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Edra, a new approach to furnishing
Rome - (Ign) - Furnishing haute couture? Valerio Mazzei, the founder of Edra, defends himself, saying that he has simply tried to launch a successful company on the market, looking towards the future and focussing on innovative design. However, it is difficult for Mazzei to free himself of this label as a great innovator of style and content. If he should want to, of course: "Apart from the fact that any merit I may have, for having to a certain extent revolutionised the approach to furnishing, is in any case to be shared with my sister Monica and with Massimo Morozzi, the art director with whom we have been working for almost twenty years, I don't think I have invented anything that is really revolutionary". Nevertheless, Edra has brought about a kind of revolution. The company was established in 1987 with the idea of uniting the entrepreneurial convictions of a young manager, Valerio Mazzei, with the capacity to invent new approaches to furniture design of Massimo Morozzi, an important figure in Italian architectural innovation. They started out in a factory in Perignano, near Pisa, and now have an industrial complex with over 60 employees and an annual growth rate constantly in double figures. This is the story of an almost unique entrepreneurial success, which seems more like something from the world of fashion than the furnishing industry, because, in fact, its secret is in bringing together a business idea and product style within a single entrepreneurial approach.
"Up until now," explains Mazzei, "people have always sat primly on sofas, in a row. Our sofas can also be used like this, of course, but they can also be used as pieces of furniture on which to rest, play, talk, discuss, and get to know people. We have abandoned the traditional idea of the sofa to invent something new, informal, useful and free".
The step from this highly intellectual vision to doing business is not however automatic. How did you manage to achieve it?
"A great deal of technology, research on the materials and production processes. And also a great deal of stubbornness. It's not at all easy to invent a really new sofa. We had to invent anti-slip systems, fabrics able to resist high levels of traction, differentiated-density polyurethanes. If people were to sit differently, we needed to find different materials, able to respond to new production needs. In order to realise our idea, that of deconstructing the traditional upholstered piece of furniture and turning it into something adaptable to individual needs, we basically had to start with the materials and reinvent them. This led to the creation of Hispeed, an elastic membrane which can adhere to any supporting structure, and Keblan, an extremely low-stretch fibre which we use to produce seats whose inclination and position are entirely customisable".
In less than twenty years you have built a sort of international design school, bringing together proposals and ideas from all over the world.
"We are extremely proud of our idea of always focusing on innovation, not only in formal, but also structural terms. Some of our pieces of furniture require a great deal of technology and little labour, while there are others whose production involves five days' manual work. Certain ideas originated here, in our factory, others came from the Arab world, from distant lands. Every year we analyse hundreds of designs, hypotheses and ideas, but only a few of them leave the factory as a finished product bearing the Edra trademark. Because we are only interested in strong ideas, bearing the mark of innovation, even at the cost of revolutionising production processes".
Do you have any dreams?
"I want to continue inventing new ways of doing business and building new things. To keep on growing, until we become a benchmark for style, product and quality. To find new ideas all the time, new materials, new approaches to furnishing. I hope I manage to succeed".
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