Italian furniture manufacturer Arflex was founded in 1947 by Carlo Barassi, Renato Teani, Pio Reggiani, and Aldo Bai, who met while working at tire company Pirelli. The men collaborated with architect and designer Marco Zanuso to create flexible furnishings using foam rubber and elastic tape. This concept, driven by utility and technology, would come to define an era of modern Italian furnishings that prioritized comfort, simplicity, and ergonomics.
After several years of research and development, the company officially launched at IX Triennale in Milan in 1951. The Lady armchair, a piece by Zanuso, won the gold medal of that showcase, triggering a series of successful follow-up pieces. Designers such as Franco Albini and Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni contributed to Arflex’s growing collection of pieces suitable for the home, office, public spaces, and even cars (the company manufactured parts that could be used to replace standard automobile seating in the 1950’s). Later collaborators are a who’s who of Italian design: They include Joe Colombo, Cini Boeri, Ettore Sottsass, and Michele De Lucchi. Boeri’s Strips sofa collection received the prestigious Compasso d’oro prize in 1979.
In 2005, Carlo Colombo became the artistic director of Arflex, ushering in a new chapter for the storied brand. Recent collections from international talents such as Claesson Koivisto Rune, Jean Nouvel, and Luca Nichetto continue to shape the brand’s legacy as a leading provider of modern furnishings that merge comfort with striking aesthetics. Arflex celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2017, and maintains showrooms in Milan, Paris, and Giussano, Italy. Context Gallery has been a trusted partner with Arflex for over 10 years.