Poltrona Frau celebrates its 110th anniversary with new creative collaboration

Artist Felipe Pantone applies his trademark pixelated patterns to Poltrona Frau’s iconic ‘Archibald’ chair with showstopping results 

front and back view of Archibald chair by Poltrona Frau, with digital printed chromatic motif
Felipe Pantone’s interpretation of Jean-Marie Massaud’s ‘Archibald’ armchair.
(Image credit: Neil Godwin at Future Studios for Wallpaper*)

Graffiti and Italian furniture-making might appear worlds apart, but a new collaboration between Poltrona Frau and Argentine-Spanish artist Felipe Pantone proves that creative cross-pollination knows no boundaries. As part of its 110th anniversary celebrations, the Italian brand has invited Pantone to create a graphic treatment for Jean-Marie Massaud’s 2009 ‘Archibald’ chair, offering a fresh take on what has become a design icon in just over a decade.

This is Poltrona Frau’s first collaboration with an international contemporary artist, and the piece also represents an ongoing move towards sustainable furniture making, specifically in its use of the company’s new Impact Less leather. The collaboration will be unveiled at the upcoming Salone del Mobile 2022 in Milan.  

Impact Less Leather: a Poltrona Frau innovation

Colourful Poltrona Frau leather

Artist Felipe Pantone with samples of Poltrona Frau leather in his Valencia studio

(Image credit: press)

Impact Less is specially developed to reduce leather’s environmental footprint. Poltrona Frau has worked with two local tanneries that avoid the use of heavy metals, reduce the use of water and recycle all water from the production process. The material makes its debut with this project, and by 2025, it will be used on all Poltrona Frau designs.

‘Years of research and development into the most sustainable version of leather have led us to this cutting-edge material,’ says CEO Nicola Coropulis, adding that, while the brand has remained faithful to its historical values, it has adapted to changing times, evolving its product offering and focusing on sustainable production: ‘An important purpose of this collaboration is to shift Poltrona Frau’s perspective. We don’t want to celebrate the past successes, but create a map for the future.’

Poltrona Frau and Felipe Pantone

Artist Felipe Pantone at his studio in Valencia

Felipe Pantone at his studio in Valencia

(Image credit: press)

The collaboration with Pantone encapsulates this mix of past, present and future. ‘Poltrona Frau wanted me to do something daring with the “Archibald” chair, to mess with the brand a little bit,’ explains the artist, whose pixelated, kaleidoscopic compositions, reminiscent of a heat map, have been applied on different scales, from buildings to cars and watches.

An upcoming collaboration with London’s Greenwich Peninsula will see his artwork wrapped around a public staircase and elevated walkway.

Felipe Pantone working on a printing machine

Felipe Pantone working on a printing machine

(Image credit: press)

For Poltrona Frau, Pantone has created a pixelated pattern based on the company’s ColorSphere colour system, which was conceived in collaboration with Giulio Ridolfo to offer a series of vibrant, emotional shades. Pantone’s artistic intervention is printed on Impact Less leather, and extends to the aluminium structure of the ‘Archibald’, which is given an iridescent treatment. 

Felipe Pantone with colourful leather samples

Pantone with leather samples and the ‘Archibald’s miniature version

(Image credit: press)

Pantone started creating graffiti and computer images as a child, and his artistic world expanded when he later discovered contemporary art and the New York street art scene during his art history studies. ‘What shaped my work the most is the kinetic art movement of the 1960s. To me, it makes a lot of sense: we live in the most kinetic of all times.’

His work responds to the rapid pace of social media, dwindling attention spans, and our thirst for immediately arresting imagery. His studio is set up as a creative factory, with machines for laser cutting and UV printing. ‘When I bought my first machine in 2014, I realised if I wanted to make art of my time, I should use every possible technology of my time,’ he says. 

Felipe Pantone spraying on leather

Pantone working on leather samples

(Image credit: press)

‘Felipe saw that we are a dynamic company with a young team, and this is reflected in the constant dialogue between tradition, craftsmanship, industry, technology, the analogue and the digital,’ concludes Coropulis. ‘The idea of applying this futuristic pattern on one of the most ancient materials feels like the best way to demonstrate Poltrona Frau’s uniqueness.’

Archibald chair by Poltrona Frau with colourful motif by Felipe Pantone

(Image credit: press)

INFORMATION

Felipe Pantone’s interpretation of Jean-Marie Massaud’s ‘Archibald’ armchair is available in a limited edition of 110, from €7,950. A handmade miniature version, from €700, is widely available to the public 

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Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.