We sat down for an exclusive interview with Charley Vezza.
Experimental, revolutionary and innovative, Gufram is a company that has made a significant contribution to Italian design and creativity since it’s conception in 1966. Committed to aesthetic, technological and material research, the company has gained notoriety over the years for The Multiples, a series of signature pieces produced in limited editions that includes the Bocca sofa, Pratone armchair and Cactus coat stand. Well respected within the industry for producing unexpected and iconic furniture, Gufram prides itself as a company with products Made in Italy by Italians.
How does it feel to lead a brand that is so important to the history of design?
It is a splendid experience yet at the same time a very difficult one that transforms in to a daily battle. The great cultural legacy of Gufram is a double edged sword; on one side you can use it to open many doors, but on the other side you run the risk of being crushed under an immense weight. Therefore adding new products to our list is a very delicate process. It is not sufficient to enlarge a commonly used object so that it will become an Gufram icon, but it has to be a project that tells an ironic yet intelligent story, with the ability to become a captivating narrative that goes beyond the materials and the form.
What is the relationship between art, craftsmanship and design in Gufram’s production?
In Gufram’s case, the presentation of art applied to design, as though it was something simple, requires a profound technical knowledge. To create our soft products without the use of padding, we use our special material Guflac, a naturally based product that creates a unique protective skin. Of course the formula is secret. The ingredients are known, but the ability to use Guflac in innovative ways is what allows us to create pieces that surpass normal limits: from the coatrack Cactus to Pratone, the lounge chair in the form of an oversized section of grass. We challenge anyone to try to reproduce it. It is impossible and therefore there cannot be counterfeits. This adds value to the Gufram name, giving it authenticity and originality. That is why iconic pieces produced by Gufram are displayed in some of the world’s most important museums and most beautiful homes across the four corners of the globe.
What pieces have you produced have you put in your homes?
Of course it is a varied mix of furniture styles that create a unique environment. The BOCCA sofa designed by Franco Audrito from Studio 65 is flanked by two artisan side tables made from cocobolo, a tropical hardwood, that I bought in Costa Rica. Il Capitello creates an amazingly unique dialog with a set of anonymous chairs from the late 80’s with a post-modernist style, that I found in the Marolles quarter in Brussels.
In Gufram case, the presentation of art applied to design, as though it was something simple, requires a profound technical knowledge.
What is a little known fact about Gufram?
Giacomo was one of the first artisans when Gufram was starting to produce Cactus. It was in 1972, when I was still a boy. Today he is still the one who oversees production, from the hand mixed material to the painting of small details.
Tell us a little bit about your relationship with your designers.
Gufram is considered a “playground for designers: a parallel universe without limits. Gufram is considered a platform where they can confront each other with language of expression and the history of design, and then they discover that they have created friendships that go beyond company and artist. It is at this moment that courageous and daring products are created, such as the encounter between Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari that gave life to the capsule collection by Toiletpaper. The truth is that together we all have so much fun.
What is your favorite art movement? And why?
The Pop Art movement, the movement in which Gufram has a special affinity. In an involuntary way Gufram is an integrated part through esthetic characteristics, time and dynamic expression. In fact at the exhibition POP ART DESIGN curated by Mathias Schwartz-Clauss, one of the most complete exhibitions on the movement that was housed last year in the Barbican Gallery in London and next year will have several stops in the United States, contains iconic Gufram pieces. Capitello, Bocca, Pratone, Cactus e Leonardo, an archived piece, are all part of this exhibition on Pop Art.
What are some characteristics that both Gufram and LUISAVIAROMA share?
I believe that the idea of luxury based on the value of content is common. The desire to be the first to understand new trends in different fields of applications. Also, knowing to choose between those trends that have a short life, that don’t have substance, and those that transform into a cult sensation.