Magis is turning forty. They say that life begins at forty.
Forty is the age of maturity, growth, new horizons, thoughts and objectives, but also of new responsibilities.
Magis is actually ageless, an exceptional case that is ‘forever young’, born and raised with an aptitude to stay youthful, thanks to its positive outlook, flexible vision, drive and innovative spirit.
It would seem that Magis knows the secret of the ancient legend of eternal youth!
It has not changed over time, maintaining the playful approach of its earliest days, a whimsical mindset that seems, if anything, to have grown stronger over the years.
From its first steps to the present day, it now walks with confidence and runs fast. With experience it has grown more sophisticated, more cultivated, increasingly attentive to and in tune with the signals, able to stay one step ahead of the rest, more attractive, radiant and joyful.
Desired, indulged and loved by many. It is a joy to know it, to spend time around it, to work with it.
It gives energy and vitality with its positive, forward-looking mentality.
It has a versatile mind, that of a young team raised under the guidance of Eugenio Perazza, the founder and soul of Magis, who has ably spread its spirit and philosophy across the globe.
“The exemplary story of MAGIS has always been an upward curve,” so wrote Alessandro Mendini recently. “An admirable series of products. An accurate choice of designers. Fully updated strategies. Sophisticated communication. The right industrial policy. And then the new MAGIS headquarters. The location is ZEN, a magic box to protect this rare phenomenon.”
Within the panorama of international design, Magis really is the ‘rare phenomenon’ described by Mendini.
The lateral thinking with which it approaches objects, imagines them, interprets and creates them, is unique and special. And it always manages to surprise us with its fabulous intuitions, its ability to dream, to go beyond the present, designing a future where it is nice to live.
Happy birthday, dear Magis!
The trip from Finland to the Magis headquarters via Venice is always a cultural trip to Italy. Not only because of the architecture, but also because of the culinary culture and the social interactions. Upon arrival at the Magis office, following the warm welcome, the first question is always “fish or meat”, which indicates that a table will be reserved at a good restaurant, no matter how far it might be.
To me, Venice represents the best and most interesting architecture of its time, and so does the modern building housing the headquarters of Magis, with its closed façade like an ancient Roman home, but inside it is very green and light, with a modern garden office. Since my studio/home is situated on a beautiful lake, I understand the importance of a visually pleasing working environment. When I visit Magis, I feel very much at home because right outside the front door there is a group of Puppies, just like at my studio next to my table, inspiring me towards new ideas and products.
Heartfelt thanks to Magis for a great partnership. I wish you the very best on your 40th birthday, and an exciting journey towards many new adventures!
I’ve always been intrigued by the sound of the word “Magis”. In my mind, the closest resonance was the Swiss chicken stock cubes, the secret of “great taste” in the food I grew up with. I looked it up in the dictionary many years later, “the philosophy of doing more or better”. Thinking about it, I wasn’t far off.
After successfully launching the Tibu bar stool, we had an idea for a chair we wanted to propose to Magis.
We sat down with Eugenio and Enrico some time during the Salone in Milan and brought out our iPad. 30 seconds into the presentation Eugenio stopped the meeting.
It wasn’t because he thought it was a bad idea, but as he said, “If you want to present a new chair to Magis, the idea has to kill all the other Magis chairs. If you want to make a nice chair, then go somewhere else.” Enrico nodded his head in agreement.
To us this became a quote to remember, and a statement that represents Magis’ progressive approach, as well as their own expectations as to what a new product from Magis should offer the public.
Anderssen & Voll
Magis is very special. This is because Eugenio Perazza is very special. When I try to understand how his mind works, I think it works more like a collector than an industrialist – a very special collector, so that even when you don’t understand exactly what he wants, you are certain that he knows exactly what he wants. Every piece I did for Magis had to be ‘collected’ or curated by him. An example would be the Folly (2013). He described what he wanted – a rotation moulded piece that is extraordinarily long. He wanted it and there was nothing I could say. I tried to talk him out of this folly, telling him that I’m was not very optimistic about the appeal of such a lump of rota moulded plastic, but he was sure, and insisted. He was right and I was wrong – the result is one of my favourite pieces, just because of all of the points against a project like this. This is an extreme example, but in discussions with Eugenio (and his team of course) you have someone very clear about their ambitions and their vision. If you look at the collection of Magis, it is not like any other Italian company. It is Magic!
“MAGIS is a big family which is celebrating its 40th anniversary.
I have just celebrated my own 50 years of Design.
Design and Magis are personified by Eugenio Perazza, the man who wears his glasses on his forehead.
Like Le Corbusier, whom I met in 1957 in Cap Martin.
Like Gio Ponti, for the realization of the exhibition “Domus Italian Shapes” in 1967 at Galeries Lafayette in Paris.
All three wearing their glasses tilted towards the sky. *
For me it was a good omen.
Thinking about Magis on this special occasion makes me feel somewhat incredulous, disorientated: it seems impossible that forty years have passed since we sat, a group of friends around the table in a tavern, dreaming of creating something new, something that expressed our vision of the world.
Magis was a dream, an idea; now it is an international reality that still preserves those old aspirations, putting them into practice with a new, more balanced, concrete approach.
For us, working with Magis is both an honor and a challenge, as Eugenio Perazza is a visionary and also very demanding.
We’re glad that, driving across the Alps from Lausanne to Torre di Mosto for numerous meetings, we built not only a project but a relationship with this fantastic team!
(Augustin Scott de Martinville, Elric Petit, Grégoire Jeanmonod)
It started with a phone call. “Hello, it’s Eugenio Perazza here, from Magis. Do you know Magis?” “Yes,” I reply, “the one with the all-green stand, down in Tortona.” “That’s right,” he says, “I’d like to have a piece from you; I saw your sofa at Giovannoni’s, a splendid design.” “Yes! Thank you!” I exclaim, “you mean On the Rocks?” “That’s right,” he says, “and I’d like a design like that, something very crisp.”
The year was 2004. Then we met, first at my place, and many times subsequently at Magis with Matteo, and sometimes with Enrico too. It was the first time I had dealt with digital virtuality. Very pleasant work, and great hospitality.
It’s very important to be a keen eater, especially at lunchtime, because they take their food very seriously around there. A few years have passed. We used to go to the Cacciatore. Freshly-caught fish, no menu. At the time I had in mind a complete, elastic shell, and the result was the Annett. At Magis they had to deal with some difficulties and unexpected twists. They worked hard. A ground-breaking example of technology and comfort. Magis, one big family. Magis, always one idea ahead: a design business and a string of high-quality suppliers. Intelligent storage, an original sales network, an enlightened entrepreneur, fanatical about beautiful, good-quality things. He wanted me to make him an upholstered piece. I still don’t understand how after forty years, Magis manages to remain a young enterprise, still unpredictable and with such a sense of adventure. Enchanting, like a beautiful, enigmatic woman from around those parts, a woman from the east of Italy.
Heartfelt best wishes and a glass of white to toast the next hundred years of great success.
Perazza is Fellini. Magis is Cinecittà. We, the designers, are the actors in this extraordinary folie that creates one of the most interesting films of industrial Italy.
Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec
I feel that when I collaborate with Magis, they seek some kind of uniqueness, freshness and friendliness in my work. So I naturally start drawing things with a sense of affection, and this mutual respect and understanding builds up our work and relationship.
Another important thing about Magis is that we work so closely with a huge number of local engineering and production partners, as well as having a talented and dedicated internal design team to make the very best decisions. Then when we make a certain decision that we believe in, we make rapid progress. This makes the difference.
Food Follows Magis
Family food and eating might be very much part of the daily lifestyle, but with Magis, food is something special.
I remember the first time I went to visit Magis, still a student at the RCA, travelling to Italy to visit various design companies.
At Magis it was special – we were greeted by Eugenio Perazza personally, and after showing us their collection and their design studio it was lunchtime.
And little did we know that we would be taken to the most amazing seafood restaurant, somewhere between Motta di Livenza and Lignano.
There we were about fifteen students being taken for a real Italian lunch, lasting for hours, eating delicious food and drinking equally nice wine from the region.
We all felt very special and appreciated, and thought this was something unusual, maybe to give us a real treat.
But then years later, while working on the Vigna chair, I found myself at the same restaurant and many other restaurants, enjoying more delicious food and lovely wine.
And there was the Magis design family (Alberto, Barbara, Matteo, Enrico and Marco) with Eugenio, orchestrating and working, with the best ideas always coming over a very good plate of food and a glass of wine.
Happy 40th birthday Magis, and thanks for the delicious food and wine.
Food Follows Magis
The key to everything Magis is and does is Signor Perazza. Eugenio Perazza, the founder and ‘head’ of Magis… that´s what he calls himself: the head (and he would tap his index finger against his forehead while saying this). Did you notice that the cover of previous Magis catalogues always featured a mule´s head. In Wikipedia it says, “It has been claimed that mules are “more patient, sure-footed, hardy and long-lived than horses, and they are considered less obstinate, faster, and more intelligent than donkeys.”
“Patient, sure-footed, hardy and long-lived… and faster and more intelligent than donkeys”. That´s what Perazza loves to think of Magis, being the mule against the other donkeys :-)
It has to be said that Perazza is not the easiest person. You either do or do not get on with him. He can be a beautifully gentle and loving person, but at the same time he is quite a strong-headed man (head!). It took time for me to build a close relationship with Perazza, but for many years now I have enjoyed being amongst the close circle of designers he loves to work with. And I love working with him! So much so, he is without doubt my favorite, closest and most inspiring ally in the industry. Perazza – the head – is always tinkering with ideas about new projects for Magis. New projects, new adventures – he loves that and he is absolutely fearless about looking for new challenges, always. Magis is his life. He invented it, and he keeps re-inventing it. He thinks about Magis constantly, non-stop. In the office we joke about the fact that Italian summer holidays (they are obligatory, the whole country shuts down during the month of August) must be the saddest days of the year for Perazza. Poor Perazza. In August it must feel like someone is stealing his toy from him. The toy is his company, and with it come the people working there. Magis is Perazza´s family. He really cares for everyone there and feels responsible for them. As designers we are part of that family and that means that he cares for us in the same way. Perazza normally calls me once a day… not always to discuss urgent matters, but rather to connect. At least once a day. I guess it is his way of saying that he is thinking of me, that he cares. And at the same time, of course, he wants to be assured that I am also thinking about him/Magis. As a matter of fact, we are… normally. Magis is a constant in my office. There are probably very few days in the year (not even the Italian summer holidays) during which we are not working for Magis. There is a continuous flow of projects, a permanent exchange of ideas, thoughts, info, data, pictures, drawings, samples. It is such an easy and productive way to work when there is a steady dialogue. We don´t only work with Perazza, of course: there is a small team of engineers at Magis. Young people, very smart, very motivated, very nice. Its a great joy working with them, really. Perazza assigns one of his technical staff to each designer. We work with Matteo Zattarin. We have probably been working with him for more than ten years. It helps a great deal knowing each other so well. As with Perazza, the relationship we have with Matteo is much more than professional… it has become a real friendship. Perazza´s son Alberto runs the business side of Magis, while his wife Barbara Minetto is responsible for marketing. It´s a set-up which works. Perazza enjoys the freedom of working on his projects, thinking ahead (head!), further and further… while there is a very sound foundation backing it all up. Typical Magis. Typical mule. Faster-thinking and more intelligent than the others.
Happy birthday to Magis on your 40th anniversary!
We have only been part of your life for the last 10 years, with various design meetings in Italy and Holland discussing Magis products and directions.
It was a pleasure to give you a basic van ride to our studio when you visited us for the first time in Arnhem. This must have felt refreshing and like a short holiday trip for you.
The first time I visited Perazza was many years ago, at the old Magis factory. I was hoping to have a chat with him, to start a collaboration with Magis. With me was my girlfriend (now wife) Nienke, who collaborates with me and has always traveled together with me.
The conversation with Perazza flowed, but one thing led to another and he ended up looking at Nienke’s artwork instead of my work! He became very interested in her creativity, and asked Nienke to design some mirrors – I think they were funny ones that changed the appearance of those who looked into them. Eventually, that project was abandoned, and I have had the pleasure of collaborating with Magis for many years now. But I recall this story fondly, because it reminds me that Perazza is someone who is truly interested in every creative person, not just designers, and is not afraid to seek inspiration from unexpected places.
My studio loves working with Magis. We are always trying to hunt down an idea and Magis have the inspiration and eccentricity to manufacture these notions and bring them into the world.
Magis is creating space for imagination
Magis is not a factory, it is a monastery. In that place, form and design are worshiped and venerated. The very architecture does not leave room for any misleading interpretations regarding its real purpose: the four austere wings of the building are gathered around a central cloister in which to meditate on one’s design errors, or on the hope that a product will be accepted into the collection. Numerous designers apply to be admitted to the fold, but only a very limited selection pass the exacting exam set by the Abbot (whose worldly name is Eugenio Perazza), famous for judging the authenticity and value of a vocation in the blink of an eye. Those who ask the reason for such rigour can find the answer by paying a visit to the chapterhouse, where all the pieces from Magis’ past, present and future collections are housed. The light emanating from that space, which springs from a collection of such exemplary and accomplished objects, immediately conveys the fact that Magis is an outpost of quality, surrounded by the barbarism of apathetic and lazy industrial productions, and that its mission is to preserve and hand down the value of ideas and research, to a production world increasingly devoted to easy copies, overstatement and bad taste.
It has been almost 27 years since Eugenio came to visit me in my office in Milan, although it seems like yesterday that we spoke of the dream of making Magis into a world-renowned brand. Since then our families have stayed in close contact.
During the second year of our acquaintance we created “Rondine” folding chair and “Garage” shoe storage system. “Rondine” was well-received by the various markets around the world, and soon became a highly successful product.
Other happy memories include Eugenio’s visits to Japan for various conferences, where he was greatly appreciated as he spoke enthusiastically of his passion for creating Magis products. This passion is a key aspect of his personality, and is revealed in his spirit of constant research and in the strong partnerships and the network built up among the many designers, craftsmen and technicians.
As Eugenio predicted, MAGIS has indeed become a brand of global excellence.
I had the pleasure of meeting Eugenio Perazza in 1987.
At the time I was a student and intern with Marc Berthier, the designer who still remains my ultimate reference in terms of elegance. At the time, Marc had already worked with Magis, producing timeless icons in the world of furniture – I’m thinking of the Aviva series, or the finest and most comfortable armchair in the world, the Elisa!
With Perazza and Berthier, I discovered something of Italy, the publishing world and the world of furniture.
My recollection is of a business bursting with creativity, enthralled by innovation, more than by business or notoriety. Thanks to Perazza’s enthusiasm and Berthier’s generosity, a few years later I had the opportunity to develop a few designs with Magis, and some of them were crazy ;-).
An opportunity beyond the wildest dreams of such a young designer, to be listened to and trusted by a company for the first time!
Magis has always developed unique initiatives, far from the beaten track of trends or sales strategies, always there, where you least expect.
It knows how to get the best from its partnerships with designers, often of quite some renown, always pushing them to their limits, with great generosity.
I am delighted that for all these years, Magis has been able to find its maturity, its audience and its legitimacy through the businesses that have a huge influence in the world of contemporary design.
Thank you, Perazza, for your craziness!
Bravo to Alberto, Barbara and all the team for your achievements!
I am happy to have made my Proust armchair in rotational plastic with Magis. It was the realization of a dream: to take an object that had always led an elite life and popularize it. This multi-coloured multiplication of the armchair, so perfect and so pithy, gives me a great deal of satisfaction.
Perhaps in the future it might be made in a smaller size, so that children can also enjoy sitting on a neo-eighteenth-century armchair?
I am also pleased to be a part of a story and a catalogue – that of Magis – made of works of the highest quality.
When Magis contacted me to propose working together, I was surprised, and the first thing I thought was, “but I’m not a designer!!”
I was doubly surprised when I saw the company’s ability and sensitivity in reinterpreting and producing my work, preserving its poetics.
With Magis the labels designer/artist/artisan merge to show how some boundaries are all in the mind.
Benedetta Mori Ubaldini
I remember at one point in the development of the Bottle rack, my first project for Magis, I had designed it with feet on the bottom edge which would interlock with corresponding slots in the upper edge to allow it to stack and stay aligned vertically. Once we had the first moulded samples, Fabio Moneta, the engineer at Magis at that time, had some doubts about the stability of the racks when fully loaded and stacked up to five units high. He suggested we should move the feet to the top edge to provide a more stable base. I was quite upset because I didn’t much like the idea of the feet sticking out at the top, but we agreed to test it, and Fabio loaded a stack of five of them full of 1.5-litre water bottles, so there were 30 bottles stacked up above the four little feet, and it held them pretty well. I was about to congratulate myself, and Perazza seemed to think it was fine too, when Fabio said, “let’s have a look in the morning and see how it’s doing then,” and we went off to dinner. When I got there the next morning they were waiting for me, and of course the whole pile had collapsed, throwing bottles out in every direction. I don’t think anyone ever used the rack to store so many bottles, but it was a powerful demonstration, and the mould had to be adjusted.
I first started working with Magis over 20 years ago. One of the things I admire most about Magis is the fact that it doesn’t shy away from investments in tooling, which for me makes it a refreshing and pleasurable company to work with. Its founder, Eugenio Perazza, has always been an enthusiastic and focussed collaborator. I respect the high standards of excellence he sets to protect the quality of Magis’ production.
What makes Magis, with its Latin etymology of ‘more’, to be something ‘more’ than the classic idea of added value and the seductive surface of aspirations, is the way it mixes dealing with the quality of the everyday with a vital poetry that can best be symbolised by the mule, the figurehead of Magis, equally stubborn, humble and tenacious, a rough beauty and an ass kicker! Long live the mule!
Magis is one of the best design companies in the world.
Magis never thinks about trends or marketing goals. Magis is all about honesty, intelligence, research and product development.
For all these reasons, you always want to make Perazza happy.
I want to acknowledge Eugenio Perazza, and thus Magis, for his fearless drive for innovation.
I raise my glass to a great friendship!
I think one of my sweetest moments was creation of the Dog House. The brief happened wonderfully over lunch, and it was followed by a trip to the Betty Judge kennels in Oxfordshire. I recall driving through the countryside to meet Eugenio’s show dogs Pastel and Stefano and wondering if they could help me design the perfect dog house. We spoke together and I left with a few dimensions; by the time I arrived back at Heathrow the design was done, such was the joy it brought.
The image that immediately springs to mind when I think of my work with Magis is that of Eugenio Perazza who, right in the middle of whatever meeting, without a word of explanation will simply get up and walk out of the room. He comes back after an indefinite amount of time and picks up the conversation where he left off, or perhaps changes the subject completely. I have never found out where he goes, and I don’t want to know either: I like to stick to my own story, that he goes to have a quick chat with the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, the Caterpillar and the Mad Hatter, to get their opinion on the design project in hand.
My association with Eugenio began when he was a general manager for an Italian manufacturer that made tea trolleys from plastic and metal. He appointed me as their sole agent/importer for the UK – unseen and purely on the basis of a couple of initial orders and my own enthusiasm. As I recall my communications with him were always of a constructive and positive nature. Of course this was in the days long before the internet revolution, and communications were by mail and telephone, visits to the factory and the MACEF fairs in Milan. Eventually telex became the norm, and then fax were de rigueur.
When Eugenio decided to strike out on his own and specialise in modern Italian design, he asked me to act as their UK agent. His first visit to the UK with a couple of colleagues resulted in an order for the Liberty store in London for the adjustable-height box on wheels which became known as the Cubo. They brought the sample with them! The Latin word ‘Magis’ translates as ‘more’ or as Eugenio put it, ‘more than’. And thus it was – always innovative and stretching the boundaries in the field of the modern furniture design world. Both with his choice of designers worldwide and with the materials used in construction. This policy inevitably increased the product line and now includes a viable range especially for children.
It has continued through the years, and his enthusiasm and ability to motivate an impressive stable of designers, agents, staff and customers has not wavered. He has become a design icon on the international stage, and Magis is now successfully marketing their impressive ranges worldwide. In fact I feel it is true to say ‘a legend in his own lifetime’. Magis’ premises in Torre di Mosto are impressive and a joy to visit.
Eugenio Perazza has been a major influence in my business life, and on occasions his personal advice has been pure and direct. His fascination with border terriers was instrumental in my own attraction to the breed and resulted in our household enjoying many years with one.
Of course I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that my long association with Eugenio, Magis and subsequently Alberto, Barbara and their colleagues has been a pleasure.’