Furniture from SOBU
Locally Made: Alamedans Alessandro and Laleh Latini make whimsical durable pieces that transform rooms.
Alessandro Latini spent more than a decade designing furniture that wound up at places like Crate & Barrel, Macy’s, Pottery Barn, and other mass-market stores. Now, the designs he creates for SOBU, a company he owns and runs with his wife, Laleh, veer far away from those mall favorites.
Alessandro’s creative pairings of woods and metals produce furniture that is spare and efficient, yet elegant and warm, like the new collection’s reclaimed teak rocker. The rocker has welcoming gentle curves, while maintaining a sleekness that gives a nod to Zen asceticism. Then there’s the Patchwork Lounge—a riot of stitched-together colors, it is full to bursting, extravagant in its cushioning and playfulness.
The furniture is not only beautiful and whimsical, but thoughtfully crafted, durable, and ecofriendly. The pieces are often flexible—they fold up or double as indoor or outdoor pieces or serve dual purposes—a desk and a storage unit, for instance.
Alessandro and Laleh (who hail from Italy and Iran respectively) both grew up in the Bay Area, and have known each other since high school, although it took years of casual friendship, random re-encounters, a break-up in France, and a bike trip around Europe for them to finally tie the knot and join forces.
At that time, Alessandro was living with a friend in Alameda, and he and Laleh wanted to stay on the Island. They found their own place and have been there ever since, building a family and, now, a company. Laleh, a graphic designer, crafts the company’s catalogue and website, and is now learning the marketing side.
Need more evidence that it’s a family business? SOBU is a contraction of the Latini kids’ names: Sophia and Bruno (called Bu by his family).
SOBU planned to open a storefront at 495 Ninth St. (510-504-0599) in Old Oakland in late November and set Dec. 6 for a grand opening party. SOBU hours will be 12–7 p.m. Tue.–Fri. and 12–6 p.m. Sat. You can see Sobu’s first full collection at www.sobusobu.com.
This article appears in the December 2013 issue of Oakland Magazine
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