October 25, 2013

Ones to Watch: Moustache

The raison d’être behind Paris-based Moustache was clear from the start: to work closely with skilled designers to produce innovative and distinctive furnishings at affordable prices. “Is this utter madness?”, founders Stéphane Arriubergé and Massimiliano Iorio asked, only half-jokingly, when they announced their debut in Milan in 2009.


With the international financial crisis in full swing, the timing was hardly ideal. But the Paris-based pair had already created Domestic, a very successful company that introduced decorative wall stickers to France in 2003. Moustache was a daring but logical leap forward. The initial 2009 collection included furnishings and lighting by French designers François Azambourg, Inga Sempé, Matali Crasset and the Big Game trio Grégoire Jeanmonod (Swiss), Elric Petit (Belgian) and Augustin Scott de Martinville (French); it was witty, whimsical, colorful, playful and practical, setting the standard for Moustache’s signature style.


Arriubergé and Iorio refer to Moustache’s cohort of mostly French designers as a “joyous community” of kindred souls, “close in every sense of the term—geography, affinity and tastes.” It currently includes Azambourg, Sempé, Big Game, Benjamin Graindorge, Ionna Vautrin, Sébastien Cordoléani, the Australian artist-musician Dylan Martorell and three newcomers this season, Jean-Baptiste Fastrez, Constance Guisset and Bertjan Pot.


For the new collection, Azambourg reworked his decade-old “Very Nice” prototype chair, simplifying it’s construction for a practical version that could be produced at a moderate price. The result, “Trés Jolie”, is “red, pretty light, comfortable and completely functional,” says Arriubergé. “It immediately evokes childhood balsawood scale models, even using its construction and assembly principles. Fascinating, like a complex construction whose logic escapes you, the Très Jolie chair almost resembles a folly in the architectural sense of the term.”


Azambourg’s new Quadrille and Gavotte chairs, in natural or lacquered ash, are variations on his tripod chair Petit Gigue (or Little Jig) for the first Moustache collection in 2009. All three are named after old French dances, and all use a ship-building technique called “hard chine” used for making small dinghies.


Jean-Baptiste Fastrez’s ultra-reflective Moto wall light, based on a motorcycle helmet, requires 10 layers of color, and the final color—it comes in four—depends on the order of layering, says Arriubergé. It can be connected to a wall power outlet or plugged directly into a socket.


Constance Guisset, working with Moustache for the first time, was also asked to revise a previous project, her beautiful but fragile Chantilly lamp (named for crème Chantilly, fluffy French whipped cream), using inexpensive and more durable materials to make it less costly and more practical. Now made of a specially developed recycled plastic, the shade “is based on a highly simple but ingenious system of folds,’ says Arriubergé. “It’s delivered flat, and it takes shape with a single closure.” The oak plywood tripod also folds to be flat-packed.


The Chantilly lamps, together with Big Game’s Bold chair and the new Bold bench, both in a new lipstick red, and Ionna Vautrin’s Baobab coffee table currently have Moustache starring in the show windows of Paris’s Musée des Arts Décoratifs.

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