May 6, 2021

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Antonio Citterio’s Groundpiece sofa for Flexform

5 min read

Antonio Citterio reflects on his perform with Flexform, and conceiving a sofa as the coronary heart of the household

Antonio Citterio developed the Groundpiece sofa for Flexform in 2001: twenty yrs on, we chart the architect’s record of collaboration with the Italian furniture business, and learn his check out on redefining domestic interiors

Meda is a small town at the heart of Brianza, the industrial zone that unfolds across the inexperienced Lombardy basic like a prolonged gray dust plume stretching from Milan towards the Swiss border. Its medieval centre, marked by the frescoed 16th-century church of San Vittore, is hemmed in by a ring of far more recent enhancement that peters out into the generic anonymity of industrial Italy.

It is tricky to consider of a far more acceptable birthplace for Antonio Citterio. What we consider of as Italian style and design is dependent on this city, and 50 % a dozen like it. Meda is the motor place of the modern day furnishings entire world, the place a world-wide-web of workshops and factories kinds a creative cluster that is to sofas what Silicon Valley once was to laptops. This is wherever Citterio grew up, and it’s in which Flexform, the agency recognized in 1959 by the Galimberti spouse and children, which gave him just one of his initially work, is based.

Antonio Citterio and Flexform: a resourceful romance 50 yrs on

Antonio Citterio’s Groundpiece sofa for Flexform, shot in 2001 by Gabriele Basilico in Gio Ponti’s Pirelli Tower

He helps make the start of a connection with the company that has lasted almost 50 decades sound remarkably informal. ‘I was 23, I had just completed in the army. I was even now researching architecture at the Politecnico in Milan. Just one of the Galimberti little ones experienced been my good friend at school, so I went to Flexform and explained, let’s do a little something together.’

Flexform had currently made the changeover from the conventional designs it experienced began out with, and experienced utilized the artisanal expertise of its craftsmen to a much more modern style and design language. It experienced commissioned a piece as radical as Joe Colombo’s 1969 ‘Tube’ chair. Now it essential trustworthy bestsellers. ‘This was a time when a good deal of furnishings looked like sculpture, but I stated, let’s do something truly quiet, and seriously regular.’ One of the final results was the ‘Aria’ couch, generated with his studio associate at the time, Paolo Nava. 

It belonged to a time period in which the couch was designed to be part of a typical a few-piece suite, and had but to dominate the modern inside. In the regular residing home in the 1960s, the armchair was the seat of electric power, occupied by relatives patriarchs. The matriarch, if she was blessed, received a a little smaller version to herself. The couch was for supplicant sons-in-law. Introduced around 1980, ‘Aria’ experienced a wood frame, foam cushions, and brushed steel legs, accommodating two men and women in consolation. 

Citterio made two other early projects for the business and began to play a section in shaping its identity. ‘I was in no way seriously Flexform’s artwork director, but I would chat to them about items,’ he remembers. ‘So I asked Achille Castiglioni to style and design the stand at the home furniture truthful a couple instances. And I recommended that Natalia Corbetta ought to do the graphics, and that they should function with Gabriele Basilico.’ Basilico was a person of Italy’s most distinguished architectural photographers, scrutinising the relentless urbanisation of the country in the 1960s with an unforgiving eye. His function with Flexform was usually in monochrome, always contextualising the home furnishings in a little bit melancholy architectural options, this sort of as the interior of Gio Ponti’s Pirelli Tower.

Antonio Citterio’s Groundpiece for Fexform: a sofa for modern daily life

‘People didn’t realize at first. It took a whilst for the approach to function,’ states Citterio. ‘The current market has transformed a lot given that then. The current market for contemporary layout in the 1970s was just 6 per cent, now it is the frustrating the vast majority.’ The way that we dwell has modified, much too. ‘The sofa was not a normal aspect in the dwelling. If you had 1, it was a couch mattress, a thing to slumber on. My thought was that a couch could be someplace to eat and to do the job, as nicely as to chill out.’

Citterio’s inspiration for the ‘Groundpiece’ couch style and design contains Donald Judd’s 100 untitled functions in mill aluminum, 1982-1986. Lasting selection, the Chinati Basis, Marfa, Texas. Image by Douglas Tuck, courtesy of the Chinati Basis. Donald Judd Art © 2021 Judd Basis / Artists Legal rights Society (ARS), New York.

It’s 20 decades given that Citterio intended ‘Groundpiece’, as the embodiment of that insight. The name is a reference to Donald Judd’s function, not because Citterio thinks that his function is artwork, but simply because of what he discovered from the way that Judd took sculpture off the plinth, to develop a a lot more immediate relationship with house. Citterio took the couch off its legs, and, seemingly at least, positioned it immediately on the floor, like the Arab ‘suffah’, which was a lifted area of flooring softened by carpet or cushion.

As the middle-class residing room greater in dimensions, Citterio was capable to take into consideration ‘Groundpiece’ as furnishings in the round, not backed awkwardly against a wall. ‘We moved the couch into the middle of the area.’ This liberation authorized him to incorporate a menu of additional factors to the seating. ‘Groundpiece’ has no one fastened kind: just one or far more of the sofa’s arms can incorporate storage shelves the arm alone has a top extensive more than enough to serve as a coffee table and the back again of the sofa can be utilised to kind a reduced wall of shelving.

The designer’s sketches clearly show the sofa’s arms, which can include storage factors

It was a conceptual rather than a complex turning point, blurring the difference among furnishings and architecture, between foreground item and background support. It was created applying current technology, and built as a great deal on the workshop flooring in Meda as it was in Citterio’s studio. There ended up no technological drawings he relied in its place on the skills of Flexform’s craftsmen to realise his strategies. ‘I labored only with sketches,’ suggests Citterio. ‘I labored with the person who cuts the material to get the line and the proportions.’

‘Groundpiece’ helped remodel the couch from participating in a rather minimal part in the repertoire of modern furniture to a dominant one particular. And its good results has bolstered the continuing relevance of the Italian structure procedure and its means to use its old abilities in new strategies. §
 

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