Italian furniture maker
Arflex (established in 1947) is a Italian furniture maker that accomplished a pioneering position during the second half of the 20th century. Primed by the new materials available in the postwar period, Arflex quickly gained notoriety for its creative furniture forms, the design process of which was guided by these new materials.
The idea for the establishment of Arflex came from four engineers in Milan who worked for the Pirelli tire company. In experimenting with the creation of different kinds of rubber for the Pirelli tires, these gentlemen–Aldo Bai, Pio Reggiani, Renato Teani, and Carlo Barassi–developed a new type of foam from polyurethane that they believed could have great potential in furniture design and manufacturing. This strong believe propelled them to establish “Ar-flex” in 1947. They created their name through a blend of the Italian word for furniture–arredamenti–and the English word flexibility, to stress that their designs were aimed to create novel furnishings that both were striking and allowed for comfortable living. read more
In 1949, Arflex brought in Marco Zanuso, its first designer, who in 1951 launched the Lady armchair at the IX Triennale di Milano and where it was the awarded the gold medal. Later design contributions to Arflex by Marco Zanuso include the Martingala armchair (1952), and the Fourline armchair (1964), among others. But Arflex rapidly saw the need to expand beyond Zanuso’s designs and established partnerships with the Italian design icons of the time. Its collaborators included Franco Albini, who designed for Arflex the Fiorenza armchair (1952); BBPR, which designed the Neptunina collection (1953); Cini Boeri, who designed the Strips sofa–winner of Arflex’s first Compasso d’Oro award in1968; and Achille Castiglioni and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni; Roberto Menghi; Joe Colombo; Angelo Mangiarotti; Ettore Sottsass; and Michele de Lucchi, among others.
By the early 1970s, Arflex had become a truly international design and furnishing powerhouse. In addition to establishing branches in Japan (1969) and Brazil (1970), Arflex launched, in collaboration with others, the design-focused magazine Ottagono in 1966.
In 1996, Arflex’s trademark and other intellectual property were bought by Seven Salotti S.p.a. Since then, numerous contemporary furniture designs have been brought to market, and some editions of some of its mid-century and modern designs enjoyed some sort of resurgence.
Arflex’s designs are included in permanent collections of noteworthy museum around the world, including those of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Triennale Museum in Milan.
Last updated: May 5, 2019
For more information on Arflex, please visit the following:
“Arflex” Arflex Japan.
“Arflex” Arflex Italia.
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