12 Jan Moniomi’s high design sports inspired furnishings/Gordon Drive
A marble dining table that seats 12 and doubles as a ping pong table; a copper basketball hoop with a backboard made of painstakingly hand-cut andlaid marble and onyx—these are just two designs in the wonderfully over-the-top Altis Ornamentum furniture and accessories collection.
The creators, Ronald Alvarez and Monica Santayana, are co-founders of MONIOMI Design, a Miami-based design firm. The business and life partners have always been interested in sports and “collected a few basketball-style art pieces, including a hoop made by a local Miami artist with a net made of hair,” Alvarez explains. This inspired them to explore creating fully functional archetypal sports pieces that draw on the aesthetics of ancient sports arenas. (Hence the collection’s name, as Altis was believed to be a sacred space used by Zeus, with administration buildings for the Olympic Games). The collection references the stadiums of ancient Greece (columns, arches, marble) with elements of Art Deco and Memphis Group design (pastel colors, geometric shapes).
The success of the mini hoops (sold with customized basketballs) led the couple to expand the collection to include wool and silk rugs inspired by the tracks and courts of ancient arenas.
At a glance, the woven works—which can also hang as tapestries—simply read as beautiful, graphic designs without any obvious sports reference. Soon after, they added masterpieces like the ping- pong dining table, with its removable hand-woven leather net and the basketball hoop with a net that takes at least eight hours to crochet.
The duo also collaborates with artists resulting in pieces, including Twin Pops, a lucite seesaw with removable hand-dyed Tibetan lamb cushions by sculptor and installation artist Gabriela Noelle. There’s also a punching bag crafted from hand- spun wool, Italian leather and copper-plated chains, created with Miami artist Omar Fajardo.
The Altis Ornamentum collection is not only sophisticated, fun and functional; it also mirrors society’s current fascination with sports. “Athletes are becoming huge celebrities who set trends in fashion and design,” Alvarez says. In addition, basketball imagery and iconography are being harnessed by the likes of artists Hugh Hayden, Tyrrell Winston, Victor Solomon and Hank Willis Thomas. Alvarez is coy about whether any superstar athletes or artists own MONIOMI goods, but he promises the brand will debut a fresh roster of slam-dunk offerings at Design Miami 2022 in December.