FURNITURE DESIGNER FRANCIE LOWMAN grew up in Vidalia, Georgia, in a family of builders, engineers, and architects — so when she came to Savannah to study at SCAD, it’s no wonder she chose a three-dimensional design medium. “The home is such an intimate place,” Lowman says. “People put their heart and soul into getting it right, and they form such an attachment to their furniture.”
After graduating in 2017, Lowman moved to Philadelphia to design furniture and lighting for Anthropologie, and last year circled back to Savannah to take part in SCAD’s Alumni Atelier studio residency program. Aiming to create objects that help people enjoy their spaces more (and to do her work with a level of creative freedom that’s difficult to sustain inside the framework of a larger corporation), Lowman emerged from the residency with a new capsule collection that launched in late May: Mangata, a Swedish term roughly meaning “moonlight on the water.”
Mangata is first and foremost an ethical brand, incorporating locally sourced sustainable lumber, imported fair-trade materials, organic cotton, hemp and silk, natural dyes, low-fire ceramics, and solid brass as opposed to plated metal. And yet for all the collection’s moral high points, Lowman was unwilling to compromise on looks or livability. “I try to design for the whole room,” she says, noting that Mangata’s initial four pieces (a chair, a coffee table and two lighting fixtures) will be followed up with small home goods — textured prints, candles, ceramic mirrors, and wall hangings.
Though Lowman’s immediate travel plans are grounded amid coronavirus shutdowns, her work remains inspired by global points of reference, from Japanese joinery to South American and Moroccan textiles. On a recent trip to Tulum, she fell in love with the neutral palette. “I’m secretly a maximalist, but the way I can introduce a lot of elements is to keep the colors calm,” she says. “Metalworking and woodworking are perceived as a masculine craft, but I try to bring a fresh, feminine eye to them.” themangataexperience.com, @mangataexperience