Finding yourself in front of an Edra piece of furniture means ending up in a timeless dimension, where each ingredient - the technology, the material, the signature - reflects a precise historical moment but a moment later transcends it. As happens with a work of art. Which makes the poetics of this company with a recent history, founded in Tuscany in 1987, even more surprising, but the registry does not prevent it from referring to the outside a truly timeless image, as if its creations had always existed.
"I think it is above all a question of vision", says Monica Mazzei, vice president and founder of Edra with her brother Valerio, president of the company. "Since Edra was born, it has set itself a very specific goal: to produce beautiful and well-made objects of the highest quality, which combine technology and innovation with artistic tradition. We have always remained faithful to this declaration of intent and this has allowed us to create products that are still in the collection even after twenty or thirty years. Just think of the Flowers Collection, the Tatlin or the Flap just to name a few. The key, perhaps, is a concept of classicism rooted in Italian culture that we have always tried to cultivate and take care of with the utmost commitment. Ours is not that classicism that looks to the past with nostalgia, but rather has to do with looking at the beauty of our territory, with the elegance and refinement of our architecture and our art. A classicism that goes hand in hand with humanism, with the desire for innovation and to look beyond the known ".
The choice of Palazzo Durini in Milan as a new showroom is a further confirmation of this vocation: were you looking for a similar place or did it happen by chance?
"Last year we looked for a place in Milan and we didn't like the idea of a showcase on the street. We wanted a 'home' that would welcome us and reflect us. We have always brought our collections inside historic buildings because we seek beauty, in the past as well as in the present, and we think this is a way of restoring value. Palazzo Durini Caproni di Taliedo is magnificent, we were fascinated by the light and its frescoes, by the beauty of the rooms and by its history. Inside, the encounter between history and modernity, architecture and furniture, restores an image of extraordinary harmony. It is a tribute to art and manual wisdom, to projects developed by artists or authors to make the homes of the past as well as those of today more beautiful and comfortable ".
How has the idea of comfort of Edra and your audience changed in these two difficult years?
"The concept of well-being related to furnishings, and more generally to living, has acquired various connotations over the centuries. In the past, it has been linked to a more physical dimension, which has to do with the ergonomics and functionality of an object or architecture. Today we associate it more and more with a concept of pleasure that is both physical and mental. Edra's research has always gone in this direction. The time we have spent at home over the past two years has led us to look at the domestic habitat with different eyes. We spent much more time at home, and we adapted it to 'special' functions, making it an office, school, gym, giving life to a process of re-appropriation and reinvention of the environments. This is a fact. The unprecedented aspect is how this reinvention took place above all through the objects that populate it. We understand that the concept of comfort that a single piece of furniture offers affects the whole dimension of living, with repercussions on the physical and psychological well-being of the person. On sofas, for example, today we relax, read, chat, we also work on them. Our design philosophy has always been to think not only of a sofa to sit on, but of a seating system that knows how to adapt to the environment and to people by taking multiple forms and taking on various functions according to different needs ".
And here the technology, the patent, comes into play.
"Yes: the 'smart cushion' that we patented in 2013 makes the backrests perfectly adaptable to the support support required at that particular moment, with a simple gesture of the hand. The foundations of On The Rocks modulate and create different dimensions for each moment. The Grande Soffice is a unique experience to achieve absolute levels of comfort. But objects are also tools through which the house is strongly identified: it is one, but it can become many. Edra has always thought of its chairs as domestic landscapes. The Flower Collection of 1990, the On The Rocks of 2004 or the Pack of 2017, the natural rocks or the bear as a backrest, are a natural world that belongs to us and we recognize and that through these objects enters domestic spaces. Today all this acquires a much deeper value ”.
Edra is the company that deconstructed the classic sofa, when Francesco Binfarè eliminated the intersection between the horizontality of the seat and the verticality of the backrest: how much can still be innovated in a field like that of upholstered furniture where there is no lack of things the mediations?
“The deconstruction of the sofa is the result of a long research process. When authors join the company, they often don't even have a drawing in their hands. But they have an idea in mind. Sometimes years pass from their story to the presentation of the product. And there are always more voices. In this process, the project comes to life, thanks to dialogue, comparison and experimentation, which result in an indefinite number of prototypes to strive for perfection. In our DNA there is certainly the exploration of new paths, yes. We always have and will continue to do so. A few years ago the journalist Alice Rawsthorn for the New York Times asked if 'we really need another chair'. I think so, at least every time that session is effectively 'innovative, beautiful, sustainable, expressive, useful', and above all it makes those who sit well feel good, in such a deep way that it wants to be handed down from generation to generation, without ever ' go out of fashion '".
Edra has always maintained a special relationship with its designers: what did you give them and what did you take?
“At Edra we don't use the term designer, we prefer authors. Our creations are associated with well-known names, but some of them, when we started, were not yet. However, this is not what matters. Before their stylistic trait, we are interested in the role they played as thinkers. This is the only way to trigger the process that gave life to timeless products. We succeeded thanks to their intuitions, their ideas. Thanks to our willingness to look beyond. Our history is made up of experiences and cultures, cultivated and cared for every day. Relationships that are certainly professional, but above all human. Our authors tell us their dreams, and we still like this a lot. Massimo Morozzi, our first art director, said in an interview that behind every project there is a story that comes from life experiences, 'these experiences then become mobile' ".