Designer Mac Stopa's award-winning River Collection debuts in Malaysia

  • Design
  • Tuesday, 16 Jul 2019

Everything that Mac Stopa designs screams creativity, from buildings, furniture and carpets, to the outfits he wears.

An award-winning architect and designer, Stopa’s work spans various disciplines – architecture, interior design, industrial design, graphic design, art and fashion – with multinational corporations a big part of his clientele.

His architectural projects include the futuristic building housing the Genesis restaurant, and Art Walk, an organic-shaped open-air art gallery. Both are part of the European Square located in downtown Warsaw, which also includes the Warsaw Spire office complex for which Stopa designed the buildings’ modern lobby interiors.

He is also behind the design of the Warsaw Hub, a transportation centre – connected to subway stations, restaurants and offices – that is still under construction.

Since 2013, Stopa’s designs have received over 90 international design awards, including multiple Red Dot Design Awards, Good Design Awards, Interior Design HIP Awards, Iconic Awards: Interior Innovation, German Design Awards and an iF Award.

The newest addition to the collection, the River chair is weatherproof and has a built-in drainage system.
The Riverside lounge chair's sculptural shape and curved lines resemble wave patterns in the sand.

In June 2017 in Chicago, the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) awarded Stopa the IIDA Titan Award, which recognises significant contributions to the interior design profession. Last November, in Warsaw, he also received the prestigious Badge of Honour for Merits for Inventiveness bestowed by the Poland Prime Minister.

Dressed casually in jeans and a blue patterned shirt with matching jacket, Stopa was in Kuala Lumpur recently – his first visit to Malaysia – to launch a collection he designed for the brand Tonon called the River Collection. Suitable for both indoors and outdoors, it includes the River Stone stool, River chair, Riverside lounge chair and the River Snake, a modular stool which, when combined in multiple units, forms curvy benches of different lengths.

Stopa with the award-winning River Stone stool that he designed for the brand Tonon. Photo: The Star/Sam Tham

In April 2016, the Riverside lounge chair was presented for the first time at the Salone del mobile Milano in Italy. To date, it has been awarded seven design prizes.

Riverside’s organic design with 3D geometry is inspired by nature. Its sculptural shape and curved lines resemble the pattern of waves in the sand, formed by wind and water.

Stopa explains his inspiration behind the Riverside. “I remember several years ago, I went to a beach in Florida, the United States, after it had rained and I saw how the wind sculptured the sand in beautiful lines. So I thought, why not wrap the chairs in these irregular lines,” says Stopa, 57.

A versatile design, the River Stone stool is a triple award winner.

“The lines are also set in different dimensions and flowing, because nature is never static. And on the inside of the chair, where we sit, the geometry is reversed because we have to balance comfort and aesthetics,” he adds, pointing to these design details.

The River chair is the latest addition to the River collection, which, as a whole, has received 10 design awards. The collection uses a material called Soft touch polyplus and a bi-component moulded polyurethane.

“I learnt about this material while working with Tonon. Soft foam is very user-friendly and a smart technology which has been used for years in the automotive industry, but not in furniture. It can create objects in organic designs, in almost any shape, like in a sculpture,” he says.

Stopa's Art Walk is an organic-shaped open-air art gallery located in the European Square in Warsaw. Photos: Massive Design

Early start 

Stopa first started sketching when he was in grammar school in Poland. His mother was a set designer for TV and theatre. Seeing how Stopa was interested in what she did, she gave him a set of pens and markers to sketch with.

“I used to sketch a lot of castles and movie scenes. I remember I loved sci-fi movies when I was 12 so I would sketch futuristic architecture, like elevated highways and roads. In my family, there were also several architects who saw my sketches and encouraged me to pursue architecture,” recounts Stopa.

Today, his designs are very much inspired by nature and technology.

“What I like about nature is that it is perhaps the most beautiful designer. That’s especially when I am looking at a tree bark or marine life, the waves in the ocean, or how the wind sculptures the sand.

The futuristic Warsaw Spire lobby by Stopa is another award-winning design.

“It’s not only beautiful but makes me feel happier. And I like the randomness of natural design. Very often, I like to use modularity as an element in my designs – be it for architecture, furniture design or graphic design – to create that sense of randomness,” he adds.

Stopa shares his design philosophy: “Very often, I try not to limit myself to furniture or interior design. I try to use the experience I gather from being involved in interior design to connect with other experiences like furniture design. Then I use both these experiences in architecture, graphics or fashion design because you can learn and try new creative ways to connect between small and large scale works. When you make all these connections, there is no limit, and you can open new avenues,” he elaborates.

Stopa, whose work features a lot of geometric patterns, is particularly fascinated with 3D printing technology.

“First of all, it solves a lot of manufacturing difficulties and makes impossible things possible. Several years from now, this technology will not be exclusive or expensive. What is also good about 3D printing is that the technology will be more green as it reduces waste material and also more energy efficient,” he shares.

Stopa’s designs have appeared in international press, film and music videos.

The LinkUP chair and chaise lounge is another modular design by Stopa.
Stopa's Tapa poufs made an appearance in the film Loro in 2018.

In 2018, his Tapa poufs appeared in the film Loro by Oscar-winning Italian director Paolo Sorrentino. This year, the interiors of the Warsaw Spire and the Drum chairs designed by Stopa for Cappellini appeared in Natalia Kukulska’s music video Rekonstrukcja.

Stopa also plays the electric guitar and composes music. He and his wife Dana Grizwin are also working on developing a fashion line.

So what does he do when he is not working?

“You may find my answer boring but, when I have free time, I think about new designs!” he reveals, with a small laugh.

“However, I do not do that under pressure, but for relaxation and experimentation. Experimentation and research to me are very important.

So when I have free time, I will create these experiments on small to big scales for new ideas, to see how new things will work.

“But, of course, I like nature so I enjoy marine life, hiking, fishing, and I like to cook, especially seafood,” he ends with a smile.

Mac Stopa’s River Collection is exclusively available at Chesters Collection, 122, Jalan Maarof, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

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