Vanity Chair by Renzo Frau – 2011 IMM Cologne (33)

Vanity Chair by Renzo Frau

Still in the Poltrona Frau collection

Renzo Frau (1881-1926) was the founder of Poltrona Frau. Born in Cagliari, he worked as an apprentice upholsterer since he was a boy and moved to Turin after his military service. In the Savoy capital he began a business as a sales representative which also led him to work in the leather sector and to make several trips to England, where he discovered the classic Chesterfield model armchairs with their somewhat essential comfort, so different were they from the opulent period furnishings French which were then fashionable in Turin. He therefore decided first to become an importer and then to start his own production line, which merged English influences with Central European ones in the style. Thus Poltrona Frau was born in 1912, whose upholstered furniture soon became a must for the rich Piedmontese industrial bourgeoisie, an icon also loved by artists and writers. That was the Turin of the nascent automotive industry, the Turin where Fiat, Lancia and dozens of other small workshops took their first steps, bringing wealth and development: Frau upholstered furniture became one of the symbols of that fruitful and optimistic era, interrupted but not erased from the sad parenthesis of the First World War in which Renzo was also called to the front. New impetus to business was born in the post-war period from the collaboration with the Palermo company Ducrot which involved Frau in the supply of furnishings for large ocean liners, theatres, hotels and restaurants. After Renzo’s premature death, the leadership of the company passed to his wife Savina Pisati, triggering a series of events that led in the early 1960s to the transfer of the ownership and headquarters of the brand to Tolentino in the Marche region, home to a tannery that represented one of the brand’s major suppliers.

Via Salvioni

Large Archibald by Jean-Marie Massaud

Large Archibald by Jean-Marie Massaud for Poltrona Frau

About Jean-Marie Massaud

Since the beginning of his career (a 1990 graduate of Paris’ ENSCI-Les Ateliers, Paris Design Institute), Jean-Marie Massaud has been working on an extensive range of works, stretching from architecture to objects, from one-off project to serial ones, from macro environment down to micro contexts. Major brands such as Axor, Cassina, Christofle, Poliform, Toyota have solicited his ability to mix comfort and elegance, zeitgeist and heritage, generosity and distinction.

Beyond these elegant designs, his quest for lightness – in matters of essence – synthesize three broader stakes: individual and collective fulfillment, economic and industrial efficiency, and environmental concerns. “I’m trying to find an honest, generous path with the idea that, somewhere between the hard economic data, there are users. People.”

His creations, whether speculative or pragmatic, explore this imperative paradigm: reconciling pleasure with responsibility, the individual with the collective.

When asked to imagine a new stadium for the city of Guadalajara, Mexico, he comes back with a never seen before cloud and volcano-shaped building, integrated in a vast urban-development program that re-unite leisure and culture, nature and urbanization, sport aficionados and local citizens. Instead of implanting a stadium, he proposed an environment. And the initial vision has proven a realistic approach: the project has come to life in July 2011.

More recently, his concept car developed in partnership with Toyota, has the same objective. MEWE is a synthesis of economical and ecological concepts, integrating issues specific to each stakeholder: the user, industry, and the environment. A pioneering multiple-use platform that is a car for the people, with a body in expanded polypropylene foam: a major innovation.
“When I’m working on a project, there’s always an attempt to renew the subject I’m involved in”. Another distinctive aspect of his approach.


Juliet by Benjamin Hubert for Poltrona Frau: the Chair & the Making Of

Juliet by Benjamin Hubert for Poltrona Frau was inspired by the Italian renaissance fashion detail called the “Juliet sleeve” – a sleeve that fits the arm tightly and has a large de-constructed ‘puff’ on the shoulder. Juliet’s leather upholstery is ‘tri-pleated’ and utilizes the flexibility and tensile strength of leather.

See the making of the Juliet chair: