Through a lucky sequence of events I recently met Italian architect Gianmatteo Romegialli during one of his regular trips to Australia to visit his friend the Canberra architect, Enrico Taglietti. HIs architecture practice act_romegialli is based in Milan and in Morbegno at the northern-most tip of Lake Como. During our meeting he revealed that the studio had recently designed some furniture pieces for a new brand called Fioroni and was acting as the label's art director Established in the small Italian town of Sondrio, near the border with Switzerland, Fioroni specialises in solid timber products. The craftsmen behind the brand have over 50 years of experience in woodworking.
The architectural work of act_Romegialli is minimal, often using basic archetypal building envelopes expressed through the use of subtle material combinations. The pieces designed for Fioroni have many similar elements, embracing very established furniture forms such as the bench, sideboard and wall hung cabinets - all in solid timbers like chestnut, walnut and larch.
The 'Tintan' bench is made from solid chestnut and combines a timeless form with beautiful workmanship. The interlocking cross-brace, alternating on both sides, gives the bench a formal simplicity and declared structure that is quite powerful.
'T-Box' is another act_romegialli design in the Fioroni collection. The wall hung cabinets create a strong graphic impact due to the rhythmic distribution of full and empty spaces. The containers are made of 13mm solid walnut or chestnut while the dividers are made of bent sheet steel finished in white, dark grey or duck egg blue powder coat. Available in different sizes, the units can be mounted horizontally or vertically,
In addition to their own pieces, act_romegialli have selected two collaborating studios for the first collection of Fioroni. Perhaps not surprisingly, given the brand's location, both collaborating studios, CCRZ and Studio Guscetti, are Swiss but from different disciplines - CCRZ predominantly focusing on graphic design while Studio Guscetti are architects.
Studio Guscetti was established in the 1950's but since 1999 has been directed by the brothers Giovanni and Francesca Guscetti, who both graduated from the ETH in Zurich. The brothers took over the studio from its founders, engineer Alberto Guscetti and architect Aldo Guscetti. Today there work ranges from commercial building for clients such as Audi to domestic houses in a clean minimalistic style that explores the contemporary box, punching voids into the form to create subtly sculptural buildings.
The 'Ombri' range of benches and tables are made of black MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard), that is coloured all the way through so the special 45 ° joints are able to express visual lightness without showing a contrasting band of standard MDF. Strongly geometric, the bench can be used alone for low display or paired with the 'Ombri' dining table. There is also a very low table in the series that hovers just 20cm above the floor. All three pieces share a sober, almost monastic quality.
CCRZ founded by Eugenio Castiglioni, Paolo Cavalli and Marco Zürcher is a design consultancy that works across art direction, graphic and exhibition design, communication strategies and visual identity. Their 'J.M.B.stool' is made from formply (resin coated plywood traditionally used in concrete formwork). The simple stool is made up of four identical side panels. The stool can also be positioned together horizontally to create a bench. A finger hole makes moving the stool around easy and creates a little detail to contrast the stool’s rigid rectangular form. Available with yellow, green or black resin finishes.
In a similar vein their modular bookshelf systems J.M.B./4.3.2 and 3.6 are also made from formply – only in black. The computer-cut ply interlocks like a puzzle to form a strong rigid bookshelf in two sizes – the 3.6 is an 18 bay vertical bookshelf while the 4.3.2 is a 12 bay open and closed sideboard design.
Another act_romegialli design from the collection is the sideboard 'Làres'. Made from solid larch, 'Làres' is a charming and unusual sideboard that shares elements of traditional farmhouse furniture but which is expressed in a new and highly crafted way.
Studio Guscetti also produced 'Rascana', a folding step ladder for Fioroni. The intriguing item is a re-design of a traditional alpine design from the region. The ingenious concept converts from working ladder or display system to a simple compact pole.
I will hopefully be visiting act romegialli during Salone del Mobile this year and I am looking forward to getting a closer look at the Fioroni collection. Its rare in these times of economic uncertainty that new Italian furniture brands take the plunge and launch - particularly ones that are steeped in regional flavour but while Fioroni isn't a global concept or driven by marketing, I'm sure it will find a niche market all of its own, one that responds to the brand's extreme simplicity, craftsmanship and honesty of materials.
For more products and additional information on the Fioroni brand go to their website designed by CCRZ.
All Photography by Claudia Pozzoli e Marcello Mariana