Established & sons burnt brightly before almost burning out. now new management and a creative old hand are out to prove the brand can deliver.
Upstairs at the east London HQ of British furniture brand Established & Sons, Sebastian Wrong crosses his long legs and perches on a ‘Quilt’ sofa, designed for the brand by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. Assistants are sent away so we can talk alone. ‘I’m not Kim Jongun,’ he laughs, although, coincidentally, the sofa is a shade of North Korean red, and the company Wrong co-founded, left and rejoined last spring has had as tumultuous a past as many a wayward state.
During this year’s Salone, in his resumed role as Established & Sons’ design director, Wrong is launching the brand’s first new collection for six years. It’s a big moment for the rock ‘n’ roll furniture manufacturer, which, since its birth 13 years ago, has suffered the departure of its five founders (former chairman Angad Paul committed suicide in 2015), huge debts, loss of direction and near extinction, before being brought back from the brink last year by three new owners.
Five new pieces, including the handblown ‘Filigrana’ light by Wrong, will be unveiled within the Fiera. Two sofas by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec and Konstantin Grcic are headline acts, there’s a light by young Swiss designer Dimitri Bähler, and a chair by octogenarian Italian Mauro Pasquinelli. They represent a fresh start, says Wrong, and signal a move into ‘more accessible, competitively priced, relevant products’.
Almost the opposite, then, to what E&S became known for when, in 2005, it wowed Milan with a daring debut collection of eight pieces by Britain’s best designers, including Amanda Levete’s ‘Chester’ sofa, the limitededition ‘Aqua’ table by the late Zaha Hadid, and the ‘Zero-In’ table by Barber & Osgerby. E&S’ original mission – to make everything in the UK with Paul’s steelmaking family firm, Caparo – challenged the traditional (mainly Italian) production landscape.
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