Since he founded the Magni Home Collection 14 years ago, James Magni has had ambitious designs for his furnishings. The Los Angeles–based interior designer–cum–furniture maker likens his company’s craftsmanship to the early work of such famed Italian design houses as Gucci and Prada, whose first goods were handmade by small groups of artisans. Magni’s newest pieces—a dozen introduced over the past year—are consistent with the handwork approach and modern elegance he is known for, yet they also embody an edginess that challenges convention.
The Chiesa desk, for example, is covered entirely in silver leaf and features stainless-steel feet and cast-glass side panels illuminated by LEDs. “I like to bring components from the past and add something new and fresh,” he says. “The modern LED lighting gives it a contemporary edge and makes it glow, and the silver leafing is one of those techniques that has been around forever but still looks relevant today.” Also available in a familiar-but-fresh leaf finish is the sleek-lined Agnes armchair. Agnes’ 22-inch-deep seat and lumbar support, Magni says, are ideal for reclining after a long meal. Another new armchair, Valentino, has stainless-steel “cuff links” on its stained-oak arms and legs, and what the designer describes as “a very 1960s Italian kind of mentality.”
The entire 75-piece Magni Home Collection (priced from $1,500 to $25,000) ranges from dining tables and sofas to case goods and rugs; lighting is forthcoming in June. Several of Magni’s pieces can be customized to meet individual needs, and many are designed to be environmentally friendly. For example, he gives certain items pressed-bamboo cores, uses only low-VOC lacquers, and incorporates into his creations reconstituted veneers made from fast-growing trees such as poplar. “There are so many ways,” he says, “to make furniture that is green without feeling like you’re making a sacrifice.”
Sacrifice, incidentally, seems to be something his company has been able to avoid. “[Last year] was a terrible year for so many people, but we were very fortunate: It was our strongest year ever, mostly due to interior-design projects in places like Moscow and Seoul,” says Magni, adding that he has opened showrooms in Moscow, Chicago, Dallas, and New York in the past 12 months. “That kind of exposure to other parts of the world, where you can feel so out of your comfort zone, makes the common ground stand out. The things that always translate no matter what environment you are in are craftsmanship and quality.”
Magni Home Collection, 310.623.1623, www.magni.com