An Italian Design Story | Arflex

  • One of the first countries to forge ahead after the Second World War was Italy, particular in the area of design. Cars, furniture and later, fashion, started to display the ‘Made in Italy’ label and were exported around the world.

    Arflex was one of the pioneers in high-end Italian furniture. The brand was founded by three engineers in 1947, who surrounded themselves with Italian designers on the rise: Franco Albini, Erberto Carboni, Cini Boeri, Ettore Sottsass, the Castiglioni brothers and, importantly, Marco Zanuso, who joined the company in 1948 and created a number of collections. Today, many of these designs can be found in museums worldwide, including the Triennale Museum in Milan and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

    In partnership with Space Furniture

    Strips Sofa designed by Cini Boeri for Arflex 1968, in the Toorak House by Lucy Bock Design Studio. | Photography by Sharyn Cairns

    Over the years, some of Arflex’s iconic designs have been re-released, allowing a new audience of design buffs to engage with these classic and timeless pieces. Interior designer Lucy Marczyk, creative director of LUCY MARCZYK Design Studio, has followed Arflex for many years. “Every time I go to the Milan Furniture Fair, it’s the first stand I visit. They’re ‘knockouts’,” says Marczyk, who has been bringing many of the Arflex designs into her clients’ homes, as well as her own.

    In the living room of Marczyk’s home is the Strips Sofa designed in 1968 by Italian architect Cini Boeri. Recipient of the prestigious Compasso D’Oro prize in 1979, this module lounge suite evokes the swinging 1960s when furniture became relaxed or, like the fashion worn, ‘unstitched’ (although this sofa is impeccably finished). “Cini was such a powerful force behind Italian design,” says Marczyk, who studied furniture design before making a name for herself in interior design. Marczyk’s Strips Sofa is covered in deep teal velvet and takes the form of two modules. These are either aligned in a row or alternatively placed in an L-shape around a coffee table. “It can also be a bed for a guest staying over,” she adds.

    “Every time I go to the Milan Furniture Fair, it’s the first stand I visit. They’re ‘knockouts’…”


    – interior designer Lucy Marczyk

    Strips Sofa designed by Cini Boeri for Arflex 1968

    The Surry Hills home of Smart Design Studio director William Smart features the Marenco Sofa designed by Mario Marenco for Arflex, 1970.

    Architect William Smart, director of Smart Design Studio, has been a huge fan of Arflex’s Marenco Sofa, designed in the 1970s since childhood. “I’m drawn to the 1970s, whether it takes the form of cars, music, fashion and of course furniture,” says Smart, who purchased a tan leather Marenco Sofa and ottoman eight years ago for his home above his former office in Surry Hills. However, he recently moved the home and office to Alexandria, a warehouse crowned with an open plan brick-vaulted space on top. “With the move, we decided to only take only the things we really loved, whether that was furniture, art or objects,” says Smart, who didn’t think too hard about whether the Marenco Sofa would make the cut. “You could say that I’m a bit of a rug rat when it comes to watching television. Sometimes, I am lying on the floor, using the lounge as a backrest. Other times I’m in between the sofa and the floor,” he adds.

    The Marenco Sofa also provided the impetus for the colour scheme in the new abode, with the sofa and ottoman complementing the white brick walls and barrel-vaulted brick ceiling. “I’ve always been drawn to natural textures and finishes, whether its rough masonry walls or granite floors. It’s a neutral backdrop.” And like the rough textures, Smart appreciates the robustness of this lounge, with his dog Dougal not restricted from using it. “The lounge isn’t precious. It really just gets better with time,” adds Smart.

    Domain House by Watts Studio features the Ben Ben Sofa designed by Cini Boeri for Arflex, 2009. | Photography Sharyn Cairns

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enquire Now