Staxx is a lifestyle brand founded in Shanghai by Richard Langone and Leilei Peng. Combining their mutual expertise in interior design, furniture, and architecture, Staxx develops unique, high-quality, and environmentally-friendly products for modern living. Their first collection features a series of furniture products that assemble without tools using interlocking wood panels. We spoke with Langone about his experience developing the brand, his philosophy on design, and his thoughts on the Chinese market.
Staxx是由设计师Richard Langone和Leilei Peng在上海创立的一个生活家居品牌。两位设计师融合各自在室内设计、家具和建筑设计方面的专长，打造出一系列高品质、独特、环保的现代家具产品。品牌首个家具产品系列采用互锁式组合的木板设计，无须工具即可组装。我们与Langone聊了有关他创办品牌的故事，他的设计理念以及他对中国市场的一些看法。
Neocha: How did the idea for Staxx come about?
Langone: The specific catalyst was an interior project in Hangzhou in which the challenge was to convert a 24-story office building into apartments. Our design concept was to create cool, urban “micro-lofts” with exposed ceilings and open kitchens, emphasizing a wall of glass and views of Hangzhou. It was a concept we loved but were unable to convince the developer to do as it was something they hadn’t seen in China before. It was a big disappointment, but during the design process, we began thinking about the type of furniture a space like this should have, and that evolved into the first collection of Staxx products as we know them today.
Langone: 最直接的原因是一次在杭州的室内设计项目，我们要将一幢24层的办公大楼改造成一座公寓大楼。我们想到了一个很酷的城市“微型阁楼”的设计概念，采用明架式天花板和开放式厨房，加上玻璃墙的设计，让住客可以欣赏到杭州的风景。我们都很喜欢这个概念，但却没办法说服开发商接受这个他们在中国还没见过的设计概念。这令我们感到非常失望，但在设计过程中，我们开始思考这样的住宅空间应该配搭什么样的家具，然后逐渐地，这些想法就演变成了我们现在看到的Staxx 品牌的首个产品系列。
Neocha: Can you tell us about some challenges that you’ve overcome during the process of creating Staxx?
Langone: The first obstacle for us was to find a manufacturer that could make our product. We learned quickly that the designs were deceivingly simple, so lots of manufacturers underestimated the difficulty and were not able to meet our standards. Since the furniture assembles without tools by using interlocking wood panels, the acceptable tolerance is quite small. We needed a skilled craftsman. The next obstacle was figuring out the right supplier for materials. It took us six to nine months to find the materials we need in order to make a product that meets our expectations. As a result, we ended up at one of the most impressive manufacturers I have seen, and we are creating a product that exceeds our original expectations in both quality and finish.
Neocha: How is Staxx different from other lifestyle furniture brands on the market?
Langone: One important way we differ is our emphasis on material. Our choice to use plywood results in a high-quality luxury product that will last a generation, even though it looks so simple. Plywood is an engineered, man-made material that is 100% wood, but by layering the plys and turning the grain, the strength and resistance to warping and cracking become far superior to solid wood. The boards we use are FSC certified and come from managed forests to ensure sustainability.
The best part about plywood for us is that it is a standardized material available in most places around the globe, so theoretically, we can send a digital design file to a CNC machine anywhere in the world and use the same standardized Baltic birch plywood boards we use here and eliminate trans-oceanic shipping of finished product. This type of revolutionary design idea has the potential to change supply chains around the world. We are seeing the same philosophy with 3D printing, and we’re excited about what the future of design technology will bring.
Neocha: Can you tell us more about Staxx’s philosophy and approach to design?
Langone: Staxx is about minimalism and the idea that simpler is better. We believe that true luxury is about living a comfortable and simple life, and our products reflect that. We created a simple utilitarian look, but the sculpted 2D interlocking panels come together in a surprisingly elegant way. The edge of the plywood panels have a linear quality that we love, and we celebrate this by emphasizing it in our designs. We were inspired by Charles and Ray Eames, who in the 1940s were the pioneers of using plywood for furniture. Many of their designs are still being produced today and have become so common that we forget how innovative these iconic uses of plywood were at the time.
We are making a flat-pack furniture concept that is high quality, made of heavy materials, and assembles without tools or hardware. Our preconceived ideas of flat-pack are based on IKEA furniture, and although we have great respect for what they do, their products are made of lesser quality materials, so the product life is short. Our philosophy is that a well-made product using quality materials will last longer, therefore, reducing the amount of waste consumers produce by replacing their furniture. Or to put it another way, good design is only good if it is not harmful to the environment we live in.
Langone: Staxx主张极简主义，我们相信越简单越好。真正意义上的奢侈品应该能让人们过上舒适和简单的生活，而我们的产品正好体现了这一点。我们的产品外观设计简单而实用，雕刻的2D互锁式木板组合在一起后，呈现出异常优雅设计。我们很喜欢这些胶合板边缘的线条纹理，所以在设计中也特意强调了这一点。我们的灵感来自于设计师Charles和Ray Eames夫妇，他们是 1940 年代胶合板家具设计的先驱。他们的很多设计至今还被沿用，并且成为了人们司空见惯的产品，以至于人们有时会忘记这些胶合板家具的经典设计在当时是多么具有革新精神的设计。我们现在正在设计一个高品质的平板包装家具系列，采用重质材料制成，同样无需工具或硬件组装。我们最先关于平板包装家具的理念来自于宜家。我们很欣赏这个品牌，但他们的产品采用的原材料品质不够好，所以其产品的生命周期也较为短暂。而我们的理念是，使用优质的材料，制作精良的产品，让产品更耐用，从而减少消费者更换家具时造成的浪费。换种说法，好的设计不应该对我们生活的环境造成负面的影响。
Neocha: How have consumer tastes in China changed in recent years, and where do you think they are headed in the near future?
Langone: We are seeing more people adopt the idea that “comfort is the new luxury.” We are doing interior residential design for the mid to upper end of the local market, and we are seeing that people want a more understated home. The biggest shift we see in the villa communities is towards an American lifestyle with large comfortable furniture, open floor plans, Western kitchens, and outdoor living spaces. In urban areas, we are seeing a big influence of Scandinavian modernism, minimalist spaces, light woods, white walls, and lots of natural light.
In general, I think lifestyles in China will become some hybrid of Chinese tradition and Western culture. There seems to be a love of Western lifestyle ideas, but also a love of Chinese heritage and tradition. I anticipate we will see this interesting mix of new China style, Scandinavian modernism, and the comfort of American lifestyle dominating the market for the next few years.