It was April of last year when the Vice President of one of the world’s most creative companies decided to go cold-water swimming. In search of respite from the tumult of the pandemic, Monica Mazzei found herself plunging headfirst into the steely spring ocean. As baptisms go, it would prove successful. An epiphany was had. In life, we have to give it a try. And Mazzei was reminded to dig deep, in search of experiences and worlds that often go unspoken.
Plunging boldly into the unknown feels like an apt metaphor for anyone looking to understand the path whittled by Edra over the last three decades. We first discovered them in 1998, in an ethereal exhibition in Milan. Our immediate impression was not of a brand showing off their latest wares. But of a tight-knit universe of collaborators and dreamers. Each marching to the beat of their own drum. Devising new rules for excellence. And what it means to live with high design.
In the years that have elapsed, there have been sofas shaped like polar bears. And beds so cosy and comforting you wish you’d never woken up.
But perhaps more important than the furnishings themselves, is the spirit behind this Italian endeavour. At once philanthropic and artistic, Edra seeks to devise new ways of living and relating to one another.
Such blue sky thinking naturally invites curiosity. What are the mechanisms behind such fearless creativity? How is maintained? And why does it seem to matter now more than ever?
“Edra can be pictured as bouncy wave that sweeps you away, gently rocking you for as long as it takes, before letting go.”
— Laura Arrighi
Egeo | Discover
One way in to some of these questions is to take the case of the average culture seeker coming face-to-face with a Picasso in the Louvre. Self-conscious questioning immediately bounds. What is this asking of me? What should I be thinking or feeling?
Design is a little bit different. Unlike with art or other abstract fields, there is no right or wrong way of enjoying it. No distance between the objet de art and the viewer. Instead each design must, like every other object we invite into our homes, earn its place in the highly orchestrated dance of domesticity. Comfort, we learn, is key.
It’s a notion that sits at the heart of some of Edra’s most sumptuous sofas. The Grande Soffice and Standard double the drama and comfort of a traditional sofa. So much so that two people can fit effortlessly on each module. And yet, strangely, it never feels too much.
Part of the reason for this lies with the underpinning technology. But also the fact that designers are free to do away with any pre-conceived notion of what a sofa should look like in the first place.
After all, why can’t a sofa be an island? Or a polar bear? Or a swirling piece of recovered Russian architecture?
"Before Edra, sofas had a stiff frame and a traditional shape. Edra has pulled them apart. It has freed them from the typological, technological and constructive constraints that they had been carrying along for centuries.”
— Silvana Annicchiarico
Grande Soffice | Discover
British designers Barber & Osgerby would describe this approach as building to human. An idea that feels particular pressing when we consider the events of the last years.
Indeed, when we put people at the centre of design, it becomes obvious that the modern aesthete doesn’t need another style on which to sit primly and watch TV. But versatile landscapes in which to reconnect, be productive and come together in whatever way they wish.
Edra furniture is unique in this regard in that they ask you to find your own definition of comfort, all while experiencing your home from new angles.
A'mare Collection | Discover
Chiara Armchair | Discover
And just as there is nothing like the view from the top of your mountain to make your troubles feel small, so too the generous proportions of their sofas and beds manage to put the outside world on mute. Even if just for a couple of moments. And isn’t that the very point of home? To restore the outdoor world to its due size & perspective?
It’s a fine line for sure, but one that Edra has always toed with ease, creating designs that are iconic and yet unpretentious. As at home in a luxurious modernist villa as in a cosy Alpine lodge.
Blu Velvet Dining Chair and Ines Floor Lamp | Discover
It helps that most of the styles are years in the making. In a world intent on moving ever faster, Edra chooses to go slow, launching styles only when they have something new and truly original to say. Many critics have deemed it bold. Risky, even.
And yet we find that it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen them. When you’re traipsing around the warren-like halls of the Milan’s iSalone, Edra’s kooky, eclectic designs are almost always the most memorable thing in display. Or to borrow a turn of phrase from a Dwell journalist, you see them in Milan and think, ok. We can go home now.
Sometimes, we find ourselves wondering how they will ever top what came before. And yet creative wells, it seems, run like underground rivers. Fed by tributaries far and wide, they are fast-flowing and secret. Emerging above ground in blissful bursts where you least expected them.
In an early interview in 2013, Massimo Morozzi drew on something Ettore Sottssass had explained long ago, revealing that he didn’t see himself as an Art Director but as Head Gardener. An individual tasked with constantly nourishing the creativity of others, so that beautiful ideas might grow.
Cicladi Tables | Discover
Get to know the company a little, and you’ll see that this isn’t just talk but a philosophy that weaves through every facet of the organisation. From the technical gurus in the workshops to the wordsmiths in PR, the whole organisation fizzes with originality and flair.
And so while, yes, Edra is Made in Italy. It’s also Italian design like you’ve never seen it before. And this, we believe, deserves to be experienced in real life, outside of the pixelated confines screens. And in spaces that cherish the ethos and work behind it.
At Chaplins, we know the importance of the tactile sense and are delighted to have the Grande Soffice, Chiara and many other models in-store this season. So go ahead. Make your appointment. With Edra, you never know where it might take you.