Chris Martin of Massproductions
Massproductions is a Stockholm-based furniture company that launched last year based on the longstanding collaboration between designers Magnus Elebäck and Chris Martin. They burst onto the furniture scene with the Tio Collection in 2009, which is already showing signs of becoming a future classic. In its first year, the Tio chair was awarded the “Golden Chair” award by the Swedish Association of Architects and the Tio table has been selected for the permanent collection of Sweden’s National Museum.
Now in their sophomore year, expectations on the young company are high to follow up with an equally impressive collection for 2010. Tiffany Orvet caught up with Chris Martin of Massproductions this month at the Stockholm Furniture Fair to discuss the design group’s newest releases and plans moving forward.
Yes, my business partner Magnus Elebäck and I had been running an office together for 10 years designing for other people. We’ve done a lot of work for IKEA in the past so we learned about product development, how things go into production, which techniques you can use for volume production, and that’s really been our foundation. Finally we just decided we’d like to have our own company instead of working for other people and see how that went.
So your name, Massproductions, was a very purposeful choice. Is that where you see your focus?
Volume production, mass production, is our knowledge. It’s our background and it’s also what we believe in. We think that responsible mass production is the best way to get a good product and a good price on the product, so that more people can enjoy it. So yes, we believe in responsible mass production.
Do you have favorite materials you like to work with?
We’re interested in nice natural materials at the moment. We see a lot of furniture that seems sort of a bit dead, but we want to create a nice tactile quality, almost sculptural quality in our pieces.
Now one of your new pieces, the all glass Sander Table, doesn’t seem to fit the remit for mass production. How did that happen?
No, the Sander Table is a bit special, but we thought it was a very exciting idea to develop. Due to the nature of the concept of the piece, it had to be made in its own special way. And that was with hand-blown glass, which is heavy, requires craft labor, and really lends itself better to a small production run. We’ve made 50 in a limited edition. It’s a Massproductions product, but because of the relationship with Svenskt Tenn, a very nice store here in Sweden, it has a little bit of a different philosophy to it than our other products.
A: I liked the idea of doing a real glass piece. I like products that are made from one material like all wood or all metal, and glass was a material that fascinated me. This design came from thinking about glass and the techniques associated with it. Glass is a very complex material in the way it’s formed and the things it can do. But it also has a very simple expression because it’s almost invisible, and it’s kind of a pure material. So that led me to think about a very pure form and a simple design that would suit the material. Actually there’s not much to the final design at all. It can be described as three circles… the diameter of the base, the diameter of the neck and the diameter of the top.
We started to think about a chair from a different perspective - from the perspective of a waiter. Waiters are people who live with furniture day in and day out, so they should have a piece that’s dedicated to their profession. This is sort of a tribute to waiters who help us enjoy a nice restaurant experience. It’s a very normal chair, but it’s been tweaked for the waiter. It has a small footprint so that you can put it on the table after service. It’s lightweight, strong, and durable. The back legs are kind of tucked behind the backrest so if you’re walking behind with a tray of food, you’re never going to trip over the legs. So essentially it’s just a very simple wooden robust restaurant chair with some detailing. And it’s quite streamlined for production as well. We actually worked with a factory on this one, with their production facility, and what they could do.
One thing we would like is to do something with upholstery because while developing our Odette barstool, we found a really good supplier that can mold polyurethane foam in single pieces. So we’re probably going to collaborate with them and see what we can do… maybe in the direction of an armchair or club chair or something like that.
And where can we find your pieces to buy?
We’ve been very lucky to get some great retailers around the world. We’re selling through Liberty of London, The Frozen Fountain in Amsterdam, DePadova in Milan which is a great showroom. We also have an agent in the US called Hightower Access. They’re working hard to get us in the right places there.