This shooting (photographed before the lockdown) portray the best of Italian design manufacturers – their success is global, but their pedigree is local. Each piece of furniture is treated like a rock star, crowd-surfing on an audience of their biggest fans: the very people who make them.

From the summer issue of ICON DESIGN.


Photography: Bea De Giacomo
Words & idea: Felix Burrichter
Directed by: Cameranesi & Pompili
Coordination: Alessia Pincini
Gianni Pannofino, Wendy Wheatley

The Gentleman Reserved armchair by Marcel Wanders for Poliform (2020). Exterior covered in rust nubuck (09 Ruggine) and interior upholstered in sand fabric (Micene 03). Glossy painted brown nickel-finish base.

Gentleman collection - Poliform

An uncharacteristically restrained take from the usually more over-the-top Dutch master Marcel Wanders, the Gentleman Reserved high-back chair for Poliform is a distinguished presence in any room. While lifted from the floor on narrow legs, the seat’s straight back is designed to support a healthy, comfortable posture. The Gentleman makes for an interesting addition to the existing Poliform portfolio, which takes a 360-degree approach to contemporary living, providing everything from shelving to sofas and furniture for kitchens and bedrooms.

The Silver chairs without armrests by Vico Magistretti for De Padova (1989). Polypropylene and aluminium.

Silver - De Padova

Few companies other than De Padova are so closely associated with the super-maestro Vico Magistretti. The company’s founder, Maddalena De Padova, maintained a close relationship with the designer for decades. The Silver was designed relatively late in Magistretti’s career, in 1989, as an homage to the classic Thonet chair, replacing wicker and wood with polypropylene and aluminium. What was once a contemporary revamp of another master’s classic is now a classic in its own right. The De Padova collection features between 20 and 30 pieces by Magistretti, which are receiving a wave of fresh attention coinciding with the centennial of his birth.

The Strong table by Eugeni Quitllet for Desalto (2019). Curved tubular steel base and medium-density fibreboard top coated by hand using a spatula.

Strong - Desalto

Who knows if the Orsenigo brothers ever imagined that the workshop they founded in 1963 (named Desalto since 1990) would become one of the most cutting-edge design companies in Italy. Thanks to collaboration with many contemporary designers like Piero Lissoni, Tokujin Yoshioka and Nendo, Desalto continuously reinvents the art of metal working, sometimes by looking closer at some of the most basic shapes and techniques. A case in point is the Strong table by Eugeni Quitllet, an exercise in shaping tubular steel into a harmonious, elegant object.

The Chester Moon sofa by Paola Navone for Baxter (2009) upholstered with leather in the finish Bo.Hemian Siberia.

Chester Moon - Baxter

Baxter launched the Chester Moon by Paola Navone as recently as 2009, and in the decade since, it has become one of the company’s most recognisable products. Navone’s radically playful take on club-chair tufting is carried to extremes in this 3.55-metre-long sofa. (For size queens, there is an almost-four-metre version.) If the distinctively capitonné Chester Moon has become synonymous with the design philosophy at Baxter, it’s because the unapologetically Italian manufacturer based in Brianza innovated a staple of English tradition by adding personality.

The Greene couch by David Lopez Quincoces for Living Divani (2019). Outer shell covered in Cuoietto. Cushions in the Khali fabric. Feet in gun-metal grey steel rod.

Greene - Living Divani

The gently curved, rigid leather shell and high, elongated legs of the Greene sofa recall the cast-iron facades of Manhattan’s SoHo neighbourhood, whose Greene Street was once home to the manufacturer’s showroom. The Greene sofa’s designer, David Lopez Quincoces, a protégé of Piero Lissoni and the head of marketing and communication at Living Divani, Carola Bestetti, represents a new generation at the Brianza-based company, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Since releasing his first designs with Living Divani in 2013, Quincoces has created well over a dozen products for the company.

The D.859.1 table by Gio Ponti for Molteni&C (1959/2018). Solid ash with brass feet.

D.859.1 - Molteni&C

Molteni&C is indisputably one of Italian design’s most important powerhouses, still family owned. This meeting table by Gio Ponti conveys a similar sense of strength and familiar power. Dating back to the late 1950s, its 3.6-metre length and aerodynamic streamlined form connect to the high-tech jets or bridges of the time. With over ten Ponti designs in the current collection, Molteni&C makes sure to continue sharing the classics while refreshing their energy and with help from Vincent Van Duysen, the company’s creative director since 2016.

The Planet coffee table by Giuseppe Bavuso for Rimadesio (2019). Polished aluminium frame. Calacatta marble top. Tempered glass shelf with shiny lacquer in the colour Tufo.

Planet - Rimadesio

Rimadesio is best known for its high-end modular partition systems, sliding doors and walk-in closets. It produces furniture with attention to detail and understated elegance, creating an atmosphere of comfort. Rimadesio also distinguishes itself by its commitment to sustainability. All the company’s designs, such as the Planet table, rely exclusively on recycled aluminium from Italian production plants and are crafted with recyclable glass and metals at the solar-powered Rimadesio factory in Giussano. In addition, the company has ditched polystyrene in favour of recycled cardboard. The aesthetic impact remains, but the ecological impact on the planet has been reduced.

he Maralunga 40 sofa by Vico Magistretti from the Cassina I Contemporanei collection (1973) in blue velvet.

Maralunga - Cassina

In an age where the term icon is thrown around liberally, it’s safe to say that the Maralunga made by Cassina is indeed one of the 20th century’s most iconic sofas. Designed by Vico Magistretti, who would have turned 100 this year, the Maralunga has been a favourite since it was launched in 1973. Cassina, a company long known for material and formal innovation, was at the avant-garde when it released the couch in 1973. Under the current art direction of Patricia Urquiola, the company has breathed new life into its masterworks by updating them. The Maralunga, for instance, has an even wider array of colours and textiles.