With awards from professional juries, journalists and the Slovak Centre of Design, the launch of Arteston sofas was a success and the brand is on its way to become a key player in its field. Arteston interprets current trends – variability, comfort and natural materials. Each model has a unique character, is crafted with precision and creates comfort inherently related to functionality. But how did the idea of Arteston come to be and what are the priorities for the creative team behind it? We interviewed the man behind the Arteston product range, the experienced and talented designer Michal Riabič.
How do you remember your first meeting with the Krošlák family?
MR: Manufacturing of sofas has a long tradition in Slovakia, and in the region around Topoľčany there are great many upholstery companies. I was a designer looking for new partners with whom I could put my experience from chairmaking to use.
After extensive research, I was most interested in the Krošlák company. At the time, they weren’t promoting themselves as furniture makers. I had a good feeling about them from the very first phone call with Samuel. During our first meeting they explained to me their longstanding manufacturing experience and, at the same time, their lack of retail experience.
For more than 25 years, Krošlák family has been producing sofas for foreign markets. They’re very good at it, as their business clients from other countries would gladly attest to. But the move from being an experienced manufacturing company to creating and selling the first sofa under their own Arteston brand was much bigger than we all realized at the time.
How would you describe the situation in the company back then?
MR: I was quite impressed, as I visited an established company that ships hundreds of sofas to companies all across Europe. On the other hand, people in the manufacturing company are focused on processes and manufacturing efficiency. They are not primarily focused on the product itself, as a designer is, but more on its quality and workmanship – the customers do not take kindly to flaws.
How did the idea of Arteston brand come to be?
MR: To my great pleasure, the idea of their own retail brand had been on the table for quite some time. Thanks to our meeting I was able to help turn this idea into reality.
We gradually began to get to know each other and put the whole idea into motion. We discussed my designs, what moods our furniture collections should convey and, most importantly, how they would differ from what the market was currently offering.
So what does Arteston mean? Who is it for?
MR: I think that Arteston sofas are for people who care about quality. That’s the reason why we offer covers made from merino wool, as its properties and design are ideal for more demanding clients. All our seats are made to order, so we are very forthcoming in this regard.
What preceded the first prototypes?
MR: I am of the opinion that one should learn from the best, so Samuel Krošlák and I went to the furniture fairs in Milan and Cologne. We talked a lot about the things we liked and how Arteston should differ from everything we saw at these fairs.
Eventually, I focused on several ideas we touched in our conversations, mostly about daily living in the home and the formal value of the sofa and additional features it could have.
It is a symbol of social status, but at the same time primarily serves in the informal family life. That is why the first sofa we started to design was Fold_it – a design with slim appearance but high comfort.
The armrest can be easily adjusted and used as a table, or turned into a “nest” when folded along with the similarly adjustable backrest. This should reflect the contemporary life at home, where we sometimes work, sometimes read or watch the TV, but we’re always glad when we can make ourselves comfortable.
“Furniture that adapts to both its surroundings space and your current needs is increasingly popular.”
What are currently the biggest trends in furniture-making that you also apply to the design of Arteston sofas?
MR: I’m not really in favour of blindly following trends. I prefer lasting ideas and appearance that doesn’t go out of fashion. Of course, I keep track of designers and business news and I’m always happy to see something unique on the market.
Jean Marie Massaud created the Sydney sofa for Poliform, and it is a truly monumental and beautiful piece. There are surprising details on sofas by Patricia Urquiola, some of which were presented earlier this year by Cassino.
Arteston has a strong background in manufacturing know-how, does it provide you as a designer with some benefits?
MR:I know that they are careful about their output, and at the same time, they have masters in the workshops that have worked on hundreds of sofa models. This means that they can also work on more complicated constructions and use their wits to find functional technical solutions.
The brand was first introduced to the public in March 2018 at the Furniture and Housing Fair in Nitra, what were your expectations before the exhibition?
MR: Getting the first feedback is like asking a girl out on a date – it’s very exciting. At the fair in Nitra I was also in charge of our entire booth and I did not get to enjoy these moments of tension because I had to oversee the realization of the whole exposition, and in such projects things never really go according to plan. 😉
What were the reactions of the public?
MR: I was surprised that the sofa aroused unexpectedly strong emotions, both positive and negative. However, it did not leave anyone indifferent, much to my satisfaction. Nitra was a test that went really well for us. We received three awards and the vast majority of people who visited our booth praised us.
You mentioned that besides your work on sofas, you also designed the company booth at the fair in Nitra. Does your position with Arteston involve more than just product design?
MR: As part of cooperation with the Arteston brand I oversee the overall brand image, including the marketing presentation. I try to inject the philosophy and values of the company into its every product. For me, it’s very important that people understand what we do, why we do it, and especially that we care about good, comfortable sitting.
At this year’s Furniture and Housing Fair, the Fold_it sofa by Arteston was awarded the prize in the Upholstered Furniture category, and the company booth also won an award from the magazine Trendy Bývanie. You yourself received a prize from the Slovak Center of Design for your work. How do you perceive these achievements?
MR: It makes me happy. 😉
What would you wish for Arteston in the future?
MR: To find good partners who can get sofas among people and to enjoy the first-class work of the whole team.
Mgr. Art. Michal Riabič
His designs were exhibited at international furniture fairs in Frankfurt, Cologne and Milan, besides being featured in media platforms such as ArchDaily or Wallpaper. He has won several awards, including the Good Design Award or the Czech Furniture of the Year.
Michal Riabič is a versatile designer, a professional suitable for time that demands all-round people. During his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava, he devoted himself to industrial and graphic design.
After finishing his studies, his knowledge and talent were put to test at the Slovak bank VÚB where he supervised the implementation of corporate identity in the redesigned company premises.
Since 2006 he has worked with the Austrian manufacturer of premium office furniture BENE. After several successful projects (i.e. chair designs and showroom interior designs), he worked as an art director at the iconic bent furniture maker TON.
He is currently working on projects for the Arteston brand. He prefers simplicity and functionality, and finds inspiration in natural materials, which he also often uses.