Alberto Perazza sits at the dining table, sips from the bottle â€¨of â€“ naturally â€“ Italian mineral water, and muses about the international design laboratory founded by his father, Eugenio, 40 years ago. Magis is a residential, commercial, industrial and homewares design company with a difference. Make that several differences.
Based in northern Italy, the company doesnâ€™t employ designers; it works with more than 40 international names. Nor does it have a factory; Magis collaborates with a number of leading-edge technology firms to produce its tables, chairs, shelves, lighting â€“ even stepladders. â€śMy father has a strong passion for design,â€ť Perazza recalls. â€śBut we never give designers a free hand. The designer is only part of the process that involves them, the engineers, the technicians â€¦ We believe that any good product must be the result of teamwork.â€ť
And Magis knows about good products: Philippe Starck, Jasper Morrison, the Bouroullec brothers, Konstantin Grcic and Thomas Heatherwick have styled for them. Think Morrisonâ€™s plastic Air Chair (5), the Paris siblingsâ€™ wrought-iron Officina tables and chairs; Grcicâ€™s Chair One (6), Heatherwickâ€™s iconic Spun chair (4). Spun epitomises the Magis ethos: looking more like a sculpture than a seat, the spinning chair appeared in a London gallery. The Perazzas saw it and knew it could be produced in a more cost-effective way. Six months later their lightweight, high-tech plastic version was in stores. And selling out.
Alberto takes another sip of his water. Thereâ€™s a nice synergy, he points out, in Magisâ€™ relationship with its New Zealand representative, ECC. â€śWe are celebrating our 40th birthday and are in our second generation,â€ť he says. â€śThey are a bit older than us, 107 years, and the fourth generation of the family is in the business.â€ť
Magis is available at ECC.