Renowned Designer, Christopher Guy was at Covet House Porto on a sunny day to talk about inspiration, crafts, the beginning of his career, also the famous Chris-X leg design and technology as a challenge. Let’s discover some thoughts and ideas of Christopher Guy’s brand founder and head-designer!
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Coveted Magazine (CM): What inspires you in the city of Porto?
Christopher Guy (CG): There’s a sense of design, knowledge and skills, which I can see through the group here (Covet Group) that has really put it into practice. We always talk about design from Italy, and why from Italy? Maybe because Michelangelo came from Italy, so it’s very easy to associate design with Italy, you know, associating design with Porto… and Porto is now getting these little and larger companies as a centre of design and creativity, which is why I am here today!
Image Retrieved from Obegi Home
CM: What do you think about Covet House project?
CG: I’m very jealous. I said: “When I’ve gone wrong in life!?” It’s a beautiful house and it’s lovely to see. It’s in the perfect environment as well: you’ve got water, you’ve got vegetation, and a beautiful house which showcases all the work. It creates the fabulous backdrop for a showcase. When I did The Georgian restaurant in Harrods, the reason why I wanted to do it was because it was a great showcase, it was a great environment, so whenever you have the opportunity to devote your products into a great environment it makes it all worthwhile.
Image Retrieved from Lege Alto
CM: The Handcrafted process was on spotlight at Maison et Objet in January, what do you think about the role of crafts in interior design?
CG: With handcrafted, you can change directions very quickly and that is the great opportunity that it offers. Once upon a time, you would have a sofa with a matching coffee table, everything would look the same, like in a bedroom, the headboard, the side night stands will look the same. Now design is all about how to get movement and how to get variation, so you look at different materials and the combination, but somehow they will work together. To do that, craftsmanship works so much better as a result.
Image Retrieved from Upscale Living Magazine
CM: Your design includes the Chris-X leg design, how would you describe it to a design lover?
CG: The Chris-X came about when I was looking at dining chairs. When you look at a dining chair… they always tend to be designed from the front, you see a little head on the front of the dining, when they slip under the table you see the front head. That part, that top third was important, but you mainly see the backs. If you saw the film Gone With The Wind, and you look at Scarlett O’Hara, you had that waistline … you have the shoulders, you have the waistline, but then I needed a leg, and if I had gone down to a single leg it wasn’t gonna give me the stability that I was looking for. So I thought “well, I need a Chris-X leg, a cross leg”. Then it happens to match my name, so Chris-X!
Christopher Guy’s Iconic Chris-X Chairs
CM: Which major international events do you attend/follow to get all the latest novelties?
CG: You have two main American shows: High Point Market and Las Vegas Market. Las Vegas deals more the South American Market, High Point still more about the rest of the country, and then in Europe people always talk about either Maison et Objet, which is more for the decorative items and for the furnishings, which turns us down to Milan (iSaloni). I think you can learn a little bit from each one of them for various reasons, but you don’t probably need to go to them every single year, there’s always gonna be something new. I mean, as long as you get to go to these every couple of years, you’re pretty much following the trends. But some of the times is the smaller artisans. That’s where the hard work comes in design, those individuals, the smaller companies are able to produce individual items and the company isn’t large enough the be able to do some of the shows.
Image Retrieved from Archiexpo
CM: Who or what inspired you to grow personally and professionally?
CG: I think what inspired initially was how to put a roof over your head and how to feed yourself, that’s a good start. And from everything else, you want to do something which gives you passion, I can never do anything without passion if I don’t have the passion I can’t-do. So, when I originally started, I’ve had discovered about English classic furniture, like Chippendale’s furniture, how they were made. (…) I remember I tell my brother, I said: “Richard, you’re looking for something to do, here is a business for you, to do that.” He was doing all the classic furniture from Chippendale and I said, well I’m gonna start my own mirror collection, and I remember we did a show at the same time in Madrid, our first show. He outsold me ten to one. Everyone was wanting to buy classic furniture no one wanted to buy my mirrors, so I knew that I had to work a little bit harder on what I was doing, but still, even when he was outselling me ten to one I was still not wanting to go back classic furnishings.
Image Retrieved from Archiexpo
CM: What happened next? What was your move?
CG: If you believe in something you try, you have to put a lot of hours into it and you really have to believe. You need to be unique in the industry, but unique in a sense that it has to be still marketable. Sometimes you go to a design school and someone has won an award for some fancy chair and from one side you could say the chair looks great, it’s like a sculpture, but is it marketable as a product? So you have to draw the line, how do you make that difference? When is it marketable? When is it a unique piece? So when I started creating one of the lifetime lessons, it is about how multiple pieces fit together. That’s actually a lot more difficult than doing mirror frames, cause when I was doing mirror frames it is one piece of design, no one fills a room with mirrors, but if you fill in with furnishings, then they do. So then how do they’ll work together without looking the same? And that’s when you need the different materials and different processes to do that. In my case, we’re manufacturing everything a 100% in the house, so you have to learn a lot of techniques and they cannot look the same as the technique in the other room.
Image Retrieved from Style City
CM: How do you see the brand Christopher Guy in the future, 10 years from now?
CG: Hell, actually we just celebrated our 10th anniversary this year. The design is not the challenge, manufacturing is not the challenge, the challenge is distribution, and that is why we’ve been working in technology. Cause, last 10 years everything has changed. 20 years ago China brought new challenges and new possibilities to the market and the industry have changed, anyone who is now in the traditional business, I mean, many companies have closed down because frankly, the younger market is not interested in traditional. Even the fashion houses had to change. If you’re Channel… I see that sometimes… they sell the purses in sandwich boxes, in plastic sandwich boxes, which Coco Channel would have died if she ever saw that, but they are trying to cater for the new market. So everyone is saying: “Here’s a new market, how do you cater for that market?” Well technology and conveniences are certainly central to that, how do you make sure that your costume, your pricing is in the right range, so there’s a lot of little things that are needed to be able to success moving ahead. But design uniqueness, service and convenience. If you maintain those, then you’ll have a business in 10, 20 and beyond.
“The design is not the challenge, manufacturing is not the challenge, the challenge is distribution” – Christopher Guy
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