Why Ana Kras’s Work Is Way More Important Than the NYCxDesign 2018 Scandal Overshadowing It

If there’s anything to take away from the maelstrom surrounding Japanese brand Kamarq’s knockoff designs, it’s that Kras deserves to be the focus of attention.

(Photo: Courtesy Ana Kras)

The biggest story of NYCxDesign 2018 caught Ana Kras at its center, but not in a way the Serbian furniture designer could have anticipated. As soon as the nascent subscription-based product line Kamarq debuted its inaugural pieces, designed by Lady Gaga collaborator Nicola Formichetti and creative director PJ Mattan, Kras and her Slon collection, created for Matter’s in-house brand Matter Made in 2015, became the victims of plagiarism. The outcry on social media was so loud—thanks, in part, to Matter’s own instagram post—that Kamarq swiftly removed all but a couple products from its website. (Though Mattan acknowledged his sources for inspiration in response, he neglected to include Kras’s designs among them.) Following the controversy, we thought it apt to turn the spotlight onto Kras’s collection and celebrate what made it so great in the first place.

Kamarq's inaugural product line. (Photo: Travis Chantar, courtesy Kamarq)

Inspired by bent plywood Shaker boxes, the entire Slon collection, composed of dining tables, coffee tables, pedestal tables, and side tables, are made of two simple forms: cylindrical tubes and slabs. All but one of the pieces—a dining room table in solid black marquina marble—are made of maple tops and bent plywood legs.

“I’ve always loved tables a little more than other furniture,” Kras says by email. “Growing up, the round table in the dining room was the center of the house. I would draw there while my mom would cook, and my sister would do her exams on the other side of it. We were always circulating around the table.” The table, in its other function as an accent, can also be used as a focal point in space. “Side tables are like sculptures—the construction is so simple, which leaves a lot of room to play with the form,” she says. “They can be playful and are small enough that even the very non-experimental people might venture into a statement side table. They can really shift the mood of a simple interior.”

Balancing a purely aesthetic sensibility with utility, the slabs on the push-top side tables are fully removable, providing hidden storage in the leg volumes. In the coffee tables, the slabs play with scale and symmetry by lying flush with the columns, edged toward one side, or evenly across the top. Done in desert tones of sand, terracotta, and grey with a pop of baby blue and a black-and-white striped pattern, the collection can be mixed and matched to be restrained and monochromatic, or bold and bright. “Ana is a story teller,” says Matter founder Jamie Gray. “She’s very specific about colors, proportions, and textures; every detail becomes a consideration. Because we’re working with very basic geometries it’s these details that make her Slon collection singular and easily identified.”

While Kras herself credits Mario Bellini’s Colonnato table for Cassina from 1977 as an inspirational reference, her designs stand on their own as originals thanks to their ability to simultaneously pay tribute to and depart from their source—two things that Formichetti and Mattan’s blatant knockoffs simply do not.

(Photo: Courtesy Ana Kras)
(Photo: Courtesy Ana Kras)
(Photo: Courtesy Ana Kras)
All Stories