Arflex Legacy: Artful Italian Design Knocking it Out of the Ballpark for 70 years.

By Dana Tomić Hughes

Arflex Legacy | Yellowtrace

Arflex Legacy | Yellowtrace

Arflex Legacy | Yellowtrace

In today’s competitive world of design, with so many amazing products by equally remarkable brands on offer, it’s becoming more and more difficult to stand out. And more importantly, to maintain an edge and market longevity.

The best way to experience the overwhelm of all the product currently on offer is to attend Milan’s colossal Salone del Mobile Furniture Fair, which brings thousands of brands under one (extremely large) roof. Yet each year I travel to Milan, there are only a handful of brands that consistently capture my imagination. Arflex remains at the top of the list as one such brand that not only manages to create something very special and memorable, their presentations – although not always the largest at the fair – have a knack for bringing forward something unique and fresh.

Sometimes their visions are challenging, but in the best possible way (for example, in 2016, their Milan stand heralded the return of ‘ugly colour’ in interiors, but done beautifully, of course, which in no way is an easy task.)

See more from Arflex on Yellowtrace.

Arflex at Salone del Mobile Milan 2014 | Yellowtrace
Arflex Stand at Salone del Mobile Milan 2014. Image courtesy of Arflex.

Arflex at Salone del Mobile Milan 2014 | Yellowtrace
Arflex Stand at Salone del Mobile Milan 2014. Image courtesy of Arflex.

Arflex at Salone del Mobile Milan 2017. Photo by Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace
Arflex Stand at Salone del Mobile Milan 2017. Photo © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

Arflex at Salone del Mobile Milan 2017. Photo by Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace
Arflex Stand at Salone del Mobile Milan 2017. Photo © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

Arflex has always paid close attention to how the brand is presented in their showrooms and windows, design fairs, catalogues and ad campaigns. This medium has always been seen as an important bridge between the brand, its production, and the public.

Arflex’s masterfully art-directed sets have become not only powerful presentation tools for new furniture models, but also spaces where objects are placed outside of their usual context. Settings designed to inspire and elevate the imagination of the end user. Yes, please!

Arflex Hall Armchair by Roberto Menghi | Yellowtrace
Hall Armchair by Roberto Menghi.

Arflex Pecorells Armchair by Cini Boeri | Yellowtrace
Pecorells Armchair by Cini Boer.

Arflex Botolo Armchair by Cini Boeri | Yellowtrace
Botolo Armchair by Cini Boeri.

Arflex Botolo Armchair by Cini Boeri | Yellowtrace
Botolo Armchair by Cini Boeri.

Founded in 1947 by Carlo Barassi (Pirelli engineer), Renato Teani (finance at Pirelli), Pio Reggiani and Aldo Bai, the foursome named their Milan-based company Ar-flex (flexible furniture), later rebranding as Arflex. They initially worked with a young local architect Marzo Zanuso who pioneered the experimental use of foam rubber and elastic tapes in the furniture market. It wasn’t until 1951 that Arflex was first unveiled to the public at the IX Triennale in Milan, after more than two years of experimentation.

Through the rich history of Arflex, there have been many memorable moments that have shaped and defined the brand, although this early contact with a wider audience in the context of the avant-garde artistic event at Treinnale in Milan was significant in the company’s history. It positioned Arflex as a company with genuine experimental interest that lied separately to their commercial purposes, demonstrating their will to create products that marry cutting-edge technology with sharp aesthetics, based on serious research and experimentation. Their efforts were recognised with a gold medal at the IX Triennale given to Lady armchair, in recognition of Arflex’s manufacturing philosophy.

South Yarra Residence by Fiona Lynch | Yellowtrace
South Yarra Residence by Fiona Lynch, featuring the Botolo Armchair by Cini Boeri.

South Yarra Residence by Fiona Lynch | Yellowtrace
South Yarra Residence by Fiona Lynch, featuring the curved Ben Ben sofa.

Apartment in Pisa by SUNDAYMORNING | Yellowtrace
Apartment in Pisa by SUNDAYMORNING, featuring the Stripes Sofa by Cini Boeri.

Hotel Americano in New York by M.C.H. Arnaud Montigny | Yellowtrace
Hotel Americano in New York by M.C.H Arnaud Montigny, featuring Elettra dining chairs.

Hotel Americano in New York by M.C.H. Arnaud Montigny | Yellowtrace
Hotel Americano New York by M.C.H Arnaud Montigny, featuring Elettra loungers by BBPR.

The Melburnian by Studio Tate
Hotel Americano New York by M.C.H Arnaud Montigny, featuring Elettra dining chairs by BBPR.

Favoloso Bar Hamburg | Yellowtrace
Favoloso Bar in Hamburg, featuring Elettra dining chairs by BBPR.

Beautysalon Kuù Damm Berlin, Hug Armchairs by Claesson Koivisto Rune | Yellowtrace
Kù Damm Beauty Salon in Berlin, featuring Hug Armchairs by Claesson Koivisto Rune.

Nobis Hotel Stockholm | Yellowtrace
Nobis Hotel Stockholm by Claesson Koivisto Rune.

Nobis Hotel Stockholm | Yellowtrace
Nobis Hotel Stockholm by Claesson Koivisto Rune, featuring the designers’ Tablet Coffee Table.

The George on Collins by Hecker Guthrie. Photo by Earl Carter | Yellowtrace
The George on Collins by Hecker Guthrie, featuring Elettra Armchairs. Photo by Earl Carter.

Paddington House by Fiona Lynch | Yellowtrace
Paddington House by Fiona Lynch, featuring Marechiaro XIII Sofa.

Paddington House by Fiona Lynch | Yellowtrace
Paddington House by Fiona Lynch, featuring Marechiaro XIII Sofa.

The Melburnian by Studio Tate, Mangold Sofa Delfino Armchair | Yellowtrace
The Melburnian by Studio Tate, featuring Delfino Armchair by Erberto Carboni.

The Melburnian by Studio Tate, Mangold Sofa Delfino Armchair | Yellowtrace
The Melburnian by Studio Tate, featuring Mangold Sofa by Claesson Koivisto Rune.

Over the years, Arflex has worked with an impressive line-up of architects and designers who have contributed to the creation of an enviable portfolio of products, counting the likes of Claesson Koivisto Rune, Bernhardt&Vella, Luca Nichetto and Neri&Hu as their contemporary collaborators.

Unsurprisingly, the uptake of the design and specifier market has been incredibly strong for the brand, with Arflex products featuring in many notable projects around the world – from hospitality, retail, commercial to high-end residential.

Arflex Delfino Armchair by Erberto Carboni | Yellowtrace
Delfino Armchair by Erberto Carboni.

Arflex Marenco Sofa by Mario Marenco | Yellowtrace
Marenco Sofa by Mario Marenco.

Arflex Strips Sofa by Cini Boeri | Yellowtrace
Strips Sofa by Cini Boeri.

Arflex Strips Sofa by Cini Boeri | Yellowtrace
Strips Sofa by Cini Boeri.

With a rich catalogues of historical pieces that continue to be relevant today as they were the day they were designed, Arflex has focussed on bringing back many of their seductive vintage designs, like the Delfino, Elettra and Botolo Chairs, and Strips sofa which celebrated its 50 years since its original release at the recent IMM Cologne 2018. Designed in the late 1960s by architect Cini Boeri, the modular sofa system revolutionised the furniture world, becoming one of the brand’s most famous products. Strips immediately won recognition at the Compasso d’Oro award and is exhibited in famous museums around the world, such as the Triennale in Milan, Triennale in Tokyo and Moma in New York, amongst others.

Arflex Papillon & Vela | Yellowtrace
Vella Room Divider by Papillon Wall Light by Bernhard&Vela.

Arflex Alba by Bernhardt Vella at Salone del Mobile 2017 | Yellowtrace
Alba Bookcase by Bernhard&Vela.

Arflex Bonsai by Claesson Koivisto Rune | Yellowtrace
Bonsai Sofa by Claesson Koivisto Rune.

Arflex Mangold by Claesson Koivisto Rune | Yellowtrace
Mangold Sofa by Claesson Koivisto Rune.

Arflex Cousy Sofa by Vincent Van Duysen | Yellowtrace
Cousy Sofa by Vincent Van Duysen.

Island Coffee Table by Paola Vella & Ellen Bernhardt | Yellowtrace
Palazzo Bed by Bernhard&Vela.

Arflex Ciclope by Claesson Koivisto Rune | Yellowtrace
Ciclope Mirror by Claesson Koivisto Rune, launched in Milan at Salone del Mobile in 2017.

Arflex Cradle by Neri&Hu | Yellowtrace
Cradle Armchair by Neri & Hu, launched in Milan at Salone del Mobile in 2017.

Arflex Arcolor by Jaime Hayon | Yellowtrace
Arcolor Collection by Jaime Hayon for Arflex, launched in Milan at Salone del Mobile in 2017.

Most recently, Arflex has worked with the omnipresent Spanish designer, Jaime Hayon, on a significant new collection of seating and small tables. With most modular systems square in appearance for functional reasons, Hayon was keen to create a new typology of modular seating system. He explored the classical geometry of the arch as a guiding, allowing him to arrive at a collection that feels more fluid and organic.

Named Arcolor, the consistency of the arch also applies to the legs of the sofas and coffee table bases, with arches touching the ground. A strong coherence and rhythmic repetition of the form recalls the iconic Roman aqueduct, adapting equally well across various contexts, whether public or private, lobbies or living rooms.

With the Leafo lounger, Hayon set out to unite the concept of softness and lightness. As a result, this simple chair can be placed in spaces both large and small. Its special form is inspired by a leaf falling from a tree, becoming a symbol of comfort, rest and relaxation.

Arflex Arcolor by Jaime Hayon | Yellowtrace
Arcolor Collection by Jaime Hayon for Arflex.

Arflex Leafo by Jaime Hayon | Yellowtrace
Arcolor Sofa & Leafo Armchair by Jaime Hayon for Arflex.

Arflex Leafo by Jaime Hayon | Yellowtrace
Arcolor Collection & Leafo Armchair by Jaime Hayon.

Arflex Leafo by Jaime Hayon | Yellowtrace
Leafo Armchair by Jaime Hayon.

Arflex Leafo Sketch by Jaime Hayon | Yellowtrace
Leafo Armchair Sketch by Jaime Hayon.

Considering the fact Arflex celebrated its 70th birthday last year, these guys are clearly onto something. Sure, they keep nailing it with their lust-worthy, high-quality furniture, and razor sharp art direction, but many other brands know how to do this too.

What Arflex understands better than most is the power of experimentation, capturing the imagination, and the execution of a total vision. This unique combination of elements has given the brand that hard-to-define X factor, which oozes out of everything Arflex does. This is precisely why I will be making a beeline for their stand at Salone in Milan this year. And every other year for that matter.

This Yellowtrace Promotion is proudly brought to you in partnership with Arflex Australia. All related thoughts and ideas reflect our genuine opinion. Like everything we do at Yellowtrace, our sponsored content is carefully curated to maintain utmost relevance to our readers.

Arflex Hug by Claesson Koivisto Rune | Yellowtrace
Hug Armchair by Claesson Koivisto Rune.

Arflex Hug by Claesson Koivisto Rune | Yellowtrace
Hug Armchair by Claesson Koivisto Rune.

Arflex Ladle Armchair by Luca Nichetto | Yellowtrace
Ladle Armchair by Luca Nichetto.

Match Table by Paola Vella - Ellen Bernhardt | Yellowtrace
Match Table by Bernhardt&Vella.


[Images courtesy of Arflex Australia & Poliform Australia. Photography credits as noted.]

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