Richard Munao is a master storyteller. With great charm and in his own gentle, unpreachy and unpretentious way, he tells the story of his collection – and the stories of the masterminds behind each and every piece.
As one of Australia’s most successful furniture design curators Munao has built his business, Corporate Culture and sister brand Cult, by championing the story of the designer and the often-arduous creative process from prototype to end product.
“Every day I hear another story and its what keeps me motivated, what keeps me intrigued about the business of furniture design.” says Munao “People come back to Corporate Culture to connect, not necessarily to buy something new, but to hear another story.”
After leaving school to secure a cabinet making trade (much to his parents horror at the time) Richard made no apologies in his relentless determination to follow his heart and his undying passion. With a drive and a commitment in the pursuit of working with the very best, and ultimately achieving his very best, it was inevitable that his career would lead him to work with the most influential designers of our time.
Relying on gut instinct (a well educated gut at that!) when considering whether to take on a new brand or not, Munao asks himself the all important question “Would I have this in my home? When the answer is generally yes – it’s pretty hard to say no” he says.
So given the world is his oyster so to speak, we had to ask – what has he chosen to sit on when breaking bread with the family over an evening meal? “We have the Arne Jacobsen Series 7 chair around our dining table and they have held up really well with the kids. They have nicks and scapes but they show our life”.
“I am a firm believer of the mantra buy once and buy it well. Like an old pair of hand made leather boots that I still wear 12 years later. If I annualise what I paid for them and how often I wear them – they are not only an economical purchase, they still look great”.
Given the current trend of green washing its not surprising that Munao has a strong opinion on the subject given Australia’s propensity for “design for disassembly”.
“Great design, environmentally sound design, is not about design for disassembly or out of recycling materials, its about design for longevity – to transcend the seasons and the trends” Munao insists. The Cab Chair by Mario Bellini for Cassina is the company’s bestseller and is glowing testament for the longevity argument.
It is also of no surprise that Munao has strong opinions on the copyists who are selling furniture and flooding the market with ‘made in china’ replica versions. “I get that not every one can afford an Eames chair or an Egg, but if you can’t afford it buy something else. There is plenty of great affordable original design out there.” he assures.
Having introduced the Corporate Culture Design Journey Competition in 2004, giving young Australian and New Zealand industrial designers the chance to have their work prototyped, produced and sold as part of Corporate Cultures permanent collection is arguably Munao’s proudest achievement. “Investing in young designers is paramount to our industry’s success” he says. We couldn’t agree more.
Past winners of the Design Journey competition include Arnold Lane (2004 & 2005), Ross Didier (2006), Futurespace (2007), Kirk Lenard (2008), and Gavin Harris (2009 pictured below).
This year’s competition brief is to design a suspended LED lighting pendant. The winning entry will be judged on originality, functionality, presentation, environmental considerations and, naturally, aesthetics. The winning design will be prototyped, produced and exhibited in Corporate Cultures existing collection and the desginer will receive a trip to Copenhagen to meet Rolf Hay, founder of Hay and Christian Rasmussen, Head of Design Fritz Hansen. Entries close 7 December 2012.
For some serious inspiration we recommend heading straight to the stunning new Corporate Culture App for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. It gives you mobile access to information about Corporate Culture products anytime, anywhere.