What is ClassiCon’s philosophy?
The most important thing is quality. We go to extraordinary lengths to source the best manufacturers. With the Saturn coat rack, by BarberOsgerby, for example, we went to 10 companies who specialise in bending timber (including Roethlisberger and Thonet Germany) before we found one that could make it look like a twisting ribbon of timber. I want ClassiCon to release items that I feel can obtain classic status. Konstantin Grcic, for example, has his own style. It’s the same with BarberOsgerby’s products; you can immediately tell it’s their design, whether it’s for Established & Sons, ClassiCon or Quodes.
What changes have you seen in furniture design recently?
A changing of the guard. Italians don’t have the dominance they once did. Now, if you look around, great design is coming from all over Europe – German designers like Stefan Diez, Konstantin Grcic and Clemens Weisshaar; Britain has BarberOsgerby and Alexander Taylor; France has Matali Crasset, Arik Levy (an Israeli who lives in Paris) and the Bouroullec brothers.
ClassiCon has just launched the work of mid-century Brazilian designer Sergio Rodrigues. Why did you choose his work?
I have been a fan of Brazilian design for some time – Oscar Niemeyer, particularly – but as you get into Brazilian architecture, you start to look at the furniture in these buildings, and Sergio Rodrigues’s name kept coming up. I fell in love with his designs, so we negotiated worldwide rights (outside of the USA and South America) with Sergio and the manufacturer of his designs, LinBrasil. It’s a big change for the company, but the designs are beautifully made and perfect for ClassiCon, as they don’t compete with the work of Eileen Gray or our contemporary ranges.
Which designer would you like to collaborate with in the future?
Where has your design awareness come from?
I was brought up with design. My family had furniture by Cassina and B&B Italia, Castiglioni lamps and an Eileen Gray ‘Transat’ chair. We went to modern-art exhibitions and were always open to very modern architecture. You grow into it – you get a feeling for it – it’s difficult to learn ‘good design’. It’s something you feel and something you acquire over years of viewing.
What architecture do you most admire?
I love the Prada store in Tokyo by Herzog and de Meuron. Their ‘Nest’ stadium in Beijing is amazing, too. Actually, everything they do is amazing!