Maltese-born, London-based designer Francis Sultana is known for instilling his furniture with exotic and eclectic references – his latest collection, ‘Narmina’, is no different. The new offering touches on influences from haute couture and Coco Chanel’s sartorial credentials, to the Indian Maharajas’ personal collections of art deco, and the work of Catalan fresco painter José Maria Sert.
Sultana’s in-depth research (a strong suit of the designer) brought to life the most fascinating details of these inspirations. Take for example, the rock crystal collections of Sert’s wife, Misia. The Serts decorated their Rue de Rivoli apartment with crystal shards – a material new to Sultana, whose recent collection included amber-coloured rock crystal on table tops and lamp bases.
Misia was one of Coco Chanel’s best friends, and the legendary couturier’s approach was a starting point for Sultana. ‘“Poor materials” like straw and rattan conjure the ingenuity of Coco,‘ he explains. ‘She was the ultimate 20th-century fashion icon, who forged her signature by producing luxe sportswear from humble textiles, such as jersey and cotton.’ Sultana further developed this concept throughout the collection, using modest rattan as decoration, concealed under a table glass top, or applied with striking marquetry techniques to a table and a credenza.
Sophisticated with a dash of flamboyance, ‘Narmina’ is a restrained exercise in the eclectic with Sultana’s canny take on classics, evident in pieces such as the luxurious velvet daybed, or his imposing sofas. As with his previous launches (‘Narmina’ is the designer’s fourth fully-formed collection), Sultana explored the full potential of production techniques and materials including patinated bronze, bespoke silks and hessian tweeds, rattan, leather and pâte de verre.