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ACHIEVING CREATIVE EQUILIBRIUM: GamFratesi and GUBI

July 24, 2015


For GamFratesi and Jacob Gubi Olsen, what happens outside the workshop directly impacts the creative processes behind each project. As advocates of quality design, three leading names behind the GUBI brand sat down with us at SUITE NY to chat about their flourishing partnership.

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Founded in 1967 in Copenhagen by Gubi and Lisbeth Olsen, manufacturer GUBI was passed onto son Jacob Gubi Olsen in 2001, who is currently the brand’s Chief Creative Officer. “Within the last three years, we really took a different approach to our brand,” said Olsen, “We find it quite inspiring to work with designers from different periods and different cultures, focusing on the European culture and the American culture.”

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Among the renowned names who currently designs for GUBI’s collection are Greta Grossman, Mathieu Matégot, and Jacques Adnet. Olsen continued to diversify this growing portfolio when he met contemporary husband and wife design duo, GamFratesi, at ICFF ‘04 in New York. The pair was working on the initial concept for a piece now known as the Masculo Lounge, launched by GUBI in 2009. “At the time they were students…they only had two square meters to come up with some kind of a playful object. I could see that it had something that was quite iconic in the expression, a nice interpretation of a Danish classic from Hans J. Wegner. Ever since then, we felt the chemistry was strong.”

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Known for their Scandinavian influences and minimalist approach, GamFratesi employs both simplicity and functionalism while also creating strong emotional tie-ins with their products by weaving storytelling with concept. Founded in 2006 by Stine Gam and Enrico Fratesi, GamFratesi Design Studio is a joint business owned by the young Danish-Italian couple, committed to each other both in life and in work. “It’s impressive that it works fantastically,” said Fratesi, “We find the right combination and balance in between life and work…in this way, we can combine through the design [using] our background[s].”

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The Masculo Lounge did more than just open the door for the up-and-coming designers to have their products manufactured through GUBI. For Stine Gam and Enrico Fratesi, the collaboration provided them with the wherewithal to place their focus on what mattered the most; creative freedom. “The best part in being an established design house is the possibility to do more,” said Fratesi, “There is the possibility to invest in a family [of products] which can be a big series or extension of items…so instead of working on new products, we end up focusing on our best product, and now it’s working very well.”

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Not far from following the success of the Masculo Lounge, came the Beetle Chair collaboration, which made its market debut in 2013. The chair was originally born with a different base, with its prototype later being shown at a Danish exhibition called Mindcraft in 2012. Seeing the potential in this design, Olsen approached GamFratesi with a compromising solution that fit both GUBI’s aesthetics, as well as provided the two designers the opportunity to expand the item into a family of products.

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Today, the Beetle Chair series includes the original chair design, a Beetle Counter and Bar Stool, and more recently in 2015, GUBI added the Beetle Lounge to the collection. This family-oriented strategy, which Olsen describes as relating to “the same language as the Beetle Chair,” was also applied to the Paper Table and TS Table, which have grown to include new styles such as a coffee and console table in the series.

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“What GUBI did was give us space for our process,” said Gam, “When we work, we work very close with artisans and are very focused on the details and the handcrafting of the product.” The same sentiment is also shared by Olsen, who is proud of the partnership to date and the future that it holds for both the company and the designers. “I like their approach to design,” remarked Olsen, “The language they have, it’s very adaptable to our collection…speaking with a classic language, but still being iconic. They really understand and appreciate the same values.”

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For both GUBI and GamFratesi, creative equilibrium extends beyond the partnership. Quality design and art is an ongoing relationship that draws influences from a comfortable balance of both individual and collective contributions, classic and contemporary elements, Danish and Italian traditions, work as well as life.

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