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As a child, Konstantin Grcic loved building things. After high school, he began working for an antique furniture restorer, "because I wanted to learn how to make things properly," he recalls. That led to an apprenticeship with a cabinetmaker, where he discovered something he liked even better than building: designing. He then went to the Royal College of Art in London, where he found his true passion: designing furniture.
His work is known for its logical thought process, honesty of materials and respect for production methods, and his client list reads like a who's who in both furniture and household goods: Authentics, Flos, Iittala, Krups, Lamy, Magis, Moroso, Muji, Plank and Vitra, among others.
His partnership with Magis led to one of the most interesting and inventive chairs ever created: Chair_One. "This was a wonderful project to work on," says Grcic, admitting that his relative youth (and naïveté) led him down unexplored pathways with eyes wide open.
"This was possibly the first time ever that such a large die-cast was used for making a chair. Typically this technology is used for smaller components only," he explains. "It involved a lot of heavy tooling. I decided to break up surfaces into thin sections like branches and let the material flow through the mold to create the shape, which is kind of like a basket or a grid, and very three-dimensional."
It was also one of the first times he used 3-D computer modeling, "so for me, it was a very pioneering process and certainly a turning point for our studio," says Grcic.
Four years in the making, Chair_One went on to become a design icon and now resides in the permanent collections of many prestigious museums including MoMA in New York and Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, along with other Grcic pieces, such as his Mayday Lamp, produced for Flos in 1999.
Grcic feels very fortunate to be doing something he loves so passionately and hopes young designers starting out feel the same way. "Some people today think design is all about having fun, but that's not true," he states. "It's hard work, serious work. You have to think not only about the object you're designing, but everything else about it, from how it will be produced to who will be using it, to what happens to it after it goes through its life cycle. So designing is big responsibility. And I believe you can only do it well if you truly enjoy it."