The American Janice Feldman and her company JANUS ET CIE have significantly advanced the trend towards extraordinary, high-end outdoor furniture.

Janice Feldman’s vision to combine the best traditietonal skills with modern manufacturing innovation has cemented JANUS et Cie’s position as an industry leader in outdoor furniture design

The Extroverts: JANUS et Cie | News

Janice Feldman’s vision to combine the best traditietonal skills with modern manufacturing innovation has cemented JANUS et Cie’s position as an industry leader in outdoor furniture design

×

There are not many brands that can claim to have helped define an entire category of furniture. But then there are not many brands that are run by the kind of woman that can turn a small collection of antiques into a multinational, contemporary design business.

Designer, businesswoman, artist, commissioner and patron, Janice Feldman has a knack for spotting opportunities. You might not know her name, but you’ve probably sat on one of her products. Her brand, JANUS et Cie, has grown from a one-woman operation into a company that is synonymous with luxury outdoor furniture and employs well over 300 staff with showrooms around the world, in such locations as Sydney, Singapore and Milan, and throughout North America.

Having been the first girl in her school to take woodshop, at the insistence of both herself and her mother, Feldman showed an early interest in making and building. She studied design and collected antiques while at university – ‘I didn’t have a lot of money, but I did have a lot of beautiful things,’ she remembered in an interview with the Los Angeles Times – before self-funding a trip to Europe by painting portraits of tourists along the way.

The ancient craft of weaving has played a central role in the JANUS et Cie approach, influencing a wide range of designs including the new Anatra range by Patricia Urquiola (top) and Feldman’s own Katachi collection (above)

The Extroverts: JANUS et Cie | News

The ancient craft of weaving has played a central role in the JANUS et Cie approach, influencing a wide range of designs including the new Anatra range by Patricia Urquiola (top) and Feldman’s own Katachi collection (above)

×

After dabbling in interior design in the 1970s, importing furniture from Italy and representing modern designers, she signed a contract for her first showroom in Los Angeles before she even knew what she was going to sell. ‘I knew that we would have beautiful products and that we would deliver very high-quality service,’ she said years later.

Feldman was one of the first to recognise a need for well-designed, attractive and luxurious outdoor furniture. Growing up in California, she was used to a culture where everyone lived outside as much as inside, but the idea that you could furnish an outdoor space in the same style as an indoor one was relatively new.

Feldman began to create her own designs, as well as working with established names from the architecture and design fields like Paola Navone, and, later on, Piero Lissoni and Patricia Urquiola. The aesthetic was defined early on: elegant, simple, modern and sculptural, but also hard-wearing, made to withstand dogs and children, as well as the elements.

Feldman’s vision for elegant outdoor living includes work by some of the world’s leading designers, including the Urquiola-designed Anatra (top), Strada by Paola Navone (middle) and Gina by Piero Lissoni (above)

The Extroverts: JANUS et Cie | News

Feldman’s vision for elegant outdoor living includes work by some of the world’s leading designers, including the Urquiola-designed Anatra (top), Strada by Paola Navone (middle) and Gina by Piero Lissoni (above)

×

Smoking bans, which drove more and more people into socialising outdoors, and the increasingly computer-bound worker’s craving to be outside during their leisure time, confirmed her hunch that this was a market where an entrepreneurial, design-focused mind could prosper.

Feldman was also far ahead of the curve on sustainability, developing her own materials with an approach she describes as ‘a combination of industry and craft’. JANUSwood, an extruded material made out of recycled milk crates, is almost 30 years old now, while the recyclable JANUSfiber is coming up to its tenth birthday. The latter is an extruded synthetic fibre, developed as a modern material that is suited to the traditional Asian weaving craft. It will not tear or fade and requires minimal maintenance, making it ideal for high-end outdoor furniture.

One of the first products to feature JANUSfiber was the sculptural Triad seating, which launched in 2012. The curved seats exemplify Feldman’s thoughtful approach. ‘From one perspective, Triad is simply a serviceable, well-crafted bench with a novel shape,’ she explains. ‘On the other hand, it’s a piece of modern sculpture and minimal form at its most expressive.’

The sculptural Triad seating collection (top) was the first to showcase JANUSfiber, a uniquely robust material and one of many innovations that has helped the brand open showrooms around the world, including Milan (above)

The Extroverts: JANUS et Cie | News

The sculptural Triad seating collection (top) was the first to showcase JANUSfiber, a uniquely robust material and one of many innovations that has helped the brand open showrooms around the world, including Milan (above)

×

The name JANUS et Cie represents many of the values of both Feldman and her company. Janus, as well as being a riff on Feldman’s own name, is a reference to the two-faced god of beginnings and transitions, with one face looking to the past and the other to the future. ‘et Cie’ means ‘and company’, an acknowledgement that the company is only successful thanks to a team effort. Feldman takes as much care in her hiring policy as she does in her design decisions.

Last year, JANUS et Cie celebrated its 40th anniversary and Feldman shows no signs of slowing down. This year she is launching the company’s first product line with another of the design industry’s powerhouse women – Patricia Urquiola. The Anatra collection plays with the woven materials that are among the signatures of the JANUS et Cie brand, experimenting with scale to emphasise the craft involved in the production of each of the pieces: the perfect blend of the brand’s past and future.

© Architonic

Related products

Related Profiles