Italian designer Enrico Marone Cinzano is on a mission to prove that sustainable and luxurious furniture are not mutually exclusive with the launch of his first solo exhibition at Hong Kong’s Pearl Lam Design gallery.  Entitled ‘China Clean’, the exhibition features eight key sculptural pieces inspired by the designer’s frequent travels to mainland China.

Part of the collection centres around furniture crafted from recycled elm wood using traditional Chinese joinery, beeswax with natural lacquer finish and eco-friendly glue, including a flat-pack Qing chair with sailor-inspired carvings, a valet complete with a hand-carved skull, and a dramatic 'Double Happiness' cabinet. ‘I did all these strange things like hand-carving skulls, which is a little bit freakish,’ Cinzano admits. ‘But I wanted something that spoke to the Chinese and had a charm while still being functional.’

Other pieces, most notably Cinzano’s 'Fibonacci Table', made from stainless steel, petrified wood and tempered glass that was inspired by the titular Italian mathematician, reflect a more modernist style. ‘The wood is millions of years old and so elegant, so I left the cracks unvarnished,' he says. ‘The contrast with contemporary materials like steel and glass is very interesting.’

The collection also features a distinctly contemporary recycled leather chair and table featuring industrial-esque recycled steel hardware. The design, created in collaboration with Shanghai-based Stellar Works, deconstructs as a flat-pack for convenient eco-friendly transport. Creating a sustainable range of furniture in China may seem like an anomaly, but Cinzano says he was struck by the people’s enduring connection to nature. The country’s potential influence on sustainability is enormous, he explains.

‘Can you imagine what China could really do if they realised that they could make a product more efficiently and that would perform more effectively?’ he concludes.