Here's Why Minimalists Will Love Australian Furniture Brand SP01
Furniture brand SP01 prides itself on being conceived in Australia, designed by renowned creatives around the world, and produced by leading Italian manufacturers. The four-year-old label, which is Space Furniture’s first in-house brand, has put out six collections to date, working with three different designers to produce hand-finished furniture with classic influences and crafted to the highest standards.
SP01 worked with Milan-based Metrica on its first collection of furniture in sculpted and hand-finished solid ash, paired with an extensive range of upholstery textiles. An outdoor collection with Australian designer and Louis Vuitton collaborator Tom Fereday followed, and the brand’s most recent tie-up is with London-based industrial designer Tim Rundle, which has resulted in understated gems such as the Caristo and Michelle chairs.
Through it all, the integrity of design and authenticity have helped SP01 stand out in a cluttered marketplace. We speak with SP01 co-founder and creative director Matt Lorrain to learn what makes the brand tick.
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What are SP01’s principles?
Matt Lorrain (ML) Firstly, to make sure that the design is interesting. A lot of our pieces have a very subtle reference to another design era. We try to touch on these very lightly because we don’t want our pieces to feel retro. We want our furniture to feel contemporary and new, but your eye also recognises details that could reference another era.
We also try to get our products to market at a reasonable price point even though we’re working with high-quality materials and quite high environmental standards, which have associated costs. We choose to produce in Italy because we want the quality of “made in Italy” and also because it is easy to export worldwide from there.
How do you decide which designers to work with?
ML The process is relatively organic. Usually, I’ll find the designer, although Metrica was recommended to us. When we were building the brand, we spoke to Moooi about being our producer. Moooi at the time was already working with Metrica. They said, “Why don’t you work with the same people we’re working with?” Because it’s a small world in design and furniture, we had some mutual connections with Tim Rundle. I met him by chance in Milan, and we decided to do a collaboration.
Each studio responds to the brief quite differently, and we find them in different ways. And I think we’ll always be a bit flexible. One of the reasons behind the brand was that we wanted to create products that are more responsive, that aren’t stuck in defined silos such as the Italian style, the Scandinavian style, the Japanese style. We wanted to do something which had a mix of these different cultural influences.
How does SP01 stand apart from its competitors?
ML We’re an Australian brand (with products) made in Italy. We have a different lens, we see things from our side of the world. Australian design and architecture have a real good handle on materiality. We edit, direct and control the direction and design of the brand from Australia, but we work internationally. That keeps us fresher. We don’t work within silos.
Who is your target audience?
ML If you compared SP01 to B&B Italia or Cassina or Poliform, the demographic for our brand is a little bit younger. Our price point is not as high as those brands. We’re not as established right now, and we’re aware of where we are—the top end of the mid-market.
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What inspired the Caristo armchair?
ML Tim Rundle and I were discussing the work of Gio Ponti, Franco Albini and other beautiful work from the mid-century. We realised that several of the chairs that we liked had this more dynamic stance.
The Caristo is a contemporary armchair, but there’s some linework there that makes you think of Albini or something from that era. We also wanted to have this hard, exterior shell and the soft interior. When you see it from the front, it has this gathered fabric that looks very inviting, so it’s architectural on the outside and inviting on the inside.
Tell us more about the Michelle collection by Tim Rundle.
ML The Michelle mirror was the first piece and where we derived the design for the chair. Michelle is all about simple geometry, strong shapes—the circle, the cylinder, the arch. You imagine when you have a row of these in a restaurant, there is something soothing about the repetition in the arch.
There’s a low-back dining chair, a high-back chair and a little stool. High-back armchairs have been out of fashion, but the response to this in Milan was so strong, we’re pushing it into development. People associate you with the slightly more iconic designs within your collection, and Michelle is definitely one of them.
We’re also rolling out new frame finishes, like black chrome and gold chrome, which is something that harks back to the 1980s. If it’s handled with sophistication, it can be quite beautiful.
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What are SP01’s future plans?
ML We are already working on new products and plan to release them next April. We are also looking to work with an Asian designer at some point, and filling in the blanks within our own collections. For instance, people have been asking us to do bedside tables. But if we do a bedside table, we’ll have to do a bed. However, we definitely want to have more flexibility within our table offerings.
I also have some very particular ideas about a new sofa system. In many ways, we’ve represented most of the typologies in furniture, but we want to make sure we’re responding to the gaps and still producing interesting products that push the brand forward.