contemporary furniture (1949)
Arflex is an Italian company that produces and sells contemporary furniture, born in 1950, in a small factory in Milan Corso di Porta Vittoria.
In 1949 a group of researchers and entrepreneurs who had started working on two new materials presented new materials and new processing techniques to Marco Zanuso. Given the new possibilities of foam padding and the elastic tape produced by Pirelli, considering the enormous potential for the application in interior furnishings, Zanuso started an experimental program until 1950.
This is how Arflex was born, which was presented to the public for the first time in 1951, at the IX Triennale di Milano.
The company devoted to experimentation, even if attentive to the commercial aspects, testifies to the desire to create products with high technological and aesthetic content, based on careful research.
The gold medal at the IX Triennale of the Lady armchair by Marco Zanuso is the recognition of this innovative and avant-garde construction philosophy of Arflex.
On the one hand we have a methodologically exemplary contribution from one of the protagonists of Italian architecture, and on the other the commitment of a producer lightened by the entrenched habits of production on an artisan scale.
Between 1951 and 1954 Arflex produced some models of car seats designed by Carlo Barassi. They can be inserted into the vehicle instead of the standard ones, offering better comfort thanks to the use of foam rubber and elastic tape.
Arflex realizes the "Millemiglia" seats and the "Lounger Seat", which can be transformed into a makeshift bed. Both were designed for the Fiat Topolino.
Marco Zanuso has become a symbol of post-war Italian design culture, a generation of designers whose social commitment has been developed by the ideological legacy of the Modern Movement.
Arflex's attention is constantly directed towards cultural experimentation, succeeding in imposing new and technological products, which at the time were completely unusual, allowing the production to be extended to office or public spaces, as well as those for the home:
Lady armchair (Zanuso 1951, Gold Medal at the IX Triennial)
Sleep-o-matic sofa (Zanuso 1951 Gold Medal at the X Triennial)
Martingala armchair (Zanuso 1952 first example of dressing design)
Fiorenza armchair (Franco Albini, 1952)
Fourline armchair (Zanuso 1964, Gold Medal at the 13th Triennale)
Lucania chair (De Carlo 1954)
Delfino armchair (Carboni first animal-design experiments)
Elettra and Neptunia chairs (1953 and '54) of the BBPR studio
sitting Hall (Manghi, 1958)
directional furniture by Roberto Manghi 1961
From 1950 to 1960 he involved in his research the architects who in the post-war years had fueled the debate on the redefinition of the Modern Movement in design and architecture: BBPR, Albini, Zanuso, De Carlo, Castiglioni brothers.
Between 1955 and 1960 it began to spread on foreign markets with the creation of subsidiaries for manufacturing and sales, Benelux, France, Switzerland and Spain.
The designer collaborators rose over the years, including different components of Italian design and designers of the new generations; just mention Carlo Bartoli, Maurizio Calzavara, Joe Colombo, Sergio Mazza and Cini Boeri.
Very innovative, from a technological point of view to a formal one, are the products starting from the mid-1960s:
Gaia (Bartoli, 1965) armchair in polyester resins and glass fiber
Bobo (Boeri, 1967) first monoblock seat in polyurethane foam
Serpentone (Boeri, 1971) revolutionary sofa in polyurethane
Strips (Boeri 1972 Compasso d'Oro in 1979) as sleeping bags in which to slip
While collaborating with architects and designers, arflex in the late 60s gave life to other subsidiaries: Arflex Japan dates back to 1969, Arflex du Brasil in 1970, a sort of Arflex-look that will occur a few years later in Worldwide.
In 1969 a new factory was built in Limbiate and the showrooms were renewed, from the one in Rome to the historic one in Via Borgogna in Milan.
In 1966 Arflex together with Cassina, Tecno and Bernini founded Ottagono magazine, which over the years became one of the leading architectural magazines.
In the 80s Arflex under a new property continues to maintain its commitment to collaboration with architects, from Luca Meda, Michele De Lucchi, Anna Castelli Ferrieri, Paolo Nava to Fabrizio Ballardini (Ribalta 1993 sofa awarded in Cologne Top Ten award), foreign architects such as: Oscar Tusquets, Burkhard Vogtherr, Isao Hosoe.
In 1995 the trademark was sold to seven salotti spa which reopens the showroom in Corso Europa in Milan (edited by Pierluigi Cerri 2001) and puts into production a series of products from the historical archive not for a simple re-edition, but for the line yet very modern, functionality, their surprising topicality and their uniqueness.
The new property continues the collaboration with architects of international level: Studio Cerri, Studio Sottsass, Michele De Lucchi, Isao Hosoe (Dune, 1995 The Design Distinction Award), Hannes Wettstein (Spline International Design Award 2002), Prospero Rasulo, Carlo Colombo , Christophe Pillet, Vincent Van Duysen, Cini Boeri, Carlo Ferrando, Mauro Lipparini, Burkhard Vogtherr, also takes up the collaboration with young designers such as Monica Graffeo producing Mints chair (Young & Design 2004 award).
Arflex takes up the 'experimentation-research' created by Zanuso-arflex in 1950 where the shape of the object is given by the materials and technologies used, an example is the table of Stefano Gallizioli of 2002, whose shape is bound by a technology innovative patented for the production and assembly of the floor or as the seats for airports of Mangiarotti of 1998 where the marble base was obtained with a new cutting technology. These products remained only prototypes, instead they are put into production Live shelves designed by Giuseppe Vigano 2004 which adapted the shape of the shelf to the utility patent invented by the company.
Not only products and experiments, but the commitment to the diffusion of culture is resumed, a path traced in 1960 with Domus and Gio Ponti (the first International Design Competition), giving life to a series of cultural operations, including two books: 'Tempi Moderni' in 1997 by Franco Mirenzi and the 'Design of the Modern Times' in 2004 by Franco Mirenzi whose content concerns research, unpublished photos and the experiments conducted by Arflex and Zanuso on the products that have made the history of Italian design.
In 2007, on the occasion of its 60th anniversary, Arflex presented its historical archive, making it visible for the first time to the public (over 42,000 visitors).
Arflex has always taken care of marketing and communication with promotional activities, with the windows of its showroom, advertising campaigns and catalogs.
The showroom windows have always been the first direct contact between the production and the public for Arflex, a showcase not so much as a means of presenting new models but as a space in which objects are placed outside the usual context, from the windows of Daniela Usellini to those taken care of by Pierluigi Cerri, Hannes Wettstein and Carlo Colombo.
The Arflex advertising campaign has always been developed on two tracks: that relating to sales advertising and that of prestige propaganda. An example are the advertising campaigns of Giancarlo Iliprandi in the past or those of Franco Mirenzi, Francesco Messina, Pierluigi Cerri and Carlo Colombo oggi.mondo.