Scandinavian design has always been a model, a very recognizable style. How does Muuto stand in this scenario?
We want to write new chapters in the long-standing history of Scandinavian design by adding new perspectives to its iconic heritage. We seek to reinterpret the values that defined the 20th century Scandinavian design—functionality, honesty, simplicity and craftsmanship—through close collaboration with the best of today’s contemporary designers, giving them freedom to work with new materials and techniques for designs that are at once timelessly modern and inherently functional with an emotional link to the icons of the past.
Danmark has often expressed autochthonous realities, companies that rarely chose designers not from the territory to design their products. Is this also true of Muuto?
I wouldn’t say so. Our ethos is tied to bringing new perspectives on Scandinavian design and a way of doing this is to work with designers with a different set of values and approaches than what we’re used to in Scandinavia. Geography isn’t important to us, so long as the designer has a thorough understanding of the values within Scandinavian design and has ideas on how to reinterpret these through their own design language to create something new. Muuto has always had an international approach and outlook, both in our design process as well as in our distribution. Something that we continuously push for is to bring our new perspectives on Scandinavian design to the world which has led to the Danish market today accounting for less than 10% of our total turnover.
Light design and light contract: it is a very recognizable trend for some years. Muuto is one of the protagonists, is it the result of a precise strategy?
We see Muuto as one of the leaders in showing new ways of going about the traditional office environment, bringing relaxed feelings of home into the workplace. To us, it’s about bringing designs that both have a strong aesthetic value as well as highly functional character into the work life, adding value to the day of every employee and hopefully inspire them a bit along the way too. Our perception of the workplace is that of a transformative one. We find that the modern-day workplace is to an increasing extent becoming an extension of one’s home; something that we consider as a permanent transformation rather than a short-lived trend. Our approach to the contract segment is steeped in bringing warmth and feelings of home into any professional project, whether it be workplaces, hospitality areas, public spaces or educational areas, with the ultimate goal of making the users of each space feel more relaxed and at home within the spaces that they inhabit.
What do you think about sharing with Knoll? What has changed (if something has changed) in your way of working? What benefits from this alliance?
Knoll is the perfect permanent partner for us—they’re an institution and an icon in the industry, being one of the most prestigious high-end furniture companies globally with a true passion for design. We complement each other really well by having a lot of shared synergies yet with Muuto operating as a completely separate company and brand with our own distinct identity, collection, design strategy and so on.
What are Muuto’s plans for 2019?
Though starting out in 2006 within the categories of lighting and accessories, furniture is now our main category within the collection. Today, our turnover is almost split half and half between the contract and wholesale market. We will continue to add new perspectives to our collection through designs for both homes and the contract market. We particularly see a lot of possibilities in the emerging workplace category. Alongside this are some new exciting lighting designs and an expanded number of Muuto accessories.