Ming’s Heart Armchair Is a Modern Expression of Ancient Eastern Tradition


Shi-Chieh Lu brings East to West in Ming’s Heart Armchair, a piece of subtle geometry and enduring presence for Poltrona Frau.

What makes a tradition endure in furniture for over 600 years? Architect and designer Shi-Chieh Lu, who operates CJ Studio in Taiwan, believes that simple forms are “full of energy and potential.” It’s a hypothesis that’s proven true for the allure of Ming dynasty-era furniture. Revered for precisely engineered designs rendered with unadorned elegance and authentic materials, these pieces were meant to represent the interplay between humans and the natural world—a central facet of traditional Chinese culture. Ming furniture was often made from precious hardwoods like red sandalwood, pear wood, and scented rosewood, bestowing value and durability.

Drawing inspiration from this history, Shi-Chieh Lu channeled his expertise to create a modern interpretation: the Ming’s Heart armchair for Poltrona Frau. Shi-Chieh Lu’s design philosophy was right at home with the Italian furniture brand which prizes itself on meticulous material selection and forward-looking designs that simultaneously play off and give homage to the past. The company, founded by Lorenzo Frau in 1912, made its mark doing so for the residences of the Italian Royal Family, interiors for the Expo Turin 1928, and the Italian Navy’s transatlantic Rex. The timeline of state-of-the-art 20th-century design is dotted with Poltrona Frau.

modern living room featuring a pair of poltrona frau ming's heart armchairs

Now, over 100 years later, and taking cues from the other side of the globe, is Ming’s Heart Armchair, a beloved item in Poltrona Frau’s illustrious catalog. It’s a piece where form and material fluidly follow in the lineage of Chinese aesthetics while taking a turn to articulate the restrained rigor of Western cubism. The chair’s continuous lines are made of steel tubing with a gunmetal gray galvanic treatment, while an upholstered shell, made from Saddle Extra leather with contrast stitching, is secured to the structure by visible screws. In silhouette and experience, Ming’s Heart is modest yet expressive. Sitting in its minimalist frame, you rest at the intersection of ease and sophistication.

Shi-Chieh Lu writes that at CJ Studio they regard architecture and design as “social events,” and what better piece to explore the dynamics of relational gatherings than the chair? Rich in history and current-day innovation alike, Ming’s Heart is a conversation piece itself. Hinting at both East and West, past and present, its design is ever-relevant and flexible. When it comes to fostering the same in your home, the armchair is graceful enough to sit alone, in a couplet, or larger configurations, and is complementary to a wide range of furnishings and decor sensibilities. 

In Ming’s Heart, Shi-Chieh Lu has skillfully combined two cultural legacies, creating a piece that’s appealing and relevant no matter your place in the world or history. Studio Como invites interested clients to experience Ming’s Heart Armchair in person at our flagship showroom in Denver.

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