Enrico Fratesi, partner at GamFratesi design studio in Copenhagen, and Amelia Tagliabue, export manager of Italian furniture design and manufacturing company Porro, were recently in Vancouver to attend IDSWest and to spend time at the Livingspace showroom, where Porro is on display and the company’s travelling exhibition “Cabinet of Curiosities”, featuring small design pieces, had its North American launch.
The pieces are called Woodenland, and feature the work of several designers, including Fratesi, using the concept of a box, and one of the distinctive types of wood Porro employs. These include such exotics as eucalyptus, Canaletto walnut, and Santos rosewood. The overall effect is of creative energy working in wood, revealing the virtually countless ways the material can be used for design purposes. Taglibue affirms they “encouraged each designer to express, in their unique way, what they think Porro is about, what it means to them.” Fratesi notes that his piece, the 9Ø, opened only with a split wooden panel in the middle of the lid, reveals “how beautiful things can also be functional, and reveal even more beauty as you open them.”
Porro engages several designers, and is, says Taglibue, “an artisanal house, from the very first day. Even when we built our new factory, the family made a commitment to the artisanal ways, with lots of natural light, and still encouraging every worker to have input into the finished products.” Fratesi notes that “for a designer, there is a dream, or perhaps a desire, to work with certain companies. You know the company, and its reputation. Porro has a great reputation, for example. But when you get to know the people behind the name, it is even more fantastic.”
The design process itself is, for Fratesi, about “knowing the company’s history, its DNA, which you always respect. Then, you balance creativity with history, to arrive at something completely new, but still consistent with the brand.” Fratesi’s contribution to the newest Porro collection is called the Traveller Daybed, an elegant piece of lounging furniture that has, as he puts it, “great flexibility within the home.” He took such influences as Roman lounge chaises and the current trend towards more open living spaces that tend to meld kitchen, dining, and lounging rooms. “We think about behaviour,” he says. “I am often asked, ‘Do we really need another chair?’” He smiles, and adds: “The answer is in typology. We always need new ways of expressing how people behave, how they use a chair, for one example. And since that does change over time, we must come up with new ways of accommodating and anticipating how people will use the objects in their homes.” The Traveller Daybed certainly has that ability, to accommodate different uses, in different rooms, and like other pieces in the Porro collection, it is also very pretty simply to look at.