how the pisan company Edra is experimenting with new forms of comfort

Article taken from the June 2022 issue of Forbes Italia. Subscribe!

In the Greek and Roman mansions, the exedra represented a semicircular space open on one side. A welcoming place where some seating was used for conversation and meeting.

The history about Edra, a company that in Perignano, in the soft countryside around Pisa, produces sofas and armchairs, but also beds, tables, furniture and lamps. An Italian excellence that finds its products on display at the MoMA in New York, at the Center Pompidou in Paris and at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, just to name the most famous sites.

Looking for new scenarios

Edra’s story began in 1987, when Valerio and Monica Mazzei, the second generation of a family of furniture makers, decided to dedicate themselves to a new idea. A project that, through experimentation of quantities and materials, could give shape to the new domestic scenarios that emerged in these years, a mirror of a society in rapid change.

They have therefore given themselves a purpose: to combine beauty and well-being for the person thanks to seating and furniture systems that could make their customers feel comfortable. Furniture with intelligent functionality and timeless aesthetics, made of materials of the highest quality made to hold and accompany the flow of life, to follow habits, gestures and thoughts.

Because according to Edra, it is not the person who has to adapt his body to the sofa, in search of the most comfortable position, but it is the sofa that has to adapt to the body in a mutual exchange of relationships. Thus came the first collection of seats, The brand new ones. Exhibited at the Galleria Marconi in Milan in 1987, the line was designed by a group of young beginners while the catalog was handed over to the Sottsass studio.

Francesco Binfaré’s era

Then in 1988 came the collaboration with Zaha Hadid, who at the time was considered a ‘paper’ architect for the extreme avant-garde of her projects. His visionary nature immediately fascinated Valerio
Mazzei, President of Edra.

“She was not interested in designing functional objects, but in provoking emotions”. In 1993, the great, new chapter of Edra began. In that year, art director Massimo Morozzi had proposed one Francesco Binfaré to cooperate with the company. It was the beginning of a great love story. Together with him, Edra began working on a new type of seating that undermined the traditional structure of the sofa, which has now been overcoded and over-tested.

L ‘model was born.Men and Women, defined by Binfaré as “a theater, a traveling installation that releases the vital vibration”. For the first time, the concept of variable configuration was introduced, where both new materials and the possibility of changing the structure and seat through simple movements were explored.

Edra’s experimentation process

LARGE-SOFT-edra
Grande Soffice sofa

With L’Homme et la Femme, Edra deconstructed the sofa and freed it from conventional. “The sofa is made to live in. It has no operational functions related to work, not even rest. It welcomes the diversity of movements that have to do with life, ”he explained Binfaré.

From this revolution began an intense process of experimentation, which led to 20 years later Standard sofaa malleable seat that can be adapted to the wishes of those who use it, equipped with an intelligent cushion that acts as armrests and backrests, giving total freedom to positions.

“The sofa will be the last item left in the house when everything is digitized,” added the designer, who is considered a master of soft design, as well as a philosopher, artist and intellectual. But perhaps, precisely because her projects can be attributed more to art than to design, Edra has always preferred the term designer over author. “Our writers do not offer us a drawing, but they tell us an idea, a dream,” Monica Mazzei once said.

From Grande Soffice to Flap, Edra’s sofas have become cool

sofa-on-the-rocks-edra
On the rocks sofa

In addition to Standard, other sofas that quickly became cult have given life to Francesco Binfaré’s dreams. Large soft, with its soft lines and rounded corners, On The Rocks, which with its large and geometric dimensions fill the spaces horizontally. Or Flap, which changes appearance thanks to nine parts that can be leaned back as desired, or Pack, where the shape of a bear lying on its side extends the circumference of the backrest.

Alongside the authors’ design philosophy, from Francesco Binfaré to brothers Fernando and Humberto Campana, Jacopo Foggini and Masanori Umeda, Edra has always supported the commitment to improve its products. Commitment that has led to the development of a discreet technology, even if it is not visible, from which innovations such as smart pillow and the jelly foam.

The first is a technology that makes it possible to model the pillow by using it both as a backrest and as an armrest, while the second is a special padding material that softly holds and supports the body’s weight in any position and posture.

Technologies that aim to make the sofa more and more functional in terms of people’s use and habits. “As an entrepreneur, I do not like to produce from a sterile design, even less if it is a bit trendy. I believe that a product of the highest quality, functional in relation to a lifestyle, can not be born of an exercise with style, but must, in addition to being elegantly solve problems and make you feel comfortable. These are the aspects that interest me. This is the kind of research we do, ”the president concludes.

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