Naji Mourani spends his days sketching outside on his Toronto terrace, papers and samples spread out all around him. For him it’s a place where he can be alone and get creative. “It’s nothing fancy, but it’s bright and cheerful and it gets me focused,” he says.
As an interior architect Naji has long appreciated the work of Italian craftspeople. “Since I was little I was drawn to Italian culture, language, fashion, cars, and design. In the past decade I’ve had the opportunity to travel all around Italy, and I got to learn more about the things I admired growing up.” He graduated from Holy Spirit University of Kaslik – USEK in Lebanon as an interior architect, and he’s worked on many high-end projects in the hospitality sector in the Caribbean, Morocco, Dubai, Macau, and Philippines.
In 2017, a few months after launching 2K1M as an interior design consultant studio, Naji couldn’t get the idea of creating his own furniture line out of his head. He shifted to focus fully on designing his own pieces. In 2018 he partnered with Italian craftspeople in the province of Pordenone, about an hour north of Venice, to help bring his vision for 2K1M (named for his two young children whose names start with K) to life.
Naji says the name of his first collection, Fai, is fitting as well, as it means “do or make” in Italian and “beginning” in Chinese. The collection began with the Credenza. “I wanted to create a flexible piece that doesn’t have a traditional shape like a square or rectangle, but is elegant, refined—a look that can transform into other alternatives and expand into a collection,” he says. The Fai Collection launched at Toronto’s Interior Design Show this year.
As part of the collection Naji wanted to give buyers the flexibility to mix and match materials. He knew he wanted to emphasize fine marble and wood, but do they want leather for the credenza doors or a polished brass insert? Or what about going all white for a clean, modern look? “You can have a brass insert or full leather or white lacquered front—by changing those pieces all of a sudden you have a whole new piece you can fit into a different environment.” Each piece in the Fai Collection is handmade to order.
“I always admired the marble stone and wanted to use it versus a man-made material,” Naji says. “I feel everything natural has a story to tell, and I want it to age with us. Engineered materials are plain and rigid; they don’t talk back, and they don’t change.”
Naji recalls growing up when his family had a Carrara marble kitchen counter and sink. “Now this counter is more than 50 years old; you can look at it every day and every day it has a story to tell you,” he says. “A mark, a scratch, a stain, a crack—all bring back memories. That is character. The same approach can apply to leather and wood.”
The wood and marble in the Fai Collection are selected regionally in Italy by 2K1M’s manufacturer and partners, and all emphasize FSC wood with low to no VOCs in paints or stains.
The high-end Fai Collection pieces have a contemporary look, offering a modern take on Art Deco while still being useful. Naji calls the credenza, for example, a showpiece with a function. The entryway mirror is large but non-obtrusive, nesting in a solid wood frame in dark walnut, with a circular mirror and an angled cut that provides a thinner framework on top that’s fuller at the bottom. “It feels like it’s sitting in a bird’s nest,” he says. Small hooks and a drawer serve as a catchall for keys or other items, adding function to form. “Some call it the ’70s with a twist.”