Robert McKinley’s furniture and lighting collection is inspired by Italian craft
Inspired by his Italian heritage, American interior designer Robert McKinley launches the Monea collection of furniture and lighting
The interior designer Robert McKinley has certainly had a hand in defining the look of contemporary New York. Well known for his playfully creative approach to hotel, restaurant and residential clients, including multiple Sant Ambroeus locations, Hotel Kinsley in Kingston, The Surf Lodge and his own McKinley Bungalows in Montauk, McKinley’s flair for creating stylish and welcoming interiors is now being translated into the designer’s first product collection, which spans both furniture and lighting.
Inspired by his maternal Italian heritage, McKinley’s debut collection has been named Monea, in tribute to his mother’s family name. This ode to Italy is not just personal, it also nods to where the designer first became acquainted with quality materials, Italian craftsmanship and understated elegance.
‘My Italian heritage has always been a distinct part of my identity and inspiration for my work. When designing this collection, I wanted to work with the incredible age-old techniques that I discovered in Europe, while also ensuring that the product felt comfortable and liveable,’ he says. ‘I’ve used custom designed furniture and lighting pieces. When I started getting recognition from clients and their customers, it made me think about designing a full collection. Monea is deeply personal for me, and is meant to be timeless while also representing my distinct taste.’
Spanning three categories, each design exemplifies McKinley’s charismatic mix of past and present. For seating, the ‘Building Blocks’ linen sofa cuts a classic figure while featuring clips and straps that allow it to be assembled in different shapes and sizes. The ‘Etna’ sofa, in contrast, takes a more minimalist, geometrically-lead form, with cushions in a variety of shapes that stack on top of each other without sacrificing its clean lines. Three coffee tables, each pairing statuesque slabs of marble with either a wooden or lacquered brass base, offer a point of difference with their refined, yet unadulterated silhouette.
The lighting pieces may be the most exciting. Featuring hand-blown Murano glass elements and handmade rattan, the ‘Marella’ offers a casual elegance with handcrafted credo behind it. Similarly, the ‘Camino’ table lamps reference Venetian chimney tops while uniquely pairing Italian linen, reclaimed wood from Venetian boat docks and cast bronze finials made by McKinley. The range is completed by the ‘Ingrid’ ceiling fixture, a classic shape that has been elevated with the unusual use of textured Murano glass alongside caning.
The materiality and the craftsmanship is what characterizes this collection best. ‘I am using ancient art techniques that would otherwise have been completely lost if it wasn’t for a few artisans who had passed down these skills through generations,’ says McKinley ‘The bamboo caning technique that we’ve used in some of the lighting dates to World War II, and is only perfected by a few artisans across the globe, which made it so special and intriguing for me. Each piece from Monea is meant to be unique and individual, standing out in a room but serving a functional purpose in the home.’ §