Quinze & Milan

Arne Quinze has been self-employed for some ten years or so, working mainly in creating interiors.

By Christian Oosterlinck

Quinze & Milan, or how fast things can suddenly take off

He himself followed a variety of courses at various academies, yet without ever completing a training. In the spring of 1999, he joined up with a friend Yves to set up Quinze & Milan. At the end of August of that year, they presented their first product, a pouffe. More than 1000 of these were sold in two months. Luc De Buyser, with Visa Versa, distributes their work in Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Austria, Spain, Japan, the United States and Australia. There are currently 9 representatives in Germany and 5 in Italy.

Creating interiors continues to be one of their activities. Their philosophy is not of specific rooms, but of total concepts that can be installed anywhere. They can be installed in private homes, catering establishments and public places alike, lor the furniture is durable and easy to clean. In the Netherlands, Jan Des Bouvrie and the Bijenkorf have been good customers since the start, but now things are going much further. For some time now, there have been dealings with the Japanese chain of Muji.

So what started with a pouffe developed into armchairs and sofas for one or more people plus a matching table. At Casa Europea 2001, they showed a complete new line: the bar was set up with a new model of table: austere, colourful, a touch traditional. In December 2001, they plan once again to hold a grand presentation. Not only will they be presenting their lighting system Dark to the public, but also a whole new furniture concept. The lighting collection will consist of some thirty or so models produced in vacuum-drawn polyester. As always, everything is produced in the company's own production unit. That is something Quinze & Milan are proud of: that they are al most the only designers who produce everything under their own management.

lnternationally, next year will see them participating in 10 to 15 trade fairs. Last year, the trade fairs in Milan and New York (ICFF, in association with Export Vlaanderen and VIZO) were particular successes. Looking to the future, they have great expectations for 100% Design in London, Oslo, etc.

The breakthrough has been spectacular especially on the American market. Even Steven Spielberg has placed an impressive order for an imminent film project. But this is not the only contact with the film world: Tele Piu has offered them the opportunity to create an immense set for the Festival of Venice.

They also have contacts with the motor industry. And they have plans for fitting out trailers with their furniture, a new kind of caravan, a design-trailer.  

There is not really any age tag lor their target public, although they themselves call it the new generation. But these are not necessarily young people, just those who are looking lor something different, who are open-minded. They greatly admire English designers such as Dixon. They resolutely want to keep their prices as low as possible. Why should design be the preserve of the wealthy classes?

Camping Lounge Table
Camping Lounge Table

The rapid growth has of course created some problems. After the launch, orders followed sa fast and furious that production had to be adjusted immediately. Greater turnover also means extra expenses. More participation in trade fairs, ordering boxes, printing extra leaflets and brochures. Over just a few months, investments worth around BEF 3 0,000,000 had to be made. The jig for the pouffe cost BEF 2,000,000, but is naw returning a profit. lnvestments had to be made in environmental aspects, since they work with plastics. An extraction system had to be installed.

There is currently a workforce of around ten people and 13 hour working days are not unusual. But particularly with the new lighting collection looming, expansion once again beckons. The factory is at present being extended and the expectation is that when the extension comes into operation, the number of staff will double.

Sa everything is going very fast for Quinze & Milan, reason enough to award them the Henry van de Velde Prize for Young Talent, and, as the icing on the cake, they also take home the Prize for Best Product.