the Heavens, the collection makes reference to the threshold between earth and heaven: in historical lore a place of serenity, beauty and celestial perfection and for Archibong a place he feels encompasses the spirit of Sé: that of sensual beauty and sensitive fragility.
It was important that Sé and Archibong understood each other before embarking on the design process. “It’s been four years since Collection III but we wanted to wait for the right designer,” said Sé co-founder Pavlo Schtakleff. “To me, Sé occupies a special place in the spectrum of luxury furniture,” added Archibong. “This collaboration feels like a perfect fit and it’s an honour to be invited to create the fourth collection.”
Archibong not only shared with Sé a sensibility of understated luxury, but also a fascination with materials and production methods – two vital pillars of Sé’s methodology.
To inform Below the Heavens, Schtakleff and Archibong took to the road, visiting Sé’s hand-picked European manufacturers and researching the noble materials that are part of the company’s principles. Educated in luxury design and craftsmanship and with a truly global background, Los Angeles-raised Archibong found many things in common with Schtakleff and Sé. These journeys fed into the development of the collection, reigniting the essence of Sé and generating new materials and ideas that will help map the future of luxury furniture.
Archibong’s recent work has shown a great interest in both form and materials, using glass, marble and brass to express themes drawn from mythology and spirituality. Below the Heavens is the largest undertaking of his career so far. “My aim is to push Sé's fascination for exploring noble and new materials even further, and use them with simple silhouettes and decorative elements to create a memorable collection.”
With sensual curves and a feeling for furniture archetypes, certain themes emerge. The tension between delicacy and strength, an abiding Archibong interest, can be seen in the Daedalus Table, Icarus Chair and Heracles Table, in tensile legs that bolster monumental forms. Some pieces are infused with a hint of playful caricature, such as the exuberant Circe Chair and Circe Sofa, while others have been guided by the mysteries of the sky: the Eos and Helios lights inspired by the sun, the Morai Chandelier and Gaea Pendant, evocative of clouds.
The eternal interplay between earth and heaven is equally evident in the second half of the collection. If the first part of Archibong’s collection was celestial and sky-gazing, then the next editions are more terrestrial. “I was particularly inspired by the monolithic shapes of standing stones,” said Archibong. This second part includes additions to Archibong’s Atlas furniture family, including the dramatic Atlas dining chair, referencing the bearer of the celestial sphere and an essay on weight and weightlessness, and the curvaceaous Oshun sofa which offers a heavenly landing on earth.
An instinctive choice for Sé, Archibong’s work builds upon Sé’s three previous milestone collections with Damien Langlois-Meurinne, Jaime Hayon and Nika Zupanc respectively. “With Ini, we have found a designer who has an innate grasp of timeless luxury, a passion for investigating materials and production techniques,” says Schtakleff.
With echoes of cosmic archaeology alongside sheer earthbound comfort, Collection IV reconciles the spheres.