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icon: from Greek [eikĹ?n] “A design icon can be a symbol that is readily recognized and generally represents an object or concept with great cultural significance to a wide cultural group. A representation of an object may come to be regarded as having a special status as particularly representative of a particular a place, or a period in history.â€?

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Words from the CEO 4 TEXT JACOB GuBI

Who was Greta Magnusson Grossman? 6


Mathieu MatĂŠgot 12 Precursor of design From Gaudi to GUBI 20 ABOUT GUBI 26 Vision, determination and courage

Functionalism at its best 32 THE SEMI PENDANT UNCOVERED QUISTGAARD 36 8 things you need to know The Real Bestlite Story 40 GamFratesi two design traditions 44

visiting the production

THE CONTRIBUTERS // TEXT // Allan Torp, Jacob Gubi & Kathryn Dighton

LAYOUT// Stine Laurberg & Kamilla Schultz

PHOTOGRAPHERS // Bjarke Johansen, Thomas Ibsen & Kasper Sejrsen

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SPECIAL THANKS TO // Stig Guldberg, Evan Snyderman og GamFratesi

words from the ceo

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words from the ceo


It is not easy, this process of launching new furniture. The procedure is almost identical, whether we are uncovering design icons from the past or creating a totally new design –development takes considerable time, involving many different tasks and a hardworking work force to undertake them. From the very beginning of a project to its completion, there are more than 100 tasks, large and small, that all have to come together. So, without an untiring personnel it would be impossible and I am very pleased with their hard work. We are surrounded by designs that are fighting an increasingly tough battle to gain our attention. But, in between all the things that are similar and all the things we don’t really take notice of, there are some that really stand out. Those designs that are fascinating, über cool, that win our attention and simultaneously manage to preserve our fascination over time. Designs that will eventually become truly iconic. According to Jens Quistgaard, the designer behind the Stokke Chair that we are launching this year, you should only acquire the things you cannot do without - not just what you think you need - moreover, you should always aim for the best. By following this simple rule, your home will be better, your life more streamlined. I totally agree and predict ‘less is more’ will soon become a mainstream mantra, as we crave simplicity and increasingly seek this fast disappearing but intrinsically human quality in our homes. I see more and more people battling through their days, blocking out the world, surrounded by a custom-made sensory wrapper. They are plugged into iPods, wearing huge headphones, whilst storing digital pictures of the things that actually means something to them on handheld devices - all to offset this encroaching external sterility. Thank goodness then for our homes. As we have just entered a new year, we at Gubi are dedicated to celebrate individuality, because home is the one place in this world that we can truly make our own. I hold my breath and hope that everyone else will love all our new products as much as I do.


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Who was Greta Magnusson Grossman? TEXT // Kathryn Dighton photo // BJARKE JOHANSEN

Greta Magnusson Grossman: Architect, Designer, Modernist, Icon

Greta Magnusson Grossman (1906-1999) was a woman ahead of her time and the architect of her own success; her design excellence was matched with a unique vision, supreme confidence and a will to succeed.

Woman in a man’s world

Born in Stockholm in 1906, Grossman broke through gender barriers to win a scholarship to the renowned Stockholm arts institution, Konstfack, where she mastered the skill of technical drawing before embarking on a prolific 40-year career. In 1933, Grossman was the first woman ever to receive a furniture design award from the Stockholm Craft Association. When, in the same year, she opened Studio, a studio/ workshop in central Stockholm, Grossman

found singular success in a field in which women had traditionally been excluded. “The only advantage a man has in furniture designing is his greater physical strength” - Greta Magnusson Grossman

“Are you Swedish?” “Yes,” said Grossman “So am I,” said the stranger. “My name is Garbo. Greta Garbo”

Making it modern Taking Los Angeles by storm

A modernist through and through, Grossman believed that design should offer a relevant and interactive backdrop to daily activities. When Grossman, emigrated with her husband to the United States in 1940, her unique approach to Swedish modernism was an instant hit with the Los Angeles glitterati, particularly single, professional women who felt that Grossman designed with their needs and sensibilities in mind. The store she established on the prestigious Rodeo Drive, where she showcased the furniture and home accessories she designed attracted celebrity clients, including Greta Garbo, Joan Fontaine and Gracie Allen.

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Grossman established a one-woman architecture office and during the 50’s designed at least 14 homes in Los Angeles. She was inspired by the challenge of designing a home in an elevated location with a modest footprint on a so-called ‘problem lot’ - a scheme that was granted certain tax advantages at that time. Grossman’s houses were typically simple, rectilinear board and batten structures, perched on stilts with sliding internal and external walls of glass. The interiors featured convertible kitchens with drop-leaf counters and tabletops, built-in shelving and customised details. Grossman’s functional, distinctive, modernist houses were quite unique and appealed to progressive clients working in the arts, medicine and technology.

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Many were successful women who welcomed Grossman into their world. “How was it to work as a female architect?” “Often it was a drawback but It kept you on your toes. You had to be a step ahead or else” Greta Magnusson Grossman In the course of her career Grossman designed for many companies but production runs were exceptionally small - often less than 200 pieces were made and original samples are scarce. Glenn of California, who produced some of Grossman’s most sophisticated furniture designs, characterised by asymmetric lines and unusual combination of wood, metal and plastic, had fewer than ten employees; Ralph O. Smith, who’s business catered almost exclusively to the production of Grossman’s lamps, employed just two machinists. The Grasshopper and Cobra lamps, re-launched this spring by Gubi, were lauded by the press and made Grossman’s name famous. Today her work is highly collectible; an original Grasshopper lamp recently commanded £10,000 at auction. Style the Grossman way

“It is not a superimposed style, but an answer to present conditions …. developed out of our own preference for living in a modern way. It expresses our habits and our tastes” - Greta Magnusson Grossman Grossman’s career was at its height from the 40’s until the late 60’s when she retired. Yet her work lives on in the rare examples of furniture and lighting that still exist and in a number of homes that remain standing. From Grasshopper to Good Design DESIGNER // Greta Grossman

Today, the Grasshopper floor lamp is perhaps Greta Grossman’s best-known design. Designed in 1947, the lamp’s tubular steel tripod stand is tilted backward and the elongated aluminium conical shade is mounted onto a flexible arm, so the light is directional, the glare minimal. The Gubi’s new Grasshopper lamp, which will not compromise the integrity of Grossman’s original design, will be available at a much more accessible price. Available in 5 colours: anthracite grey, warm grey, blue-grey, jet black and vintage red, Gubi’s recommended retail price is £565 Perhaps equally collectible is Grossman’s classic Cobra lamp; existing examples are few and far between. It takes its name from the shape of the oval shade, which is reminiscent of a Cobra’s neck (or hood). Cobra won the Good Design Award in 1950 and was subsequently exhibited at the Good Design Show at the Museum of Modern Art. The Cobra’s tubular flexible arm can be bent in all directions whilst the shade can be rotated through 360º. The base is covered in powder-coated aluminium and weighted with cast-iron ballast. Gubi are pleased to bring back the Cobra design in both tabletop and floor lamp versions in 3 original colours; anthracite grey, jet black and warm grey.

GROSSMAN HOUSE // Be verly Hills

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the grossman collection

The man who recently co-curated the exhibition, Greta Magnusson Grossman, “A Car and Some Shorts” for the Arkitekturmuseet in Stockholm

Interview with gallery owner, Evan Snyderman Q. How did you come across Grossman’s products?

E.S. I had been an admirer of Grossman’s work for a few years because of its unique scale, construction and the use of asymmetrical lines. However, what really sparked my interest was the fact that virtually no-one, not design historians, collectors, or dealers, seemed to know anything about her. No-one could even say for certain if she were still alive. There were no books to refer to and, short of a brief listing here or there, you could find no documentation. So, I decided to dig much deeper. It was around 1999 when I first visited Julius Shulman in his studio and discovered that he had photographed many of her pieces. That was the big break I needed. Q. What do you think is characteristic about the Grossman lamps?

E.S. What makes the Grossman lamps most interesting is their sophisticated, yet playful, design; the pieces exhibit a whimsical form that is both organic and modern. The unique stance of the Grasshopper gives the impression that the lampit is somehow alive and “stalking its prey.” Grossman’s color choices are also very important to the designs and add another level of beauty to her work; so too the unusual asymmetrical lines that constitute every Grossman design and add to its overall success. Q. Why do you think Grossman became so successful in the US?

E.S. Greta was the type of person who took the bull by the horns, so to speak. She was never afraid of a challenge and was a person who loved to share her ideas. She was extremely intelligent and charming and could speak fluently on modern design and lifestyle in a wholly unique way. It was rare to find a female designer working on her own who had mastered such a wide variety of skills from curating her own Swedish-American home design store in Beverly Hills, to her successful furniture and lighting designs, to dozens of architecture projects throughout California and in her native Sweden. Greta Grossman was considered an exotic import to the United States and she used her personality, unique style and striking looks to generate an incredible amount of press. Q. How did Grossman’s sex, as a female designer, influence her success?

E.S. I’m not certain it did, other than that it allowed her to gain press in more places because her life story appealed to “women’s” magazines as well as to architecture and design magazines. She was a striking woman with a movie star quality about her, so she was certainly photographed and interviewed a great deal. She was an astute businesswoman too and worked very hard to maintain this high media profile.

E.S. To my knowledge Garbo met Grossman only once, though the meeting was fortuitously covered in a magazine. There are drawings that are labeled as being for Frank Sinatra but we don’t know for certain whether that interior was ever finished. Grossman did design for Paul Trousdale, the famous developer who founded Palm Springs in California and many of her clients were successful professionals working in the movie business, or the fields of medicine or science. Q. In the early 1940’s, Greta Grossman was involved in The Case Study house program - how?

Her furniture and many of her lighting designs in particular were used to furnish the Case Study houses when they were photographed for Arts and Architecture Magazine. Her relationship with the photographer, Julius Shulman, would have been an important asset in this regard as he photographed many of the houses. Also, her work was sold at Frank Bros., who provided furnishings for some of the Case Study houses, so her designs might feature in some photo shoots of these influential homes. Q. What do you think characterizes an icon? How does this label fit the Grossman lamps?

E.S. I think an icon is created when there is a perfect balance of form and function. Grossman’s lamps embrace this balance perfectly. The silhouettes of the lamps are absolutely striking and complement almost any interior. The lamps are wonderfully well designed, weighted in the right ways, with movable shades that allow the light to be cast in a variety of angles. Q. How can you see in the lamp designs that Grossman was influenced by both Scandinavian Modernism and Californian Modernism?

E.S. I think the smaller scale of postwar homes in both Europe and California influenced the way Grossman designed. She was always thinking about economizing on space and designing pieces that worked on every level. Many of her designs that appeared in the 1950’s were originally designed in the 1930’s. So, you can see that she was constantly revisiting ideas and refining her designs to express their most basic and fundamental forms. Q. Why do you think Grossman’s design is still popular today?

E.S. Because it is, quite simply, “Good Design.” Many people are just discovering Grossman’s work for the first time. With so much attention focused on modern design, as has been the case over the past 20 years, to discover something new, that is as good as this, is both astounding and exciting.

Q. We hear Greta Garbo’s name was linked with Grossman - could you name others that Grossman designed for?

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Many designers spend years developing their designs, simply to make them better and better. This was certainly not the case with Mathieu Matégot; he only devoted 10 years to his designs, yet they would later be considered iconic. Nagasaki, Kangourou, Dedal... these exotic names, could easily direct ones thoughts to a exotic terrace in Hyères Les Palmiers, or even compared with words in a globetrotters diary. Yet these are the works of a creator who was born in Hungary in 1910 and spent his entire career in France. Alongside Serge Mouille, Jean Prouve, Charlotte Perriand and George Jouve, Matégot became a symbol of 1950’s design.

Mathieu Matégot Precursor of design text // Allan Torp PHOTO // BJARKE JOHANSEN

Precursor of design in the ‘50s, Mathieu Matégot found that when he rubbed perforated sheet metal, a material he uncovered during his wartime captivity in Germany, it transformed the metal into fine nets, which he called ‘rigitulle’. Like fabric, this material could be bent, folded and shaped to give the furniture he designed transparency, weightlessness and everlasting modernity. Today his work is highly collectible; an original Matégot lamp commands more than €50,000 at Parisienne galleries, such as Galerie Jousse Entreprise and Gallery Downtown. As an independent, self-taught designer who stayed aloof from all the controversy surrounding the industry during the period of change that marked the post-war years, Matégot blazed his own trail. He veered towards a form of furniture that was easy to use and accessible, and became directly involved in both the manufacture of the pieces and their distribution. His products satisfied the demands of the day - for furniture that was light, easy to move and

almost transparent, so that it would not clutter up cramped rooms. The Nagasaki chair is still Matégot’s bestknown piece. It was exhibited for the first time at the 1954 Salon des Artistes Décorateurs and, along with Arne Jacobsen’s Ant Chair (1952), is one of only a few three-legged models. The chair is made of perforated sheet metal and features unique details, such as the little stirrup that holds the seat and legs together. Both back support and seat are curved and arched, similar to the form of a saddle and the overall effect is one of lightness. The highly graphic design construction is evocative of Le Corbusier’s work for the Church at Ronchamp. Today, the chair is part of the permanent collection at the internationally renowned, privately owned Vitra Design Museum. The forms that Matégot initially conceived were often complex and composed on several different levels. Geometric patterns, drawn

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within certain pieces, match one other in all directions. In some cases, the graphic shapes can be combined to create a new design, such as when the Dedal bookcases are juxtaposed. Elsewhere, intrinsic graphic shapes cast shadows on the floor. The puzzle-like design of Matégot’s Kangourou coffee table, for example, consists of two small tables, the smaller sitting within the larger. When displayed together, light passes through and half-moon shadows are cast on the floor below, when standing separately two full moons are reflected. Today Matégot Mathieu, who died in 2001, would surely express surprise that his designs would be re-launched more than fifty years after they were conceived. In 1987, on discovering that one of his chairs was exhibited at the Museum of Decorative Arts, he said to the French magazine Archi-cree: “It justifies my work. Little did I think it might still be interesting, after thirty-five years.”

The matĂŠgot collection


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The matégot collection




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Facts Born and raised in Hungary, Mathieu Matégot (1910-2001) completed his art studies in Budapest. In 1931, he moved to France and began working there as a stage designer and architect. Immediately after World War II, during which he volunteered in the French army, was subsequently captured and not released until 1944, Matégot opened his own furniture atelier in Paris. His interiors during the ‘50s for Tit Melin Airport in Morocco and for the Parisian restaurant, La Saladière attracted a great deal of attention. For a decade Matégot created various design classics, but ended his career as a furniture designer in 1959 and henceforth devoted himself to the design of tapestries, for which he won international acclaim.

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The matégot collection

Café interior

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The matĂŠgot collection


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For the base of both table and lamps,

inspiration came from the vaulted ceilings of the very same

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the pedrera collection


Gaudi undertook projects for three residential buildings in Barcelona. Amongst these were the Casa Milà, also know as La Pedrera (or, “the stone quarry” - an allusion to its exterior appearance). The building was owned by the affluent Sergimon family and was built between 1905 and 1907. La Pedrera, which proved to be Gaudi’s last secular building project, stands on Passeig de Gràcia and is formed around two inner courtyards. Composed of stone and thin brick pillars, its structure requires no support from the façade, which accommodates numerous windows through which the apartments are flooded with natural light. La Pedrera was renowned for its groundbreaking basement garage, one of the first to be built. However, its most remarkable feature is the rooftop, which is scattered with chimneys and stairwell entrances, its undulating floor supported by a series of parabolic arches of varying heights and breadths, formed from thin bricks in the underlying attic.

In 1955, Barba Corsini renovated the loft space within La Pedrera, transforming it from a simple laundry room and storage area into 13 modern duplex apartments. Corsini used a series of parabolic arcs to create individual rooms and give an illusion of space and height. To reinforce the modernist style of the rooms, Corsini decorated the apartments with furniture that he designed himself, including Pedrera lamps and tables. Corsini did not have to travel far to find inspiration for the lamps and table. For the base of both table and lamps, inspiration came from the vaulted ceilings of the very same house he was renovating. For the lampshades, it was the form of Gaudi’s cylindrical chimneys that studded the rooftop above the attic apartments that gave Corsini his idea. With their sleek, perforated appearance, the chimneys are clearly echoed in the Pedrera lamp design. In 2010, Gubi launched the first four products by Corsini and his protégé Joaquim Ruiz Millet

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a floor, table and pendant lamp and a table. In spring 2011, two new lamps will supplement the collection: a slim, elongated pendant (ANA) designed by Corsini in collaboration with Joaquim Ruiz Millet and a second, smaller table lamp (ABC), designed by Ruiz Millet as a tribute to Corsini. In developing the two new lamps, the designers once again used the perforations that feature on the original floor lamp as their source of inspiration. The entire collection sits well in any contemporary home, blending easily into and enhancing the surroundings. The lamps and table have a modern, yet classic appearance, which complements any interior decorative style.

the pedrera collection


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CASA MILĂ // By Antoni Gaudi DESIGNER // Barba Corsini

Barba Corsini Barba Corsini was a recognized functionalist architect (1916-2008). He was born in Tarragona and graduated from the School of Architecture in Barcelona in 1943. Corsini was best known for his interior designs, which were multidimensional and combined different colours, materials and textures. Corsini was strongly inspired by German architect, Mies van der Rohe and American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. He also had a great affinity to Finnish architecture, which he interpreted as some of the finest in Europe because of the powerful simplicity of its craft. In 1954, Barba Corsini was honoured with The Diploma in Urban Planning, and in 1965 he received a doctorate. For several years he taught the graduating class at the School of Architecture in Barcelona. Corsini went on to win further scholarships and international praise for his architecture and his design for La Pedrera. GUBI Design Icons

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the pedrera collection

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the pedrera collection


any interior decorative


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Vision, determination and courage are essential ingredients in Gubi’s recipe for success. The family who established this company more than forty years ago has now established a creative platform for the development of innovative, functional design with global market appeal. This did not happen without striking a strategic economic blow but the ability to create new concepts and the courage to swim against the tide has brought Gubi back to the forefront of the Danish design world. With this new foundation firmly in place, strategy is now focused on the development of unique design icons


The ability to develop design icons - and of course to uncover them - runs in the Gubi family DNA. An eagle eye, together with a healthy dollop of obstinacy and the courage to follow through an idea has been passed down from Lisbeth and Gubi Olsen to their sons Jacob and Sebastian Gubi, who today are responsible for managing the creative vision of the company and partner with focus on the contract market, respectively, that their parents founded in 1967.

tive five years later to obtain worldwide production and marketing rights to the Bestlite collection. The Bestlite lamp design, which is highly influenced by the Bauhaus period, has been in continuous production since 1930. Loved by architects, designers and design aficionados for the past 80 years, Bestlite today enjoys global iconic status. New design icons

At first, the small niche company focused on design, product development and selling textiles to the retail business. Four decades later, the company is significantly larger and it’s scope broader. First came the development of Gubi Olsen’s own furniture designs and the foundation of the now legendary textile, Holmens Klæde. Next there followed creative collaborations with external designers, such as Boris Berlin and Poul Christiansen, partners in Komplot Design. Finally, showing they never take their eye off a target, having first spotted a Bestlite lamp in 1989, Gubi were able to take the initia-

Since 1967, Gubi’s core philosophy has been to create timeless designs, with aesthetics, innovation, functionality and quality as guiding principles. Over the years this philosophy has evolved and Gubi is now also focused on sourcing and reproducing design icons from the past. To be included in Gubi’s collection, a piece must have something special to offer, by virtue of its design, its materials or its technology. Gubi chooses designs that are unique, modern and classic, which are equally valid today as when they were first designed - that is, designs

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that are, or have the clear potential to become, design icons. New designs are developed partly in cooperation with some of the designers who have previously left their mark on Gubi products and partly in association with a number of new designers who, in turn, will add new stories to the Gubi saga. Until today, Gubi have primarily worked with Danish designers and architects; for example, in the highly constructive collaboration with Komplot Design, who created the innovative and ground-breaking GUBI Chair collection and GUBI chair 2. Gubi is constantly working on developing its profile, always with core values in mind. One new designer in Gubi’s portfolio is the relatively unknown Swedish designer, Greta Grossman, whose lamp designs are now included in the Gubi collection. “The fact that she is relatively unknown just makes the process for Gubi more interesting, as we have a genuine opportunity to make Greta


Grossman’s designs well-known. Greta Gross man was, in her day, renowned in both Sweden and California, USA. However, by the time of her death she had been almost forgotten. Now, I am very happy that we can give this magnificent female designer a second comeback”, says Jacob Gubi. Gubi as a leading international design brand Even though Gubi’s core philosophy has not changed significantly since the company began, there is a constant focus on developing products and sales strategies to meet market demands, both at home in Denmark and internatioanlly. Mistakes are costly and experience has taught Jacob and Sebastian Gubi the importance of being willing to adapt, whilst also being prepared to sit tight when creative integrity is threatened. For many years Gubi focused purely on the business detail; indeed, this was the focus when Jacob and Sebastian, established an online store at the end of the 90’s. They were to learn the hard way that solid work and willpower alone cannot guarantee success. However the knowledge and experience they gained during the process has given them both a burning desire for future developments. “We have a clearly defined business model which has been carefully reviewed in the light of the market situation during and after the financial crisis. We quickly adjusted our cost structure and, despite a decline in some segments, we have managed to maintain in profit. Before the financial crisis began, we were dependent on high turnover from a few customers with a small number of products that were also highly cyclical. We have intentionally revised that strategy so that today we have a product portfolio less prone to changes in the market.” Since the turn of the century, Gubi has focused its energy on the business market, and developed workspace and commercial interior solutions. This proved to be a sound investment and led to the establishment of a much larger showroom in Pakhus 53 in the Freeport of Copenhagen, where Gubi has 2000 m2 with plenty of space, light and air - and a view of the water. During the recent financial crisis Gubi has switched focus toward the retail market, which today accounts for approximately 50% of turnover. Although Gubi’s success in the contract market speaks for itself, the aim is now to expand sales in the retail market through an established network of furniture, lighting and design retailers. “Our goal, which is to establish Gubi as a leading international design brand, will require continued investment in new products, markets and organisation, but also a greater visibility to our audience, both physical and virtual”, states Jacob Gubi.

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ANA // BARBA CORSINI & joaquim ruiz millet

nagasaki chair // mathieu matégot



pedrera coffee table // BArba Corsini



pd2 // BARBA CORSINI & joaquim ruiz millet

Grasshopper // Greta grossman

BL9 XL // Robert Dudley Best


coat rack // mathieu matégot

dedal bookcase // mathieu matégot


PD1 // BARBA CORSINI & joaquim ruiz millet

BL5 // Robert Dudley Best

nagasaki stool // mathieu matégot

BL1 // Robert Dudley Best

gubi table 2 // komplot


The Stokke Chair // Jens QVISTGAARD

gubi room divider // komplot

BL4 // Robert Dudley Best


gubi chair 2 // komplot

cobra // Greta grossman

kangourou coffee table // mathieu matégot




PD2 // BArba Corsini





gubi chair 2 lounge // komplot

cobra // Greta grossman

Abc // BARBA CORSINI & joaquim ruiz millet

Puff // GUBI


Functionalism at its best text // allan torp photo // thomas ibsen

The two friends and students of architecture Torsten Thorup (1944) and Claus Bonderup (1943) sat at opposite ends of the country and sent drawings and ideas back and forth. One night in 1968 they had it! A pendant inspired by geometric shapes and shaped like two quarter circles, which are put together. The lamp was named ‘Semi’, was submitted to a competition and won for its unique design. The pendant had with its light and timeless design, great success in the 1980s, and was indeed the best-selling Danish design. The timeless and elegant ‘Semi’ is world famous for the archshaped, enamelled metal and comes in five colors and three sizes. Between 50 Semi lights in the Gubi showroom we sat down Claus Bonderup for an interview about the design, inspiration and what effect it has on a designer when his design is still hanging in many homes world wide fourty years after it was first designed.

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Color variations

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Interior Desi

gn from the


us Bonderup

p and Cla ru o Th en t rs To s er n Desig

The Semi Lamp in production

Interview with Claus Bonderup Surprisingly, the lamp was received very nicely, which of course made us proud as peacocks.

Please start by telling a bit about how the design was developed? Well, I’ve always been fascinated by the really clean and geometric shapes. What intrigues me, and has done for many years, is the simplicity in things. I like to cut everything to the bone. It all began at the School of Architecture, we, Torsten and I, were very inspired by clean geometry and used the circle and the square and saw how it affected our bodies and surroundings. When you make up a design, you never know in which interior it is incorporated into later, therefore I think that it is very important that things have a certain calmness, still have some excitement, but not so dominant that they take over. A design needs to be able to be a part of a whole, that has always been important to me. I know there are many who say that we as architects must reflect society as it is and when you see so much chaos in society, then you also start to see all those crooked and abomiable houses that are so aggressive. I have tried, and still do, to capture tranquility and simplicity and let the harmony shine through, that’s what I want anyway. Semi was a reaction against the ‘cosy era’, which was dominating Denmark at the time. We wanted to challenge that by creating something in sharp, clean lines with a geometrical shape. Why is it called Semi? Semi basically comes from the semicircle, which is the whole idea behind the lamp - the simple geometric shape and to see what it can do. We wanted to create a lamp that functionally gave as much light as possible, the light itself is reflected up into the shade and then out inon the space below - so it’s really very simple. Can you tell about the design form? I am fascinated by functionalism, when you cut to the bone that is and only use the purest form - yes, clean functionalism. What is it that makes the lamp so unique?

As a matter of fact, it was relatively quickly copied, pretty much actually and especially in Italy. We really struggled to get them all stopped. Luckily more or less all of them could not manage to get the design principals right, they struggled with the top that is tighten around the cord, it was also pretty difficult to make production wise at the time, they all ended up splitting it in two, which did not do the design any good. I am sure many copies will follow. It makes me quite happy sometimes, that people copy my design, it just means that you have made something right – but again, of course it is not right! Did you already know back then, that Semi would get the huge success? No, you never know. We were young and didn’t know anything about anything. No, we didn’t know - but we dreamed of course - it is important to dream! What do you think when you see Semi hanging in a home you visit? Or when it, more than forty years after it was designed, is still shown in the international magazines? Well, it gladdens my old heart. It’s wonderful, it’s what you’ve always hoped for, but sometimes I get a bit worried, as you do in my age, will it just become an antique, which I hope really hope it doesn’t. Why do you think it fits so well into a contemporary home? What is a contemporary home today? It was easier in the old days, then we only talked about functionalism, modernism and all the other isms - but today we are so diverse. You do not have a contemporary home, you have a home that expresses feelings of the people living there. I like to see people live, that they live and that they like the things they surround themselves with. But I think it fits in everywhere, because of its simplicity and is not indicative of a special time, I dare say that you cannot see that it’s was designed more than forty years ago. What do you think of the Gubi now produces it?

I guess you should answer that… no, basically it just so still damn perfect! It just has that simple form, which cannot be inserted into one single style period, if you ask me. Maybe I am wrong, but it has a calmness and a form that is just so unique, it could not be any different.

I absolutely love it - it’s wonderful. I am very happy, as a designer you hope for recognition and then that happens you are just plain happy. It means that others appreciate what you are doing. It’s wonderful to be used.

How was the lamp received at first? We really wanted it to go into production. It was presented the first time at the lighting fair in Milan. We were of course very excited, it was the first time we ever was a part of something of this calibre.

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UNCOVERED QUISTGAARD text // allan torp & stig guldberg photo // bjarke johansen

Outside his own country Jens Quistgaard is one of the most well-known Danish postwar designers. Surprisingly, within Denmark his name is less familiar; yet his designs can be found in virtually all Danish homes. Most popular is his cookware, following a surge of interest in his 1950’s Kobenstyle design. His innovative can opener, with its organic, stainless steel piercer, is a forerunner of the classic user-friendly style we use today and has become a collector’s item. We have asked Stig Guldberg, Associate Professor and documentarist filmmaker, to find 8 other things you probably did not know about Jens Quistgaard.

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Eight things you need to know about Jens Quistgaard

01 02 03 04

In 1961 Quistgaard’s American partner, Ted Nierenberg, hires a young talented graphic designer to illustrate a salesbrouchure with Quistgaards designs “The Idea is Dansk”. The graphic designer, who portraited Quistgaards design with colourfull watercolours, was no other than Andy Warhol!

The Danish police badge, used between 1958-94 was created by Quistgaard.

As young, Quistgaard, were actively involved in the resistance movement and carried for several years a gun. He used his talent as a designer to find ways to separate the guns, so he could carry them without being detected.

Quistgaard used both right and left hand equially good and could easily change from one hand to another, when he drew and worked.

05 06 07 08

Many of the designs from the 1950’s and 60’s is today covered by collectors all over the world. Lately, his pebermills has been in the collectors spotlight and today it is not unusually that the rare ones are auctioned away for more than 5000 DKK ($ 870) in the USA.

Quistgaard almost had an encyclopedical knowledge – about everything, from opera and wood spicies to raptors and architectur. The knowledge was not the kind you could just look up everywhere, normally he knew them because he had experinced or found the knowledge himself.

Quistgaard had many idiosyncrasies – among them were fashion, plastic and journalists.

Quistgaard had his own aristocratic habbits. He always drank from his antique silvercup, even when he drank redwine or whisky.


Bestlite was designed in 1930 and Winston Churchill is numbered amongst its most famous users. Churchill’s Bestlite lamp sat on his desk in the air-raid shelter underneath Whitehall, where he would have conducted many crucial meetings about strategy during the Blitz.

the real bestlite story text // allan torp photo // bjarke johansen & cASPER SEJRSEN

Bestlite was designed by Robert Dudley Best, heir to the largest lighting manufacturing company in the world, and was first produced at the end of the revolutionary Bauhaus period. Function and simplicity were central to the Bauhaus school of thought, which disregarded conventional distinctions between industrial mass production and fine art. The incoming Nazi Party portrayed the Bauhaus movement as a front for communists and social liberals and, in response to political pressure; the Bauhaus school was closed in 1933. As a result, many of its supporters, including Mies van der Rohe, moved to the United States, from where they were to influence art and architecture for many years. Dudley Best, whose family’s factory, Best & Lloyd, was located in Birmingham, had worked as an industrial designer in both Paris and Düsseldorf. Whilst in Germany, he made close friends with Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus movement, and it was during this time that he made the first sketches of what would become the iconic Bestlite lamp design. Dudley

Best returned to Birmingham in 1930, determined to put his Bestlite into production. However, the Bestlite design differed so fundamentally from the factory’s traditional designs that it was some time before the designer was successful in persuading his father to undertake a trial production. Moreover, early production pieces were not purchased for private homes, as Dudley Best had expected but were sold to commercial organisations, such as car repair shops and the Royal Air Force, where they were appreciated for their functionality. Happily for Dudley Best, a few of the lamps did end up on the desks of architects, prompting a feature in the Architects Journal in which Bestlite was proclaimed the first manifestation of British Bauhaus design. Public demand for Bestlite soon followed and, when Winston Churchill personally chose a Bestlite lamp for his desk, Bestlite’s iconic status was secured. History records that Churchill even took his Bestlite lamp with him whilst he travelled.

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Sheer coincidence brought Gubi and Bestlite together. Lisbeth and Gubi Olsen spotted a lamp in a Copenhagen shoe shop in 1989 and instantly recognised the timeless quality of its simple, functional design. On making enquiries, they discovered the lamp was called Bestlite and its manufacturer was British lighting company, Best & Lloyd of Birmingham. Gubi, together with his eldest son Jacob Gubi, travelled to Birmingham to meet with Best & Lloyd. Both father and son imagined that Best & Lloyd would be a shining example of British manufacturing, having been told that Best & Lloyd had supplied Buckingham Palace, the Titanic, Downing Street, the Orient Express and numerous other prestigious customers. Instead, what they found was a dilapidated premises with only 15 remaining employees. The once world-renowned lightning manufacturer had virtually disappeared, so too had the Best & Lloyd shops that had occupied exclusive addresses in Paris, Rome, London and New York.

the bestlite collection

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“The factory was completely wrecked, with rain dripping through the ceilings; employees had to place buckets everywhere to capture the water. The products were wrapped in newspaper, and it was hard to find any evidence whatsoever of Best & Lloyd’s glorious past,” says Jacob Gubi, CEO of Gubi A/S.

Product development with caution In 1994, the Best and Gubi families signed an agreement that Gubi would take over the sales rights for Bestlite in Scandinavia. In 2004, full marketing and manufacturing rights were acquired by Gubi and the Bestlite collection is today sold through more than 500 retailers worldwide. Eighty years on, the Bestlite design stays close to its industrial roots and true to its original design. You’ll never find Bestlite in hot pink or mellow yellow; it comes in a floor, desk or pendant version but only ever in black, white or ivory.

We undertake product development with caution. We are sensitive to the fact that Bestlite has established iconic status. Whilst at some point in the future we may consider new variations - new materials for example - currently we are very pleased with the collection as it stands,” says Jacob Gubi. To celebrate the 80th anniversary of Bestlite, two original floor lamp designs have been relaunched: the classic BL3 lamp with its original flower-pot shade and the taller, elegant BL4 lamp with a bigger shade.

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Today, Bestlite is held in the permanent collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Design Museum in London and is appreciated in many homes, hotels and restaurants worldwide. Bestlite is both an iconic classic design and recognised Bauhaus icon – and with sales currently achieving five times the 2004 rate, is without doubt more popular than ever.



When design expects are asked to point on who that will be our times Arne Jacobsen and Hans Wegner, many say the design duo GamFratesi. And the design duo consisting of Danish Stine Gam and Italian Enrico Fratesi have also received a number of awards and recognitions for their furniture. Gam and Fratesi belong to the latest generation of furniture designers and represent a new idea of the meeting between Danish and international design tradition. More of their furniture is playing with contours of design icons, designed by Hans J. Wegner and Arne Jacobsen, but casts an entirely new light on familiar forms by adding new proportions, materials and constructions. The duo comes from two countries that for decades have diveded the design world into two camps: those who swear to the Italian design and those who think that Arne Jacobsen and Verner Panton are just the best. GamFratesi unites the Danish and Italian design traditions in a way that not only dissolves the “dispute”, but also makes it a symbol of design without limits - and along with Gubi the second chair in Masculo series is now launched. The duo does not limit themselves to computer designs, but have their hands on all materials and the manufacturing opportunities in their workflow. They experiment, and the products do not leave Gam and Fratesi’s hands before they are exactly as desired Stine and Enrico invited us inside the production, to see how the Masculo chair came from simple drawings to the final chair.

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Study models of chair and lounge backrests

Designer working on the Masculo chair backrest in rigid material

Masculo sketch

visiting the


Study models of chair and lounge backrests

Study during the work process

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Detail of hand stiching under the Masculo lounge backrest


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“Form follows function - that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union” Frank Lloyd Wright

GUBI - Launching New Design Icons  

GUBI introduces a magazine with new Design Icons from GUBI. See the design of Greta Grossman, Mathieu Matégot, Jens Quistgaard and many more...

GUBI - Launching New Design Icons  

GUBI introduces a magazine with new Design Icons from GUBI. See the design of Greta Grossman, Mathieu Matégot, Jens Quistgaard and many more...