Kelvin Giormani has launched a new series of high quality, fashion-led leather sofas, including ones that let you recline.
27 July 2018
Text by Janice Seow
(Top) Kelvin Ng of Kelvin Giormani (left) has collaborated with Italian designer Michele Mantovani (right) on a new series of fine leather sofas. Featured: Manhattan sofa
Kelvin Ng, founder and award-winning chief designer of Hong Kong-based, international brand Kelvin Giormani, has launched a new series of sofas in collaboration with renowned Italian designer Michele Mantovani.
The company’s high quality, fashion-led leather sofas are characterised by their distinctive shapes, as well as their leather crafting details – features that are more commonly found on fine fashion goods like bags and shoes than on furniture
We speak to Kelvin during the launch of the sofas at the brand new OM showroom at 15 Tai Seng Drive, to find out more about his unique design approach.
Can you describe the key characteristics of a Kelvin Giormani sofa?
In terms of design we have two major concepts. One is special shapes – curves, layers… details that are not very commonly seen on a typical contemporary style European sofa.
Another concept is our leather crafting features. We are known for our fashion-driven leather craftmanship, like weaving, perforation and stitching. These are things that you would normally see on fashion goods like shoes, handbags and clothing, but not so much on furniture. We are one of the very few furniture brands to do this.
What are the challenges of incorporating such leather crafting techniques onto sofas?
One challenge is the high cost of workmanship – stitching, weaving and perforation are all expensive to do. Fashion goods have good profit margin, but not furniture. So that means that in Europe, it’s not easy to have a furniture made with so much labour intensive elements and still be priced reasonably.
But it’s different in Asia, particularly in China where labour is fairly low cost but at the same time high quality. As a Hong Kong Chinese-based company with production in China, this is something I can take advantage of. I think China’s really the place to realise my designs.
You’ve just launched a new series of sofas with renowned Italian designer Michele Mantovani. How did that collaboration come about?
Michele is an Italian architect, product designer and interior designer based in Spain, Barcelona. He was introduced to me by my US distributor. Michele designs for a Spanish company producing very high end furniture, which my US partner is also a distributor for.
About one and a half years ago, I told my US distributor that I wanted to broaden my design portfolio. For the last eight years, I’ve been the one designing most of the collection in Kelvin Giormani, and I wanted to bring more design talent, and a greater variety of design, to the brand.
Tell us more about the new sofa designs.
So far, Michele has designed four sofa models for Kelvin Giormani, namely Sahara, Navona, Manhattan and Greg. The first two are electrical motion recliners. The motion mechanisms are from Italy, and of course, the designs are produced in my factory in China.
The other two models are stationary products – Manhattan has a special shape, is modular, and features decorative parts. Greg has a unique little angle, and a functional tray at the side, so it’s a little bit uneven but at the same time it’s functional and special.
In my discussions with Michele, I asked him to incorporate certain shapes that are not commonly found in the market, but to also consider the functionality. But also, these designs are in a clean, minimal style, which opens us up even more to the European market.
Estende Recliner, one of the new models designed by Kelvin Ng of Kelvin Giormani
What are some of the lifestyles changes that you’ve observed and how are Kelvin Giormani designs evolving to meet these new lifestyles and needs?
You know, it’s now about motion. These days, people, especially the younger generation, don’t like to sit upright. When they watch TV, they’re almost in the sleeping position. So that means that as an end goal, sitting has to be more free. The sofa has to offer more sitting choices yet be stylish.
This is an interesting change for Kelvin Giormani. Before, I was reluctant to venture into motion recliners because motion requires mechanisms, which I felt could restrict my creativity in terms of adding different shapes, forms and details to my sofas. But three years ago, my US distributor told me that there was a growing demand for higher end motion sofas in a market that was previously led by medium to lower end sofas that were comfortable but not very stylish.
It took me one year to develop my first motion sofa. I made it such that you were able to watch TV and fully recline in the sofa, which is not easy because usually when the recliner is fully extended, you’re watching the ceiling instead of the TV!
I think we want to continue to go in this direction. We want to create more function and motion, but at the same time, we will stay firm in our ideology of incorporating nice shapes, forms and leather crafting details onto our designs.
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