|FOCUS: MILAN FURNITURE FAIR|
e15: Don’t Do The Doppelganger
If being imitated is a sign of success in furniture design, then German manufacturer e15 is a shooting star. Wandering the aisles of the Cologne furniture fair, the ICFF in New York or shopping at high-end retailers in London, Paris or Berlin, you’ll find look-alikes of e15’s geometric, unpretentious and award-winning products. Naturally, if you take a closer look, you’ll also notice the differences: the e15 signature style of solid and robust, yet elegant wood dining or office tables, stackable side tables, beds and benches stands out as a result of its material quality alone, the richness of the oiled finishes and the unique, pristine, almost purist designs. To further distinguish their products, e15 have begun to collaborate with artists. The New York photographer Mark Borthwick placed selected pieces of furniture on vacant city streets surrounding the Jakob J. Javits Convention Center for a series of photographs titled Furnitured Ways. Paris-based German fashion designer Bernhard Willhelm dressed up the TA01 Ponte table with a colourful polka-dot pattern borrowed from his current collection. e15’s latest plan is to expand into a neighbouring design field, with a table lamp created by London artist Mark Holmes scheduled to be presented at this year’s Salone.
During the company’s first presentation at the furniture fair in Milan last year, they showed a new series of storage furniture made out of grained oak by Hans de Pelsmacker. The Belgian artist and furniture designer, who teaches sculpture at Gent University, formulates sculptural principals to the concept of concealed storing by creating solitary objects, which provide shelf storage without direct visual access. Though e15’s General Manager and co-owner Philipp Mainzer has designed the bulk of the company’s most significant pieces, like the recently released outdoor series or the unique Backenzahn chair-cum-side-table, e15 always made sure there’s a constant influx of creativity. This year Belgian architect Philippe Allaeys created a flexible, modern range of furniture and accessories made from heat-treated European oak, which happened to be his first commission by a manufacturer ever. e15 was originally founded in London – the name refers to the founders’ Hackney post code – by architect Mainzer and trained tailor Florian Asche in 1995. In 2001, after a three-year stint in New York, e15 started to work in the small German town of Oberursel, near Frankfurt, and quickly developed into an international brand.