A satisfied smile lights up Patrizia Moroso's face. On the desk of the art director of a historical excellence of Made in Italy like Moroso, the samples of what, later on, could become the basis for a new sustainable structural resin, synthesized by a Campania startup in collaboration with a university. “These are the first experimental but very interesting tests of a resin made with recycled polystyrene and fiberglass. There is a world of small companies and startups that have been carrying out important research for years. The challenge is to sooner or later make these materials structures for the upholstery and the padding themselves ”.
So the furniture industry and sustainability really meet as they do on your table now?
Now yes, fortunately. What was initially the story of a few brave realities is becoming mainstream. It is a wonderful revolution that we are forced to make, and which is perhaps the most important legacy of this difficult year. In a short time, many of those fibers that were experimental until a moment before have become available for the market. In the sample of fabric producers at least half of the fibers come from recycling. And they are soft, refined, elastic. The public asks for them, has begun to appreciate them in fashion and now they expect them from furniture as well. This bottom-up request has undoubtedly become a marketing and communication topic, and I say: that's fine, if it's the drive to move forward.
The most demanding challenge remains to be overcome, that of the alternative to polyurethane.
Yes: while the wadding derived from recycling, for example from Pet, is plentiful and in numerous variations in quality and price, on the padding front there is still a long way to go. But I am optimistic: those who work to produce the alternative know that companies in our sector are waiting for nothing more than to welcome them with open arms.
Do these research samples come to you spontaneously or do you go looking for them?
Both things. The startup from Campania, for example, was reported to me. My job is also to hunt for these innovative materials, which do not just become decorative elements but, with the right finishes, can be good load-bearing structures. We sail on the open sea, but sooner or later we will land somewhere and it will be the turning point.
Sustainability means research, and therefore the rediscovery of a slow time. How was Patrizia Moroso's 2020-21?
I think sustainable thinking is generative thinking. Being circular does not mean doing the same things as always with ecological materials, but inventing new ways or even changing goals. In this sense, I believe that food has a lot to teach us: over the years, the rediscovery of certain traditional ingredients or organic have gone from a niche trend to a widespread taste, also thanks to the work of some starred chefs. Here, with sustainable materials the same thing is starting to happen: at first they were like the ancient cereal, hard to chew, now they are becoming widespread heritage.
Long time also means escaping the frenzy of the new collection at any cost. What year will that of Moroso be?
We don't feel the need to come up with all the news at once. Also because we would like to understand when we will be able to do it again as we did until two years ago... For this reason, we have chosen a 'liquid' mode: more opportunities for meeting distributed throughout the year when we have the news ready to show. Covid has imposed a space-time change, each company is giving itself its strategy: ours is to communicate when we are ready and it makes sense to do so.
How does sustainability come into Moroso's design?
For example, with a recycled polyester fabric designed by Patricia Urquiola for Kvadrat and used for one of her chairs. And then, as I said before, with something that is not sustainable because it is made with ecological materials, but because it is the daughter of a new and sustainable approach in itself: two years ago, Ron Arad went to Dakar for the first time in his life and has put on a collection of four sessions with young Senegalese artisans. We presented the prototypes in 2019, they are now finally in production. It is a project that I care very much about because it comes from the idea of having Ron's creations that are not born from molds, or from machines that would never be able to reproduce the typical curves of his design. The Modou Collection, named after one of these Senegalese artisans, was born from the unique ability of these young people to fold iron and weave yarns. Sustainability must also be a human practice, an otherwise impossible meeting of worlds, the lever that gives life to something that was not there before. Ron fell in love with Senegal and decided to go there to sculpt his works of art. One thing that makes me happy.