For the Swiss beauty brand, Marseilles created furniture and a pop-up structure that debuted at Art Basel. More of her own art is on the way.
In her illustrious career, award-winning designer Sabine Marselis has produced enchanting dining tables in pastel resin; Cubist armchairs in limestone and quartz; Inverted geometric beehive; and a massive 11-column illuminated glass art installation in the desert outside Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. But she had not yet been able to get a sofa until earlier this year.
The inspiration for her curvy, wavy sofa was the pinnacle of high-end skincare, La Prairie’s Skin Caviar Luxe Cream. “My first sofa forced me to use materials I had never worked with before: soft materials,” Marselis said. “I always work with hard materials like glass and natural stone.” “It was an intuitive process,” she added. How do you take this product out? It’s like a swoosh, you know? How can it become a sofa but still be comfortable and offer what other sofas don’t?” The shape mimics the free-form consistency of the material, and the stretchy fabric matches the creamy beige and off-white. It was a painstaking process of color matching.
“We worked with a great upholstery company in Holland to make sure everything had as few seams as possible,” Marselis said. “That’s always the big thing for me. If you’re using organic shapes, there’s usually a lot of seams to achieve that, or puckering. But this sofa only has two seams that are visible throughout, which I’m so grateful for.”
The sofa is just one element of a multi-level collection celebrating 35 yearsy Anniversary of the Skin Caviar line (the product has also been reformulated for the occasion).
“It was about translating a product into a spatial experience,” said Marselis, who has collaborated with La Prairie before, including mentoring artists in the women’s Bauhaus Collective initiative last year. She continued: “I took it in a very literal way where I looked at the jar and opened it up and I just wanted to think, ‘Okay, what if we literally made this product a space?’ And the duality, the outside of the product is this intense blue glass. But when you open it, it’s a different world.” Just where the product is is a very rich, silky smooth beige cream.
The project began with Cobalt House, which debuted at Art Basel in June: an oasis from the bustling gallery, its opaque walls referencing the color of La Prairie’s packaging which was itself originally a nod to the feminist artist Niki de Saint Phalle, an icon trade mark. Her signature since 1982. Guests can recline on her sofas and purchase the limited-edition La Prairie x Sabine Marcelis Skin Caviar capsule. The amorphous and elegantly turntable tray will be appreciated as a object Once you use the product. Includes another design first for Marcelis: a small makeup applicator spoon that can also be used as a facial massage tool.
“I’ve never worked on anything that was this close to the human body,” Marselius says. “Well, I make pieces that you can sit on, but that’s the extent of the interaction. This spoon is something that touches your hand, touches your face, touches the product. It has to do all of those things in a way that’s comfortable and safe, but also in a way that’s interesting and aesthetic. There’s a lot of things that It has to be processed within such a small object. It took me back to my design studies, where you really have to work with form and detail, down to the millimeter that would be the radius, rather than these larger gestures, which is what my studio has been moving towards in recent years “
Marcellus is originally from New Zealand but resides in Rotterdam, Netherlands. This year she won the Designer of the Year award el decorInternational Design Awards 2023. Its calendar is expected to be very full, with a large number of projects on the horizon. In October, the OMA-designed Toranomon Hills station tower will make its debut in Tokyo, Japan with Marcelis contributing the glass design for the escalators and elevators. “The building has a metro station built into the lower floors,” she said. “So I approached the color scheme with the idea of ‘above and below’: everything at the top has warm, earthy tones and everything at the bottom has a more aquatic feel, with greens and blues. Also within the architectural design there is real water flowing next to the blue color scheme as well.”
On October 22, Marselius will display a new artwork outside the Giza Pyramids as part of the Art D’Egypte cultural platform. She was coy about the lines, but hinted: “I’ve been working with these layers of glass for many years, and recently we’ve also been able to integrate solar cells inside those layers. So we’re putting more sculptural pieces in outdoor spaces, but they also generate electricity just by being outside.” It works like a large solar cell, which is a very exciting space to work in.
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