Simplicity becomes design, material the purest product. For over 40 years Magis has belonged to a chapter of the history of Italian design that combines essence and fantasy (also thanks to a range of international talents who see Magis as an ideal proving ground for creativity).
Experimentation and sustainability have become the canons of the firm’s way of doing things, leading to a wide range of application sectors and markets. Especially Scandinavia, where the company has operated for two decades, in a growing relationship of collaboration and shared intent.
At the gates of the Stockholm Furniture Fair, Alberto Prezza – CEO and the second generation at the helm of the company – told us about market dynamics, but also the philosophy, projects and visions that accompany the evolution of Magis.
Pila by Magis – Design by Ronan and Erwan Bourloullec – Kumu The Share Hotels, Kanazawa
You have been showing at the Stockholm Furniture Fair for a long time: what is its value for you, and on the international scene?
We have taken part in this fair for over ten years, and for us it is a reference point in the area, since the Scandinavian market is a very important one for Magis. The fair itself has evolved very well over the years: it was initially only of local importance, for the Nordic and Baltic countries, but now it is much more international, and the number of players taking part has increased. Perhaps thanks to new Scandinavian brands and the ‘new Nordic’ movement, this fair gets plenty of attention. With respect to last year we have expanded our exhibits, with a booth of 200 m2 (over the previous 60), and a setting created by the Berlin-based studio Hülle & Fülle that focuses strongly on the products.
Your presence in the Scandinavian territory also has a long history: how are your products distributed?
About 20 years ago, when we first entered this market and began to develop this relationship, we had a single counterpart in Sweden who handled the four Scandinavian countries. But now we have an agent for each nation, Sweden, Demark, Norway and, two years ago, Finland. These markets are close in geographical terms, but they have their own dynamics. Since we have differentiated the distribution, our business has grown remarkably. These have become markets of reference for our company – in the region, Sweden is in first place in terms of sales, and it is in 8th place on an international level: considering its small size, that is an outstanding position in proportional terms.
Milà by Magis – Design Jaime Hayón – XOPP Restaurant, Sydney
Chair One by Magis – Design Konstantin Grcic – Dove Hotel, Mykonos
Which products have the most success in Nordic countries?
Definitely those that combine metal and wood, like the Steelwood collection designed by the Bouroullec brothers; or other items with a very warm style, like the Piña collection by Jaime Hayón with which we do many contract projects, also in custom-made versions. Other strong items are the icons of the Magis collection, like Chair One by Konstantin Grcic. In this region the plastic chairs work less well, due to historical and cultural factors.
Has the fact that your team of creative talents also includes designers from northern Europe been of any help?
In the past we have worked with the Swedish designer Björn Dahlström, and more recently with Anderssen and Voll of Oslo, who have done two excellent stools for us: Tibu, which is height-adjustable, with a metal structure and padded seat, covered in fabric; and Sequoia, entirely in metal. These are very beautiful products, and they meet with success. Though Magis does not have a Nordic style, it definitely has affinities with the local taste and tradition, so our products work well here.
Sequoia by Magis – Design Torbjørn Anderssen & Espen Voll – XOPP Restaurant, Sydney
How would you define the Magis style?
Magis is heterogeneous and eclectic: different styles and languages coexist in harmony in our collections, as do different designers, with different backgrounds. But behind each product there is a strong idea, a red thread that can be seen in the use of materials, in innovation, and the challenges we set for ourselves: we like to force the limits of technology and experimentation with materials. This is how our ideas are born.
Proust by Magis – Design Alessandro Mendini – Fältöversten, Stockholm
Previews for the upcoming Salone del Mobile in Milan?
We will have many products never seen before, including items that play with the very important theme of recycled plastic: these include a chair by Konstantin Grcic and another that will combine wood and bioplastic, hence not derived from petroleum, created by Barber & Osgerby. The new items are in line with the philosophy of the company, industrial products that require major investment for tooling and production, as well as products like the Officina collection, which involve craftsmanship and recovery of historic productive techniques in a modern, contemporary way. We intend to continue working in multiple directions.
Plato by Magis – Design Jasper Morrison
Does this allow you to address different targets and functions, also in the contract sector?
Certainly. Contract is fundamental for us, especially in the hospitality industry (first of all cafes and restaurants), but in recent years we have also focused on the office: we have expanded our product portfolio, which given the way offices are evolving can fit well in this segment.
Precisely in the Scandinavian countries we are very strong in the contract market, much more than in other countries, where there is a different balance between residential and other projects. Here in Scandinavia 75% are hospitality projects, and only 25% are residential.
One large contract here has been for the Max Burger fast food chain, for which we have supplied the First chairs by Stefano Giovannoni. Recently we have also activated an important collaboration with Volvo, the Swedish company with prevalently Chinese ownership, providing Magis seating for dealerships around the world.