Magis was established in 1976 in the north east of Italy, one of Europe’s most dynamic industrial areas. It was founded by Eugenio Perazza, “a businessman who asks clear design questions that already provide a significant part of the answer, particularly when carefully formulated together with a talented designer” (Giampiero Bosoni, Domus 941, November 2010). The company is a prominent lodestar in the design world.
Its success is based on the desire to provide a broad swathe of users with access to high functional and technological quality products for the home, developed in partnership with major international designers, with a vision of the resulting products that is ethical and poetic as well as aesthetic.
Stefano Giovannoni, Jasper Morrison, Konstantin Grcic, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, Marc Newson, Ron Arad, Naoto Fukasawa, Marcel Wanders, Philippe Starck, Zaha Hadid and Thomas Heatherwick are just some of the designers that have worked with Magis, creating a vast collection of pieces, each with its own story to tell and its own character to express, be it in domestic settings or collective spaces.
Magis products are dedicated to their international public (exports account for some 85% of production), and are all 100% “Made in Italy”: a guarantee of high quality, in line with the firm’s tradition, which has developed from its craftsmanship and cultural roots, through the evolving styles and industrial growth of the eighties and nineties, and continues to comprise one of the company’s greatest and most valuable assets.
In early 2010, Magis moved to a new production site in Torre di Mosto (near Venice) with a total meterage of 98,000 m², including two separate buildings: the first, measuring 15,000 square meters, houses the logistics and assembly departments, the other, measuring 3,500 square meters, was made for the offices and a showroom, which exhibits all the most iconic products from the collection. Featured pieces range from Stefano Giovannoni’s Bombo, possibly one of the most frequently imitated products in the history of design, to Ronan & Erwan Bourollec’s Steelwood Chair, awarded the ADI Compasso d’Oro in 2011, to the children’s collection Me Too, developed together with famous designers and experts in the field of education. In 2008 Trioli (designed by Eero Aarnio) from the Me Too collection also won the Compasso D’Oro, while in 2014 the same highly prestigious award was bestowed upon Spun, designed by Thomas Heatherwick.
In addition to receiving this and many, many other major accolades in the design arena, Magis products have become part of the permanent collections of museums including the MoMA in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Magis srl foundation in Motta di Livenza (Treviso)
Transfer to the first real headquarter
Nuovastep design Andries & Hiroko Van Onck 1984 was the year of the ladder called Step, a project by Andries and Hiroko van Onck. It was snubbed when it first came out, because the furniture store circuit was not a place for ladders; they were supposed to be sold in hardware stores. Then things went the way they did, and Step met with enormous success, especially in furniture stores. It was the first product to light Magis’s fire - with regards to design as well as company turnover. It’s super-imitated, and by high-lineage companies, too. After a re-design in 2003 it became Nuovastep.
Bombo design Stefano Giovannoni Bombo - presented for the first time in 1996 - is an object which has since become part of the collective imagination as the contemporary stool par excellence. As well as its practical side, Bombo wins us over by the solution whose dominant feature is the seat in injection-moulded ABS, with adjustable height thanks to a gas piston and a choice of various colours. Today Bombo is an icon, a style pioneer. Ultra-copied and ultra-imitated. Yet Bombo is still Bombo. Its copies are another story, another chapter which is not a chapter on creativity and design.
Dish Doctor design Marc Newson Dish Doctor: a dish rack born of the union of two shells with rounded edges in standard injection-moulded polypropylene. The dishes are placed among a host of stalks, also with a rounded shape and in a contrasting colour, among which the cutlery holders stand out and, rising up above the contour, give Dish Doctor the appearance of a ship’s hull. As Newson himself said: “I controlled every aspect of this design, even the packaging. We adopted fast prototyping, moving from 3D to tooling without any changes made. This dish rack is made in polypropylene like all objects of this type, yet Magis production standards are really high and the end result was fantastic!”
Magò design Stefano Giovannoni With Magò, even humble domestic accessories are enhanced with designer colours and values. A broom with a proud handle, pleasant to grasp, conceived with the idea of offering a homogeneity of shape and material. Air-moulded in polypropylene with added glass fibre, Magò is also the first broom to stand up on its own.
Air-Chair, design Jasper Morrison
Air-Chair is the first one-piece chair designed to be produced with the air-moulding technology. Made in polypropylene and available in various colours, Air-Chair is also suitable for outdoor use and has been defined as “a chair of the present and a classic of the future”.
Eric Kentley from the Design Museum in London described it in the following words: “Jasper Morrison’s Air-Chair is an absolute masterpiece. It’s extraordinary. With a pleasing aesthetic and low price, this chair embodies two essential features of good design – simplicity and a timeless style”.
All this brought together and backed by considerable technological sophistication.
Change from Ltd Company to Joint-Stock company
Chair_One, design Konstantin Grcic
A die-cast aluminium shell made up of many small, perforated and triangular faces.
Chair_One is in a certain sense built like a football, i.e. with a series of flat elements joined one to the other at angles to create a three-dimensional shape.
All this is achieved by exploiting the potential of die-casting which is a precise technology allowing complex three-dimensional shapes to be obtained from metal (in this case aluminium).
The result is therefore a chair in which the spaces prevail over the solid parts to characterise its aesthetic quality: a chair of the present which will definitely become a classic of the future.
Boogie Woogie, design Stefano Giovannoni
As a rule, bookcases look better when they are full of books than when they are empty.
This rule does not apply to Boogie Woogie, which is not just a bookcase, but a display case to frame your precious objects, and is equally splendid with a few books and ornaments, with its wavy lines that criss-cross each other vertically and horizontally.
SEGGIOLINA POP, design Enzo Mari Pop, a children’s chair with iconic shapes designed by Enzo Mari, is the first product in the Me Too collection on which production started in 2004. Made in expanded polypropylene and weighing just 850 grams, it is therefore an extremely lightweight yet at the same time strong product which allows children to carry it on their own around the home and therefore move around independently.
Puppy, design Eero Aarnio
Animals have a special place in a child’s world when they are growing up. They often have a favorite toy animal and sometimes a real one to play with. Growing up in a city, there was an alley cat in my neighborhood that I took care of and my wife grew up in the countryside and had a crow chick she cared for. But puppies in particular are well loved by most children and I had this in mind when I started designing the Puppy. I also wanted to keep only the most essential features of a puppy when designing it, just like children do when they draw their first animals; head, body, legs.
Another important factor to consider was choosing the right material because the manufacturing process and materials have a direct impact on the overall design. Round forms are optimal for plastic manufacturing because you’ll get the maximum strength with minimal use of material. Also round shapes are more child friendly than sharp and angular forms.
Déjà-vu, design Naoto Fukasawa Déjà-vu: a simple, highly iconic stool with seat in die-cast aluminium and legs in extruded aluminium (available both in the polished and painted version). An object with a minimalist look which fits perfectly into the Supernormal category created by Fukasawa himself with Jasper Morrison. As Issey Miyake said, “Déjà-vu, the sensation of having been therefore before, of already having done something or met someone. Fukasawa’s design reawakens the fairy godmother, the deeply hidden memory of each one of us. Even if sweet and possibly fleeting, the memory exists. Naoto Fukasawa is the brilliant writer of fairy tales that create dreams which can come true at any time”.
Magis Japan foundation in Osaka (Japan)
Voido, design Ron Arad Rocking chair originally conceived in blow moulding. Voido was presented at the 2005 Furniture Fair in a “mould testing” phase under which it suffered greatly. Underestimated by Magis and Arad alike. Not a thing could be done to alleviate the technical suffering, as trial after trial made evident. So the Voido-blow moulding combination was given up in exchange for rotational moulding that features new and decidedly superior aesthetics.
Transfer of the warehouse to Torre di Mosto (Venice)
First, design Stefano Giovannoni After Air-Chair Magis reached a new goal in the air-mouding technology with the chair First, whose name comes in fact from it being the first example of a chair made by air moulding in which the emptying of the frame is not simply applied to the volumes with a small tubular section, but all throughout the extensive and complex volumes of the chair and its backrest. First is a chair with high technological qualities reached after four years of studies and researches.
Steelwood Chair, design Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec
Steelwood Chair comes from the combination of two traditional materials, wood and steel plate, which together create a simple yet at the same time extremely elegant and sophisticated chair, suitable for all types of spaces.
Steelwood Chair is inevitably considered and appreciated for its technical content.
The process of moulding the chair in fact required considerable technological research and as many as ten successive phases were worked out to obtain the final curving of the back itself.
Transfer of the headquarters to Torre di Mosto (Venice) and opening of the new offices and showroom
Spun, design Thomas Heatherwick Thomas Heatherwick has produced a startling twist on conventional furniture design: a functional chair formed from a single profile rotated through 360 degrees. Spun displays Heatherwick’s flair for challenging rules and teasingly plays with the notion of a static piece of sculpture becoming a playful piece of design. When upright Spun is a sculptural vessel and it is only when it is lent on its side that the playful possibilities of its form come to light. Spun allows the sitter to swivel in a circular rocking motion, including being able to rotate in a complete circle.
Cyborg, design Marcel Wanders
The design of the Cyborg armchair designed by Marcel Wanders is based on an industrial part consisting of the four very simple plastic legs, almost basic, deliberately “non-designed” and on an artisanal “designed” part, i.e. the backrest, which can be made of wicker, plywood or solid wood, or upholstered with covers in fine fabrics or in leather. And tomorrow it could be made of wrought iron or other materials. Therefore, a never-ending design story; it is precisely the backrest that dictates the chair’s expressive and aesthetic quality.
Cu-Clock, design Naoto Fukasawa Cu-Clock is a wall clock that draws its inspiration from the classic cuckoo clock, idealizing its shape and using a more contemporary material: injection-moulded ABS.
Magis Proust, design Alessandro Mendini “I think many people will already know my “Proust armchair”. It is a romantic, baroque chair, on which an endless number of multi-coloured dots are hand-painted using the pointillism technique. These dots cover the whole armchair, both the fabric and the wooden decorations. It’ s a re-design work. It is, in fact, a combination of a mock-antique armchair with a detail from a painting of a garden by French artist Signac. From 1978 onwards, the “Proust armchair” was produced in many versions, using different colours, materials and dimensions, and was even made of ceramics and bronze. It travelled all around the world and was hosted in many museums. But now some truly revolutionary news, as a paradox comes true: the “Proust armchair” has now been transformed into an industrial rotational-moulded piece. Ladies and gentlemen, we bring you “Magis Proust”. This gem of technology and production brings new energy in its colours and atmospheres, making it a truly timeless object.” (Alessandro Mendini)
Piña, design Jaime Hayón Creating a chair in steel rod for outdoor use was the starting point for the Piña armchair which Jaime Hayón designed for Magis. The chair, an extremely complex industrial design, was born of the experiments carried out by Magis and Hayón in pursuit of a fresh, new design concept. The result is a highly sophisticated steel rod chair suitable for interiors and exteriors which combines a natural element such as wood with a capitonné structure in steel rod which creates a magic optical effect on the rear of the back.
01 — Showroom opening at Design Post in Cologne
04 — Showroom opening in Milan (Corso Garibaldi, 77)
09 — Showroom opening in Tokyo, 1-2-3 Kitaaoyama Minato-ku
Zartan, design Philippe Starck with Eugeni Quitllet Magis has always had a strong desire to stand out for its products, as the Latin origin of its name indicates, which means in fact « more than ». Therefore, when they had by the chance the opportunity to work with Philippe Starck in April, 2010, the Magis managing family did not wish to submit him the project of the umpteenth plastic chair. Aiming to focus more and more on the quality and innovation of its products, Magis preferred to steer the designer towards the development of an eco-friendly object, using natural, recycled, recyclable and biodegradable materials. Philippe Starck called his new product Zartan, an anagram composed starting from the name of Tarzan, who symbolizes nature at its primitive, pure state.[:it]Zartan, design Philippe Starck with Eugeni Quitllet
Tom and Jerry – The Wild Bunch, design Konstantin Grcic Tom and Jerry is the redesign of a classic furniture typology: the workshop stool. The three-legged stool (in two different heights) is made of solid beech wood, with mechanical parts in self lubricant plastic. Its smooth-running mechanism makes it easy to adjust and comfortable to sit on. The stylistic contrast between the visual quality and beauty of the beech and the plastic of the mechanical parts makes it a versatile product, suitable for use in a wide range of working, recreational and private situations and spaces: from a professional studio to a child’s bedroom, to a trendy, modern bar or a kindergarten, no place is out of bounds for Tom and Jerry, and they will always fit in and perform their essential function perfectly.
12 — showroom opening in Hong Kong (Shop 105 Home Square, Shatin)
Traffic, design Konstantin Grcic Traffic is a collection of furniture made up of a wire framework with cushions. The correlation between the three-dimensional outline of the metal rod and the geometric volumes of the cushions marks a significant shift from the common connotation of wire furniture. Its unassuming simplicity makes for pleasant casualness. Its refined detailing and carefully tailored proportions reflect elegance.
Folly, design Ron Arad The line between sculpture and design is very thin in Ron Arad’s work. His creations, whether functional or purely aesthetic in nature, are characterized by motion, by soft lines that give all his works a highly dynamic orientation despite their primitive, simple forms. Ron Arad’s creative process sets out by experimenting with the expressive potential of materials, transcending mere functionality to create objects which are highly plastic and expressive and can be reworked to become products for large-scale distribution. That’s what happened also with Folly, the bench in rotational-moulded polyethylene, available in a unique colour (rust brown) and suitable both for outdoor and indoor use: a sculptural object with its own functionality.
Tibu, design Anderssen & Voll
Tibu stool offers an extremely clean, essential, stylized design: the circular seat and footrest combine to form a single shape, echoed and reflected by the base and column below. The entire stool is in a single colour, but the materials used for the different parts vary according to their function: from steel frame painted in polyester powder, to the polyurethane seat, also available with a high-quality Kvadrat fabric covering. Tibu is available with height-adjustment mechanism, or in two fixed heights, and comes in a vast range of colours, to match any taste and setting, at home or in the contract world.
Officina, design Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec
Iron forging, the process used to shape this metal, pressing it between the hammer and anvil, has a story that stretches back over millennia. Throughout history, this technique has been used to create an infinite number of everyday objects and decorative artefacts. The Officina collection of tables explores the possibility of establishing a new creative language while working with an ancient fabrication process: a further step in the long partnership between Magis and the French designers Ronan and Erwan Bourollec, which began fifteen years ago and has provided a rich series of successful designs. For the Officina collection, building on this wealth of shared research and experience, a system of forged iron legs was created, with an original geometry suitable to support tops of different dimensions and materials: steel, wood, glass. The absolute simplicity of the minimalist design combines with the allure of a raw material handed down through the centuries, alive, with those slight imperfections that make each piece in this collection unique, with an unmistakably industrial feel, but combined with a profoundly refined and elegant spirit.
Milà, design Jaime Hayón
Imagine you’re able to do in plastic what is impossible to do in wood. With the expertise of Magis as pioneers in gas injection-moulding, we were able to make an expressive chair very rich in movement, based on the forms of Catalan modernism: elastic and dynamic. We created a truly elegant plastic chair, something to stand out on a saturated market. It’s a challenge for me, as someone who normally uses materials with thousands of years of heritage such as wood, metal, and ceramic, to create my first product in plastic. And I am happy with it. (Jaime Hayón)