Designers on Lockdown: Magnus Long

For the third instalment in our Designers in Lockdown series, we spoke to London-based designer Magnus Long. He is the brains behind our exclusive Massimo Sofa collection, a design that showcases his love for refined, elegant design.

We caught up with Magnus to find out how lockdown has affected him.

How is lockdown treating you?

Like everybody, I found it quite scary at first. We’ve managed to find a new rhythm within our family but our house has become a classroom, a nursey, a workplace and a part-time home. It has been great being able to spend time with together. My two year old can now say “wash your hands” and my four year old is really taking an interest in the design work I’m doing when working from home. But it has also been really frustrating at times not being able to go quite at full speed. Lots of projects have been a bit quiet and it’s only now that things are starting to pick up again.

Magnus Long sat in the Massimo Armchair

How has lockdown shifted the way you design?

I’ve been thinking lots about how this could be the breakthrough that means people don’t travel so much to work. My studio is a 10-minute walk from my house so I’m quite lucky in that sense. I’m kind of imagining what it could look like if we have lots of local workplaces. This would mean people not having to work from home but also not having to commute for hours every day.

So; what would those spaces look like? What would the design for those spaces be? Maybe they could be on the high street. Maybe we could use empty shops as localised co-working spaces for lots of different people doing lots of different things. I’d really love to see that happening and the design opportunities that arise because of it. I’m just trying to think about what happens when we all get to the point where we realise that travelling is a waste of money, time and fuel. Maybe we don’t need to do that anymore and at the same time not need to work at home. Maybe there’s a third way that could fill this gap. I’d love to see communities coming back together on the high street again, even if they’re connected globally or nationally.

How has your business adapted to social distancing?

Most of the time it’s just me in the studio and ever since lockdown it’s just been me alone. So that bit has been quite easy to manage. In terms of social distancing it’s really about the travel and not being able to visit factories and trade fairs. Milan was cancelled this year and that’s usually a nice place to see new things that are being launched. So we’ll have to wait until next year to see the major launches that will happen.

Magnus Long's Massimo Sofa in a modern living room

How have you stayed motivated when working from home?

I think so much of my work is reliant on other people throughout the design project. From clients to manufacturers, there’s a lot of coordination between so many different people. Obviously lots of these people have gone quiet over the last few months. At moments it has been difficult to stay motivated and that’s the time I’ve taken to think about different things.

But it feels like things are beginning to pick up again. Prototypes have begun being manufactured, for example. It’s just sad not being able to go and see them in the factory and not work as closely with the partners. So it’s a bit different in that respect but I’m sure things are beginning to change and open up again. It does raise the question whether we need to travel as much and if we can do things in different ways.

Have you picked up any new hobbies or interests during lockdown?

I don’t really feel like I’ve had much more time on my hands. Lots of juggling around of other things. I’m really interested in seeing what happens next, how things are going to change, the new normal. What is that going to look like in term of the work-life balance? I’m really interesting to see what the details will be and the restructuring of various aspects of our lives. Then, of course, how we as designers can respond.

Magnus Long's Massimo Armchair in a minimalist room

What has inspired you most during lockdown?

The first one that comes to mind is 3D-printing PPE. It’s a brilliant use of the technology. Global groups of people working together to use their very localised manufacturing and get PPE to frontline workers quickly has been inspiring to see.

Also, I’ve been inspired by projects that don’t require much investment and are things that everybody can do. For example, Paul Priestman launched a project that involved cutting up an egg box to make a smartphone stand. It’s something everybody can do and everyone can have a go at.

The rainbows have been really great. Being able to walk down the street and experience that feeling of being in this together. Plus, saying thank you to frontline workers and NHS staff. That pulling together of organisations, businesses and communities has been really inspiring. We can do this together.

Like what you see? Shop Magnus Long.