The Poltrona Frau Museum Opens In Tolentino


Tolentino has a new space. Alive and open. Which goes beyond the traditional museum concept, weaving together different stories and telling about the company’s first 100 years. The Poltrona Frau Museum, designed by Michele De Lucchi, is a rigorous industrial architecture created inside the Poltrona Frau facility. On display is a collection of furniture, drawings, images and materials never before displayed to the public. An area of 1400 m2 of design and “l’intelligenza delle mani” – ‘the intelligence of its hands’.

The choice of location represents a homage to this area of the Marche, which became the adopted home of the company - founded in Turin by Renzo Frau in 1912 – in the early 1960’s. A strong bond that has become stronger over almost 50 years thanks to the expertise of the regional manufacturing industry and the involvement of the local community. The epitome of Italian excellence, for which Poltrona Frau is an ambassador across the world.

The façade of the museum, white and geometric, is surrounded by a long orange wall concealing a verdant lounge area inside. The public is welcomed into a quiet and secluded dimension, which one would not expect to find at a manufacturing facility.

At the entrance there’s the cafeteria, complete with books to browse through and consult, and on the right, a fascinating introduction to the actual exhibit presented on nine video totems. With a succession of words and images, from “hammer” to “quilting”, to learn all of the words that make up the technical glossary of Poltrona Frau. A wall created with countless overlapping pieces of leather provides the material backdrop, a condensed sensorial presentation of surfaces and colours.

Immediately after, a charismatic object captures the eye. Vanity Fair, the undisputed icon of both the company and Italian design, is positioned in the middle of a large central patio surrounded by glass and bathed in natural light.

And to find out how the Vanity is created, just like every other Poltrona Frau product, we can delve into the company’s workshops. Nine monitors and a series of evocative films akin to animated paintings. Processing phases described like a series of time-honoured, slow and attentive steps repeated since time immemorial.

Then there’s the historic heart of the museum. A city of spectacular towers of different heights. Four, six and eight metres tall, imposing and ethereal at the same time. Produced from wood, covered with semi-transparent ecru fabric and warmly lit from the inside. Like huge out-of-scale lanterns, which help create an almost magical atmosphere and light the different paths through the museum. Amidst the icons of Poltrona Frau. From Chester to Juliet, eleven in all, arranged in a chronological and fluid sequence. Each enclosed in a tower. Naked. Illuminated by a simple spotlight. A graphic symbol of beauty and elegance. It is also a journey through time, between the five towers, each one dedicated to a 20-year period from 1912 to today. Each one a small concentration of trends. With a double display on the inside. On one side, the furniture made by Poltrona Frau in those years. Original pieces, which show signs of life and living. Lights, details and flooring philologically allude to the mood of the moment. On the other side is a showcase full of original documents, postcards, advertisements, catalogues, sketches and designs that complete the story of the company and provide insight on the international context of moods, ideas and key events at the time. The exhibition is about Poltrona Frau and its encounter with different eras. Its ability to gather inspiration, to evolve and remain true to itself. Its values. Elegance, form, function, craftsmanship, excellence.

Values that also emerge in two special rooms. The first is dedicated to major Contract projects of theatres and auditoriums carried out with leading international architects. Ten projects, all highly complex, each one awarded a Priztker prize. From the European Parliament in Strasbourg to the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles by Frank O. Gehry, from the ‘Parco della Musica’ Auditorium in Rome by Renzo Piano to the Forum Building in Barcelona by Herzog & De Meuron. Each creation is housed in a niche showcasing the key seating element. A high-impact display with photographic images of the project that completely cover the backdrop.

The exhibit continues with the world of cars, yachts, airplanes and helicopters where the historic leather culture that distinguishes the company is articulated in the complete upholstery of the interiors. The room featuring Interiors in Motion displays the most prestigious projects for top international businesses such as Ferrari, Maserati, Lancia, Pershing, Italo and Etihad Airways. The exhibition is based on the structure of the Contract room with a coup de théâtre. A Ferrari California is positioned in the centre of the space and the scene.

“I am very proud of this amazing project” – declares the vice president of the Poltrona Frau Group Matteo di Montezemolo. “The creation of the Poltrona Frau Museum is an important achievement in the history and development of Poltrona Frau as an international brand. The museum project has developed the most appropriate, direct and universal language to explain and describe the history of Italian excellence through Poltrona Frau’s products, many of its historic documents and the personal opinions of renowned architects and designers. But beyond this, the museum also represents an opportunity for a further strengthening and enhancement of Poltrona Frau’s role as an ambassador of consolidated Italian business values on the world stage.”

”The Poltrona Frau Museum is the perfect embodiment of our philosophy and we are proud to share our history and our passion for the things we have been doing for 100 years with all of our future Italian and international visitors “, explained Poltrona Frau brand director Roberto Archetti. “For us, emphasising the “intelligent hands” of Poltrona Frau and telling the story of the company, epitome of the Italian excellence recognised all over the world, is a great honour.
The Poltrona Frau Museum is a company museum, yes, but it is also a dynamic venue that will host cultural events and exhibitions involving the world of design and architecture”.

“The museums of companies with great histories are always the most interesting and, if possible, the Poltrona Frau Museum in Tolentino is even more fascinating, not only because of the objects on display but also for the opportunity visitors have to admire the skilful processing and the choice of materials and, at the same time, glimpse the future as embodied by our most recent projects”, affirmed Michele De Lucchi.


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