Housewares Design Awards

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2006 Best in Category: Furniture

Umbra LLC.

Magino Stool

Sleek and simple in its design, the Magino Stool from Umbra is a unique accent furniture item that meets the company credo of providing consumers with home goods that combine design with functionality.

Judges at the 2006 Housewares Design Award also found Magino intriguing and unique and awarded the combination stool/end table magazine rack top honors in the competition’s furniture category. The piece was designed as collaboration between Karim Rashid and Umbra’s design team.

The Magino Stool is made from a thick acrylic, giving the product a high level of strength. The stool’s multiple personalities allow it to be used as a stool, end table and magazine rack, as the inverted folds of its legs are design to accommodate several periodicals.

“To win this award is really an honor,” said Les Mandelbaum, co-founder of Umbra. “We view this as recognition by our peers and by the trade, who really know and understand the investment in time and tooling it takes, along with the risk, when developing a new product in today’s retail environment.”

When speaking of Magino, Mandelbaum noted that the stool captures many of the design sensibilities that go into an Umbra product. “We try and make sure the product is beautiful and works within the home, but consumers are not buying a piece of art,” he said. “The item should be functional, or in the case of Magino, multifunctional and be able to be used multiple ways throughout the home.”

Winning a design award for furniture should further solidify Umbra’s position in the segment. The company, which started with window treatments a quarter-century ago, now boosts a product line that including cutting edge designs in decorative accessories, tabletop, storage and lighting along with a small furniture collection.

“At times we get known for things like the Oh Chair, which Karim did for us more than 10 years ago and has become an icon in our collection,” Mandelbaum said. “The bigger pieces in our line sometimes are given more attention and taken more seriously although furniture is not our core. It is, however, important for us to enter the segment and it helps us expand our brand recognition.”

The relationship between Umbra and Rashid, a world-renowned designer who presented the Keynote Address at the Design Awards Ceremony in New York in January, is long standing. “Karim has a strong understanding of our philosophy of offering products that have great designs, are functional and affordable,” he explained.

While attaching Rashid’s name to a project serves to catch the initial attention of retail buyers, it is not a deal closer, Mandelbaum noted. “They may have some frame of reference about [Rashid], but I don’t think it colors their thinking one way or another,” he said. “Anything you can offer to help people pay greater attention to a product is good, but ultimately the product will have to be one that is saleable to the consumer.”

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