Magis: Colourful Italian Design
Some rebels live in the wild, wear camouflage gear, and aim to change the world all at once. Others work in offices and factories, wear a suit and take a more gradual approach. Meet Magis, where colourful Italian design is helping visionary Eugenio Perazza change the world one chair at a time.
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He is a force of nature, not because he is a one-man maverick, but through a firm belief in teamwork. His mission is to support the imagination and vision of some of the planet’s top designers.
It is heading up towards 50 years since he created the company in 1976 and in that time his bold ideas have flourished and grown in both scope and ambition.
Magis and Its Background
When Eugenio Perazza set up his company, he was determined to push the boundaries of what was possible in design and production. Hence, the name he gave the organisation – Magis.
It is the Latin for “more” and he felt the word summed up his approach. He wanted more of everything. More technology and new materials. Innovative, out-of-the-ordinary design. He summed up the spirit of the company when he declared: “We are a factory of artists, because we know how to use our courage, intuition and creativity.”
It was an approach that brought Magis and its colourful Italian design to the forefront of international culture. These days, its products are not only found in homes and workplaces round the world, but in museums on every continent as well.
It is also now a family concern. Alberto Perezza, the son of the founder, took over as CEO in 1996. Alberto’s wife, Barbara Minetto, also came in as Marketing Director, leading the way as it expanded its reach in global markets.
Colourful and Italian
One thing that has kept Magis fresh is that it has never lost touch with its roots, feeding off the history and culture of the region around Venice. Even in Italy, few areas have more cultural history or more of a natural affinity for art and design.
Eugenio Perazza created the company in Motta di Livenza, a small agricultural town a few miles north of the celebrated city known as a hotbed of creativity. It has since moved to a larger factory just a couple of miles down the road in Torre de Mosto.
The result was that, right from the start, innovative design was at the core of the company’s principles. The design ethos was so strong that within only two months of its launch, Magis could exhibit at the Salone de Mobile, the annual Milan furniture fair and one of the biggest design exhibitions in the world. Magis and its colourful Italian design has kept up a steady stream of pioneering work through the years since.
Part of the Magis magic is tryng to redefine the horizons of design. It achieves this by supporting young and emerging talents. The list of people who earned their big break at Magis reads like a Who’s Who of the design world.
Jasper Morrison, Konstantin Grcic, Philippe Starck, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, Jerszy Seymour, and more, were all mentored by Eugenio Perazza and Magis. “They are more than just collaborators, they are part of the Magis family,” the company says.
Does Magis experiment with materials?
Over the years, Magis and its designers have tried out a wide range of materials. This includes jute, hemp, recycled plastic, recyclable plastic and even biodegradable plastic.
There is even a public statement of the company ethics policy covering this. One of its goals is to further reduce the environmental impact of both its manufacturing and logistics.
“Every single one of our projects must comply with the highest standards. A Magis product must satisfy both aesthetic and functional requirements, and must embody a great idea. Otherwise, it would be normal, trivial, simply not Magis,” the policy document states.
“We manufacture in Italy. In this way we contribute to preserving the outstanding craftsmanship, which our region has been renowned for over the centuries. Every Magis product is created to the highest possible quality and reflects the extraordinary skills and competences of the people we work with.”
What does Magis Make
The Magis designed product range includes chairs, tables, shelving, storage solutions, and outdoor furniture, as well as accessories and children’s furniture. People know it particularly for its use of materials such as plastic, metal, and wood, and its willingness to experiment with new materials and manufacturing techniques.
Some of Magis’ most iconic designs include the Air Chair by Jasper Morrison, the Steelwood Chair by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, and the Puppy children’s chair by Eero Aarnio. Magis has won many awards for its innovative designs, including multiple Compasso d’Oro awards, one of the most prestigious design awards in Italy.
Blast Off for Bombo
Magis was already a well-established company by the mid-1990s, but that is when it really started to make a splash in global markets. The stackable Bottle rack by Jasper Morrison was a historic breakthrough. The Bombo Stool from Stefano Giovannoni closely followed it into the furniture market. That’s when Magis really moved from cruise control to racing mode.
Ironically, its status as a design classic means it is now one of the most copied designs in the world. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then few designs have been flattered more. None of the imitations, however, compare with the real thing.
It is one of the earliest gas-piston height-adjustable stools, which means quality really matters. There is a wide choice of colour and finish, including glossy or matt, as well as a polished aluminium option. The chrome steel base adds solidity and sturdiness.
Top Spot for Chair One
Next off the starting grid came Konstantin Grcic, a German designer who trained in London but is now based in Berlin. He came up with the space age idea of Chair One. Built with interlocking polygons and triangles, it looks more like modern sculpture than something to sit on.
He was delighted to work with Magis, describing the company as very much a family, not just in the management but also in the collaborators and engineers who turn ideas into reality.
For him, there were two revolutions. One was in the design process when back in the early years of the century he got the chance to try out 3D computer modelling. The second was in being able to mould the seat in one go from die-cast aluminium, which is finished in sputtered fluorinated titanium and painted in polyester powder.
He designed the chair with outdoor use in mind. It comes both with legs, which make it stackable, and a version with a concrete base, which keeps it secure whatever the weather.
The Puppy Pops Up
If you really want to sum up the combination of family values and innovation, look no further than the Puppy Chair. Eugenio Perazza wanted to give his granddaughter what he saw as a “proper” table, but he couldn’t find one. So he created his own – a furniture range that was both practical and educational. It is the epitome of Magis’s colourful Italian design.
The result was the Me Too range, the first collection of designer furniture as seen through the eyes of children. It let little ones be creative in a fun, easy way. There are chairs to be ridden and treasures to be hidden in modular beds. Its iconic piece, however, came in 2005 when the Puppy arrived.
Eero Aarnio, a Finn known as a pioneer, designed it for children but adults can also appreciate its playfulness. The puppy is the ultimate in versatility. Depending on your imagination, it can be anything from an abstract sculpture to a practical child’s toy. They made it from brightly coloured polyethylene and comes in different sizes, so it can fit a child of any age.
Take Spun for a Spin
Rivalling the Puppy in its iconic status is Thomas Heatherwick’s Spun Chair. It showcases his vivid imagination with a seat you can easily use as a spinning top if you want.
It sits tipped over on one side, with the hollow top serving as a seat big enough to accommodate children and adults alike. Like so many of the Magis products, it is different enough to be a work of art while being totally practical.
It is a comfortable, fun and mobile seat. You can rediscover the pleasure of rocking, turn in circles and do whatever else your imagination can supply as the designer does away with conventional ideas of legs and bases and introduces a sense of fun.
Make the Most of Milà
Finally, something of a return to normality with Jaime Hayón, the Spanish designer who created the Milà Chair. Magis make it usng air-moulded polypropylene, so it is suitable for use outside, while there is an upholstered version for indoor use.
With additional fibreglass to add strength, it still has a fluid look. That covers both the overall shape and the comfortable way it nestles you into the seat with its open backrest and arms.
Magis and Sustainability
The company refelcts its commitment to the environment in its use of environmentally friendly materials and its efforts to reduce waste and energy consumption in its manufacturing processes.
One example of Magis’ innovative output is its extensive use of recycled plastic in furniture design. Magis also makes a point of experimenting with other materials, such as wood and metal, jute, hemp, and even biodegradable plastic. It is also at the forefront of developing new production techniques, such as rotational moulding.
It is proud of it makes its products to last. “Timeless design, durable materials and excellent workmanship make them objects to be used and admired for a long time to come, making them stand out in a society where the concept of using then throwing away prevails,” it says.
Last Judgement on How Magis Rates
Overall, Magis has built a reputation as a company that is not afraid to take risks, push boundaries, and explore new possibilities in furniture design. Magis’s colourful Italian design and its commitment to innovation and collaboration has helped it to remain at the forefront of the industry, inspiring and influencing other designers and manufacturers in the process.< Back to all articles