Founded in 1977 in Seoul (South Korea), the Duson Gallery promotes traditional Korean craftsmanship with a variety of initiatives. In April, the gallery will bring to the Milan Triennale the exhibition Mother-of-Pearl Tables, which will present the work of six international designers who were asked to interpret Jagae (mother-of-pearl) to create a precious collection of coffee tables. In Korea, the mother-of-pearl is traditionally taken from abalone shells which are appreciated for their particularly bright and smooth quality. They are crafted with the ancient and complex najeon technique, which has a history of over 1000 years, and calls for inlays on the surfaces of lacquered objects. In addition to the designs by Elena Salmistraro, Marcel Wanders, Marco Zanuso Jr, Stefano Giovannoni and Younghee Cha, there is Foglia, a brand new coffee table taken from an original drawing by Alessandro Mendini from 2016 and developed by Studio Alessandro Mendini.
The Foglia coffee table is based on an unpublished design from Alessandro Mendini‘s archive. Developed by Studio Alessandro Mendini with the collaboration of Younghee Cha, the Foglia coffee table had been designed in 2016 for the ‘Cose’ collection, which the great Italian master was creating with his daughters Elisa and Fulvia. The top, made of glossy black lacquered wood, features decoration in the form of a leaf using the mother-of-pearl inlay technique, while the central leg in two-tone pink and yellow lacquered wood has the form of a star.
Designed by Elena Salmistraro, the Molan coffee table reinterprets the shape of the typical Korean hat, the Gat, in a profile of circular rotation that vaguely reflects the form of cyclones, giving rise to a unique, highly characteristic object. The slim, enveloping silhoutte catches the eye while the smooth, polished surface glows thanks to the use of fine decorations in mother-of-pearl.
The Fiore Fossile (Fossile Flower) coffee table by Marcel Wanders takes its cue from one of the most primordial and perfect forms of nature: a black bowl wedged between rocks. A simple and pure shape that reveals its deeper beauty through the ornaments of mother-of-pearl petals made with age-old Korean know-how.
The Soban coffee table by Marco Zanuso Jr. a contemporary reinterpretation of the traditional Korean table-tray in lacquered wood, used in the past for multiple purposes: from an individual dining table to a tea tray, a desk or even as an altar for rituals of commemoration of ancestors. The oval top in dark red lacquered walnut is inlaid with small pointed mother-of-pearl inserts. By contrast, the base is composed of slats of canaletto walnut and zebrawood.
The cherry tree, a traditional symbol of the East, inspired the form and decoration of the coffee table Cherry tree by Stefano Giovannoni, a unique creation with extremely sinuous forms in ash wood. The base, like the trunk of a slender plant, tapers towards the top and then opens at its highest point, seamlessly shifting into the table’s surface, that reveals the flowering branches made with precious inlay work in mother-of-pearl.
The ocean facing the coast of Tongyeong, a main loca>on for gathering abalone shells to harvest mother-of-pearl, inspired the Korean designer Younghee Cha to create two motifs for the tabletop of the Ocean coffee table. Made of natural black lacquered wood and produced in two heights, Ocean can be used either alone or in pairs, offering variable geometric perspectives. There are two motifs for the top: the first is inspired by waves, the second is a reference to seashells. The decorations are made of white mother-of-pearl inlays with subtle natural hues.