Archizoom Associati’s ‘radical design’ legacy honoured at Milan Design Week 2022

Through exhibitions and events conducted by Italian manufacturer Poltronova, the 5vie Design District celebrated the Florentine design collective as part of its annual dedication.

by Jerry ElengicalPublished on : Jun 15, 2022

Introducing a 'radical' touch to the festivities of Milan Design Week 2022, Italian furniture manufacturer Poltronova conducted a set of events celebrating the legendary Florence-based architecture and design studio Archizoom Associati. Under 5vie Design Week, occurring in tandem with Salone del Mobile.Milano, the events were part of the district’s tradition of making an annual dedication to an eminent designer, architect, or collective. Having played an integral role in the realisation of the Archizoom’s product and furniture designs, Poltronova celebrated the former’s legacy as one of the foremost proponents of Italian Radical design.

The Monographs of Poltronova - Superonda: Archizoom Associati | Archizoom Associati and Centro Studi Poltronova | STIRworld
The Monographs of Poltronova - Superonda: Archizoom Associati Image: Courtesy of Centro Studi Poltronova

First off, Centro Studi Poltronova (the Poltronova Research Center) organised a reading corner at 5vie Head Quarter in Milan, Italy, allowing visitors to the fair to peruse through two volumes from the company’s The Monographs of Poltronova series: Superonda: Archizoom Associati and Mies + Sanremo: Archizoom Associati. Beyond this, Poltronova is also presenting an exhibition at the Palazzo Bovara focusing on works by both Archizoom Associati and Superstudio - a prominent Radical design contemporary.

  • Superonda sofa by Archizoom Associati | Archizoom Associati and Centro Studi Poltronova | STIRworld
    Superonda sofa by Archizoom Associati Image: Courtesy of Centro Studi Poltronova
  • The design piece is said to be the first sofa without a conventional frame | Archizoom Associati and Centro Studi Poltronova | STIRworld
    The design piece is said to be the first sofa without a conventional frame Image: Courtesy of Centro Studi Poltronova
  • Made from a single block of polyurethane, the piece can be used as a sofa, a chaise longue, or even as a bed | Archizoom Associati and Centro Studi Poltronova | STIRworld
    Made from a single block of polyurethane, the piece can be used as a sofa, a chaise longue, or even as a bed Image: Courtesy of Centro Studi Poltronova

Founded in 1966 and active until its disbandment eight years later, Archizoom Associati was spearheaded by Andrea Branzi, Gilberto Corretti, Paolo Deganello, and Massimo Morozzi, followed in 1968 by Dario and Lucia Bartolini. Alongside Superstudio, they were responsible for organising the now-fabled exhibition Superarchitettura, which in many ways, laid the groundwork for the era of Radical design. Marrying pop art with function and kitsch while defying conventions and challenging traditionalist outlooks on design at every turn, the group’s work was provocative, stimulating, and undercut by a slice of fantasy.

Visitors to the reading corner can browse through the volumes on the Superonda sofa itself | Archizoom Associati and Centro Studi Poltronova | STIRworld
Visitors to the reading corner can browse through the volumes on the Superonda sofa itself Image: Courtesy of Centro Studi Poltronova

Between the two volumes that were on show at the reading corner, Superonda: Archizoom Associati focuses on the eponymous sofa system created by the collective. An iconic piece of furniture from the era, Superonda is said to be the first sofa without a conventional frame, composed of two undulating waves cut from a single polyurethane block cut into two masses and finished with a lustrous PVC-coated fabric. By virtue of its modular fabrication and assembly process, the design piece lends itself to a number of uses: either as a sofa, a bed or even as a chaise lounge.

  • The Monographs of Poltronova - Mies + Sanremo: Archizoom Associati | Archizoom Associati and Centro Studi Poltronova | STIRworld
    The Monographs of Poltronova - Mies + Sanremo: Archizoom Associati Image: Courtesy of Centro Studi Poltronova
  • Archizoom Associati’s iconic Farfalla fabric pattern | Archizoom Associati and Centro Studi Poltronova | STIRworld
    Archizoom Associati’s iconic Farfalla fabric pattern Image: Courtesy of Centro Studi Poltronova

On the other hand, Mies + Sanremo: Archizoom Associati is centred on the emblematic Mies armchair and footrest - designed in honour of Mies van der Rohe’s passing - and the Sanremo lamp. The former emerged from a desire to channel the great architect’s stern geometric design language and material sensibilities to craft a seat using rubber, with the aid of a triangular chrome-plated metal frame, and a ponyskin headrest.

  • Mies armchair and footrest by Archizoom Associati | Archizoom Associati and Centro Studi Poltronova | STIRworld
    Mies armchair and footrest by Archizoom Associati Image: Courtesy of Centro Studi Poltronova
  • Developed in honour of the late architect’s passing, the design strives to recreate his stern geometric design language with a seat made of rubber | Archizoom Associati and Centro Studi Poltronova | STIRworld
    Developed in honour of the late architect’s passing, the design strives to recreate his stern geometric design language with a seat made of rubber Image: Courtesy of Centro Studi Poltronova

Alternatively, the latter is a biomorphic lighting design element, comprising a slim metal trunk topped by 'foliage' made from lanceolate transparent or fluorescent green methacrylate leaves. Moreover, visitors to the reading corner could browse through the contents of both volumes while lounging on a version of the Superonda sofa in Archizoom’s emblematic Farfalla print. Designed in 1968, the print is now part of Poltronova's fabric catalogue and reinterpreted floral themes in an "acid pop key,” presenting a marriage of butterflies, polka dots, chequered motifs, stars, and the aesthetic of American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein.

  • Sanremo floor lamp by Archizoom Associati | Archizoom Associati and Centro Studi Poltronova | STIRworld
    Sanremo floor lamp by Archizoom Associati Image: Courtesy of Centro Studi Poltronova
  • Sanremo on display during the exhibition | Archizoom Associati and Centro Studi Poltronova | STIRworld
    Sanremo on display during the exhibition Image: Courtesy of Centro Studi Poltronova

Conversely, the Palazzo Bovara became home to the Elle Decor Forever exhibition developed by Studio Calvi Brambilla alongside Poltronova, which featured the Mies armchair and Sanremo floor lamp, as well as the Passiflora table lamp and Spera mirror by Superstudio. In essence, this showcase, with its collection of design objects by leading practitioners from the era presents an intriguing snapshot of one of the most exciting eras of Italian design, whose ideas still provoke intrigue and debate till the present day.

  • The events present an intriguing snapshot from one of the most exciting eras of Italian design | Archizoom Associati and Centro Studi Poltronova | STIRworld
    The events present an intriguing snapshot from one of the most exciting eras of Italian design Image: Courtesy of Centro Studi Poltronova
  • Centro Studi Poltronova’s showcases highlight the work of a practice that has constantly pushed the limits of the avant garde | Archizoom Associati and Centro Studi Poltronova | STIRworld
    Centro Studi Poltronova’s showcases highlight the work of a practice that has constantly pushed the limits of the avant garde Image: Courtesy of Centro Studi Poltronova

Aligning with the theme of 'Prototyping Utopias', which embodied the spirit of this edition of 5vie Design Week, Poltronova’s contribution in highlighting Archizoom Associati’s seminal ideas expounds a vision of the future through an exhibition format that is fun, interactive, and intellectually engaging. Commemorating the work of a collective that was driven to push the limits of the avant garde in design, the two events constitute a fitting tribute to a group whose thought will endure throughout the ages, and hopefully inspire the next generation of designers to expand their horizons even further.

STIR takes you on a Milanese sojourn! Experience Salone del Mobile and all the design districts - 5vie, Brera, Fuorisalone, Isola, Zona Tortona, and Durini - with us. STIR’s coverage of Milan Design Week 2022, Meanwhile in Milan showcases the best exhibits, moods, studios, events, and folks to look out for. We are also excited to announce our very own STIR press booth at Salone del Mobile - Hall 5/7 S.14, Fiera Milano RHO.

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