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Alberto Perazza sits at the dining table, sips from the bottle 
of – naturally – 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 doesn’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 – even stepladders. “My father has a strong passion for design,” Perazza recalls. “But we never give designers a free hand. The designer is only part of the process that involves them, the engineers, the technicians … We believe that any good product must be the result of teamwork.”

And Magis knows about good products: Philippe Starck, Jasper Morrison, the Bouroullec brothers, Konstantin Grcic and Thomas Heatherwick have styled for them. Think Morrison’s plastic Air Chair (5), the Paris siblings’ wrought-iron Officina tables and chairs; Grcic’s Chair One (6), Heatherwick’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. There’s a nice synergy, he points out, in Magis’ relationship with its New Zealand representative, ECC. “We are celebrating our 40th birthday and are in our second generation,” he says. “They are a bit older than us, 107 years, and the fourth generation of the family is in the business.”

Magis is available at ECC.

ecc.co.nz

Outdoor Elegance

As a child, Louise Andreasen would help her mother pack up all the furniture in their home to be exhibited at trade shows for her father’s company. She loved attending the fairs and never 
had any doubt she would work in the family business: Sika Designs in Rynkeby, Denmark. It’s a family furniture company, of which Louise is now third generation, that creates light, elegant indoor and outdoor furniture made from rattan. “My grandfather’s home was full of rattan, so for me it was something that 
I have grown up with, and I loved it because of that. Rattan is a romantic style, which is my style.” Her grandfather Anjaer Andreasen started the company in 1942 during World War II, creating small designs to sell to shops. “He was an entrepreneur,” Louise says.

Rattan is a climbing palm, with a woody flexible stem, found nearly exclusively in Asia. When governments started to ban its export in 
the 1970s, Anjaer made the pioneering move to travel to Malaysia – 
though he didn’t speak a word of the language – to set up a Sika factory right where the material grew and where the locals are skilled at working with it. Their amazing techniques, from cutting, steaming and weaving, are remarkably free of machinery and mean the construction process has barely changed in more than 50 years. Lightweight but durable, it’s ideal for outdoor furniture. “You won’t find a more sustainable material; it doesn’t exist. It’s so natural,” says Louise. Comparable to a weed, ratttan is fast-growing and absorbs CO2, which it transforms into clean air.

sika-1

Her grandfather may have been the ideas man, but her father Knud is the businessman, and Louise’s love of traditional décor meant joining the business was a natural step. “My style has not changed much over the years. I like natural products. I like antiques. I like things with history.” Bringing in the new while maintaining their tradition is vital, she says. “New designs we bring in are a mixture of designs that I make and designs that were made by important designers more than 50 years ago.”

From the newer designs, one of Louise’s favourites, currently in her garden, is the Hanging Egg Chair, from the Icons collection. From their Originals collection she loves the best-selling Rossini dining chair, which 
is more than 20 years old and exemplifies why Danish designs are so renowned: light materials and timeless styles look as if they could have been designed today. Louise has also just bought a small interior decorating company, Cozy Room, where she’ll be using Sika Designs in her collection. And if you wonder how father and daughter work together, Louise says, “It’s fantastic. Amazingly uncomplicated!”

sika-design.com

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