The Poltrona Frau Group showroom in the Miami Design District is certainly a visual treat for the senses, both inside and out. While the district is home to dozens of high-end retailers and design shops, the group’s building is a modern, striking and colorful landmark that draws you in from down the street.
Cassina’s Campanula Nemo light fixture takes center stage in a grouping.
This bookshelf is more than just shelving. It is one of Cassina’s reissues of a design by 20th-century Italian architect by Franco Albini Veliero.
Cappelini’s Bird chair designed by Tom Dixon looks very comfortable as well as modern.
The InOut sofa from Cappelini is made of polished lacquer fiberglass and is available in many colors, such as yellow, orange, red, green, blue, white, black, anthracite, and light gray. You can also order the bench with a padded seat covered fabrics or leather.
The MOOV sofa system from Cassina System consists of upholstered elements than can be assembled into various arrangements. Covering choices include fabric or leather. The base is available in different finishes. The coffee table is actually a collection of small tables from TOREI series. Designed by Luca Nichetto, they come in various shapes, sizes and finishes.
I ventured in one afternoon to see what the showroom has to offer and found that the exterior is just a teaser – an apertitif – for the stunning pieces on display. While the Italian company was founded more than 100 years ago and has a storied tradition of superior leather furniture, the offerings are far from staid and conventional. Today, the Poltrona Frau Group includes the design lines of Cassina and Cappellini, which also have a long history of Italian craftsmanship and design. Alias, known for its chairs, Flamina, a line of bath fixtures, and Toncelli, designers of unique kitchens.
Such a striking piece! The Progetti Compiuti by Shiro Kuramata for Capellini is a 49-drawer unit on castors. The main case is made from black-stained ash and the drawers are done in lacquered matte white.
This impressive wood dining table is El Dom by Hannes Wettstein. It can be ordered in natural or dark-stained oak or in santos rosewood.
The El Dom table comes in three sizes and can be dismantled, but is sturdy thanks to an internal system that anchors the pieces.
This grouping includes the red Embryo Chair, green Peacock chair, Org table, and Peg sofa.
This view of the grouping includes the famous Revolving Cabinet by Shiro Kuramata, which is far more than just storage.
The Knotted chair, designed by Marcel Wanders, is made of carbon and aramide fiber cord with an epoxy resin finish.
Almost four feet in circumference and three feet tall, the Crown Major Nemo chandelier is a fresh take on the stodgy chandelier shape. The linear design is available in a number of finishes.
According to cargocollective.com, Cassina originally focused on woodworking and then expanded to modern furniture. Beginning in the 1950’s Cassina began collaborate with great architects such as Gio Ponti, Afra and Tobia Scarpa, Mario Bellini and Vico Magistretti. The brand took a huge leap forward when it initiated a collaboration with Le Cobusier, later launching the I Maestri Collection (Masters Collection). This collection now includes iconic designers such Le Corbusier, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Gerrit Rietveld, E. Gunnar Asplund, Charlotte Perriand, and Franco Albini.
These Peg chairs are an unusual design that has an unusual way of contrasting wood with leather. The legs extend into the seat of the chair and are visible from the seating side.
These Meltdown lamps are the perfect accent for Jasper Morrison’s Gamma Table has an internal metal frame and is available in natural or wenge-stained oak, matt or polish lacquered in a range of colors.
Quirky yet elegant, Meret Oppenheim’s surrealist Traccia Table has polished bird’s legs cast in bronze and the top is made of plywood covered in gold leaf. The original model was created in 1939.
In 2005, Poltrona Frau acquired Cappellini, which the Chicago Tribune called “ synonymous with all things cutting-edge and joyful about Italian design.” The paper also said that Poltrona Frau, is “Cappellini’s alter ego in personality. Whereas Cappellini is known for hip design products and for pushing the limits on material exploration and on how furniture might be produced (using techniques in auto manufacturing, for instance), Poltrona Frau has built its reputation on smooth, classic modern design. It is known for its impeccable leather furniture.”
Tom Dixon’s S Chair is modern yet versatile and could play a role in any style home. It’s made with dark lacquered metal, covered with marsh straw or wicker, and covered in a wide range of textiles, including leather and faux leather.
The Esedra ottoman is a perfect example of Poltrona Frau’s painstaking attention to detail in its leather pieces. The work is done by and and the precision is evident at first glance.
Marcel Wander’s Tulip Armchair beckons loudly for you to nestle in with a good book.
We toured the showroom with Aldo Faetti of the Miami showroom and asked him about the products and design services they offer:
Poltrona Frau has over a century of experience in furniture and leather and its associated brands also have long traditions. How do you keep things fresh in the showroom?
Poltrona Frau’s collection is a mix of classic pieces, designed by the founder Renzo Frau from 1912 until his death, and more contemporary and modern products. In the showroom you will always find the classics which represent the history of the company, for example the Vanity Fair or the 1919 armchair or the Chester sofa. On the other hand, in recent times Poltrona Frau started collaborations with international designers like Jean-Marie Massaud, Roberto Lazzeroni, Piero Lissoni, Rodolfo Dordoni, etc. so in the showroom there will always be their bestsellers and newly designed products.
Poltrona Frau’s Chester One Sofa is an exemplary piece of leather furniture highlighting the superb craftsmanship that goes into the piece. From the tufting to the pleated details on the arms, the sofa is a stunner.
A closer look at the pleating detail on the arm, which is done by leather crafts people with amazing accuracy.
The Palio table is available in the rectangular model as well as a round one. It is made of particle board with a stained ash wengé veneer or natural ash, and the legs can be covered in various materials including leather.
Your leather products are known globally for quality. Is that what brings most customers to your showroom?
Quality of the materials and attention to the details are the main qualities that clients love and look for in Poltrona Frau. I will also add comfort that in Poltrona Frau is highly regarded, more than in a lot of other companies.
Surprise! The Naidei is not just an armchair — it’s also a bed. A simple concealed mechanism allows you to transform the armchair into a bed. It’s also available in a Daybed version.
Here’s the daybed version of Nadei with the side up to serve as an armrest.
When the armrest is down, it serves as a side table or nightstand.
Do you work more with designers or consumers directly?
We work definitely more with designers but our clientele has improved during the years and now a lot of clients have the knowledge and taste to shop alone.
The Poltrona Frau Grantorino sofa is modern and versatile. Its frame is tubular metal with interwoven elastic straps. Backrests and armrests are made of birch and poplar plywood. The backrest cushions are padded with goose down and have separate horizontal chambers for varied, ergonomic comfort. It can be upholstered in leather or fabric.
The Red and Blue Lounge chair is a nod to Mondrian with it’s linear design and iconic colors. The frame is in black stained beech and the seat is lacquered multi plywood in a design by famed architect Gerrit Thomas Rietveld
The 1919 chair crafted in leather has a whimsical built-in mini side table.
Do you design space for clients? What are some of the more interesting projects you’ve worked on lately?
Ours is a one-stop showroom for people who want to furnish a space and we offer design services to help them transform their ideas into reality. Lately we finalized the project for a beautiful palace in the Middle East, a yacht in Ft. Lauderdale, and a lobby for a condo in Miami.
The Aurora Due bed is a grand example of a classic upholstered bed done in leather.
Capellini’s Superhero ottomans by the Glimpt studio also be used as side tables. A facric-wrapped tube is applied to a metal frame. The designers got the idea for the pieces during a visit to Vietnam.
Available in a series of free or assembled seats, the Oblong System sofa allows you create two-sided arrangments. The Rive Droite swivel armchair has a base of brushed stainless steel and can be upholstered in leather or fabric, including a selection by famed designer Emilio Pucci.
You have an exciting new kitchen line that includes some great features like the retractable top and the leather finish. Is this a market segment that is growing?
The kitchen is the part of the house that has gained more importance and went from being a functional place to a place where you can meet and entertain your guests. For this reason it has become the segment that has shown more innovation in materials and technology. We decided to work with Toncelli, a family-owned company from Pisa, because they understand very well this potential and they always try to anticipate the next trends. They have an extremely flexible manufacturing process that allows us to accommodate most clients’ requests.
Toncelli’s “Essential” kitchen collection includes amazing features. Normally, the amount of marble in the island would be weight-prohibitive, but this innovative collection uses a 3-mm marble veneer. This makes a fully marble island a reality.
This seek and modern kitchen features unique leather covered refrigerator doors and drawers.
The drawers are faces in a special leather that is accented with beautiful stitching detail.
The refrigerator doors are also covered in leather, which is ground down and combined with special materials, and then sprayed on. It is then stamped for texture. The exclusive process means that while it is covered in real leather, it is water resistant and easy to clean.
A self-contained sauna and turkish bath unit is the ultimate in convenient, luxurious pampering. Both units are housed inside this module, which includes a shower. They are controlled independently.
The shower is a rainfall fixture with LED lighting. It also includes aromatherapy options that are avail;able at the tough of a button.
The most amazing item — the custom “vice” cabinet. How do customers respond to it?
It is definitely something new and unique. Created by Toncelli to celebrate 50 years of activity, this cabinet is a humidor for 500 cigars but can also contain liquor bottles and glasses, cards and dice and even has some secret compartments. Clients love the functionality but mostly they consider it a piece of art, handmade and carved, that can be displayed in a living space next to classic or modern furniture.
The vice cabinet is a statement piece that highlights impeccable wood mosaic craftsmanship.
This version depicts a variety of vices, but should you order one, you can customize the design.
The detail on the inside is no less spectacular. This piece has two humidors behind the glass doors for 500 cigars. The top middle sections a secret compartment. The curved inland wood center rotates to reveal wine glasses or your favorite cognac vessel.
The burled wood grain is gorgeous.
Storage underneath can house a variety of beverage accessories and the drawers hold all the cards and poker chips you might need for a night full of vices!
Even the “plain” inside of the doors is a mosaic of wood grains that only complement the mosaic work.
A curved piece of wood mosaic is something to see. How the craftsmen perform the magic necessary to produce it is mind boggling.
The Poltrona Frau showroom has an amazing section devoted to educating consumers about your history in leather. Do you have to do much individual education on the benefits of leather?
The main characteristics of Poltrona Frau leather are durability and easy maintenance. In the showroom we are interested in educating the clients on the different types of leathers available and help them find the right one for their purpose. Also we stress the main characteristics of Poltrona Frau leather – durability and easy maintenance. Poltrona Frau is proud of the level of quality they achieved for its leather and it is always researching inside its labs In Tolentino, Italy for new solutions to offer to the market.
The Poltrona Frau Showroom includes a complete visual timeline of the company’s history and storied past working with leather. The company is well known also for providing the leather seating in cars made by Ferrari.
Another line in the showroom is Alias Design, an Italian company founded in 1979. The famous spaghetti chair was the first Alias chair included in the MoMA New York collection. While perhaps best known for the version done in distinctive woven PVC, it is also available leather hide and special straw
La Leggera is a lightweight marvel. While the outside is a laminated sliced wood veneer, it is filled with polyurethane. It is so easy to lift with just one hand! The award-winning chair became part of the resident MoMA collection in New York in 2009.
The showroom also carries a line of bathroom fixtures by Flaminia, an Italian company founded in 1954 when a ceramic worker’s strike led 23 young workers to establish their own company. Today, it creates fixtures in cutting edge designs like the tub above.
Modern and minimalist, this toilet and bidet are appropriate for any bath area.
A variety of basins are on display, with many more available for order.
No trip to the Miami Design District would be complete without a visit to the Poltrona Frau Group showroom. While many of the designs are modern and cutting edge, the collections have enough basic pieces to interest any traditionalist as well.