Founded in 1923, Calligaris is one of the oldest and most renowned furniture brands in Italy: after safely sailed past two World Wars and two economic crises, Calligaris has finally reached its 95th birthday. Their birthday year just began, and Calligaris has already started to receive beautiful presents: they have just been awarded with an honourable mention at the German Design Awards. We are very excited that we’ll soon be able to see their best furniture on display at the 2018 edition of the Salone del Mobile in Milan; in the meantime, let’s take a peek into their classy and functional home furniture, and at their glorious history.
Should we be surprised that Calligaris won this recognition for a chair design? Not really. In 1923, when their first workshop opened up in the Northern-east town of Udine, the first item founder Antonio Calligaris produced was, in fact, a chair. The Marocca chair is the polar opposite of one of today’s designs: with a wooden frame and a caned seat, the Marocca was a simple and yet high-quality artisanal product that would only fit in a rustic environment. It became immediately popular among the locals, so much so that the area where the workshop was informally renamed “the Chair District”. However, what connects that first, very rustic creation to today’s ones is the extreme attention and work to create a top-quality product: back then, the frame was worked and assembled by the men, while the caned seat for one chair would take a local woman two hours, after which the customer would receive a sturdy and robust chair.
Starting from the 60s, Calligaris began paving the way to become an industrial company; but don’t be fooled by the idea of a traditional, manufacturing company taking the first steps to start expanding their production: the key to their expansion were still the top-quality materials and the attention to detail that had been characterizing them since the beginning. Their opening up to industrial production gave them the chance they were waiting for: their products started to be sold all over Italy and in the rest of Europe as well, thus getting ready to conquer even more markets.
Calligaris is known worldwide for their passion for innovation and experimentation, which is why they employ international designers as well: being an Italian company with style and luxury in their DNA doesn’t mean they don’t recognize the importance of exchanging ideas and new projects with brilliant minds from different backgrounds. For instance, one of their most iconic creations is the Claire chair, which was clearly inspired by the Nordic tradition: we can tell from the bright pastel colors of the upholstery, as well as from the general structure. With a frame and the four sturdy legs made in solid ash wood, and a large, enveloping back seat upholstered in high-quality antibacterial fabric, the Claire chair is perfect for almost any dining room, and even for a restaurant; moreover, the ergonomic structure guarantees a top-level comfort that makes it ideal as a desk chair too.
Today, Calligaris has become so popular both in Italy and overseas, that it can boast 620 sales points across the whole globe, distributed in more than 100 countries, plus 4 flagship stores, one of which is in London. Their ethos is based on a balance between technique and aesthetics, reason and emotion, and this is evident in many of their creations. For instance, if we take a look at the kitchen setup below, we’ll notice a combination of different influences. The chairs, somewhat reminiscent of the Claire chair because of the pastel colors and the frame in ash, still echo that Nordic style that also was so distinctive of Claire. At the same time, however, the whole setup is pretty imbued with Italian traditions: the red and white chess table cloth, the bichromatic kitchen cabinets and appliances, and the copper pans hanging on the walls are all typical features you’d expect to find inside a vintage Italian kitchen -- minus the "Butcher's" sign.
We can find innovative and original features in many of Callegaris creations; this coffee table is an excellent example: is it one or three? The designer thought to combine together three different tables on three different heights! This is not just a multi level coffee table, but it really is a composite structure: notice how every surface is different from each other, be it because of the use of different materials or different colors and finishes. The final result is a fun and informal design that mixes top-level techniques with that touch of lightheartedness that distinguishes Calligaris from so many other brands.
Starting from the 80s, the range of Calligaris products has expanded into almost every room of the house: from the dining room and the kitchen to the living room and even the bedroom! Stylish and comfortable beds with richly padded headboards to guarantee the maximum comfort...without forgetting functionality! This Calligaris bed, for instance, is a platform bed, thus allowing you to enjoy the use of extra storage space.
What else can we say about Calligaris? Well, let us remind you that if you’re looking for suave chairs, stools, tables, sofas, sideboards, beds, rugs and lamps, just hold on for a few more days: from the 17th of April on, you’ll find Calligaris rocking the Salone del Mobile with its fun and dynamic designs.