PLANK is known for producing distinctive furniture pieces with universal appeal. At Milan Furniture Fair 2014, we meet with PLANK’s General Manager, Michael Plank, who reveals some of the thinking behind the products. Alice Blackwood reports.
June 11th, 2014
PLANK may be best known for its angular Myto Chair by Konstantin Grcic. It’s an almost sculptural, yet highly functional and comfortable, stackable cantilever chair that, in many ways, represents PLANK’s vision for simplicity of production and design-led ideation.
A multi-generational family-owned company, PLANK was founded by General Manager Michael Plank’s great grandfather, a cabinet-maker, who kicked off the business in the 1950s thanks to a mass order for 150 chairs.
Current General Manager, Michael Plank, grew up in the company, working in the factory during his summer breaks. Before he’d even considered his future within PLANK, he was full engaged in business and design, studying interior and industrial design, as well as economics.
Bringing with him a new-think approach to design, Michael has shifted the emphasis off production and onto ideas. “Slowly our company has changed from a production intensive company to an ideas-led company,” he explains.
While Michael admits that PLANK inhabits a highly saturated furniture market, the brand has carved out a niche with a particular focus on products with purpose, cultural connections and distinctive aesthetics.
Maintaining a careful balance between inspired designs and commercially viable products is something which comes with experience, says Michael.
If one thinks of it as a line, he says, “then what is behind the line and goes to the world is very commercial. Everything over the line goes into museums.”
The perfect balance? “Getting as close to that line as possible with amazing, distinctive product that has a commercial outlook.”
On PLANK’s collaboration with design stars such as Grcic, Naoto Fukasawa and Ludovica + Roberto Palomba, he says: “As a company you have to have a brief, but we really try to role it into a dialogue with the designers [with whom we work].”
A fairly recently addition to the PLANK portfolio, the Miura table range – originally borne as a small bistro table designed by Grcic – has been extended to encompass a range of sizes.
Now catering for restaurant and outdoor situations, the Miura led the charge at the Milan Furniture Fair, in good company alongside its other counterparts the Monza, Miura stool and more.
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