BY JULIA LU
An established but expanding Italian brand hires a star designer for its first flagship in London.
For Italian architect and designer Piero Lissoni, designing for furniture manufacturer Lema is about creating something better in quality than the day before. When Lissoni, Lema's creative director, was tapped to design the company's new flagship store in London, "quality [was] the first issue, the first thought," he says.
Though this Italian company has been manufacturing furniture since the Meroni family founded it in 1970, the London location is their first company-owned flagship store. It also marks the brand's expansion into international markets. The store, located in a restored building on Kings Road, with a Dutch facade, hosts the two segments of Lema on two levels: Lema Casa, the company's furniture line, and Lema Contract, a bespoke atelier that develops made-to-measure solutions for large-scale projects.
"The discussion with Angelo Meroni, the owner of Lema, was to design something like an atelier," Lissoni says. "'Atelier' means the idea to do something bespoke, the idea to design something super personalized around other people." First Lissoni considered the building and its surroundings - London. The showroom is designed like an industrial loft, a familiar space for London dwellers. It models the "Lema House," which, like an actual home, dedicates single spaces for bedroom, living room, dining room, library, and others. The company's range of furniture, designed by a list of star designers, shapes and characterizes the rooms.
The Lema House is clad with bespoke oak flooring and is warmly lit by floor lamps and chandeliers. Large picture windows overlooking Kings Road flood the entrance with natural light. Technical lights on the ceiling offer lighting support throughout the space and exist alongside exposed pipes; in order to maintain an industrial feel, Lissoni decided against a false ceiling.
The two levels are joined by a sculptural steel staircase that leads down to the Lema Contract atelier. Unlike the minimal yet sophisticated detaiLs throughout the showroom, the staircase stands out as an eye-catching piece that balances the industrial feel of the two levels. Lesson compares the experience of moving throughout the showroom to that of eating dinner: "You feel immediately like an appetizer. And after that, you move again a few steps, and you are in the main course. When you go down in the Contract area, you jump to this special dessert. Dessert means different typologies of glasses, veneers, woods, fabrics, wallpapers, carpets."