10 September 2020

Edra: two icons, two anniversaries

An innovative, independent spirit, a dreamer - but with its feet firmly planted on the ground when it comes to research, functionality and comfort, Edra is a typically Italian company – Tuscan, to be precise – with its roots in the traditional woodworking area of Perignano. Set up by Valerio and Monica Mazzei in 1987, it has continued to produce collections and iconic pieces that “live” not just in private houses but also in museums and permanent collections all over the world. Right from the start, Edra’s approach to design and manufacturing has been original, unafraid of taking new directions and deliberately timeless, in an approach in which the distinction between old and new has no meaning, while experimentation, materials research and a skilful mix of technology and top quality manual craftsmanship are fundamental. As is their relationship with designers who all, whether famous or budding, find themselves “adopted” by the Mazzei family and encouraged to imagine not the impossible but that Great Beauty that the company then ensures becomes a reality.

This is how the two icons, the Flap sofa by Francesco Binfaré and the Flower collection by the Japanese designer Masanori Umeda, came into being. They are unique objects, in terms of both conception and creation, capturing a spirit of surprise and fun, but most of all they are comfortable, welcoming, reassuring and adaptable to the different demands that arise over the day.

Twenty years ago, Flap came to the designer in a dream, in the guise of a wavy red expanse from which a sinuous form emerged after incessant dark rain, which he called the Langue Rouge. A totally original type of sofa, a mere fourteen centimetres deep, Flap is synonymous with versatility, providing a new take on the “leisure” chair, with a variety of performance and comfort options. The sleek lines of the upholstered base support nine reclining sections that can be used as backrests, armrests, headrests, chairs, leg rests or footrests. Conviviality was another consideration. The collection consists of a daybed for two, a single or double chaise longue and a three/four/five-seater sofa with a tall backrest, All the models have been designed to promote conversation and socialising and can be turned into informal seating, chairs for reading, working or sleeping, responding to cultural and social changes and our new relational habits with a multitude of possible uses.

While many Edra products are small, ironic and thought-up outside the box, the Flower Collection, inspired by the Chinese five-petalled blue Kikyo flower, is the epitome of lyrical, delicate theatricality. The collection includes the Getsuen (literally, garden under a full moon), the great lily with pointed petals, and the Rose Chair, a rose-shaped armchair. Monica Mazzei says that when Masanori Umeda – the Japanese artist who worked in the Castiglioni brothers’ studio and a prominent member of the Memphis Group – brought them a little box containing the maquette of a small lily-shaped armchair, it was love at first sight. The chairs in the collection are soft and welcoming, like masterpieces of haute couture. The Rose chair, the rose-shaped armchair, is made up of layers of individually upholstered petals, which are joined to the metal frame by small shaped wooden parts. The soft velvet covering mimics the seductive tactility of the real thing. The petals on the Getsuen chair, on the other hand, are also stuffed with polyurethane foam and covered with velvet, but rest on the ground on two small metal front legs and two small green back wheels, the same colour as the stem of the lily.

Clearly objects such as these cannot be bracketed under any particular trend and are “disassociated” from any discussion on relationship between form and function. These are objects that have not become icons over time, they were born icons. Like the great divas of all time.

#Edra, #design, #Francesco Binfarè, #Masanori Umeda