The Story of a Family Business

FLEXFORM Designer Furniture | FLEXFORM’s history is a family history. Now at the third generation, FLEXFORM was founded in the furniture manufacturing district of Brianza, in Northern Italy. This is where the unique worldwide phenomenon of design Made in Italy began, in the 1960s. A territory where the history of many small crafts workshops working with wood, metal and upholstery since the early 1900s intertwines with that of the great masters of Italian design, trained in the School of Architecture in nearby Milan. The FLEXFORM story is part of this historical context. In 1959 the Galimberti brothers started a crafts workshop, which they called “Flexform di Galimberti.” They opened their first streetfront showroom, displaying sofas and armchairs that found their way, in the postwar era, into elegant buildings in Milan, villas overlooking Lake Como, and even the foyer of Teatro alla Scala. Their sons transformed the workshop into an industrial facility, and in 1967 FLEXFORM became a joint-stock company. Intuition prompted the family to work with the leading designers of the time: Joe Colombo, Asnago-Vender, Cini Boeri, Rodolfo Bonetto and many others. With the young architect Antonio Citterio, during those same years FLEXFORM embarked on a path of professional growth that has continued without interruption to the present, for over forty years. The decade of the 1970s marks a decisive turning point in the firm’s conception of products. Avoiding repetition of past styles, the production became increasingly original and contemporary.

“The family is a great value, an important legacy of resources, stimuli, knowledge. Roots allow us to look to the future. Without awareness of our history we cannot imagine future scenarios. It is true that only he who knows where he comes from can know where he is heading. It is an honor and a commitment for all of us in the third generation to continue the work of our predecessors. To keep alive what we like to call the “we attitude,” i.e. the awareness that it is the team – and therefore the brand – that is the real player, not the individual. No soloists, but a group that thinks in the first-person plural, never the singular. The challenge is to keep intact that “expedition behavior” – to use a term borrowed from Jeff Ashby, the Space Shuttle commander – namely the altruistic and generous behavior typical of mountain climbing expeditions, where valuing the team above all other concerns is the key to success. So continuing to think in collective terms for the benefit of the brand is the most important challenge for our family business.”

In the 1970s the family understood the importance of exploring new markets, beyond the national borders. They approached Europe, where the German-speaking countries, in particular, demonstrated great interest in their understated, elegant and comfortable sofas, especially in Germany. Overseas growth was also constant and unstoppable, as Flexform gained visibility in the most exclusive furniture stores in America, Asia and Australia. With the advent of the new millennium, the company launched a program of internationalization through the opening of exclusive FLEXFORM flagship stores. From a Russian dacha to a villa in Santa Monica, a hotel in the Arab Emirates to a penthouse in Shanghai, FLEXFORM seduces both mature and emerging markets, and its products are sold in almost one hundred countries around the world. The upper distribution echelon is represented by over twenty monobrand stores on five continents, places of full immersion in the unique style and taste of the living room according to FLEXFORM.

Made in Italy

An identity of total Italian value. A totally Italian success story. A single country, Italy, where products are “thought & made.” A single production plant, in Meda, where everything is produced with the most local resources possible. Everything is Made in Italy, everything is Made in Meda.

“We have kept faith with our identity with tenacity and determination, and we have been able to make a name even in faraway lands. The interaction with different cultural models has undoubtedly enriched us, stimulating our desire to be open to new things. But our production philosophy has not been influenced. People love us because we are Made in Italy and because we offer products that are an alchemical distillate of elegance, comfort and aplomb. That is what is expected of us. And that is what we continue to give our clients, because it is in our DNA, and therefore comes effortlessly.”

“Flexform is a Made in Italy company also in the choice of the craftsmen who work on our production. Our sofas, our furnishings require great know-how, that “knowledge in the hands” that is required to make a product of such high manufacturing quality. The Brianza district in which we operate is a special territory for the world of furnishings, filled with specialized craftsmen who possess the necessary expertise, skills passed down from one generation to the next, making the products unique and inimitable.”

The safeguarding of Made in Italy also depends on the supply chain. Leather, fabrics, woods, metals, upholstery materials are selected with the most severe criteria. Since Flexform is world famous for its sofas with soft, large cushions, representing its stylistic signature, great care goes into the quality of the feathers and down they contain. These materials bring precious lightness, warmth and softness, and are of guaranteed, certified origin. The world wants Italian things. Italian design stands out for the lifestyle it suggests, for expertise and intellectual honesty. While the excellence of the products has to do with manufacturing quality, it is equally true that the great competitive advantage of Italy is beauty. And beauty generates beauty, as in the evolution of the Flexform collections. Beauty lasts in time and never goes out of style. This is the Italian style of Flexform. Light, measured, aimed at a market not driven by mere necessity, but by the desire an object is able to attract.

Style according to Flexform

FLEXFORM offers a large collection of home furnishings focusing on the production of sofas, the company’s core business. Though the firm is internationally renowned for its products for the living area, its range also covers the dining room and the bedroom zone. There is one constant: elegance. The boundaries that establish the values of a brand and define the spirit of its collections are subtle. The term luxury understood as redundancy, as useless abundance and excess, certainly does not apply to FLEXFORM. The company’s aesthetic is better represented by the concept of sober elegance that translates into essential forms and soft, never gaudy materials. The Flexform world is made of good manners and good taste, a gentle aesthetic. A Flexform sofa is like a blue blazer in the world of clothing: simple, deconstructed, refined down to the smallest details.

“FLEXFORM represents a piece of history in the world of designer furnishings in Italy, and the appeal of our timeless products will survive for a long time, oblivious to passing fashions.”

The FLEXFORM style blends several key values that have little to do with fashion. The coherent design that avoids the allure of fashions that win instant applause but cannot gain lasting consensus. The discreet and reassuring elegance of the collections, with their never flaunted beauty, disarming charm, their sober, clean lines, where the aesthetic value of elegance lies in subtraction. The contemporary character of design that is never loud and aggressive – proof of the persuasive force of silence – but charged with aesthetic expression due to the sense of proportion, the precious materials, the fabrics and finishes that make every living room configuration a true atoll of emotional wellbeing. The timeless design approach is made of a balanced mixture of refined lightness that is never passé. A concentrate of aesthetic poise and moderation, an understated, eternally modern approach. And, above all, tactile and visual comfort, that warm, enveloping sensation of protection felt by anyone who relaxes on a Flexform sofa, surrounded by a cozy world of familiar objects – armchairs, end tables, accessories – that generate an intimate cocoon effect. Flexform’s job is to continue to back up the promise of a product of extreme quality, aware of the fact that if habitation is an aesthetic gesture, the beauty of a sofa can also contribute to increase the quality of life. The expression Effortless Style precisely sums up the flavor of the Flexform collections. Measured, calm, understated spaces with rare accents of color, illuminated by a harmonious “Morandi palette” based on linen, cotton and cashmere fabrics, in neutral ivory and sand tones, warm grays, champagne and burnished metal hues, leathers in shades of cowhide, tobacco, honey and dove gray. The overall result is a visual and tactile comfort that seduces and puts people at ease.

“Every sofa is a constellation of different functions.”

Antonio Citterio