The modular Mah Jong Sofa, created in 1971 by German artist Hans Hopfer, is recognized as one of Roche Bobois’ most iconic pieces. It has been “dressed” by fashion houses from Missoni and Sonia Rykiel to Jean Paul Gaultier. Now, thanks largely to the Atlanta showroom manager and interior designer Annysa LaMantia, the collection has become a muse for fashion designer Mimi Plange. After being introduced by mutual friend Stan Mukoro, of Bentley Motors Atlanta, LaMantia and Plange met in New York and began brainstorming ways for their brands to collaborate.
“Our design sensibilities are in line with each other,” says Plange. “Theirs is modernist but at the same time colorful and fresh, and they take chances. That’s the way we approach our brand.”
The two designers came up with the idea of producing limited edition Mah Jong pieces upholstered in Plange fabrics. And Plange created several fabrics just for this purpose, informed by themes ranging from vintage florals and Kente cloth to her firm’s signature quilted leathers. Plange describes one figurative pattern as an “army of Ashanti dolls”—a nod to her native Ghana. A red-and-black textile was handwoven by artisans from Burkina Faso in partnership with the Ethical Fashion Initiative, a United Nations program that connects apparel companies with artisans in Africa and Haiti.
The project found another Atlanta tie when the team decided to donate part of the proceeds to a local nonprofit and selected Horizons Atlanta as the beneficiary. Horizons is a national organization that has operated in Atlanta for more than fifteen years. However, the group recently established an official regional branch here. Its primary mission is providing summer educational enrichment for low-income students. Participants enjoy field trips to places like the High Museum or the Georgia Aquarium, though Horizons’ most unique program is its focus on teaching kids to swim.
During the UTOPIA event, held September 22 at Ponce City Market, Roche Bobois put Plange’s collection up for silent auction. They also staged a pop-up shop of smaller related items like pillows, clutches, and even skateboard decks. The Mah Jong pieces will be on display at Roche Bobois’ Atlanta showroom through December. “We’re so pleased to shine the spotlight on the work that Mimi’s doing because it’s stellar work,” says LaMantia. “She deserves the attention that the collaboration brings, and I’m so pleased that Atlantans have rallied behind her already.”