Around this time any other year, Moroso would be on the top of our list of brands to check out at the Milan furniture fair – its stand a paean to the merging of designer creativity and Italian craft. This April, things are much different due to the coronavirus, which has caused the cancellation of fairs around the world. But Moroso, like many companies that have had to halt or slow down production in the past several months, has decided to unveil new pieces online. In a Zoom presentation today, Patrizia Moroso and Swiss-Argentinian designer Alfredo Häberli launched the Taba Collection of soft seating for semi-public spaces.
Consisting of a sofa, a bench, two swivel armchairs and two pouffes, the collection exemplifies Häberli’s melding of “precision and poetry.” Its soft contours, which emerged from the designer’s hand-drawn iterations, are inspired by a game – involving the tossing of a cow’s bone – that he played as a child in Argentina. The organic shapes are complemented by the straight lines that extend the backs of the sofa and armchairs into shelf-like surfaces. The pieces almost nest together because of their sinuous lines – creating something of an embrace when configured as an ensemble. Häberli, who grew up in a family that ran hotels and restaurants, has always been drawn to designing for public spaces, where his pieces can create an atmosphere that is experienced by many people at once.
Taba resulted from an ignored brief, Moroso explained with a smile. “We asked for something else, but Alfredo said, ‘I have something to show you.'” His design, which he mocked up in miniature models that he was eager to have prototyped by Moroso’s renowned fabrication team, seemed “very special and very true” to Moroso, as well as rational and geometric. “The beautiful thing is you can connect precision and poetry,” she said. “I’m always looking for a not-obvious idea. It can have an ‘old’ function but with a new shape, and this is what happens if you free people to create.”
That the product launch took place on Zoom during this unprecedented time – with Moroso in Udine and Häberli in Zürich – introduced a philosophical mood to the endeavour. (Häberli joked how Moroso, usually shy in person, was giving him all sorts of kind compliments; Moroso noted that she feels she’s been “closer” to people lately despite social distancing, and relying more on phone calls, characterizing the phenomenon as “important, interesting, different.”)
The two spoke of what this moment will mean for the future of our spaces. “We’ll want to be comfortable – but not just in the everyday, banal sense,” Moroso said. “But intellectually comfortable. Beauty, elegance, proportion – we need beauty to survive now. What happens outside, we don’t know, the future is confused, but comfort in the sense of wellbeing will be very important. We need to stay relaxed, happy, and to do that you need to have a little place around you like an ‘ambiente’ – your place, your landscape.”
They also discussed how this crisis – which they characterized as a notice from Mother Nature to change the usual way of doing things – could help refocus the design industry. “We have to take this interruption positively,” Häberli said. “We’re all at home now and maybe we’re realizing that we don’t need so many objects or that the ones we have don’t have the soul we need.” This is also a message to industry, he noted. “Let’s do less with better materials and maybe do things more slowly. This is a big chance to rethink the past.”
“Design is more and more important,” Moroso noted. “It’s a big project – to save our lives and to save the future.”
Unveiled in a virtual product launch that speaks to this extraordinary time, the Italian furniture brand’s seating collection for semi-public spaces expresses the Swiss-Argentinian designer’s alchemy of precision and poetry.