Founded by Dutch designer Marcel Wanders in 2001, the iconic Moooi brand can now be found exclusively in South Africa at Weylandts stores around the country. Known for its innovation and spirited, unconventional approach to design, Moooi takes its name from the Dutch word for beautiful (the third ‘o’ offering extra value and a point of uniqueness, they say).
Alongside designs by Wanders, the Moooi collection includes work by international luminaries such as Bertjan Pot, whose ‘Random’ and ‘Non-Random’ lights are a familiar sight in many a contemporary home; Front, the design force behind the playful ‘Horse Lamp’ and ‘Pig Table’; the late Raimond Puts’s enchanting Raimond lights; as well as Ron Gilad’s extraordinary ‘Dear Ingo’ chandelier. And then there are the likes of Jaime Hayon, Maarten Baas, Studio Job, Piet Boon, Danny Fang, Scholten & Baijings, among many others.
‘Moooi represents “a life extraordinary”,’ explains the brand’s CEO Robin Bevers, who was in Cape Town for the launch. For Bevers, Weylandts is an ideal retail partner in this country. ‘It’s more a brand than a retailer; they have style, they curate, but while they are accessible, they’re not mass. It feels very personal, but still addresses a very big segment of the market. For us it feels like a logical step,’ he notes. With Moooi heading into its 18th year, he says the brand is ‘coming of age’, and in order to make a stake in the local market, they needed a partner to help them reach a larger audience. ‘We’re a brand that has always followed our own vision, and part of that is appealing mostly to city dwellers; this is a country where there is a vast metropolitan population with really good taste. But, of course, anybody is welcome, even if you live 30 kilometres out of town!’
Of the Moooi shop-in-shop concept at Weylandts, Bevers says, ‘If you look around the store, there is no clash, the brands go well together. You stand there and you can tell this is a different brand than Weylandts. But I think it is very complementary, so I think in the Weylandts audience there must be a specific audience that will love the Moooi brand. I’m particularly proud of how the brand lives in its own way here, but also mixes in effortlessly with the collection here at Weylandts, so that versatility is something I’m very proud of.’
Bevers believes there are certain products that will have particular resonance with South African design lovers, such as, for example, the ‘Delft Blue Plate’ and ‘Eden Queen’ carpets, both designed by Wanders and touching on elements of Dutch heritage and art in a characteristically playful, even larger-than-life way. ‘A real Moooi piece uses metaphors from the past in a new, future-forward, post-modern way that has appeal across generations,’ he says. ‘My mother loves certain pieces because she recognizes things from her youth or tradition, but presented in a different way. Those are the connections we are really looking for.’
Bevers says sustainability is a key consideration in all the brand’s designs, but not in the predictable way to do with recycling or recyclability, ‘as good as that is’. ‘From the start at Moooi, one of our goals is that we make things that people love and that they don’t get tired of.’ With quality levels ensuring relative longevity of products, it’s more a case of being ‘sick and tired of the piece’ rather than its breaking or wearing down that will cause someone to discard it. ‘That’s why you will not see trends at Moooi and you will not see us follow directions or hype. Nothing grows older faster than new; the more on-trend something is, the more dated it will be very soon. Our definition is, make pieces that people love so much that they never want to part with them again.’
A selection of signature lighting, furniture, carpets and accessories will be available in the Green Point, Fourways, Kramerville, Umhlanga and Sandton City stores, while the full range can be ordered through Weylandts.
Text: Leigh Robertson