Edition 20 – a new site that displays 20th-century design classics from the world of furniture and interiors which are still being produced – was launched over Easter this year after 12 long months of hard, but passionate, work by Munich based Robert Stephan.
The site offers a comprehensive and free research platform for architects, private property owners, interior designers and all other aficionados of classic design. Furniture and design pieces can by searched for by Theme, Designer, Style, or Product Group, making it a fast and fun way to search for design classics.
Five questions put to Robert Stephan:
What is it that makes 20th-century design classics so fascinating?
RS: Essentially, 20th-century design classics are conceptually timeless. The year in which a piece was created may lie a decade back or – in the odd case – a century or more, and still such a classic retains its modern appeal! Those of us who resist the temptation of short-lived fads and instead opt for design classics are effectively choosing the collector’s items of tomorrow.
Why was edition20’s focus placed on design classics still in production and not simply on vintage designs in general?
RS: Unfortunately, a great may vintage designs are extremely hard to locate, having originally been produced only as limited editions. And if one does show up at an auction, then it often goes for an outrageous price to some aficionado prepared to pay anything for it. Design classics, on the other hand, which are still (or once again) being produced by authorized premium vendors, continue to meet the standards of workmanship demanded of them by their original creators. And at a reasonable price, too! To illustrate the point – in 2005, Christie’s auctioned off a 1949 Carlo Molina table for a then-record $3.8 million. An almost identical piece, however, can be had today from the Italian manufacturers Zanotta, who have re-edited it under licence. This means you can secure the same design – free of signs of wear and tear – produced to the highest standards by premium vendors and even choosing the colour of the table base yourself – and all at a fraction of the auction house price.
Serpentine sofa by Vladimir Kagan
Why doesn’t edition20 feature any design classic copies? Wouldn’t these be much more affordable?
RS: The reason is clear – in more than ten years, I have yet to come across a copy which comes anywhere near matching the formal and functional demands placed on the original creation. What might at first glance appear a fair price to the purchaser is anything but. Design classics produced under the original licence excel by virtue of their superior quality, durability and lasting value.
Fontana Arte lamp by Gio Ponti
How did the idea of edition20 come about?
RS: My work as an interior designer has given me first-hand practical experience of the comparative merits of interiors research platforms. While there are a number of perfectly decent on-line furniture catalogues, the researcher still has to wade through reams of indiscriminate data without any practical guidance or inspiration. Existing portals for design classics present a different problem – users are often disappointed to find that a large proportion of the items displayed are no longer available. So what was needed was a well-constructed and easy-to-use research platform for design classics which have recently become available. Which is what edition20 is.
Eileen Gray Bibendum chair
What do you want edition20 to achieve?
I want edition20 to become the first address anyone turns to for 20th-century design classics still in production, whether they’re looking for actual items or just information or inspiration. edition20 is there for both specialists and absolutely anyone else interested in the exciting world of design.
Ardea chair by Carlo Molino
Images all care of Edition20, and are just a tiny portion of the designs to be found on the site. Happy hunting!