From 1912 to 2012 a unique history of people, culture and a strong identity.

Recounted in a book, a design contest and in a museum.

1912-2012. Poltrona Frau, the epitome of Italian culture and expertise and a household name all over the world, celebrates its first hundred years. Recognised across the globe for its design, quality and creative values, the company has decided to mark the occasion by revealing the many different sides to its make-up that have made it the leading Italian company in its field. These many facets that are combined with great consistency will be revealed throughout 2012 in three different projects: a book, a design contest for young designers to launch the “centenary armchair” with a top-class judging panel, and the opening of the first Poltrona Frau museum in Tolentino. This is a series of significant investments to commemorate its first 100 years, which Poltrona Frau wishes to celebrate by looking at itself through other people’s eyes, having the courage to allow itself to be stripped bare and take pride in its roots which will be shown with no filters. Poltrona Frau projects itself towards the next 100 years with the same energy and enthusiasm of the first 100.

The book
Entitled “L’intelligenza delle mani” (“Intelligence in our hands”), this book takes an unconventional look at the company’s hundred-year history in an alternating series of perspectives, actions and words from people that work at and interact with the company, contributing to making it better every single day. Every decade begins with the Poltrona Frau furniture of the period, but this vision is then immediately broadened to take in the key events of those years, from art and trends to culture and entertainment. Between one decade and the next, a chapter is devoted to the processes that give rise to the iconic furnishings found in homes all over the world: the intelligence that goes into the sewing, cutting and refining, as recounted also by the craftsmen. And straight after, the testimonies of the architects, the Pritzker prize winners and many others, that have worked with Poltrona Frau in developing world famous architectural projects, in particular theatres and auditoriums. From the European Parliament in Strasbourg to the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles by Frank O. Gehry, the Auditorium del Parco della Musica in Rome by Renzo Piano and the Forum Building in Barcelona by Herzog & de Meuron. The story continues with the world of cars, yachts, airplanes, and helicopters, where the historic culture of the leather that the company is known for is expressed in the complex upholstery of interiors. Finally, in a kind of backstage section on the artisanal expertise of Poltrona Frau, a glossary of the technical terms that define details, processes and tools, each one revealing anecdotes and interesting facts. The curator of the book is Mario Piazza, editor in chief of Abitare. The images are by Giovanni Gastel, world famous artist and photographer known for his elegant and delicate touch.

The design contest
12 of the most talented and best known designers in the world, from Brazil, Italy, China, Australia, UK, India, USA, Japan, the Netherlands and France. Massimiliano Adami, Stephen Burks, Lorenzo Damiani, Daphna Laurens, Zanini de Zanine, Xie Dong, Adam Goodrum, Constance Guisset, Benjamin Hubert, Nendo, Satyendra Pakhalé, Nika Zupanc. Poltrona Frau asked each of them to design an armchair to symbolise the centenary, projecting it into the future. In fact, each project interprets the values of the company with a new vision. The theme of the design contest: the armchair as a place to gather oneself, reflect, relax, think, covered in Pelle Frau® leather and produced thanks to the exclusive techniques of the Poltrona Frau craftsmen in Tolentino. The result is a series of projects that express a broad vision that brings together different cultures and ways of experiencing design. These are new suggestions that the company makes its own, expanding its language and remaining in tune with the contemporary. An international judging panel made up of personalities from various worlds – design, architecture, journalism and business – will adjudicate the winning project. The judging panel includes Ratan Tata, Chairman of Tata Group and Poltrona Frau Group partner in India, François Henry Pinault, CEO of luxury group PPR which controls, among others, brands such as Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Yves Saint-Laurent, and the architect Jean Nouvel. Produced in a limited edition and then added to the catalogue, the centenary armchair will be presented at the Salone del Mobile 2012 during an exclusive event attended by all members of the judging panel.

The museum
A new museum has been designed by Michele De Lucchi and constructed in Tolentino in the Poltrona Frau plant which, in recent years, has become a paragon of modernism and efficiency. Significant investment has taken place in the new photovoltaic plant (18,000 modules, 1.4 megawatt capacity) that was opened in 2010 and currently produces around 1.68 million k/h per year. The museum will reveal the inner workings of Poltrona Frau, its hundred years of craftsmanship, design, quality and leather culture. The space is open to the public, deliberately designed to become a meeting place, a place of dialogue and reflection, and to host the people that visit the plant every year; designers, architects, students, journalists and customers from all over the world. Poltrona Frau hopes the museum will act as a homage to its land, where the processing of leather is a deep-rooted tradition. A homage to Italian-made excellence which has its roots in this district and which is recognised all over the world.


1912: Renzo Frau files the trademark with the Chambers of Commerce in Turin. This year also sees the launch of the historic Chester model which, with its “pleated” processing, is still symbolic of Poltrona Frau’s unique artisanal expertise today.

1926: Poltrona Frau is appointed supplier to the Royal House.

1930: The birth of an icon. The “904” model, the Vanity Fair.

1962: Poltrona Frau is acquired by Nazareno Gabrielli and managed by current chairman Franco Moschini.

1963: The company moves from Turin to Tolentino with six craftsmen.

1965: The Dezza armchair, designed by Gio Ponti, wins first prize at Tecnhotel in Genoa.

1982: Poltrona Frau designs the interior of the Thema 8:32 with Ferrari engine. The Frau Car division is launched.

1984: Poltrona Frau furnishes Spoleto theatre. It begins working in the Contract business.

1990: Franco Moschini acquires the entire Poltrona Frau shareholding.

1996: Poltrona Frau develops the Contract Division at international level producing the seats for the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

1999: The Titano table, designed by Pierluigi Cerri, wins the ADI Compasso d’Oro.

2001: Poltrona Frau acquires Gebrüder Thonet Vienna.

2003: Frank O’ Gehry designs the armchairs of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles for Poltrona Frau.

2004: The new industrial strategic development plan is presented with the establishing of the Charme Fund by the Montezemolo Family, which acquires 30%.

2004: The Charme Fund acquires another 30% to take its shareholding in Poltrona Frau to 60%.

2004: Poltrona Frau acquires a 100% shareholding in Cappellini, a company known across the world for its innovation and talent in launching some of the best known designers at international level, including Tom Dixon, Jasper Morrison and Marc Newson.

2005: Poltrona Frau acquires Cassina, a company which, thanks to its extraordinary design capacity, has done more than any other to make Italian industrial design famous across the world.

2006: Poltrona Frau becomes Poltrona Frau Group and floats on Borsa Italiana attracting around 2 billion euro of demand following an offering of 150 million euro.

2006: In Milan, Rome, Naples, Paris and New York, the restyling of the Poltrona Frau flagship stores is designed by French designer Jean-Marie Massaud.

2007: The Kennedee collection by Jean-Marie Massaud wins the Wallpaper* Design Award in the “Best domestic design” category.

2008: Poltrona Frau furnishes Oslo Opera House.

2008: Launch of PF Emirates, a joint venture between Poltrona Frau Group and Mubadala in the United Arab Emirates, and the opening of the first Group flagship store in Abu Dhabi.

2009: Launch of Milano Design Village at the Fuori Salone, which welcomes over 50,000 visits.

2009: Launch of Casa Decor, a joint venture between Poltrona Frau Group and Tata Group in India, and the opening of the first Group flagship store in Mumbai.

2010: The Archibald armchair, designed by Jean-Marie Massaud, wins the Wallpaper* design award for “Best domestic design”.

2010: Activation at Tolentino of the new 18,000-module photovoltaic plant with 1.4 megawatt capacity, which today produces around 1.68 million k/h per year

2010: Opening of the new flagship store in Paris.

2011: Launch of the Atelier Poltrona Frau collection. The first collection of exclusive objects for the home, all of which are made purely from Pelle Frau® leather.


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