Contract furniture that counters the radical changes of our time with elegant design and optimal functionality is what Portuguese specialist Fenabel offers. Discover their new collection at supersalone, Hall 03 k18.
Fenabel has been creating finely crafted chairs and tables for over a century. It is now one of the world’s leading producers of contract furniture, trusted for its mastery of woodworking, application of craftsmanship and high-end technology, its ability to tailor-make furniture to a client’s specific requirements, and its sustainability credentials.
Contract furniture is literally a tough market and the emphasis is on durability in all senses. Fenabel’s designers, in the best modernist tradition, have to match lasting elegance and adaptability with super-functionality.
They also have to navigate radical shifts in demand. Offices have become more relaxed and domestic, hotel lobbies are often now co-working spaces, as much informal office as social performance space. For an increasing number of us, the workplace is wherever we unpack a laptop and the distinctions between professional, personal and social space have dissolved.
Contract furniture can now find itself in unexpected places doing unexpected things
Contract furniture can now find itself in unexpected places doing unexpected things. And for designer and manufacturer, this is a time of challenge and opportunity. The call is for furniture that doesn’t just work in a variety of settings but can also define spaces in different ways at different times. The right design team then is essential.
Amongst Fenabel’s regular collaborators is the Spanish designer Aitor Garcia de Vicuña. His latest collection for Fenabel is Éder, a series of chairs composed of bold, curved circles set seamlessly in an elegant frame of beech or ash. Imposing but playful and nodding respectfully to the classics of mid-century Scandinavian design, the Éder is available in coloured wood or part or fully upholstered. Crucially, it can do casual or formal.
The Coffee chair collection, by the Italian design duo Area 44, meanwhile is a lesson in expertly managed curves of cotton, woven straw or striking arrangements of nautical rope with versions that work as effectively as office high-chair or bar stool, dining chair or desk chair.
Fenabel has also added new designers to its talent pool, bringing fresh thinking and smart options. Muka Design Lab is an award-winning industrial design studio based in the Basque region of Northern Spain. Founded by Laxmi Nazabal and Lucas Abajo, Muka emphasises what is calls ‘slow design’, looking to work with local artisans and workshops, investigating more durable and sustainable materials and mixing craft skills and industrial production, when and where they are best applied.
For Fenabel, they have designed LIV, a dramatic high-backed cocoon of a chair. LIV somehow combines clean, restrained lines with a promise of plush comfort and privacy, a contemporary wing-back for contemporary lounges.
Belgium-based Studio Segers is another new Fenabel recruit and boasts similar credentials to Muka Design Lab, sharing that emphasis on craft and sustainability. For Fenabel, Studio Segers have devised Mine, a family of essential wooden chairs and stools, available in what seems like infinite variety. Set on four slightly inclined round wooden legs, connected by cross lap joints, the chair’s seat and back panels are CNC cut plywood shells. Available high and low, armed and un-armed, and in a range of colours or exposed wood, Mine looks like a modern classic in the making, thoroughly thought out, entirely rational and capable of cool sophistication or raw functionality, depending on configuration.
Fenabel will show all of these new designs at September’s special edition of Salone in Milan. The Covid-19 pandemic has cancelled out two editions of the design world’s key commercial and cultural gathering, so the September show is the first chance for design’s big players to lay out their response to the new mechanics of working life, social life and private life, the challenges of creating truly flexible, adaptable but exciting spaces. Fenabel has moved quickly and smartly to answer that challenge.
Fenabel’s new collection can be seen at Supersalone, Hall 03 k18