PALACE Magazine 2012 PRESS by Koket
  • PALACE Magazine 2012 cover by Koket
  • PALACE Magazine 2012 cover by Koket
  • PALACE Magazine 2012 cover by Koket
PALACE Magazine | 2012 | ASIA
  • PALACE STYLE - KOKET – COASTAL ACCTION
  • Portugal proves it is no wallflower when it comes to design
    “I believe Portuguese design is trying to find its identity but those who look within it know the value of ITS craftsmanship” Measured against powerhouse nations of design like Italy and Sweden, Portugal may seem an unlikely peer. The Portuguese are known for their country's beautiful beaches, great climate, melancholic fado music and perhaps football player Cristiano Ronaldo, at a pinch. But furniture and homeware design as a defining characteristic of Portugal's culture may come as a surprise — at least to those living outside the country.
    For those well-versed in cutting-edge design, it is easy to witness the enviable work that this small coastal nation has produced. Furniture maker Boca do Lobo, for example, is known for its fantastical classic-meets-modern pieces; UNDA Design produces homeware and furnishings with country flair. And now, another Portugal-based company is making a name for itself in the industry.
    Founded by New York-born Janet Morais in 2010, KOKET produces furniture, lighting pieces, casegoods and objets d'art that maintain a classic and modern aesthetic. The company's principal designers are a group of local artists, led by Morais' creative eye. “I chose Portugal to manufacture and design the line because there is an enormous pool of highly talented young designers emerging here,” she says. On account of a slow economy, many local artists, artisans and designers working in handicraft have gone under-appreciated and untapped.

    “If there is a particular type of persona that defines our customer, I would have to say KOKET is 100 per cent [for] a New York city gal”

    For generations, Portuguese craftsmen have specialised in hand-carving, hand-painting and intricate inlay work. Morais explains that the local design tradition is lost to many young artists, who tend to look beyond borders for inspiration.
    “Sometimes it takes an outsider to show them the true value of what their ancestors have created and left behind. Today, I believe Portuguese design is trying to find its identity but those who look within it know the value of the craftsmanship,” she adds.
    While KOKET's products are crafted and assembled in a studio in Rio Tinto, a small city in northern Portugal, many of the company's design concepts come from all over the world. For instance, the Burlesque console, standing on legs that end in loops of different sizes and angles, revisits the world of French cabaret. Morais adds: “I am obsessed with Asian design cultures: the magnificent use of silk, lacquer, exquisite stylised prints and the quest for Zen and relaxation.” A case in point is the pagoda-top Divine armoire, finished in high-gloss black lacquer with gold-leaf detail and emblazoned with an iridescent peacock feather motif. A metal ribbon-shaped handle opens the double doors to reveal four antique mirror drawers and two adjustable glass shelves.

    ECLECTIC ROOTS

    Born in New York, Janet Morais grew up in Europe, which has inspired the cosmopolitan nature of her design style. She studied literature and design in Paris, finishing her university studies in Madrid and then the US. Until 2010, Janet was brand director of Portuguese design company Boca do Lobo, but even before that, she had been involved in importing and branding design goods for well over a decade. “The name KOKET comes from my nickname,” explains Morais. “'Janette la coquette' was a name given to me at a young age for my playful ways.”

    Morais takes strong influences from the organic shapes of flora and fauna

    Much of KOKET's oeuvre stems from the whimsical forms of nature itself — Morais takes strong influences from the organic shapes of flora and fauna. “There is nothing more inspiring to me than the beauty and distinctiveness of nature,” she says. “The design possibilities are endless.” Enchanted is a side table with a forest-like base; Passion is a sconce that resembles a flower at first bloom.
    KOKET's latest collection, Exotic Opulence, comes on the heels of its feminine Guilty Pleasures series. The line, unveiled during Paris Design Week in September, consists of various soft pieces that include furs, pillows and rugs.
    “If there is a particular type of persona that defines our customer,” says Morais, who does everything from hand-picking varnishes to penning the company's branding style guide, “I would have to say KOKET is 100 per cent [for] a New York city gal.” For Morais, the art of design is in transforming a piece of furniture into something as precious as jewels. After all, a piece should turn heads and for KOKET, anyone from Portugal to other parts of the world would be hard pressed not to take notice.

    LEGEND:

    The Envy chaise lounge features soft button tufting and a bolster pillow adorned with a bronzeand-crystal jewel
    The Camilia cabinet's façade is made of mother of pearl and decorated with a hand-carved peacock finished with gold leaf
    The Mademoiselle armoire's butterfly motif is made of polished brass over a silk lining
    The Incanto bench is upholstered in a unique fabric from KOKET 's in-house collection
    The vintage-inspired Orchidea console comes with velvetlined drawers, cast bronze handles in orchid shapes, and a gilt base

    By Roger Norum - PALACE – OCT 2012 ASIA