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Doshi Levien for John Lewis' Pondok sofa and Phulkari rug
Doshi Levien for John Lewis' Pondok sofa and Phulkari rug
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Doshi Levien Takes To The High Street With New John Lewis Range

Picture of Charlotte Luxford
Home & Design Editor
Updated: 18 November 2016
Home & Design Editor Charlotte Luxford meets Jonathan Levien – one half of acclaimed design duo Dosh Levien – to discuss the London studio’s new ground-breaking furniture collection for John Lewis. The Open Home range is comprised of 13 flexible, affordable and high-tech pieces that are designed to suit our chaotic and multifunctional modern lifestyles.
Nipa Doshi and Jonathan Levien founded the acclaimed London studio
Nipa Doshi and Jonathan Levien founded the acclaimed London studio | Courtesy of John Lewis

What is the concept behind the Open Home collection?

“We wanted to respond to the way we live now, as increasingly, interior spaces have become multifunctional, and furniture has a really key role to play in how we organise our home and engage in daily activities. The sofa, for example, is not just a place to lounge and watch TV, it’s also often a place to work or even to eat – it’s a platform for living.”

Doshi Levien for John Lewis’ Pondok sofa, £2,499, and Phulkari rug, £495
Doshi Levien for John Lewis’ Pondok sofa, £2,499, and Phulkari rug, £495 | Courtesy of John Lewis

Why do you think there is a demand for this kind of furniture?

“It’s really a move away from the more sedentary, permanent furniture collections, where furniture is very rooted in one place and doesn’t offer you a lot of flexibility. To achieve the light, flexible, open and dynamic spaces that people now want, we had to use more sculptural forms, which also meant employing different technology to produce the pieces; most of the the products in the collection are made from moulded composites.”

Doshi Levien for John Lewis’ Ballet console table, £499, and Falcon Lamp, £199
Doshi Levien for John Lewis’ Ballet console table, £499, and Falcon Lamp, £199 | Courtesy of John Lewis

How does it cater for small-space living as our homes get more compact?

“The sofa is a great example. It is very comfortable, very spacious, but it’s lifted off the ground so it reveals the interior around it and gives it room to breathe, while also making the space around it feel larger.”

Why are you especially influenced by Scandinavian modernism and mid-century Italian design?

“Both avant-garde Italian design and modern Scandinavian furniture mix the latest technology and craftsmanship, and that’s a really magic combination. I’m from a making background and that’s never really left me, although now I’m applying a lot of my skills to industrial production. For me, it’s striking the right balance between skill, hand craftsmanship and industrial production that makes for really good design.”

Doshi Levien for John Lewis’ Mudra chair, £999
Doshi Levien for John Lewis’ Mudra chair, £999 | Courtesy of John Lewis

This is your first high-street collection. How did you find the transition from high end to high street?

“There’s no compromise – I think good design can be made available at all levels, but it’s a question of how you use technologies and how you use materials and processes. By using materials intelligently, we were able to produce items for John Lewis that still maintain their quality. The only difference between these pieces and our high-end designs for clients such as Galerie Kreo, is that the more expensive ones have a greater depth of narrative and a lot more hand craftsmanship.”

Mirror Cabinet for Galerie Kreo
Mirror Cabinet for Galerie Kreo | Courtesy of Doshi Levien

How have you ensured the pieces respond to modern living?

“I think in an open-plan home it’s really important to create different zones for living; the pieces in the collection all offer many possibilities in where you position them and the way you use them. Our Nami chair for example, has dropped arms so there’s more elbow room as people are increasingly using their smartphones and tablets, but it also has the curved high back so that it feels more cocooned and private – much like the sofa design, too. That’s very much a theme throughout the collection.”

Doshi Levien for John Lewis’ high-backed Nami chair, £1,119
Doshi Levien for John Lewis’ high-backed Nami chair, £1,119 | Courtesy of John Lewis

What else are you working on in 2017?

“We’re doing a lot of work with our European partners. For Kettal, we’ve designed a new collection of outdoor furniture, plus we’re doing new pieces for Moroso and B&B Italia, all of which will be launched at Salone del Mobile in Milan.”

As you’ve mentioned, you collaborate with many European brands. Do you think you’ll be affected by Brexit going forward?

“This is the first collaboration we’ve done with another UK-based company for 15 years – all of our work up until now has been in Europe predominantly. Just the idea of splitting away from them and going our own way doesn’t fit with reality – I just hope we can do a U-turn somehow and keep it together! It’s the antithesis of the creative industry, which is all about collaboration and being open-minded.”

Doshi Levien‘s Open Home collection will go on sale at John Lewis in February 2017.

Doshi Levien for John Lewis’ Sangam low table £899
Doshi Levien for John Lewis’ Sangam low table £899 | Courtesy of John Lewis