Unswayed by fads, Flexform has quietly built itself a global reputation for high-end furnishing design. As the company reaches its 60th year in business, its designer Antonio Citterio helps unpick the secrets of its enviable brand longevity.
Take inspiration elsewhere – but know your roots
Born in the great flourishing of Italian design that shaped the 1960s, the Flexform di Galimberti workshop was founded by the Galimberti brothers in the manufacturing region of Brianza in 1959. Their sofas and chairs soon found their way into some of the country’s most stylish addresses, from the Teatro alla Scala in Milan to villas on Lake Como.
Now a third-generation family business, the company may now be an international concern and take inspiration from all over the world, but its values remain the same – and the ‘Made in Italy’ tag remains as important as ever.
“We have kept faith with our identity with tenacity and determination,” notes Flexform, “interaction with different cultural models has undoubtedly enriched us, but our production philosophy has not been influenced.”
Surround yourself with skilled people
Since the 1960s, Flexform has collaborated with some of Italy’s most prominent designers, and its long-running creative partnership with Citterio has taken the brand to new heights, with innovative designs such as the Groundpiece sofa.
By retaining its manufacturing base in Brianza, the brand also continues to benefit from the local talent pool: “Brianza is filled with specialised craftsmen who possess the necessary expertise – skills passed down from one generation to the next – to make the products unique and inimitable,” notes Flexform.
Get the supply chain right
Flexform’s signature pieces are its superlatively comfortable sofas and that means investing in the best components upfront.
Leather, wood, linen, cotton, cashmere, goose-down and other materials are all carefully sourced from trusted suppliers, using local resources where possible.
Give the customer exactly what they want
It’s where you put your feet up after a long day. Where you catch up with the latest box set. Where you check your emails. Where you unwind with a good book. Where you grab a bite to eat. The sofa is a key item of furniture in today’s homes – or as Citterio eloquently puts it: “Every sofa is a constellation of different functions.”
One of the first companies to recognise how modern life was changing how we use our living spaces, Flexform has made its name with cleverly designed sectional sofas that can be customised to fit each owner’s space and needs.
Offering total flexibility, the collection is also designed with practicality in mind: “What sets every Flexform product apart is the fact that it is conceived for everyday use, and always easy to use,” says Citterio.
Don’t be afraid to ignore trends
As Citterio notes, discerning consumers are increasingly turning their backs on ‘fast fashion’ fads and in-your-face luxury in favour of authenticity and understated quality – and the interiors world is no exception.
Elegant but never showy, contemporary yet timeless, Flexform furnishings feel more relevant than ever to a customer market that is eschewing conspicuous consumption for refined design.
“Our clients are demanding and feel the need to find their own style,” says Flexform. “Like Flexform, they sense that the only way to do this is to demonstrate an innate elegance, that requires just a few very carefully chosen pieces for their surroundings.”
Sectional sofas are the heart of the Flexform collection – here we round up some of the company’s classic designs.
Best for modern life: Antonio Citterio’s technically innovative Groundpiece sofa is invitingly deep and low, but it’s also brilliantly functional – with the option of a flat-topped console that can be used as a side table or shelving instead of a traditional armrest.
Best for open-plan living: Ideal for living spaces where your seating will be visible from 360°, the back and sides of the Cestone sofa are beautifully upholstered with a mesh of woven cowhide – giving statement style from any angle.
Best for making an impression: Chances are, you’ve sat on a Magister sofa at some point. An instant design icon when it launched in1982, it’s a popular choice for public spaces such as hotel lobbies and offices as well as homes. Available in fabric or leather (the latter really shows off its clean, minimalist styling), Magister also converts easily to a single bed.
Best for individuality: Lifesteel’s sleek, contemporary lines and generous proportions create visual impact, while small details add individuality – such as grosgrain piping that can be matched to the upholstery fabric or made in a contrasting colour.