In the history of furniture, a number of popular and well-loved designs dominate as iconic pieces of their time. Subsequent generations often reinterpret these to suit shifting aesthetic tastes. It is rare to see original designs which are not only eye-catching, but also functional and affordable.
A few years ago Morgan’s design director Katerina Zachariades met Mehran Gharleghi, director of Studio INTEGRATE. They started the creation of a distinctive collection that met all of these criteria: Rio.
Technology is informing design and the intersection of tradition, innovation and comfort. From exploring this, the first generation of tactile chairs and tables were born. Reminiscent of the inner structures of bone, Rio stands out for having an intricate 3D printed component: a ‘lacework’ basket in the table, and a similar, optional back on the chair.
While, by that time, 3D printing had been used regularly for small items like jewellery, it had not yet branched out very much. The collection represented an exciting departure for the Morgan team. They introduced emerging technology to the commercial market sector for the first time.
In 2018, Mehran and Morgan paired up again. They refined and reimagined the original design with a more geometric aesthetic, to create the Rio 2 table. Along with providing the designers with increased creative scope, a greater understanding of the printing technology helped reduce materials and increase the factor of strength three fold.
“The creative process starts when we meet and discuss what we want to achieve for the collection. We then elaborate and Katerina does a lot of beautiful sketching, picking up the forms and simplifying them. From there, step by step through communication, in an evolutionary way, we improve the design until it’s ready,” Mehran Gharleghi explains.
Morgan’s design manager, Erin Johnson, elaborates, “At the factory, after the design has been agreed, we stress test the 3D printed component through our 3D modelling programme. We then bring all the materials together. The 3D printed basket and the timber legs that we make here are both polished and lacquered. They are then brought together with the glass top and metal bosses for the final assembly. Once that’s happened, it gets delivered to our London showroom where it goes on display.”
Mehran used mathematical algorithms to generate the sculptural componentry. This was then fabricated in polyamide through an additive printing process. The process reduced waste significantly through only utilising the material necessary to produce the artefact. Excess powder was recycled and used for subsequent production.
New technology was not the sole method behind Rio. To achieve the singular look of the collection, the dynamic team combined the craft of today with the innovation of tomorrow. They use handcrafted manufacturing in tandem with 3D printing.
In addition to the contemporary components, the chairs and tables feature handcrafted wooden elements. This adds a suggestion of the familiar and traditional to an otherwise unique aesthetic.
The modern collection exemplifies both Morgan’s and Studio INTEGRATE’s ethos.
Mehran comments: “I like to think design can really change the experience of space. With one beautiful light on the wall or one special table, a room is no longer the same room.”
“We like to think there isn’t a clear line between art, sculpture and practical design, hence the installations in our showroom. All of these are very much linked. The Rio table is a modest example of how you can have something that’s sculptural, but you can put your cup of coffee on it.” Katerina Zachariades, Morgan’s design director.