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Crafting art objects: Inside 1865 (La Maison)’s functional art with a heritage touch

Explore the exquisite world of 1865 (La Maison) homeware, where heritage meets modernity in functional art

1865 (La Maison) is a modern homeware brand celebrating the heritage and culture of design to create unique pieces that double as functional art. 1865 refers to a date close to Founder Lubna Allana’s heart, the earliest date in her family’s documented history.

Family is a key pillar for Allana and La Maison: to bring together a family and community of artisans from around the world, and preserve and showcase their specialised design skills and talents to a global audience.

As Founder and Creative Director, Lubna Allana began her journey by building up a little black book of master artisans along the old Silk Route. The masters were employing ancient and modern techniques, with four key aspects in mind: precious materials, as well as unique design techniques, nature, and historical art movements.

As a designer, Allana has a passion for designing and conceptualising unique pieces as well as overseeing the design process from ethical material sourcing to identifying appropriate skill sets and finishings. These include ceramics and silver carving most suited for bringing each piece to life.

The following interview provides a glimpse into the brand’s design philosophy, its commitment to sustainability, and what’s coming next.

What drives 1865 (La Maison)’s aesthetic and design identity?

The quest to create unique decorative pieces that double as home jewels and celebrate the incredible talents of craftspeople in India, Turkey, Syria and the US. 1865 (La Maison)’s aesthetic aims to marry the world of art, furniture, and interiors.

The debut collection of the brand ranges from classic pieces adhering to more ancient or traditional design codes to more minimalistic and contemporary pieces.

Do you think luxury and sustainability can co-exist?

Absolutely. I believe that luxury industry players must lead by example in upholding a conscious effort to source ethically, sustainably, and educate their customers. 1865 (La Maison) celebrates ethical precious material sourcing ensuring traceability of semi-precious stones it uses in its pieces.

Additionally, [we have] gone to great lengths to ensure the human aspect of sustainability by ensuring safe working conditions and environments to facilitate the preservation of the incredible talent of the artisans.

Material selection plays a crucial role in luxury furniture. Can you discuss the types of materials you favour and the craftsmanship involved in their usage?

All materials used and sourced [at 1865 (La Maison)] are natural materials, be it marble, semi-precious stones, or wood.

[For example,] parchin kari, or inlaid marble, originates from Italy in the 14th-15th century and was known as pietra dura. These skills were brought by the Mughals to India, hence the Taj Mahal, palaces and forts were created with this craftsmanship and we continue to retain the workmanship of such artisans

Can you talk about your recent collaboration with Harrods?

We experienced resounding success during the showcasing of our collection at Harrods both at the Royal Suites and Penthouse. A world of 1865 in the heart of Knightsbridge—an exclusive exhibition of bespoke pieces with intricate new launches in our Agate and Brass collections.

We also furnished customisation to royalty and functional art lovers across the globe. A months-long pop up was greatly deemed a success by the Harrods team, and the showcase and pieces themselves were very well received by Harrods clientele.

The niche family-run ethos of the brand greatly aligned with Harrods’ deep rooted philosophy celebrating the same.

After the success of Harrods we have had leading galleries around the world request us to partner, the current Iconic Art collaborations with Christie’s, Volte and Oblong blending functional art and living space. We will also be participating in Maison & Objet, PAD design, and Art Basel Miami.

How do you ensure that your furniture and other products justify the premium cost in terms of quality, craftsmanship, and materials used?

One of the challenges I’ve observed in this past year is the clients’ and market’s understanding and appreciation of the value of ‘functional art’ and marrying this unique concept with the commercial essence of a retail brand.

With our brand position being one that delivers unique modern heirloom pieces, we don’t fit in the antiques category or the more generic offering of homeware brands.

We are determined to create and build out our little black book, if you may, of artisanal secrets from the all over the world and harness a community of clientele that have a great appreciation of age-old techniques, precious material that wish to decorate with what we believe are truly ‘Home Jewels.’

This [is] a key selling point that defines and justifies the above question on higher price.

How does your brand accommodate bespoke requests to meet individual client preferences?

We first understand the customers’ design preference as it’s a unique service that we provide them with, with exceptional durability and longevity.

The perfect space then requires precise measurements to the flexibility of material choice to create a statement piece which is our aim in each order. It is essential to consider the timeline involved in order to ensure that we get the quality results to make it the best experience for the customer.

The most memorable pieces from our debut collection have been a varied selection as the showcase was an expression of love of an assortment of different pieces, precious materials and artisanal techniques.

‘Rare Amethyst’ has been greatly revered, it’s an extraordinary Brazilian, naturally-occurring crystal geode of amethyst table top on a green copper base.

‘Pieces of light’ has been hugely popular too. The contemporary console is delicately carved off a single block of precious ruby agate; similar to its name, the console is illuminated from within making for a truly magnificent art deco piece in any home.

The lapis lazuli dining table and console have been immensely popular too. Ancient civilisations prized lapis for its good luck, religious significance, and high status which it reflects. The exquisite piece is intricately carved and shaped by hand from exclusive limestone infused with lapis, giving it the unmistakable blue colour and defining it as a sure conversation piece.

Lastly, the ‘Amber Haze’ coffee table has been popular since launch. It is carved out of a single block of yellow onyx, adding a pop of colour, making for a unique addition to any space.

Cities often shape design direction — what role does its Dubai presence play in 1865 (La Maison)’s brand’s direction and design philosophy?

1865 (La Maison) is a Dubai-based brand; the commercial capital with global culture is an important aspect in building and connecting the brand to its rich heritage and design philosophy.

The country is strategically located and we have benefited incredibly by staying connected to emerging markets with easy reach to all major financial capitals. Our loyal customers find it the most convenient and loved place to visit.