The 1970s was my favorite decade for interior design, because designers really pushed the limits. One undeniable success: The Roche Bobois Mah Jong sofa, a modular sofa design created by Hans Hopfer and launched in 1971. The Mah Jong sofa was originally designed with more subdued upholstery, but Roche Bobois has kept this sculptural design alive and relevant all these years by partnering with haute couture fashion designers to create instantly recognizable, pattern-rich compositions. Above: The Mah Jong Hiro composition with upholstery designed by Kenzo Takada.
Roche Bobois products are not inexpensive.
Hans Hopfer and the design of the Mah Jong
The responsive PR team for Roche Bobois sent me all these photos stat, along with a brochure with lots of info about the Mah Jong. Looking quickly through all the yummy photographs, I jotted down all these adjectives: Avante garde, bohemian, sexy, counter culture, high fashion. Yes: The 1970s were known for their… love pits.
But digging into the history, it seems that in the early 1970s, Hans Hopfer’s design perspective was very much influenced by the birth of his daughter. As a result, he designed the Mah Jong with family living in mind. Relatedly, look at the Roche Bobois materials online (links below), and circa 1971 you will see — beige upholstery — sueded leather, I’m guessing. The haute couture interpretations worthy today of the Olsen Twins came later.
Here’s what Roche Bobois says about the design’s birth on their page about the Mah Jong:
Painter, sculptor, designer… Hans Hopfer designed sofas that are, for many, the indisputable “signature” of Roche Bobois’ collections.
In the 1970s, Hopfer’s innovative and informal approach to comfort had a profound influence on the way people furnished and arranged their living space.
In 1971, he created the Mah Jong, a sofa based on the total freedom of function and form. Starting with three basic elements that can be combined or stacked, the Mah Jong allows limitless options of composition….
Roche Bobois launched as company in 1950. And even though the Mah Jong is instantly recognized as the company’s signature piece, it has many other products:
- Read about Roche Bobois’ interesting history — along with great photos.
- And walk through its fascinating virtual museum.
Roche Bobois Mah Jong compositions by Kenzo Takada:
Roche Bobois today features Mah Jong sofa collections with upholstery created by Kenzo Takada, Missoni Home, and Jean Paul Gaultier. There are also beds. And, put a sheet of glass on a cushion and you have a coffee table!
Mah Jong compositions by Missoni Home:
Mah Jong compositions by Jean Paul Gaultier:
Manufacturing the Mah Jong sofa:
Thanks to Roche Bobois for all the wonderful images!
Repeating some of the key link love: