Sofa Art

In 1971, German painter, sculptor and designer Hans Hopfer created the Mah Jong sofa for French furniture line Roche Bobois – a sofa based on the total freedom of function and form. Starting with three basic elements that can be combined or stacked together, the Mah Jong allows limitless options of composition, comfort, and, need we say it, style.

It can be an armchair, sofa, lounge chair or bed; a space in which to rest or play. The interchangeable design encourages experimentation and breaks the rules of formal living. Avant-garde when first created, iconic today, and ‘redressed’ by fashion houses such as Missoni Home and Jean Paul Gaultier, this free form modular seating is a nod to creative design.

The signature piece has recently seen a new collaboration, with designer and KENZO fashion house founder Kenzō Takada taking the proverbial reigns. Takada has created a unique collection of fabrics and ceramics for Roche Bobois – the graphic and culturally-influenced collection inspired by mixed origins, colour combinations and delicate patterns, each piece complementary to the next. He has successfully reinterpreted the look of ancient kimonos to create a collection of fabrics in three harmonious colour schemes; an expression of gentleness, vivacity, and depth, coinciding with the three different times of the day: ASA (morning), HIRU (midday), and YORU (evening).

‘From the outset, I wanted to use inspiration from the patterns found on kimonos, specifically the weaving used for the Nō theatres. These designs and patterns were the guidelines of this collection for Roche Bobois, but I wanted to completely change their colours and interpret them in a new way.

‘Every effort has been made to ensure that these new fabrics, although made industrially, still respect the spirit of the old kimonos, paying particular attention to the jacquards and materials used,’ concludes Takada.

Shop individual pieces or the collection as a whole at Roche Bobois’ SA showroom at 10 Kloof Street, Gardens, or online at

Photography Zoé Fidji; Michel Gibert