Marcel Wanders and Jean-Marie Massaud worked with Italian furniture manufacturer POLIFORM on its latest collections – drawing inspiration from the atmosphere of ‘beauty and strength’ on the factory floor, while adding their own signatures to the creations that emerged.

Jean-Marie Massaud’s flexible Westside sofa becomes the heart of the room

A little help from your friends: Poliform | News

Jean-Marie Massaud’s flexible Westside sofa becomes the heart of the room

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When I first went to live in Milan, the capital of Italy’s northern Lombardy region, I was entranced by the way the city – and indeed the region – was a place layered with the old and the new, where tradition and progress sit side by side.

You can see these traits in Lombardy’s long-standing furniture industry, not least at Poliform, where the qualities of artisanal excellence have been maintained, even as it has developed into an international, innovation-filled operation.

Poliform has its roots in a cosy, family operation which first opened in 1942 in Inverigo, a pretty little town between Como and Milan. Back then, this small artisan company was called Anzani & Spinelli, after its founders. In 1970, the second-generation team of Aldo and Alberto Spinelli and Giovanni Anzani took some bold decisions: investment in new technology and a new name – Poliform.

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Padded modules allow for multiple configurations of the Westside sofa

Ever since, it has been a leader in modular systems, including kitchens and shelving systems, growing its product categories decade by decade. In 1996, it acquired the Varenna kitchen brand, and in the 2000s created a contract division. It launched its first collection of sofas and armchairs in 2006, defined then and now by a consistent contemporary elegance. Its international distribution covers over 80 countries. Meanwhile, the Poliform Lab – a 13,500 square-metre space housed in a custom-designed building that opened in 2011 – is an in-house hub dedicated to creative direction, marketing, photoshoots and so on.

‘We have always worked with a restricted number of designers,’ says Giovanni Anzani. ‘who create products that are coherent with our company style, but still keep the signature of the designers.’ This year, new pieces by Jean-Marie Massaud and Marcel Wanders perfectly demonstrate the point. Massaud, who has collaborated with the company for 10 years, brings a French sensitivity to the way we want to live now: Wanders, a Dutch grasp of functionality coupled with his own continual desire to push a boundary or two.

Top, middle: the perfectly reduced Kay Lounge in leather and steel; Above: Gentleman armchair and pouf

A little help from your friends: Poliform | News

Top, middle: the perfectly reduced Kay Lounge in leather and steel; Above: Gentleman armchair and pouf

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Giovanni Anzani, Poliform’s CEO, describes Jean-Marie Massaud’s Westside sofa as the answer to a concept that the company had yet to explore: that of a less constrained and more flexible living arrangement. It’s a direct response to the way we live now, where kitchens and living rooms are no longer separate spaces, and furniture is moveable and reconfigurable. Massaud pondered the problem from his studio in St-Paul-de-Vence. ‘You used to have a living room with a window on one side, a fireplace on the other, and a TV,’ he says. ‘But that’s no longer the case. So we create islands, or reefs, so you can face the garden one day, and the fire the next.’

Marcel Wanders’ Gentleman series: craft and comfort

A little help from your friends: Poliform | News

Marcel Wanders’ Gentleman series: craft and comfort

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Next Massaud tackled the fact that Poliform has always favoured a sleek unwrinkled look, and added feather cushions for a softer finish. With accessories such as backrests and partitions in dark Japanese tatami, this is fusion at its finest. The new lightweight Kay Lounge chair – a perfectly reduced design in leather and steel – becomes the ideal complement to this relaxed living arrangement.


'At Poliform we are given the chance to express our passion for design and craftsmanship'


Marcel Wanders’ Gentleman series is, says Mr Anzani, all about hospitality. A sequence of different forms that together form a coherent whole, ‘it is,’ he says, ‘like an orchestra.’ For Wanders, and his co-Creative Director Gabriele Chiave, it is also an exercise in ergonomics, where each reclining piece is exactly contoured to contain and comfort the user. ‘At Poliform,’ says Wanders, ‘we are given the chance to express our passion for design and craftsmanship. While each piece in this collection is luxurious and exceptionally well upholstered, each also features a straight high back to support correct posture.’

With carefully contoured backrests, Gentleman supports correct posture

A little help from your friends: Poliform | News

With carefully contoured backrests, Gentleman supports correct posture

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The pair were inspired by visits to the Poliform factory, which Chiave describes as simultaneously chaotic and poetic – a place where you can sense the synthesis of beauty and strength that will emerge in the finished products. ‘It’s that blend of emotion, luxury and comfort that Italian design has perfected,’ says Chiave. And it is alive and well in Poliform’s corner of Lombardy.


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