Two years ago upstart designer Jonathan Olivares took the bold step of opening his own firm. Though he had apprenticed under seasoned designers Stephen Burks and Konstantin Grcic, the 24-year-old had not a single object in production or client on his résumé. That didn’t dissuade him, however, from approaching Danese, the venerable Milan-based design company, with the idea of developing a new generation of hybrid office accessories. “I didn’t contact anyone else,” Olivares says. “They were the only company I was really excited about, but their most classic pieces—the picture frames, letter openers and trays—are basically irrelevant now. The PDA erased them all.”
The partnership has now borne its first fruit: Smith, a metal container on wheels, which can be used as a stool or side table—or even mounted onto a desk as a detachable file cabinet. Modern in its look and functionality, the box accommodates the old-fashioned desk clutter that newfangled technology has yet to eliminate. And while Smith serves the needs of the changing workplace, Olivares’s choice of material acknowledges the company’s distinguished history. “Danese’s been making sheet-metal products since the fifties, which immediately gave the project a kind of historical context,” the designer says. Here Olivares talks about his multipurpose creation, available through Nova68.com.