Hard At Work

As Established & Sons’ design director and an award-winning designer in his own right, Sebastian Wrong is never one to accept the status quo. Known for his ability to combine the cutting-edge with the traditional, Wrong is always looking for the next idea. A year after successfully relaunching the much-loved brand in Milan, he has now set his sights on the world of work.

Erwan Bouroullec GRID New c2019 Establishedand Sons c Peter Guenzel Portrait 01 72dpi Konstantin Grcic BEAM TABLE c2019 Establishedand Sons c James Champion Portrait 01 72dpi

The new Established & Sons collection rolling out in 2019 focuses on enabling creativity in the workplace with innovative and long-lasting design solutions that can adapt to a near-future in which the boundaries between work and leisure spaces have crumbled almost completely. On top of this, Wrong has also managed to reinvent the lounge chair with the LUCIO CHAIR – a lightweight, angular seat with a tubular metal frame that is bound to become a contemporary classic. EST Journal sits down with Wrong to talk strategy, why Milan isn’t the only place for furniture launches and the genesis of the LUCIO CHAIR

EST: This is the first time that Established & Sons has focused specifically on bringing characterful design to the workplace. What inspired this shift towards the contract market?
Wrong:
Historically, we were more focused on developing unique, independent individual pieces which had their own voice and their own context. Last year’s collection began a new conversation for us about being more commercially switched on and creating furniture with just as much character but a wider appeal. This is really just an evolution of that. But the workplace is very interesting at the moment.

EST: In what way?
Wrong:
Everything is moving towards this kind of natural, creative environment that Established & Sons has always been very comfortable in. The working environment is no longer about meeting rooms, task chairs and desk systems. Home has become the office and the office has become the home. Standards and expectations are getting higher and higher for work spaces. Businesses and individuals want to inhabit a universal space that has a high level of design integrity and that includes comfort, flexibility, informality and functionality. They call it live/work, I call it soft contract. It’s much more fluid, it’s much for informal, and it’s the way people want to work now. There’s a tremendous amount of design opportunity within that. The workspace has to become an interesting space in itself, rather than cheap and functional. We are in the creative industries, so we are reaching out to people with a like-minded belief and building on that to enrich the environments that people are in. We’re making interesting objects with integrity that can function within this new working environment and that people will be intrigued by – these are forward-thinking, radical designs that are grounded in a very real need.

EST: The LUCIO CHAIR is a good example of a design that seems to be just as comfortable in the breakout zone of a co-working space as it would be in someone’s home. Where did the idea for the chair come from?
Wrong:
It’s filling a gap for what I’m looking for in my life as a good lounge chair, that I haven’t found. I often design something that I’m looking for myself and can’t find. So it’s a design that I’ve been working on gently for some years now, totally under the radar. The brief I set myself was to create a steel-framed chair out of tubular sections, which was very efficiently designed and allows an upholstered skin to be stretched around it, like a sling, but with added comfort benefits that can now be achieved with really smart integrated webbing systems that can be built into foam layers. It utilises new technology that means you don’t need traditional timber structures and stapling and stretching for the upholstery.

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EST: How does it fit within the family of upholstery that Established & Sons already offers?
Wrong
: Established & Sons have some very expressive pieces of upholstery in the collection like the QUILT, the CAPE and, more recently, the CASSETTE and the BARBICAN. But we needed a lounge chair that you can really lounge on and that can offer a range of different textiles, from the very high end to the super commercial without compromising on comfort. I can’t think of many – if any – extremely comfortable lounge chairs that support your whole body in a comfortable position that are very light weight. So we have something really strong here.

EST: You made the decision to launch the initial pieces from the new collection during Clerkenwell Design Week in London this year, instead of at the Milan Furniture Fair. What was the thinking behind that?
Wrong: The time had come for a change and we're a little bit tired of Milan – it’s exhausting, it's gigantic, it's confusing, it's very difficult to get the right people to come to the show. The industry has changed a lot and Established & Sons has changed a lot too. We are now much more focused on design that is relevant for today’s market and that’s less about “wow” moments. So we thought it would be more interesting to move away from the trade show format of Milan and focus on our local community.

Clerkenwell is a special area for London and for us and we want to develop tighter relationships and better collaborations with businesses that are on our doorstep. We want to take Established & Sons to them, not wait for them to come to us.

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