tobia & afra scarpa: the soriana sofa

via kwid
i had no real knowledge of the above sofa and chair set prior to my obsession with this room by kelly wearstler.
it, however, was not love at first sight.
not for the sofa (or for wearstler's work but that's changed and is a story for another day).  these pieces kind of puzzled me at first, i really wasn't sure i liked them - kind of bulbous and creature-like.  were they cheesy?  where they too much?  probably definitely too much money.  after having this image constantly pop back up on my computer, i became intrigued.  they are really quite interesting pieces of furniture (i could go on about the lamps too but will spare you/me).
here are some details that give a little insight as to why these end up on sites like 1stdibs and in some of the swankiest auction houses:
designed:  around 1970 by tobia scarpa and his wife afra.  tobia is the son of carlo scarpa who was an absolutely amazing architect.  if you are ever in venice definitely go to the querini stampalia foundation.  tobia and his wife were in glassworks but branched into furniture design right around the time that italy was beginning to embrace and master industrial design practices.

via artnet
produced: by cassina, a company that still puts out many iconic pieces from designers such as leCorbusier, charlotte perriand, and frank lloyd wright to name a few.  cassina saw opportunity in shifting from hand-craft to serial production and in doing so they invited designers and architects in on the collaboration.  the focus was on materiality and technology and how the latter could inform new ways of creating.  more info here and here
defining characteristics: the frame of each piece is actually external, it appears between the front fold of the seat and base, and at the rear where it supports the back rest.  around the same time period, tobia and afra were designing other pieces that utilized cold shaped polyurethane and injected materials to create shape [the coronado sofa for b&b italia].  i believe that the soriana set was born from ideas behind traditional methods for giving furniture shape [it's skeleton] and the capabilities of the new plastics and foams that were becoming available.  the play between hiding or not hiding structure, the materiality of that structure and then the relationship between the hard steel and the soft billowing quality of the foam covered in leather.  their goals were oriented towards developing "accessible luxury design" using the newest technology and a variety of fine materials to ultimately create the "essence of relaxation" - i could totally take a nap on that sofa.

via 1stdibs
the soriana set is no longer in production [that i have found] but they are available.  these aren't pieces that you'll come across every day.  they're not being churned out and sold in your local big box furniture showroom - while there is nothing particularly wrong with that furniture.  these are pieces that people collect, pass down to their children, or recirculate to others with a discerning eye.  

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