Moroso: an Italian love affair

By: Álvaro Tavares Ramos

Founded in 1952 and under the creative helm of Patrizia Moroso for over 30 years, Moroso has become a leading name in the design world for its unique and eclectic approach

Patrizia Moroso is one of the most ­influential women in the world of ­design. As creative director of Moroso, she is proud of the relationship that the brand has with its designers: “They are the people who are trying to improve our world with the ­intelligence and passion that always drives artists when faced with beauty. I ask them not to imagine an isolated object, but rather a new world and to design for the future.”

Founded in 1952 by Agostino and Diana Moroso, parents of Patrizia and her brother Roberto, the CEO of the company, the ­Italian brand has paved its own way thanks to an intense relationship with their designers and an approach that encourages their unbridled creativity. This special relationship is particularly notable in the home of the brand’s creative director. Located in Udine, in north-eastern Italy where Moroso is based, the family home became Patrizia’s refuge, along with her husband and their three children.

Conceived by designer and friend ­Patricia Urquiola, alongside the architect Martino Berghinz, the house mirrors the ­private world of Patrizia Moroso, as well as her creative universe, which cross over almost imperceptibly. “When I saw this spot, I knew instantly that it would be the perfect place for my home, a kind of wild paradise, which is quite strange because it’s a small ­forest in the middle of the city, which for ­reasons unknown was abandoned for 20 years.” Surrounded by the trees that grow across the property and with a public park nearby, the house was built from the inside out, so as to include various social spaces and to accommodate the extensive selection of objects from around the world, collected by the couple over the years.

Contrary to many modern houses where white reigns, the colours that “dress” this house, both inside and out, were subject to much scrutiny. “Colours were very important for this house; they were influenced by Uluru [Ayers Rock] in Australia, which has a lot of red, as well as Africa and all the land around Dakar, so red, strong and beautiful, almost pink at times. It’s magnificent. As such, in the end we used a colour palette that incorporates leaves, small fruits, the colour of earth, red and black, the dominating colours in the house, which are perfect for me and for my husband who comes from Africa. Very basic and normal colours.”

As a place where cultures cross over, the house re-creates an Italian-Senegalese ­setting, combining Patrizia’s influences with those of her husband, the Senegalese artist Abdou Salam Gaye. Outside, the darkened cedar is counterbalanced by large windows with dark red frames. Inside, flooded with natural light and the green of the surrounding trees, it is a testing ground for the brand’s creations and is filled with prototypes, sofas covered with African fabrics, “faulty” chairs resulting from the cleaning process of the injection moulding machines and ethnic pieces of furniture. Just like Patrizia’s home, Moroso is a colourful world of eclectic creations, of creative ­diversity, of an intense love for design and an enormous desire to be bold.

Having arrived at the company during the 1970s energy crisis, when Moroso was in dire straits, Patrizia (and her brother Roberto) was called in by her parents to give the brand a new direction. Straight out of art school, the current creative director got her hands dirty and in just a few months, Moroso developed hundreds of prototypes, a strong collection that gave the family business a new lease of life. Despite now working with dozens of ­designers and the international visibility the brand has achieved, the artisanal ‘area ­prototipi’, or the prototype department, ­continues to be essential for the essence of Moroso. “It’s where it all starts; it’s an important space, a kind of hidden heart of the company, where we meet the designers and their ideals,” reveals Patrizia.

Always open to new ideas, in 1991, ­Moroso initiated the collaboration with the Israeli artist and designer Ron Arad. Deve­loped around the sculptural form of the Big Easy steel armchair, Moroso’s homonymous collection shows that a volume can be translated without compromising the principles of its design, by re-interpreting the materials and production processes. Still in production and one of the brand’s most iconic pieces, the smooth fabric-covered armchair reflects ­Moroso’s bold spirit and the passion of its creative director of adopting a new language.

Over the years, besides Arad, Moroso has embraced the talent of some of the best ­contemporary designers and architects, such as Patricia Urquiola, Alfredo Häberli, Ross Lovegrove and the duo Nipa Doshi & Jonathan Levien, among many others. In all its eclectic and creative breadth, the Moroso collection – which also includes a collaboration with Diesel and the M’Afrique line, an homage to the colours and patterns of the African continent – presents instantly recogni­sable pieces and other lesser known but equally relevant designs.

The Bohemian and Klara armchairs by Urquiola, the Supernatural chair by Ross Lovegrove, the Victoria & Albert sofa from Ron Arad, the Shadowy armchairs by Tord Boontje and the Imba outdoor line from Federica Capitani are perfect examples of the Italian brand’s diversity and also proof that a unique blend of the worlds of design, art and fashion is without a doubt a recipe for success.

Boasting around 70 ­artisans and controlling every production stage from prototype to final conception, ­Moroso never fails to surprise while increasing its family of designers, with whom ­Patrizia always has a close relationship, with many of them becoming friends. “It’s very ­important for me to develop this type of ­relationships because I know that the things that come from them are always interesting,” explains Patrizia. “They have a special aura, a special touch. I’m interested in working with people whom I like.” And this love of ­design and creativity can be seen across the entire Moroso collection.

Read More