Take a seat

By Ewan McDonald

Take a seat
Known for its playful take on chairs, Italian company Magis is celebrating 40 years of good design.

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.




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