Roman ruins inspire these tables from Brussels-based Cobra Studios
Updated: Mar 26, 2021
Cobra Studios’ breakthrough collection of roman-inspired tables
Part of Cobra Studio’s Solids collection, the Cicero dining table features volumes in different shapes and colours supporting the table top
Cobra Studios’ story begins with its founders, Kenny Decommer and Hugues Delaunay, in their need for a new dining table for their apartment. Based in Brussels and with backgrounds in architecture and fashion respectively, the pair designed and made furniture for themselves, before launching their studio and debut collection this year.
While working at architecture practice Explorations Architecture, Decommer had collaborated with Dominique Perrault on new furniture for Paris’ Bibliothèque Nationale, sparking his interest in design. Delaunay studied fine art and developed his scenographic approach working as a visual merchandiser for Ralph Lauren and Paul Smith; he currently divides his time between Paris and Brussels, working for Chloé.
‘I am more technical, Hugues is more conceptual and colour-minded. We complement each other,’ says Decommer. ‘We like geometry and symmetry, but we also like asymmetry and breaking the visual balance,’ adds Delaunay.
The volumes supporting the table tops emerge from the simple white surfaces
Solids by Cobra Studios
Two years in the making, Cobra Studios’ debut collection, Solids, is inspired by Roman ruins, which the designers have studied during trips to the Italian capital, and which have fascinated Decommer since childhood. In particular, he was interested in how these ancient elements are at once disconnected from and coexist with the modern city. The new designs are based on ‘a vision of a Roman Forum’; majestic columns and walls are translated into a series of pure shapes made out of resin in bright jewel hues. These elements pierce through simple white tabletops, in tactile, sanded acrylic with a chalky finish, that appear to float.
While the dining table and a low coffee table were planned from the start, the third element, a side table, was created to make use of leftover shapes. The tables’ names nod to their classical inspiration: ‘Cicero’ (the dining table), ‘Santa Maria dei Clarici’ (the coffee table), and ‘Priape’ (the side table). Completing the collection is the ‘Otho’ lamp, with steel tubes and textured glass, that references postmodern forms.
Throughout the design process, Decommer and Delaunay experimented with materials and played with found objects. For production, they worked with friends and people in their local creative community, learning along the way. ‘We want to create our own identity and our own entity,’ says Decommer, adding that they want to continue combining design and production, overseeing every element themselves, keeping things at a manageable scale. But they recognise the opportunities that come from sharing ideas and being open.
The Cicero dining table is created as a combination of geometric volumes, with a contrast between the silky grey top and legs in various bright shades
Their home city is an important influence on their work. ‘When we arrived in Brussels six years ago there was an underground design scene, but now you have the impression that the city and the authorities are pushing that forward to create a vibrant place,’ says Decommer, referencing projects such as the Kanal Centre Pompidou, which opened in 2018.
‘The city is generating excitement about where it can go and what could happen in the next few years; everybody’s going with that flow. It’s eclectic.’ The duo’s predominantly Turkish neighbourhood has also been an inspiration, and they are currently looking at earthy materials, such as terracotta and stone, and working on a collection that will incorporate more varied visual elements.
Other upcoming projects include private commissions, as well as a collection of seating (‘We need chairs, so let’s just design them ourselves and try to have fun in the process,’ they say), and designs inspired by architectural elements such as arches (they have been looking at Rome’s Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana). The pair are also exploring reusing and recycling materials and objects, including their left-over resin stock, to create new pieces. The Solids collection is a firm start from a studio full of promise.
A detail of the Cicero dining table, initially created by the designers for their own apartment
A detail of the Santa Maria dei Clarici coffee table
The Santa Maria dei Clarici coffee table, perched on a series of geometric supports
The pair created the Priape side table using leftover material from the Solids collection
The Santa Maria dei Clarici coffee table and Otho floor lamp, also part of the Solids collection