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Last month in Milan for Salone del Mobile 2018, Natuzzi Italia and Marcel Wanders Studio collaborated on a collection entitled “Agronomist.” The striking collection was full of contemporary furniture inspired by the architecture, landscape, and lifestyle in Puglia. Now, for NYCxDesign (May 11–23), the collection debuts new limited pieces, including the Furrow sofa, the Barrow coffee table, the Crate cabinet, and the Peacock carpet.
To welcome the collection, last night in New York, the Natuzzi and Marcel Wanders presented “The Agronomist Goes to New York”—an event celebrating the culture and designs of both houses. To get a closer look, the select pieces will be displayed at the Natuzzi flagship store at 105 Madison Avenue from May 19–24.
Whitewall spoke with Pasquale Junior Natuzzi, Chief Marketing & Communication Officer of Natuzzi, and Gabriele Chiave, Creative Director at Marcel Wanders Studio, about the new collection and its unique new look.
WHITEWALL: Tell us a bit about working collaboratively with Marcel Wanders Studio.
PASQUALE JUNIOR NATUZZI: We want to create a strong, lasting relationship with consumers—a bond that transcends the simple relationship that results from a purchase; a bond in which common ideas are shared through inspiration. To achieve this, I’ve looked for a poet, a storyteller, not just a designer. The work we have done with Marcel Wanders was to study the distinctive traits of our brand identity, discover what inspires us to create projects that represent the essence of our history, our landscape and our artistic and artisan heritage. We have found harmony starting from the idea of creating complete interiors, not just pieces of a collection. This relationship has culminated in two collections: “Agronomist” and “Oceanographer,” containing various types of products, united by a common thread: Puglia, the essential part of the company identity that was founded in this territory in 1959.
WW: What are some features in this collection that are new for Natuzzi?
PJN: The sofas, furniture, and objects from both collections designed by Marcel Wanders have a strong connection with iconic elements of our land. Together, we have made an extraordinary evolutionary path. A fishing net inspired the creation of a chair; a sea urchin lent its shape to a set of vases; the rounded lines of a shell were transformed into a sofa base.
“Agronomist” is a collection of contemporary, inspiring, rather rustic furniture based on the landscapes, architecture and lifestyle of Puglia. The colors resemble the warm brown of the fertile earth, the silvery tints of the olive groves and the light green of the spiny cactus faded by the sun.
For the New York event we wondered, “What would happen if the Agronomist concept moved to the urban landscape of New York?” The pieces in the collection take on a new identity. They are dark, with an urban and underground look and feel. And the sofa has a lot of tattoos!
It’s great to generate stories of fusion. It’s a concept that is a part of us, along with the concept of harmony.
WW: Natuzzi is rooted in sustainable design, and sourcing quality materials. Can you tell us a bit about working with the materials you did in this collection, such as terra cotta, leather, and wood?
PJN: We respect nature. We love the materials we use and love fashioning them with our hands. Leather selection and tanning are carried out at our Italian tannery, where the art of tanning and the latest technologies join to ensure the utmost in respecting nature and obtaining quality. We only use wood from responsibly managed forests. Respect for the environment is the first step towards protecting everyone’s health. It is an act of social responsibility that is reflected in everything we do.
WW: What was important of the brand’s location, the Puglia landscape, is translated in this collection?
PJN: In celebration of NYCxDesign, we collaborated again to create a limited edition of the Agronomist collection, influenced by the urban landscape of New York. The Furrow sofa, originally covered in reddish-brown leather and finished with saddle stitching, is dressed in black tattooed leather with seams similar to scars on the profile of the armrests and seat and back cushions. Each tattoo has been meticulously created through an exceptional embroidery technique that required more than 150 hours of work (9 hours a day for 17 days) and more than 12 million individual points to bring the 70 tattoos on the leather covering to life.
WW: Tell us a bit about this collaborative project with Natuzzi, and what makes the collection special to you.
GABRIELE CHIAVE: More than other furniture brands, Natuzzi is truly defined by its local elements. As a whole, the company has a very strong desire for authenticity. Working alongside the artisans of Natuzzi gave me a chance to experience their commitment to stylistic research, meticulous craftsmanship and proven industrial know-how. Everything we created together was informed by the natural surroundings, including materials with which we designed and the patterns and textures we incorporated. What makes this collection special is how the two original collections can be created to complement each other. The Furrow Sofa with its contemporary re-interpretation of Puglian heritage, uplifts home furniture and challenges Natuzzi to take its expertise a step further.
WW: What are some special design details that the studio wanted to highlight?
GC: The Agronomist collection reminds of the toil that goes into working the land and the craftsmanship required to achieve hand-stitched leather. This collection has the feel and emotion of organic, outdoor elements. The Furrow Sofa, originally covered in reddish-brown leather and finished with saddle stitching, has a special New York edition. This edition is dressed in black tattooed leather with seams similar to scars/sutures on the profile of the armrests and seat and back cushions. The leather used is HERITAGE of the Natuzzi Italia Collection, in a black color created specifically for this collection at the tannery owned by Natuzzi in Northern Italy. We wanted to draw attention with tattoos on the leather upholstery that are typical of an Old School style with swallows, daggers, roses, pins ups, hearts, hands, eyes, skulls and maritime symbolism such as sailing ships and anchors. Each has been meticulously created through an exceptional embroidery technique, unique for its density and process that perforates the leather without piercing or tearing it. Additionally, more details can be discovered on the Barrow Coffee Table, where handles and wheels are both covered in black HERITAGE leather. The crate cabinet features customized graphics reminiscent of the olive leaf and the Peacock carpet inspired by the plumage of the peacock’s tail displayed by black and white mirrored pattern.
WW: Puglia was a large inspiration for the collection. What points of inspiration from the region were translated in these pieces?
GC: The furniture of this collection was inspired by everything in the region. The original Agronomist collection reflects the serenity of the landscape. Much of the pieces are reminiscent of the white houses of Ostuni, the blonde terra cotta amphorae and the grey stone of the trulli houses. Other pieces remind of the warm brown of the fertile earth, the silvery tints of the olive groves, the faded green of the spiny cactus faded by the sun and the wavy motif of olive leaves. The landscape of Puglia is so rich with diverse colours, textures and geometric shapes that complement and accentuate each other. Everything outside made its way into this collection.
WW: How did the city of New York play a role in the design?
GC: This design is about Gotham City, which is the dark, alter ego of New York. Gotham is a place over run by villainy. It is dark and brooding. Taking cues from the urban landscape of New York, we designed around concepts of shadows, large looming buildings, alleys and tunnels. There is a mystery to Gotham and also a sinister, but high fashion style. This collection is also presented as a connection of the Italian heritage found in New York that was brought from Italy. This collection offers a bold look, it stands out and draws attention. With that attention comes connection that we want to make through our designs. There is an energy to New York, and we wanted to convey a bold, confident, sophisticated presence.
WW: What is a piece in the collection that merges the ideas of Italian design with Dutch design?
GC: I think the Barrow Coffee Table, originally inspired by the shapes of a rustic wheelbarrow, being presented in New York merges the two styles. Elegant and functional, it serves as a table yet is more abstract, with pronounced shapes. It is both grand and refined. For this exhibit, it is in dark beech wood and covered in black HERITAGE leather both on the handles and on the wheels.