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
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
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.
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.
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 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.’
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
Receive our daily digest of inspiration, escapism and design stories from around the world direct to your inbox
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.
Edinburgh design gallery Bard marks its first anniversary celebrating the soul of craft
Bard unveils ‘The Grit and the Glamour’, a showcase marking the Edinburgh design gallery's first anniversary (on view until 28 January 2024)
By Rosa Bertoli Published
Aurora 2.0 is the perfect woodland retreat to take in the Northern Lights
Aurora 2.0 by architect Snorre Stinessen in Norway is an architectural retreat with a spectacular view of nature and the Northern Lights
By Ellie Stathaki Published
Tia-Thuy Nguyen encases Chateau La Coste oak tree in tonne of stainless steel strips
Tia-Thuy Nguyen’s ‘Flower of Life’ lives in the grounds of sculpture park and organic winery Château La Coste in France
By Harriet Quick Published
‘Ouverture’ sofa by Pierluigi Cerri for Poltrona Frau is a modern classic reimagined
Poltrona Frau reissues the ‘Ouverture’ sofa by Italian architect Pierluigi Cerri, a 1982 design classic
By Maria Cristina Didero Published
Tokyo story: our series of illustrated interiors is blossoming
By Rosa Bertoli Last updated
Illustrated life: the first in our new series of deftly drafted dream homes
By Rosa Bertoli Last updated
Bow belles: stay ahead of the curve with sensual velvets and geometric arcs
By Rosa Bertoli Last updated