September 26, 2012

Furniture Dynasties

Wallpaper’s September issue features family portraits of some of Italy’s most prominent fashion and furniture dynasties; a good opportunity to see the faces behind some of our favorite furniture lines.

De Padova

In the fifties, Fernando and Maddalena De Padova began by importing Scandinavian furniture to sell in their store in Milan, introducing it to the Italian market. After starting a factory in the sixties to produce licensed Herman Miller furnishings, the De Padovas graduated to producing their own pieces, collaborating with some of the tenors of European design (Achille Castiglioni, Vico Magistretti, Dieter Rams..) as well as acting as a platform for up and coming designers.

Today, Maddalena has given up the reins of the company to her son, Luca De Padova (Both are pictured above), who is determined to keep expanding the company and follow in his mother’s visionary footsteps.



Originally started by the four brothers Galimberti, Flexform is now run by four Galimberti cousins of the third generation (Luca, Giuliano and Matteo pictured above). 

With the collaboration of renowned designers, namely Antonio Citterio, Flexform has developed a sophisticated and unmistakable aesthetic. 



Flos was founded in the late fifties by Dino Gavina on the idea of using Arturo Eisenkeil’s ‘cocoon technique’ to create a line of lights. With the Castiglioni brothers and Tobia Scarpa in tow, Flos became synonymous with forward thinking designs and the use of beautiful and innovative manufacturing techniques, a departure from Italy’s interior design landscape of the time.
In the early sixties, the company was taken over by Sergio Gandini, a more entrepreneurial minded manager, and started making headlines around the world. Piero Gandini later succeeded his father and brought in new designers, including Philippe Starck who has been creative director since the nineties, setting a new standard of innovation for the company.
Today, Flos boasts a growing stable of some of the world’s most talented designers and expanding product lines in not only decorative, but also architectural and in soft architecture (Flos’ most recent venture, at the cross-section of lighting and architecture).



Kartell was founded in 1949 by Giulio Castelli, a chemical engineer with the endeavor to replace traditional glassware with plastic. With three pieces in the New York MoMa by the seventies and extensive research on the properties of plastic during the eighties, Kartell was already a well-established company by the time it was taken over by Claudio Luti, Castelli’s son-in-law, in the late 1980’s.

The company hit their stride in the beginning of the 21st century with the recruitment of some of the world’s most famous design talent; namely Philippe Starck, Ron Arad, Patricia Urquiola… creating some of Kartell’s most iconic products. Coupled with massive innovation in the technical department, especially in the way of environmental friendliness, Kartell has become an international benchmark for plastic furniture and design objects.

Today, Claudio Luti is accompanied by his children, Lorenza and Federico, in running the family business.

by Claire Toussaint

September 11, 2012

Home Office, Office Home

With evolving needs in the technology department, the boundaries between home and office are blurring. Beyond putting a sofa in an office and a task chair in a home, designers are taking cues from one environment to use in the other, with very interesting results.

The ambiance in the office has been warming up in the last few years. Lounge areas have been moving outside of the break room and into the business side of the workplace.

At Pixar for example, you might sit on the same armchair during a meeting you sit on by the fire in your living room. (Artek, armchair 400)   

Task chairs are also taking on a softer look, closer to that of a fauteuil. The Softshell and Skape chairs (by Vitra) are good examples of this trend.

Vitra, Soft Shell chairs

Vitra, Skape chairs

In an effort to create a lighter but no less comfortable armchair, some designers have been trading in traditional upholstery for materials more commonly found in an office environment.
Slow Chair by the Bouroullec Brothers for Vitra 
Waver, by Konstantin Grcic for Vitra
A new trend of cross-over furniture has also been developing, smoothing out the seams between office and home life.
The Alcove Highback Work sofa by the Bouroullec brothers for Vitra includes a table and cubby built right in to the sofa to accommodate working on a laptop. The high sides of the sofa provide a shield against noisy environments and create a small haven in which to get down to business.
Vitra, Alcove Highback Work
The SW 1 lounge, by Scott Wilson and Minimal for Coalesse, is designed for both meeting rooms and living rooms.
A little lower than traditional conference room seating, the SW 1 lounge sits in a more relaxed position but keeps the swivel base and mesh back of a conventional task chair, making it easy to prop up a tablet on one’s lap while keeping the conversation flowing in different directions.
Paired with an ottoman, the SW 1 is the perfect place the read the newspaper from and check emails from the comfort of your own home.

Coalesse SW_1 Lounge

by Claire Toussaint

September 4, 2012

Back to the Office

Summer vacation is over, and it’s time to head back to the office; which for a lucky few means it’s time for the grown-ups to do all the fun stuff the kids got to do all summer.


If part of your job description is to get in touch with your inner child, you might work in the development department at LEGO. Designed by Rosan Bosch and Rune Fjord, the space is more of a playground than an office, including a slide from the top to the bottom floor and a plethora of toys to play with.
Space camp:
For those more likely to have gone to space camp as children, the Google engineering headquarters in London has a techy space-craft feel in greys and bright blues and oranges. The cool lighting and integrated furniture give the impression of wondering the halls of the Death Star.

Building a fort:
To counteract rainy-day boredom, there is always the option to build a fort. Although blankets and the backs of chairs are traditionally used as building materials, a large scale office version requires a cardboard structure, like this tessellated cave by Liam Hopkins of Lazarian. Recycled cardboard is pulped and reconstituted into hollow triangular blocks which fit together to create the shelter’s organic shape.

Secret club-house:
The faceted red object in the middle of an office in Shanghai has the mystique and draw of a secret club house. Its size indicates that only a small number of people are able to fit inside, and its unusual shape heightens one’s natural curiosity. A fortress within an office, it is a perfect place to hold secret meetings and spy on others through the small windows.

Other offices to check out:  
Fun house gallery of mirrors
Coloring in the lines
by Claire Toussaint