Lemon’s foray into furniture has been an exciting journey. Having started as a designer and manufacturer of printed products and custom artwork more than a decade ago, the gradual move from the two-dimensional sphere into the creation of pieces that make up holistic spaces has been a rewarding and creatively inspiring one for the firm.
Lemon’s philosophy – to create simple, timeless and accessible pieces that work seamlessly in your spaces – has been consistently present throughout its evolution and is apparent in every new product it launches, and we see it in action in the new Portman side table.
Designed in partnership with one of Lemon’s longtime collaborators and a friend of the brand, Yaniv Chen of Masterstudio, the Portman is the product of careful planning and painstaking engineering. Aesthetically, Chen and Lemon founder Kevin Frankental wanted to achieve something streamlined and understated. ‘When looking for our own side tables we found many of the products available on the market were either over-designed or a bit bulky,’ says Frankental. The objective with this design then was to create an occasional table with the thinnest profile possible – a piece that almost disappears when viewed from a certain angle. By using steel as their material of choice, Frankental and Chen were able to achieve an incredibly svelte silhouette and slim proportions.
But mere manufacturing alone doesn’t make for successful design. Lemon’s passion, aside from producing pieces with aesthetic appeal, lies in creating designs that have conceptual strength, and an interesting backstory. When designing the Portman, Frankental and Chen were drawn to the panache of 1960s Italian design and shopfitting, a niche and very specific source of inspiration. ‘This era is known for rich, sophisticated colours – you can see it used in all manner of design, from furniture to fashion and cars,’ says Frankental. Accordingly, the Portman is available in ultra-sophisticated shades of Navy and Oxblood and an elegant sartorially inspired Charcoal. ‘When we design we work with the form, the colour and the finish in tandem. A typical Lemon product considers all elements of the product simultaneously. The Portman is not the Portman if the wrong shade of navy is used for example,’ adds Frankental.
A sense of nostalgia prompted the piece’s naming process as well as its design provenance – Portman Road was the street Frankental grew up in Johannesburg. ‘All of our products are named after places that hold sentimental value for us,’ comments Frankental.
When using it in your space, you can adopt this same celebration of decades gone by – grouped and paired with vintage knick-knacks to create offbeat glamour – or adopt a streamlined 21st-century approach and keep it ultra simple. The beauty of the piece is that its rich colour and strong lines mean it needs very little by way of ornamentation but equally responds beautifully to being dressed up.