In March this year, Dutch design entrepreneur Casper Vissers, who co-founded Moooi with Marcel Wanders in 2001, made a substantial investment in British brand Minimalux. Having left Moooi in 2015 to pursue other design projects, Vissers was keen to help develop an existing design brand.
It’s a radical departure: Moooi, after all, has always been an exercise in unapologetic maximalism, while Minimalux has built a reputation designing beautifully crafted pared-down products. ‘The desire is to offer something of substance that transcends trends yet remains relevant, progressive and desirable,’ says Mark Holmes, who co-founded the company in 2009 (see W*120) with partner Tamara Caspersz (the pair were also part of the founding team of Established & Sons). ‘Our formula is to create designs with the most basic forms from premium, lasting materials which, if nurtured over time, can be made eternal,’ she adds.
The brand’s collection is now divided between objects for the home (such as candleholders and clocks) and for the person (pens, jewellery, pill boxes and pocket mirrors). ‘We’ve learnt to remain clear in our message,’ says Holmes. ‘We want to focus on doing just a few things, with 100 per cent commitment.’
And with Vissers’ input, the company’s steady progress has been supercharged. ‘I believe in the people and the concept,’ explains Vissers. ‘We are overloaded with objects, which are often only temporarily good-looking. Most items will have disappeared within five years, not because the product technically fails, but because these items are not strong enough to comply with the next trend.’
Minimalux, says Vissers, is a brand with great potential thanks to its clear focus on the intrinsic value of objects. ‘The ability to know which design can attract attention in the long term fascinates me,’ says Vissers, who has also been working with his wife Suzy on the 2018 launch of his own company – ‘a design brand with a classic touch’, as he describes it.
‘Frame’ lamp, £295, by Minimalux
Vissers’ investment has allowed Minimalux to dramatically increase its output, with a piece launched every few weeks throughout the year. So far, in 2017, it has presented the ‘A’ and ‘O’ candleholders, with conical and spherical silhouettes reminiscent of their namesake characters, and the ‘Rota’ light, featuring a simple cylinder illuminating a series of circular discs.
The latest product to launch sets a new direction for the brand, adding a little humour while sticking to the minimalist mission. ‘We looked at the idea of developing a watch, but saw the market as a little saturated,’ explains Holmes. People now tell the time from a smartphone screen. ‘There’s a whole generation who don’t even wear a watch,’ he points out. With that in mind, they created an accessory with a similar aesthetic to a wristwatch but without the time: ‘Something beautiful and familiar to adorn the wrist, but with a different function.’ It features a nude leather strap and a mirror in lieu of the watch face – Holmes and Caspersz pondered the idea of a watch versus the verb ‘to watch’ one’s reflection, and called it ‘Timeless’.
The brand has also stepped it up a gear with a move to a new HQ in east London, and there will be a new retail space in the Heatherwick Studio-designed Coal Drops Yard development in London’s King’s Cross. Set to open in 2018, it will also house Vissers’ in-the-works brand. When asked what has been the most important moment in the Minimalux history, Holmes is quick to answer: ‘The present moment is the most important. From our very beginning we have been quietly preparing for this moment.’
As originally featured in the October 2017 issue of Wallpaper* (W*223)