2021.05.07    -    EPISODE #12

George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg

Amagansett | Founding partners of Yabu Pushelberg

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A very special episode set in Amagansett, New York. The two Canadian designers, founding partners of Yabu Pushelberg welcome us in their beach house, releasing an interview about their background, design identity, with a special focus on the Surf sofa.

2021
07.05

EPISODE #12

George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg

Amagansett | Founding partners of Yabu Pushelberg

A very special episode set in Amagansett, New York. The two Canadian designers, founding partners of Yabu Pushelberg welcome us in their beach house, releasing an interview about their background, design identity, with a special focus on the Surf sofa.

1 | Your studio is an internationally renowned design company. How did you start?

Glenn: You know, it's funny… international design company, it comes instantly, right!? But in reality, we were kind of slow burn. Step-by-step, brick-by-brick. [...]. Our passion is not business, our passion is design, and from that you get recognized. You start with very simple projects, and as you learn your craft you get invited to do more complex things.

2 | How did you get to where you are today? What is the secret behind your success?

2 | How did you get to where you are today? What is the secret behind your success?

George: It's the curiosity that drives us. In the beginning it was just George and Glenn doing their thing. All of a sudden we started hiring some staff, and we realized that we had a responsibility as an employer. So we thought that we better start making some money so we could pay people a salary and be consistent with that. [...]
Glenn: I think the one thing that we are good at is orchestrating designers.

3 | Which architects have inspired you?

George: Pure modernism was happening at the time we were growing up in Toronto, and one of the last buildings that Mies van der Rohe designed happened to be in Toronto - the Toronto-Dominion Centre. It was a more refined Seagram Tower, the epitome of Bauhaus design, which he's also known for, but it had a better set back, it had towers of different sizes. Everything was perfect. That really inspired us.

Everything was designed down to the furniture, which is what we're now doing in our own work. We're working on the design of the furniture, the interiors, the architecture, the landscape, and the unit form sometimes.

4 | Do you believe that values empowered by the Molteni Group (family-run business, tradition, heritage) are important in the design world?

George: Molteni is a very special company, still a family-run business. They're very proud of their ability to engineer things to the ultimate best detail. And because they are a family business, not just part of a hedge fund that bought an “Italian” company, they still have that passion and drive. [...] Molteni steadfastly stand by the principles of their DNA. And therefore, the product is very, very timeless.

Glenn: There’s rationalism, but there’s also a sense of intrinsic beauty. And those are principles that we all know, and that we abide to. The attention to detail, the stylized, beautiful things.

5 | Which Molteni&C|Dada pieces are your favorites and why?

5 | Which Molteni&C|Dada pieces are your favorites and why?

Glenn: it's hard to pick just one thing from Molteni, as there are so many! You have the beautiful kitchens, the Gio Ponti reproduction pieces. [...] ! They are pieces of furniture than you can live with forever. They aren’t just temporary; they create their own history.
George: What appeals to us most from Molteni is the cleverness. This cleverness is appropriate to our needs today. No tricky details or tricky engineering, just purposeful cleverness. [...]

6 | How did you start working with Molteni&C?

Glenn: We met Carlo Molteni over fifteen years ago. We sent Mr. Molteni a sketch and said that we were coming to Italy in three weeks… so let's talk about the sketch! And he was so gregarious! Three weeks later, he had the island proudly displayed in his showroom.

George: I love the fact that he has that drive and ambition and love that he said, “Let's do it!” because he loves challenges.

Glenn: That was our first dip into making products, through the opportunity that Carlo gave us inadvertently. And a little bit later Carlo said, “Why don't you design me a sofa?” but we weren't ready for that just yet.

7 | Eventually you were, and you collaborated with Molteni&C for your Surf sofa, which was presented at the 2019 edition of Salone del Mobile in Milan.

George: Yes, but we waited a few more years. It came about when he asked us what we thought of the new Molteni sofa by Jean Nouvel, a lovely leather sling with laser cut triangles on a steel frame. It was really beautiful, but I lost the button to my back pocket while sitting on it, as it got stuck in the laser cuts. When I told him, he just said, “If you're so good, you design a new one.” [...]

8 | How did you come up with its unique design?

Glenn: When we started thinking about Surf, we were looking out at this beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean, thinking about the surf, the way the sand moves back and forth, the way the dunes move. Such fluidity was our inspiration for this. The sofa naturally fits in here, because it is responsive to what's out there. And that relationship between the inside and outside is very important to us. That is reflected in a lot of our designs.

George: I think what is really, really unique about Surf in the context of modern contemporary Italian sofa design, is that it sort of breaks the rules, the conventions of modularity in a sofa. And that's really important to the DNA of Molteni. Flexibility is key in a lot of their products. It is modular, but it doesn’t feel that way. It’s more amorphic and a bit more central. It's an alternative.

9 | Post-lockdown, living spaces have a whole new function and impact on our everyday lives. What was you experience and what are your thoughts for the future?

George: Our lives have definitely changed, in a lot of positive ways as well. We're looking at it philosophically, as a glass half full, making the best of what we can. [...] While allowed to socialize in a safe group, you need a sort of camaraderie in the furniture, pieces that really engage people and bring them together. Like Sofa for example; it's used for so many purposes throughout the day, through the week. It's become a social center, the social town square in your own living room. So, on a macro level, it helps.

Glenn: Overall, you become more reflective and you value your friendships, and the small groups of people you may have together. And it creates more meaning of life. And I think that's a good thing.

Products on stage

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