Some design studios are so prolific that they can make cult products out of esoteric ideas. The Japanese studio nendo holds that distinction. Founder Oki Sato founded his practice in 2002, and since then, he has been conjuring up award-winning designs, architectural projects, and limited editions from the outer limits. While major brands have looked to nendo for original work, you get the feeling that even the unbridled, mad-hatter joyrides into totally batty territory get the same attention. The concepts are varied—examples include a blue silicone lime “pocket” designed as a citrus accessory for Bombay Sapphire, calfskin shoes that include makers so the wearer can adorn them in any pattern, and a beautiful perfume bottle for a fragrance that went extinct in 19th-century Russia.
Yes, the concepts are cool, but real furniture is even better. Nendo has turned out the hits for important design brands for years, and its latest collaboration with renowned Italian company Cappellini blazes past convention. The Roof collection is a desk and console series that feels capricious and wacky without skidding too far past function. With strong lines, each piece is in a conical form with a porthole on top and a scalloped hem at the bottom. Created from plated metal, the series balances its kooky aesthetic with actual utility. The company suggests placing Roof products near a bed or sofa as a side table or desk, or have it serve as a personal treasure chest. Available in various heights and sizes, the Roof collection furthers its fanciful mood with a palate in pink, light blue, and ecru. There is also a matte-black version for the kicky-but-sober interior. With all of this quirk and energy, Cappellini is staking a claim on design with imagination, a key theme that ran through its introductions during Salone del Mobile last year. With Roof, the brand is asking a striking yet simple question: Why can’t design be fun?