Federico Peri is a young Italian on the rise. He dived head first into furniture design two years ago, after a burgeoning career as an interior designer in Milan started giving him creative headaches. ‘Nothing was done the way I wanted,’ the Treviso-born designer says of the furniture and suppliers he came up against. ‘I had to adjust everything. Finally I just wanted to do a project that reflected me.’

To that end, Peri began developing pieces of furniture that operate like fully functioning home islands. He conceived chair and couch systems that came pre-built with movable, adjustable shelving and cubbyhole conveniences to suit the whims of even the most demanding couch potato. The modular aspect may not be new, but the aesthetics – rooted in basic industrial shelving and employing unexpected materials – gives his pieces a fresh new look.

‘My grandfather operated an industrial shelving company next to our house when I was growing up,’ Peri recalls fondly. ‘I played there every day and loved it.’ 

Certainly, Peri borrows heavily from his happy childhood playground in terms of the utilitarian shapes and simplicity of his shelf-inspired designs. However, he has transformed the prosaic and purely functional into beautiful sculptures crafted from rich materials.

Instead of the usual iron or aluminum, for example, Peri’s shelves are made from warm brass rods and are mixed with wood drawers, textile-covered cushions, leather straps and glass shelves. ‘I wanted to merge the industrial with the sartorial,’ he says. ‘I grew up loving both design and fashion and these passions are a big part of my work today.’

The striking results were strong enough to attract the attention of Nina Yashar, the owner and founder of Milan’s influential Nilufar gallery. As the city’s unofficial design tastemaker, Yashar anointed Peri one of her emerging designers for this year’s Salone del Mobile and will be working with him and selling his designs exclusively for the next few years.

Peri’s work also includes a light sculpture featuring two bulbs suspended in a brass frame and a set of new café tables made from stone and brass. The pieces will be shown at the Nilufar Depot during Salone, with some also seen recently at Milan’s Miart, the contemporary art fair that is gaining traction under the leadership of Vincenzo de Bellis.

While Nilufar typically prizes beauty over function, Peri’s pieces remain user-friendly and dedicated to their intended home environments. A chaise longue, for example, is surrounded by shelves for your books, or your elbow. There’s a nook for your pens, your notebook, even a shelf to keep your iPad upright. Another chaise comes with a suspended light built into its surrounding shelving structure and features a regular chair on the reverse side to enable upright sitting or a conversation, if desired.

‘The idea is that you sit down,’ says Peri, ‘then you don’t have to move ever again.’

As originally featured in the May 2016 issue of Wallpaper* (W*206)