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casablanca journey to milan



Journey to Milan

We are excited to announce the Launch of our 2020 Collection, Journey to Milan.

Journey to Milan: The 2020 Collection, In conversation with the designers:

Marble connoisseur Cherry Wang sits down with our head designers Leonie Liu and Tony Shum to discuss their inspirations for the 2020 collection, their process and on yet another collaborative collection.

Cherry: I guess we’ve talked about a lot of the inspirations for the collections previously, but I think it would be great for our client base to get some insight into the design process and how the two of you come about designing a new piece, the collaborative process and the individual process at Casablanca. Is it different to when you work together in your architectural practice or is your process similar?

Leonie: (Laughs) Wow, Let me think for a moment, it’s hard to describe, we’ve been working together for over 10 years now and so our collaborative design process is so natural and organic that sometimes it’s hard to remember who came up with which idea and where each idea began. I was talking to Tony yesterday about the forbidden fruit table and how it came about and it all started with an idea drawing on a biblical reference of the forbidden fruit and a sketch where I wanted to mix and contrast the red and green marble types, which is the tabletop and base for the table. We ended up workshopping over a few weeks in a 3D model and creating the form that it is today. I remember that Tony and I were discussing how do we bring this 2D idea and table top from a flat surface into a dynamic 3D form that has the curvature and rounded feel of an apple without being completely literal. Tony then came up with the idea of branching out the curved connection between the top and bottom that connects the pieces and makes the side table a very dynamic form.

Each of our furniture pieces evolves over a process of an initial idea and changes sometimes quite unexpectedly like a controlled experiment until we are happy with the proportions, the materiality, and the overall aesthetic.

Tony: (laughs) so you’re still trying to take credit for the design.

Leonie: (Laughs) Well I’m proud of what we achieved there with the forbidden fruit piece, it’s a classical reference, with a seemingly traditional Italian colour palate but very contemporary, cute and practical at the same time. We rarely design anything I can consider to be cute.

Forbidden Fruit

casablanca forbidden fruit marble side table

The Manhattan

casablanca manhattan marble side table

The Martini

casablanca martini marble side table


Tony: Yes it’s a really fun piece. This whole collection was fun to design. I think we were drawn to idea of the collection being the “Journey to Milan” because of the significance of Milanese influence as the place to showcase furniture with the Milan Furniture Fair. Also there’s this embedded historical aspect in the way Italians have used marble in sculpture, and Architecture which is breathtakingly beautiful and soulful that we wanted to use as a jumping off point for our marble furniture pieces to be synonymous with art.

In answering your question Cherry, Yes our collaborative approach for different pieces is sometimes very similar to how we might work together to design a building. We discuss and rebound ideas off each other, sketch individually and together, workshop the design, critique it and refine each piece. Each piece evolves over a process of an initial idea and changes sometimes quite unexpectedly like a controlled experiment until we are happy with the proportions, the materiality, and the overall aesthetic.

Cherry: How about you Leonie, I think you really felt connected to the idea of a Journey to Milan and that was the name you selected for this collection. Were you hoping to bring the client or furniture patron/ or owner of each piece on a journey to Milan for each piece? Were you trying to convey a sense of place and time? Past and Present?

Leonie: Yes, in a way. A piece of furniture can elevate a room, and the aesthetic and materiality, in this case predominately marble pieces although we have also used some travertine, brings a sense of richness and elegance to a space. The forms have drawn inspiration from Italian references but its also where it takes the end user, the owner of each piece and how they make it their own. I can see a family gathering together on one of the dining tables like Tony’s Romano table and sharing a meal together like a large Milanese family would.

Tony: (Laughs) Yes that table belongs in a Palazzo. However, I do hope that it would be enjoyed as an entertaining piece and not just as a showcase piece, even though I think that table does have the tendency to sit in a formal dining room.

The Palladio

casablanca palladio marble dining table

The Romano

casablanca romano marble dining table


Leonie: I think furniture is so personal, it’s in people’s homes, but its also something which is shared and has a longevity to it, especially luxury marble pieces like these. So I really enjoyed designing these pieces of a smaller scale and I hope our clients and customers will enjoy them for years to come. I also think Tony did a great job on the Palladio Dining table, I think even though it’s not my own design it’s one of my favourites in the collection. It’s completely contemporary and so streamlined and elegant, a luxury investment piece. I like it so much I think we’ll be replacing our current dining table with the Palladio.

Tony: I agree, these are definitely luxury investment pieces that will be a centrepiece for any dinner party in terms of the dining tables, but also the smaller pieces like the Mariposa butterfly piece which is more of a feature coffee and modular table that can be used as a whole or in separate pieces, and even the more clean lined Manhattan side table which could be a living room side table or bedside table; they are all designed to have longevity and be timeless pieces, either for everyday or more as collection and showcase pieces.

Cherry: Thanks for taking the time to talk about the process today Tony and Leonie. I absolutely adore the collection and so does my family! Almost everyone has put in an order for multiple pieces already. I know my sister Vicki is waiting for her Mariposa Butterfly Piece and can’t wait till it’s finished. My parents are also excited about their new dining table. We’ve also been really enjoying our palette dining table at our house. Everyone that comes over for dinner says it’s stunning and loves the contrasting finishes and materials.

Leonie: That’s lovely Cherry. (Blushes) It’s the best complement when your friends love your work and support your creative process too. (smiles).

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