What makes a great sofa? Roberto Palomba, who developed over 500 products in his career as product designer and architect, shared his answers during our November Breakfast Insights at Poltrona Frau. The Italian brand launched on Clippings the previous month, and bringing our A&D community to the showroom on Fulham road was the perfect opportunity to learn more about the Poltrona Frau universe.
On the morning, Roberto Palomba, who travelled to London from Milan, joined us for our talk. The co-founder of Studio Palomba Serafini, which he set up with his wife Ludovica Serafini in 1994, has collaborated with Poltrona Frau on multiple seating collections. ‘When developing a new collection, their team can give you over 100 options of how to do the stitching. As a designer, I find it very exciting and inspiring to work with such a skilled and knowledgeable team’, Roberto said about his relationship with the brand.
Our talk focussed on two of his sofas on display in the showroom. We first paid attention to the generously proportioned, inviting Let It Be collection with its deep seats and wide armrests. ‘People spend so much time on sofas these days; that’s why a sofa needs to be comfortable in every position a person could possibly sit on it.’ The upholstered part of the sofa sits on a slim aluminium frame, creating an elegant contrast to the voluptuous upper part.
‘I chose these thin legs as they elevate the sofa and actually accentuate its silhouette – like a perfectly fitting pair of stilettos worn by a confident woman’, he explains. ‘Another benefit of this type of frame is that vacuum robots can easily get on with their job collecting any dust that otherwise might gather under the sofa.’
A similar frame also supports the Happy Jack sofa, the second focus of our talk with Roberto. This more compact model, a 2022 release, is the Italian’s answer to compact city flats all around the world. Living up to its name, the sofa actually smiles: Roberto designed the armrests to have a subtle upward bend.
Thinking about the sofa’s general place in modern interiors, Roberto noted that it benefits from the disappearance of the bookshelf. ‘Many people won’t put large wall shelves into their living rooms, as they just don’t own as many books as previous generations. This frees up more space for sofas, which I see as becoming larger. We spent so much time on them, relaxing, catching up with friends or family or even working – it’s one of the central places in everyone’s home.’
Looking at commercial interiors, the designer notices how the idea of comfort has also arrived at the workplace. ‘In the past, only the leadership would have soft seating in their offices. Now, they form an important part of the modern workplaces, as the office becomes more of a meeting space and place to catch up with colleagues and exchange ideas.’