Dezeen Magazine

Stefano Giovannoni

Stefano Giovannoni to launch Qeeboo online design brand in Milan

Milan 2016: Italian designer Stefano Giovannoni has set up a new internet-based plastic furniture brand that he hopes will overcome the "irreconcilable gap" between physical and online retail.

Giovannoni will launch the Italian company, named Qeeboo, during Milan design week next month.

Majority-owned by the designer and backed by a Hong Kong investor, the brand will focus on affordable products that will be primarily sold online and distributed directly to customers.

"It will be not only a completely innovative business model based on web sales in order to reach a wider audience with affordable price," he told Dezeen, "but also a totally different company, simplifying the process based on a minimum structure, and outsourcing logistics and distribution."

The Milan-based designer believes that the current approach to retail, where many furniture companies use e-commerce as a "complementary channel" to physical stores, is outdated. Last year he told Dezeen that most design brands will disappear within five years.

"For traditional companies there is an irreconcilable gap between retail and web sales," said Giovannoni. "While, in our case, we want to establish a more honest relationship with the retail system based on transparency and openness."

He is the latest designer to develop a new business model for selling products. Claesson Koivisto Rune's Smaller Objects brand allows designers to earn 75 per cent of the proceeds of their products, while Philippe Starck's TOG company offers a completely customisable range of furniture.

Qeeboo will offer products by designers including Andrea Branzi, Marcel Wanders, Richard Hutten, Nika Zupanc, Front and Giovannoni himself. He describes the first range of designs as "pop objects" and "non-bourgeois".

"I selected those designers whose languages I felt the closest to mine," he said. "Designers who have the ability to define the world of their objects through a narrative poetry based on iconic objects that could communicate all their emotional values."

Over the past six months, Qeeboo has invested over €1 million (£790,000) to develop and engineer 25 products, building 22 moulds for production.

After launching in Europe, Giovannoni plans to expand into Asia – particularly markets in China and South Korea.

"A management structure reduced in size, combined with outsourced logistics and warehouses, will allow us to be more competitive in prices and to operate globally, in Asia as well as in Europe," he said.

Giovannoni works as an industrial and interior designer, and architect. He specialises in injection-, rotation- and blow-moulded plastic designs, and has created pieces for brands including Alessi, Herman Miller and Moooi.

Giovannoni's career was launched in 1989 with his first design, the Girotondo tray for Alessi. He believes that his 1998 Bombo stool for Magis is the world's most copied product.