If the Internet has done one thing, it’s made retailing a lot less exclusive. If it can be put on a container or an airplane cargo hold, it can be purchased online and sent to your door. At least in most cases. Another thing Internet retailing has done is drawn clear licensing lines and made it nearly impossible to flout big business interests. Just try and buy a pair of jeans unavailable in Hong Kong from an overseas site. It’s not going to happen.
So just in case any trouble could arise, Italian lifestyle furniture designer Magis has gone backwards as it were and opened its second retail outlet in Hong Kong and its first in Central. Following the shop at HomeSquare in Sha Tin, the brand is now easily accessed through its new 2,000-square foot showroom in Central, on trendy Gough Street. Founded in 1976 by Eugenio Perazza, and still headquartered in Torre di Mosto (near Venice), Magis has made a name for itself by working with the industry’s most creative minds and by placing equal attention on form and function. Designers that have collaborated with Magis in the past form a veritable greatest hits of product design: Jasper Morrison, Ron Arad, Tom Dixon, Philippe Starck, Marcel Wanders and Zaha Hadid among others. Since really bursting onto the international design scene in the early 1980s, Magis has collected awards in Italy, Germany, France, the USA and the UK, including the Compasso d’Oro Award on multiple occasions, which is like an Oscar for the design set. All of its products continue to be manufactured in Italy with the exception of the wicker back on its Cyborg chair. That’s made in the Philippines.
All that without a factory. Magis is purely concerned with design and distribution, and ships a whopping 80 percent of its product to nearly 100 countries around the world, making it something of a mad scientists’ lab for designers. But that’s a good thing: Magis has made processes like injection, rotational, gas injection and blow moulding technology the norm, and it was the first to apply gas injection tech to furniture in 2000 with Jasper Morrison’s Air-Chair.
In keeping with Magis’ focus on design and technical innovation, the new store is firmly rooted in experience as much as retail, with three separate sections each with its own personality. Part one is the welcoming corridor, dedicated to the brand’s most iconic pieces: Konstantin Grcic’s football inspired One is here, as is the 360-degree rotating Spun by Thomas Heatherwick along with scores of other multi-purpose pieces. Part two is dedicated to novelties, accessories and outdoor product such as the Flò folding stepladder, the Pipe Dreams watering can, and Pierre Paulin’s Elysée stacking shelving system. Finally, part three is devoted to kids in what is called the Me Too section, a colourful and playful corner showing off the brand’s kids’ collection. Standouts include the adjustable height Trioli chair/rocking chair, which works both indoors and out, the eye-catching and unique Downtown storage unit that kids will have a ball loading themselves, the imagination fuelling Julian chair and Philippe Starck’s Le Chien Savant desk unit that is, in a word, Starckian. Magis carries tables, coat racks, bookshelves, kitchen wares, toys and even dog houses, all defined by the brand’s signature funky approach and inimitable style. And you don’t have to go to Sha Tin to get it.