Born out of a passion for architecture and design, the Maria Sharapova x Rove Concepts collaboration features six timeless furniture and decor pieces imbued with an organic sensibility and an astute attention to detail. The star athlete shares the story behind the collection and reveals the connecting threads between her impressive talents.
Maria Sharapova collaborated with Rove Concepts on her first-ever furniture and decor collection; the Maria side table doubles as a functional art piece.
Congrats on the collection. Can you tell me a bit about what inspired the look and feel? I designed my home to be somewhat of an oasis—a place I could return to after traveling around the world for my sport. I set out to create a space where I would feel relaxed and comfortable, with lots of neutral tones and a natural indoor to outdoor flow. That sense of ease and refuge are elements reflected throughout the collection—the natural color palette, raw materials and organic textures. I wanted the collection to feel like a natural extension of people’s homes that could complement pieces they already have and mold to different lifestyles in an effortless manner.
How would you describe the collection? Timeless, elegant and versatile. We wanted to create pieces that people will not only love today, but be able to appreciate and evolve with a space for years to come. Many of the pieces can be used in different areas throughout the house; the tables are even designed to fit both indoor and outdoor spaces. I think that’s a really unique aspect of this collection.
What materials did you gravitate toward? I’ve always been drawn to materials and textures that are natural and unrefined, and designs that are unfinished and have a slightly imperfect look. With my own home, we used big slabs of concrete, which I think captures the raw profile of the material and the longevity that comes with it. The coffee table and side table in the collection are examples of that same thought process. Physical concrete itself can be very heavy, so we were able to use a fiberglass concrete, with a finish that makes it look and feel like concrete but is much lighter in weight and is able to withstand the weather. Throughout the collection, we also emphasized raw linens, neutral fabrics, soft velvets and natural wood—there’s a strong emphasis on materials that wear and weather nicely with age. I think that’s where my own preference for timelessness comes through the most.
The Maria lamp’s shade allows light to filter through.
Can you walk me through your design process? While I drew inspiration from my own home, a lot of my design influence is a reflection of my travel and personal experiences. Over the years, I’ve saved tons of photos on my phone of favorite designs and places I’ve visited during my travels, as well as inspiration from social media and design publications that I’ve archived. When I first set out to create the collection, I spent hours sifting through all of those images. That was really how we kicked off the initial design process, bouncing ideas off of each other to create something that was unique. Designing my collection with Rove has been extremely collaborative and truly one of the most fun projects I’ve ever been a part of.
What designers and artists are you drawn to? There are so many. Tadao Ando’s designs reflect a deep sense of serenity and timelessness. And Pierre Yovanovitch has a really unique ability to create bold and prominent pieces with a concise simplicity. I also love the minimalist method Axel Vervoordt embodies through his buildings and am inspired by his creativity to use natural materials and incorporate concrete into his pieces.
Are there any connecting threads between your tennis career and your design career? Attention to detail is so important to both. In tennis, it’s being able to lock into every point, noticing even the smallest changes in your opponent’s game, and being able to adapt along the way. In design, it’s the details that people notice when they interact with a piece of furniture—when they sit on a sofa or have an afternoon cup of tea alongside their coffee table. Those interactions are so important, and if you don’t focus on the most minute details, they can be lost in translation and not interpreted in the way you ultimately intended them to be.
The Maria sofa features a wooden frame and velvety soft fabric.
How do you see your pieces integrating into customers’ existing design schemes? Investing in a furniture piece is a big commitment; it has to fit your taste, your aesthetic, your lifestyle. Knowing that people will be living with these pieces every day—looking at them, feeling them, using them —I looked to create a collection that could easily integrate into existing spaces.
What do you love most about designing furniture? I think it goes back to appreciating how people will interact with it, how furniture is used and lived with, and how it grows with you. Originally you may have one vision for a piece of furniture, but as your life changes, how can it continue to shift with your lifestyle and your space? I’m really inspired by the journey, and to see how people will evolve with the collection for years to come. That relationship between one’s lifestyle and their aesthetic—evolving and shifting as a person grows over time—was a huge inspiration behind the overall design of the collection.
What are some challenges you’ve faced in bringing the collection to life? I put a lot of thought into the touch and feel of each piece. It was important to me to not only have certain pieces look a certain way, but evoke the same feeling when people interact with it. We used a combination of natural and raw fibers, but I thought it was also really important to incorporate the strong, industrial feel of concrete as well. Achieving that sense of roughness in texture, yet smooth enough to be enjoyed in a living room space and light enough to be functional, was a tough challenge for us. For the coffee table, we used fiberglass and had it undergo a sanding process to mimic the makeup of concrete. I think we went back and forth around 10 times to finally achieve that texture we were after.
How do you see the collection evolving over time? The inspiration for me when creating this collection was for it to be versatile and lasting, with the intention of each piece being able to shift and mold to people’s ever-changing lifestyles. The furniture is designed to complement varied spaces, but also people’s varied styles of living as they evolve.
Photography by: Photos Courtesy of Rove Concepts