It was just last year Magis celebrated its 40th anniversary and looking at the company’s long list of milestones, there is no doubt that the exemplary story of this Italian furniture house has always been an upward curve. Although credits are given to founder Eugenio Perazza for his outstanding leadership, clear vision and courageous undertakings since its founding in 1976, his son Alberto Perazza has since taken up the cause to continue the family’s pioneering spirit in the design world.
Alberto is based in Italy and has been busy with the 2017 Salone del Mobile, New York Design Week and ICFF since the beginning of the year. Thus, getting hold of him is a tricky matter but not impossible. While my mind was running through the list of possible questions and answers for the interview, my eyes were darting back and forth from my phone to the clock on the wall. As few seconds have passed the agreed hour, possible scenarios began to flood my head. Was it Tuesday or Thursday? I’m sure it’s at 4pm. Perhaps, I’d miscalculated the time? Finally, it rings.
Hello, Alberto. Thank you for calling. So, what have you been up to lately?
Well, I’ve just got back from the New York Design Week and ICSS. The newly renovated Times Square was chosen as the site of Design Pavilion this year. It’s a five-day public event with a curated set of interactive displays bringing design and innovation together. Among the interactive exhibits were 25 of our super-fun Spun Chairs. The plaza was a sea of red and you could see people, young and old, spinning and enjoying themselves in it. And before that was our annual Salone del Mobile held at Milan. It’s a big furnishing and design show with more than 2,000 exhibitors within a display area of more than 270,000sqm. Thousands of new products are premiered every year and the Salone is considered the benchmark trade fair on an international level.
I’m sure Magis must have prepared months in advance for the salone. How was the feedback?
This year has been a positive and exciting year for Magis. Apart from the latest novelties, we’ve also included interesting additions to some of our successful collections, notably, the Officina collection. Back then, we wanted to explore the possibility of establishing a new creative language through iron forging and we figured that it would be brilliant to work with the Bouroullec brothers on such idea. The collection started off with tables in 2015 and has now expanded to include coat hangers, mirrors, sofas, chairs and stools. I personally love the dialogue between Italian design and traditional craftsmanship. In Officina, the wrought iron finish provides an undertone of the unmistakable industry feel. Combined it with Ronan and Erwan’s design, each piece is unique and exudes a profoundly refined and elegant spirit.
What happens next?
Magis is now finalising some of the preproduction-level items exhibited in the show. They will still need three to six months before they are officially complete. The typical duration of a product starting from the drawing board to the retail market takes about two to three years. And this is not because we’re slow. Magis prides itself in creating something novel with a strong idea behind it. Magis likes to push the limits when it comes to design and this is a long process that requires time.
That’s equivalent to designing for the future!
In this industry, it’s normal to plan five years ahead. And it’s important to know the area and the theme one is working towards. Of course, each company has a different plan and design development. We at Magis create what we feel is relevant. Magis is always open to experiments and working with new potential designers, so it’s not unusual for us to drop a project that we’ve planned. Currently, we’re in conversation with designers we’ve never dealt with before. Regardless of whom they have collaborated in the past, what is important is the fit between their designs and our ideas.
What separates Magis from other Italian furniture houses?
Magis doesn’t own a production factory but what was initially dubbed as a weakness is now a strength. It gave Magis the freedom to experiment with unfamiliar materials and innovative technologies associated in the making of products. Over time, Magis has developed its own identity. We don’t create for the market. We create because we believe in it. We’re aware that we can’t please everyone and we’re not hoping to. We also pay a lot of attention to sustainability. We don’t want to design something to last for a season because, at the end of the day, we’re not a fashion company. Despite that, we do look at market demand but not be influenced by what others are doing. And like it or not, this is us; this is Magis.
As Magis steps into its 40th anniversary, what do you think is still lacking in the industry?
From an Italian perspective, I think the scale of our operation is rather small. When it comes to Italy, people will say fashion, food, natural landscape, wine and so on; but rarely furniture. What I believe is lacking is unity. We should forget about our pride and join forces to grow together. It’s not always about competition. We should see beyond ourselves for a better future.