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Model 03 Armchair: An Interview with the Designer

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Ed Hawes
Model 03 Armchair: An Interview with the Designer

Hello, Model 03 armchair. As we do with all new products, we sat down with the designer to run through the product in more detail. Only this time, we got hold of our co-founder, Kieran Hewkin, to get his thoughts on what we were trying to achieve with the Model 03 armchair, how it differs from our other armchair collections, and what challenges we had to face when it came to launch.

Q: What are we trying to achieve with the Model 03 armchair?

K: It started as a grassroots idea, which came out of the workshop in Portugal. The team who looked after building the Model 03 collection, all day every day, really liked the idea of doing an armchair. It’s a popular product among staff.

It wasn’t until Leca, our team leader, went ahead and made a prototype that we thought we’re really onto something here. We realised that the Model 03 armchair is a nice piece by itself which can sit outside the Model 03 collection as a standalone item. 

It was Leca and the factory’s tenacity to develop a product which they thought would be a nice addition, rather than a visionary moment from our design team. Overtime, we also noticed our customers were asking for an armchair in the style of the Model 03 collection. It would have been silly not to listen to them, so it made complete sense to push ahead with the product. As soon as we had space in our new product development process, we scheduled it in. 

Q: What inspired the Model 03 armchair & does this differ from our other armchair offerings?

K: Obviously it’s inspired by the Model 03 corner sofa or modular sofa, but that’s not to say it was always going to be a nice armchair. 

Occasional chairs and armchairs are slightly different; an occasional chair can be a standalone piece, which is where the Model 03 sits nicely. It’s got enough detail to it, it’s big, boxy and soft, which collectively makes it a standalone piece. It doesn’t have to sit within the range.

The Model 01 armchair, for example, is an armchair that matches the sofa. It’s not a not a statement piece by itself. The Model 03 armchair, however, is one of those rare pieces within a collection which stands out by itself. We wanted to ensure the armchair could be used and enjoyed as a standalone occasional chair without having to own the rest of the collection. 

The design of the Model 03 lends itself to being a statement chair by itself. It’s got big surface areas, a bright colour palette, and big wide set arms, so you can imagine at a party, one person sat on it with another sat on the arm, a tray of food leant on the other arm.

It’s much more than an armchair, per se.  

Q: How long has it taken to design the armchair, from concept through to launch?

K: It was our fastest ever launch – another benefit of a ground-up approach – taking only 28 days from the point at which we gave the green light, through to putting it on the website. Turns out when the makers go at it, it’s incredibly fast!

Q: What is the most challenging aspect of launching an armchair in an already designed and established collection?

K: I’d say there were two challenges:

  1. How many armchairs do you make? We love the item, but will everyone else. 
  2. How do you make sure you do justice to, and elevate, the collection further, rather than dilute it. We want to make sure we’re not just creating and launching products for the sake of it, we want to ensure it’s a great addition to our product offering. We want to be careful we don’t just add stuff into the Swyft offering because we can. We want to continue setting the bar high. 


Armchairs Model 03

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