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The Marset Story

In Cubes Indesign C68, we spoke to Catalan designer Xavier Mañosa about his designs for Spanish lighting manufacturer Marset. Here, Luo Jingmei finds out more about the company and its expansion plans from Marset’s area sales manager Mariano Acón, who recently visited the Foundry showroom.

The Marset Story

Tell us about the origins of Marset.

Marset started as a foundry in 1942. They were working with iron and metal to make doors and windows, and so on. [They also made] lamps in the traditional way. In the last 15 years, they saw that design was starting to be very important in Spain so they decided to focus on [modern] lighting design. We like to say we are an old company because we have a background of 50 years, but at the same time we are a young company in terms of design. Marset is a completely family run company. It was created by Francisco Marset, and now the grandchildren – the two Marset brothers Javier and Carlos – are in charge of the company.

Atlas lamp

What are the key Marset products?

One of the key products is Atlas, a polycarbonate lamp. It’s a combination of the technical and the creative. It’s almost ten years old but is still in production and we still sell a lot of it. In the last few years, our Discocó pendant lamp by Christophe Mathieu has become an iconic product of Marset. Luckily for us, Marset’s lights have become more known worldwide and now we have other products that are [recognisably from] Marset [such as Apparatu’s Pleat Box lamp].

Discocó pendant lamp

What is your job scope in Marset?

Well, I’m in charge of sales in France, Belgium, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Oceania.

Where is Marset’s best market?

Marset’s best market used to be Spain until five years ago during the recession. Marset then made the decision to focus the sales on export. Our turnover last year was the best ever and now 70 per cent of our sales is from around the world, with [the rest coming] from Spain. Our best markets are countries like Denmark, Germany, France, and three years ago, we [started] working with a subsidiary in the USA, which has been really positive.

Pleat Box lamp

How about the Asian market?

I think it’s a market we want to push right now and one [which] we also need to improve in. In the past years we’ve started to consolidate the sales in the markets closer to us. At the moment we have the sales very well consolidated in Europe, and in the USA, so we are thinking that Marset has to go a step forward into the Middle East, Asia… that’s why [in recent years] I’ve been trying to come a couple of times to Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan…

Pleatbox lamp

Do you have a certain brand strategy in which you want to market the brand’s products in Asia?

Yes. We think we need to focus on some key markets at the moment that are more important, where we already have a presence: Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Korea. After concentrating on these five markets we can then spread to other parts of Asia, like China, where we are [now] working with a Spanish company that is very famous in China to promote the Marset [brand] there.

Scotch Club lamp

There are a lot of modern lighting companies worldwide. How does Marset differentiate itself?

We like to think we are a very Mediterranean company. One thing about Marset is we think we are a medium-sized company trying to grow bigger so we like to say we are innovative. [Being] innovative means you have to rely on young people, like in this case, Xavier Mañosa has done a fantastic thing with the new lamps (Pleat Box and Scotch Club). We also have [other] new designers that are not at the moment known as the big names of design, but we trust them to give Marset freshness.

Scotch Club lamp

Going back to Spain, the crisis has been going for quite a while. What do you feel personally about the crisis’ affect on the design market and do you see it improving?

It has affected many companies like Marset in the furniture business that used to work a lot in the domestic markets; five years ago we had problems with employment, and projects and construction of hotels and shops stopped. Luckily for us Marset has a very good financial [status] so we can go to other countries. But also, a company like Marset is very well known in Barcelona so in situations like this where there are [fewer] new projects, interior designers and architects try to work with companies they rely on [like us]. Last year we started to [get more] projects and we are very optimistic about the situation for this year.

Marset is carried in Singapore by Foundry.

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