DesignMENA interviews Eugene Perazza of Magis about design’s “next big thing”

I work in the future, says Magis founder Eugene Perazza, a man who has overseen some of the most notable furniture designs of the last few decades.

Perazza adds that for him, design does not exist in the past or in the present – his sights are always set on the horizon, in search of new ideas, new opportunities and new strategies.

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Eugene Perazza, founder of Magis

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Magis has always been known as a brand that doesn’t shy away from ‘the new’ but, in contrast, drives its strengths towards discovering innovative ways to create the indispensable. From Jasper Morrisson’s Air Chair to Konstantin Grcic’s Chair One, and to the latest Officina collection designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Magis’ designs are far from the ordinary.

“Magis is a Latin word which means ‘more than’ – and our philosophy is to always cross that line. You either love it or you hate it, there is no in-between,” Perazza says.

With so many classics already under its belt, for Perazza this is no reason to sit back and relax. He has other plans in mind. “For me it is important to discover the next big thing,” he explains.

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Chair One by Konstantin Grcic

‘The next big thing’ is probably the best way to sum up the firm’s progress since its inception in 1976, not far from Venice. Starting off as a firm that worked in the development of plastics, mainly accessories, it was 15 years ago when Magis experienced a complete turning point and started focusing on the larger furniture market, using new materials such as die-cast aluminium, steel plating and wood.

“Design for me is dead when it becomes a purely stylistic exercise,” Perazza proclaims. He adds that is it important to have a vision and experiment with new directions and new creatives in the industry.

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Traffic sofa by Konstantin Grcic

Next year will celebrate the 40-year anniversary of Magis, with Perazza already planning a new chair which he describes as a “technological revolution”, using a bio-based material that is especially created by Magis. Further information on this new development is still unannounced.

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The Air Chair by Jasper Morrison

“It will be something extraordinary because, especially for someone who understands the technology, they will not be able to understand how can this be done, how can this be possible? It is a twist in the technology – a big twist that is the future for Magis,” Perazza assures.

Another point of curiosity for Perazza is “to discover how we live and work in the future”. He already has ideas sketched out for a possible collection for 2017, drawing inspiration from the outdoors where the essence of nature will overpower the importance of technology and ergonomics.

“It will challenge the way we design the outdoor furniture of the future,” Perazza promises.

When observing its timeline, it is clear that some of today’s best-known designers have created pieces for Magis including Thomas Heatherwick, Alessandro Mendini, Marcel Wanders, Konstantin Grcic and Jasper Morrisson. And although many of them were already household names, many rose to fame after producing Magis’ ‘next big thing’.

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The Officina Chair by the Bouroullec brothers

“The ambition of Magis is to be a first-mover. When you are a first-mover you discover innovative solutions but you also add new knowledge to the discipline of design. Magis has been a first-mover in many cases: for example we were the first to develop a chair in gas-moulding: the Air-Chair by Jasper Morrison,” Perazza states.

“You are not only a first-mover when you discover a new technology, but also when you discover a new language. For example with the Chair One, we discovered die-cast aluminium and it is now a bestseller and an icon of today. Or with the Officina collection, we explored the possibility of establishing a new creative language while working with an ancient fabrication process like iron forging,” he shares.

All this ties in with Magis’ motivation to design “longsellers” that overcome the more temporary concept of bestsellers. This also explains why, for Perazza, trends are of no importance.

“For me it is about designing the project of the future. It is the Magis way – to be free. If you are working only according to the market it is like working in a prison. The rules are rigid and I prefer to be free like a bird.”

At the end of the day, it all comes down to freedom. The freedom to create and destroy and start again. And only in this process of experimentation, can designers truly reach the ‘next big thing’.

“We have a fantastic future,” Perazza insists. “I am convinced of it”.

 

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