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Oct 23, 2019

Monfalcone Design – Illuminating Beauty

If you’re on the market for premium light pendants and accessories, Monfalcone Design is you go-to location for beautiful finds. They have just launched their website and they are gearing up for a fantastic Johannesburg launch in November. We recently had the opportunity to chat to the owners, Laurent and Tamsyn, about what makes them tick and what we can expect from Monfalcone Design.

  1. Lau Tam.

    How would you describe your personal style?

Our style is characterised by an appreciation of beautiful functionality.  We prefer the simplicity of owning fewer, better quality pieces, with very selective, key character items (signature pairs of glasses etc.) rather than excessive possessions that are forgettable.

Striking, functional simplicity is irresistible, and this is evident in some of our possessions – good examples being the Kukri collection (traditional Nepalese knives) and a little Lotus Elise that was Colin Chapman’s epitome of form following function with its incredible driving capabilities.

We unconsciously search for meaningful items when we travel, and have an eclectic collection of things that have become everyday use items – fragrant Indonesian incense from Lembongan, and great little candles from Madeira to name but two.

There’s a penchant for orderliness and the calm that it creates, both in our environments and mentally, and vulgarity or garishness of any sort is nowhere to be found!

In terms of mind set, we consistently refuse to accept that challenges are impossible when we’re chasing after something specific. If we’re convinced that something can be achieved, there’s a persistent stubbornness that always yields the desired outcome.

  1. What qualities define your brand?

Our creative aspiration is simple yet opulent designs that are exceptionally elegant, and have an authenticity and integrity that is communicated through the material selection.

Our obsession is beauty, quality and perfection! There is never skimping in any aspect of design – we would rather endure a higher cost to produce a better product.  No design goes into production without multiple revisions, and they must be perfect before being shown to the customer.

We hold ourselves to a high standard of professionalism, and run our business in such a way that everything is scaleable to avoid the pitfalls that often trip up younger businesses when they grow.

Thanks to our team’s combined skills (Laurent’s successful creative and technical background, and Tamsyn’s long corporate merchandise history and other entrepreneurial ventures), the structure of the business is as well designed as the products to ensure that we can give our customers not just a seamless transaction, but an interaction with our brand that is a holistic experience.

  1. What sets your brand apart in the industry at the moment?

We conceptualise every product from scratch, considering where design trends are going, and don’t emulate other designers because we want our products to be unique.

Unlike most local brands, we manufacture everything locally in Cape Town.  We don’t import, and everything is designed, from scratch, by us.  Using a small network of local, high quality entrepreneurial suppliers, everything is within our control which results in the exceptional quality of our products.

  1. What is the most recent purchase you’ve made for your home and why?

Three new pieces of art – a large Diane Victor print, and two MJ Lourens paintings that are framed together to form an exaggerated landscape diptych. And why? Because beauty is integral to our environment, and South African artists produce some spectacular work.

  1. What one design element, trend or furniture item can you not live without? 

The Moka pot, designed by Italian engineer Alfonso Bialetti in the early thirties. Aside from producing amazing coffee, it is an iconic piece of design that hasn’t changed materially since its inception, because it just works – and that’s exactly what we believe good design should do! Between us, we have a large collection of them from all around the world, in various colours, and can’t resist buying them whenever we stumble across a new one wherever we’re travelling!

6. What design influence has had the greatest influence on your work and business?

Steve Jobs’ ethos, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”, resonates very strongly and is what we ultimately aspire to with our designs.

Laurent’s previous experience in boutique, customised architectural fabrication was punctuated with massive frustration at realising designs whose complexity had no consideration for their practical execution, often at massive cost to the customer, and has resulted in a constant desire for form to follow function and avoidance of gratuitous complexity.

7. What has been one of the most challenging projects you’ve worked on?

Getting our launch range finalised, from conception to going live, in under six months! That includes all R&D, design prototyping and revision, and launching. We’ve launched with 8 great pendants, and will be adding another carbon fibre pendant to the range shortly.

For our launch evening in Johannesburg on the 7th of November in conjunction with Candice Berman gallery and Ligne Roset, we will also unveil a spectacular one-off piece that won’t be repeated, together with another large, limited edition ceiling piece which is incredibly unique.

8. How would you describe the design industry in South Africa at present?

There are some incredibly talented, inspirational local designers that produce phenomenal work. Some of our current favourites are Gregor Jenkin, Laurie Wiid van Heerden, Ebert Otto and Moonbasket (for their incredible ability to repurpose things and create beautiful organic shapes). Although Andile Dyalvane of Imiso Ceramics is better classified as a bonafide artist, he’s also on the list thanks to his ability to find inspiration in his immediate surroundings.

The quality of work being produced is made even more remarkable by the larger environmental challenges, which often result in access to a limited range of skills and raw materials that has somehow not dampened the brilliance of local talent.

9. What trends do you think we should keep an eye on in upcoming seasons?

There’s a growing rebellion against the Scandinavian simplicity that has dominated the design scene for so many years, which could be a subconscious rebellion against economic times that have enforced frugality and the constant pressures that people live under. There is a strong leaning towards opulence, with a growing resurgence of luxurious colours and richness and a potential for that to move into a Baroque type interpretation.

There also seems to be an emerging sub-trend of reimagining the 80’s.

10. What exciting projects do you have planned within the next year?

We have an incredibly exciting year planned. Our range of luminaires will be expanded and updated to include standing lamps and a wider range of offerings, and we will add more iconic one off pieces that won’t be repeated. We also have some exciting collaborations lined up, and are travelling to New York early in 2020 both to immerse ourselves in the international design scene, as well as firm up an export partnership, with another potential European partner in the early stages of discussion.

Watch this space as this incredible brand continues to pioneer ahead. For more visit Monfalcone Design.

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