The birth of a shell
The Island of Mauritius is the 26th smallest country in the world. Fringed by more than 150km of white sandy beaches, its lagoons are protected by the world’s third largest coral reef It is this luxuriant, yet fragile nature that affords the island its uniqueness. Attributes that leave one marvelling at the remarkable geometric forms and colours crafted by nature. An island comparable to a beautiful shell which, despite being small, possesses a rarity and charm that enables it to be cherished and preserved like a treasure. Cypraea was born from this very idea. From a desire to connect people to nature. The Latin name for “Coquille Bonheur” or Cowry Shell from the Cypraeidae family, Cypraea are beautiful and rare shells mainly found in the Indian Ocean. They were historically used as currency or worn as jewellery. Today, they epitomise the island’s tropical identity, as well as the elegance of its nature.
As a brand, Cypraea seeks to convey the preciousness of the land through innovative and original designs, which transcend the boundaries of mere “furniture”. The exclusivity and inimitable uniqueness of our island is reflected in our collections: only nine pieces per item are produced, each one with its own distinct features.
By bringing particular fragments of this tropical island into people’s homes, Cypraea aims to stimulate the senses through its materials and exclusive design. From the porosity of lava stone and coral sand, to the solidity of wood, the natural materials used are high in complexity—a testament to the intricacies of our natural heritage. These pieces are more than just furniture: they are an experience and journey through Mauritius, a gateway to its nature and an escape from the uniformity of daily life.
Cypraea’s desire is to surprise and astound, achieved through the use of unconventional materials and design. The owners of our pieces will take pride in knowing that they are in possession of only one of nine items sold across the world, each one carrying with it the essence and authenticity of our island. One-of-a-kind works of art that evoke timeless beauty – like the rarest of treasures found in the ocean.
“Mauritius was made first and then heaven; and that heaven was copied after mauritius” Mark Twain
Cypraea was born from this very idea. From a desire to open people’s eyes to the aesthetics of the natural world, and to spark anew our connection to nature. The Latin name for ‘Coquille Bonheur’ or ‘Cowry Shell’ from the Cypraeidae family, Cypraea are rare jewels found in the Indian Ocean, historically used as currency or worn as jewelry. Today, they epitomise the island’s tropical identity and the kind of startling beauty that feeds our inspiration.
About 10 million years ago, Mauritius was born from a volcanic hotspot, that also gave birth to the neigh15 wing island of Reunion about 7 million years later.
The island was first named in 1547 by Portuguese navigator Pedro de Mascarenhas, one of the first European explorers to have stumbled upon Mauritius and the surrounding islands. He eventually lent his name to the islands that make up the archipelago, that would later become known as the Mascarenhas Islands.
From 1598 to 1712, Mauritius was occupied by the Dutch who introduced the ‘java deer” along with a variety of harmful species (rats, goats, cats….) and they also triggered the deforestation of this luxuriant island.
In 1735. the French took possession of the island, keeping the trade of precious woods ongoing and the first sugar cane factories were built and put into service.
After almost 150 years of French domination, the English occupied the island. Finally, in I Mauritius became independent.
A 45 years heritage: Mavenci
Because the power of art lies in its
The company was first incorporated in 1974 in Mauritius. Mavenci began as a small family owned business, manufacturing furniture and joinery for hotels, as well as for individual clients.
To stabilise growth in 2017, Cedric Lincoln, the principal owner of the company, decided to create a new line of furniture to be sold and showcased overseas. Cedric spent his early years working in Canada, UK and Romania and, after a six-year learning curve, earned his Engineering Degree in Wood Science from Ex°le Superieure du Bois in France. His aim: to create a new brand that reflects the tropical environment of his country; and eventually become the first ambassador of the Mauritian Luxury Style.
While most other brands are trending towards new materials that seemingly `look like’ real materials, Cedric was eager for his brand to move against the tide. By using only real, authentic materials, he aspires to connect potential buyers to nature through his furniture, and join his vision for building a better future.
One of Cypraea’s goals today is to help sustain local associations that advocate for the preservation of the island’s natural environment: Reef Conservation Mauritius and the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation. A percentage of Cypraea’s sales will therefore fund these associations and help perpetuate the one-of-a-kind heritage of Mauritius.
The design story
Francesco Maria Messina was born in Italy and dedicated himself to classical studies there, before leaving for France at the age of sixteen. There, he acquired his high school diploma prior to attending Ecole Speciale d’Architecture in Paris. After a brief experience in New Orleans at Tulane University, he moved to Lyon in France, where he participated in the creation of an international architecture school, Confluence Institute for Innovation and Creative Strategies in Architecture, under the direction of star architect Odile Decq. Francesco then graduated in Architecture with a thesis in Urbanism.
His architectural approach to design and his humanist background allowed him to create the current Cypraea collection, which does not follow conventional design standards. Instead, it aims to stimulate curiosity through its surprise elements, features of each individual piece.
Francesco’s fresh design ideas, combined with Cedric’s experience in the domain, helped create a brand with a strong conceptual identity, bound to the elements of Mauritius. It is thanks to extensive research, necessary to fully understand the true identity of the Island-Nation, that Cypraea was able to accurately depict its roots through its first collection.
Designed by Francesco and curated by Cedric, this collection aims to define the identity of Cypraea and pave the road for future collaborations with local designers and architects, allowing them to promote their land and cultural heritage over the next collections and following years.