Three Italian style arbiters have transformed their family businesses and are now bringing exceptional modern designs to the United States, inspired by everything from race cars to cactus flowers.
When Patrizia Moroso’s family begged her to come home from university in Milan in 1984 to help revive their struggling furniture company, she agreed on one condition: “I said, ‘We have to do something interesting,'” she recalls. “To be successful, we needed to make ourselves different.” Under her direction, the 55-year-old Friuli-based Moroso, which was originally known for its classic upholstered sofas, has become an arbiter of modern style. By fostering collaborations with international talents like Dutch star Tord Boontje and Israeli Ron Arad, Patrizia has expanded Moroso’s reach to chairs and tables. And now she’s bringing her idiosyncratic, influential eye to New York City. This May, Moroso opened its first store in America, in a space shared with Moss, one of the country’s leading style emporiums. The shop serves as a showroom for the 20 or so individuals from around the world with whom the company works each year. Longtime Moroso collaborator Patricia Urquiola designed the store, and her squishy “Bloomy” chairs, inspired by cactus flowers, are displayed there. Other pieces include Amsterdam-based Karel Boonzaaijer and Dick Spierenburg’s “Table to Enable,” which looks as if a capital I decided to go for a walk on all fours. “Moroso is the mother of the objects,” Patrizia says, “While the father is the designer who puts his or her ideas into the piece.” —Jen Murphy
details Moroso at Moss, 146 Greene St., New York City; 212-334-7222 or moroso.it.
Editors’ Picks: Moroso
1“Bloomy” chairs by Patricia Urquiola, from $1,968.
2. “Table to Enable” by Boonzaaijer-Spierenburg, from $6,248.
3. “Take Off High” chair by Alfredo Häberli, from $1,447.
Designs Inspired by Race-Car Style
As the head of Pininfarina Extra—the industrial-design arm of Pininfarina, a Turin-based company that has collaborated with Ferrari, Maserati and other sports-car manufacturers for three generations—Paolo Pininfarina applies race carstyle elements to everyday items for the home. He has created everything from espresso machines for Lavazza to a sleek new bottle for Gancia, a sparkling-wine producer in Piedmont. “We try to pick up inspiration from cars, whether it’s technical solutions, materials, shapes or treatments,” he says. In his “Acropolis” circular kitchen, one of five he’s created for Snaidero, everything the cook needs is within arm’s reach—like a driver sitting at the wheel. For The Keating, a new boutique hotel in San Diego, he painted the lobby the racy red of a Ferrari—a look that might be too outrageous for a private house. “I like to say that a hotel is to a house what a show car is to an everyday vehicle,” he says. “It’s an outstanding laboratory for ideas.” And since The Keating serves Gancia wines and Lavazza coffee, staying there is like living in a Pininfarina fantasyland. —Kristin Donnelly
Editors’ Picks: Pininfarina Extra
1. The Keating hotel in San Diego; 877-753-2846 or thekeating.com.
2. “Acropolis” kitchen from Snaidero; from $150,000; 877-SNAIDERO or snaidero-usa.com.
3. Gancia Asti, $14.
Nason & Moretti
Modern Murano Glass,
When the family behind the venetian glass company Nason & Moretti decided it needed a fresh, modern style, it found inspiration in its own history. “Our fathers strayed too far from our Italian roots,” says Piero Nason, a member of the third generation of Nasons to run the company. “They became scared of color and made glass that looked too refined, too French.” Piero and his cousins have begun to reproduce their grandfathers’ most famous pieces while at the same time reviving the 84-year-old glass company with new designs, all of which they recently started exporting to the United States. The “Lidia” bowl, originally created in 1954, turns the quintessential Murano glass vessel inside out, with candy colors like lemon yellow or mint green decorating the interior of the bowl instead of the exterior, which is white; the design is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The “Idra” glasses, a recent addition, are sold in sets of six, each glass the same shade of pink but with a different textured pattern to encourage customers to set their table with slightly mismatched pieces. All of these handblown items are meant for everyday use—and they’re sturdy enough for it. As Piero says, there’s no reason that a useful piece shouldn’t also be beautiful: “The beauty only adds to the experience.” —Dani Fisher
Editors’ Picks: Nason & Moretti
1̴Idra” six-glass set, each with a different texture, $377.
2̴Divini” wine glasses, from $184.
3̴Lidia” bowls, from $72.
4̴Romanici,” $80 for small bowl, $67 for flute. All available from Seguso Viro; 212-696-1133.