What’s behind the Australian visit?
We are touring Australia and Asia to show the products we presented at the Milan Furniture Fair. They are the latest innovations from Rolf Benz for 2011/12.
What are you most excited about?
There is a trend towards real luxury products. So, in Milan we presented an incredibly beautiful, sensual and slightly vintage-inspired sofa in a vintage-look leather called the Mio. It is quite innovative for us because it is completely different in terms of comfort and design. It is something that talks to your heart – a very loungey sofa.
You are renowned for function – so is there anything new there?
We introduced the Volta. It is a sofa with which you can change the position of the seat – so you can position it to watch television or turn it around to face a window overlooking the garden or dining room. It is very flexible. This flexibility is a trend we feel is very strong in the market.
Does this hint at any new lifestyle trends?
The important thing for customers is that they have multi-use of the one piece of furniture. We have already released the Plura, where the customers can have a really formal sofa but at the same time change the sofa into something functional, like a ‘relax chair’. So, the Volta follows that drive for multi-use.
Are there any other strong lifestyle trends?
Furniture that can adapt to people’s living arrangements. Take the Rolf Benz Cosmo – it is dedicated to people who move from one place to another, from a smaller place to a bigger place or the other way around. The furniture can adapt to where the people are living. You can change the whole shape of the sofa, position modules separately or add different elements.
Are you seeing any buying trends?
There is quite a big demand on our real high-end products, such as the Dono, Plura and now the Mio. The Mio has already been placed in more than 300 showrooms throughout the world. It is incredible – that has never happened before. Organic design is also a trend that is coming back, especially in sofas (we have the Onda sofa and the 4500).
Are you seeing any major colour trends?
The vintage look is big. We use natural colours with a wax to give a vintage effect. In terms of actual colour, the latest are quite strong, such as: ‘petrol’, different shades of purple, orange and lemon shades in natural fabrics. There is also a trend for different textural fabric structures, such as wool. In leather, people are still looking to cream, brown and grey shades.
Anything new in research at the moment?
Our research and development department has 50 employees and throughout history this has been very important to us. To be honest, however, new developments are secret until maybe two weeks before the products are presented even to us. Everything is done secretly. However, customers can expect a lot in terms of functionality: a new functional sofa and functionality in our ‘relax chairs’ will be expanded.
Where is Australia placed on the global Rolf Benz front?
Australia for us is the fastest growing market at the moment in the world. And we are present now in all major cities in Australia – Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Why are we the fastest growing market?
Firstly, because we have very competent dealers; secondly, I feel there is a big trend to appreciate high-end, quality products, design products and, maybe, design made in Europe; and, lastly, our furniture fits perfectly in the contemporary architecture that is happening in Australia. Contemporary architecture worldwide still follows the Bauhaus philosophy, which had its roots in 1920s Germany, and this period is an essential part of our design.
Perth: Ultimo Interiors ultimointeriors.com.au
Information, visit singaporeartmuseum.sg