sabine marcelis juxtaposes soft & hard materials in collection for natuzzi italia
Sep 19, 2021
following the success of the first edition of the circle of harmony, natuzzi italia continues to grow its design ecosystem, displaying a homage to beauty and inclusiveness. dubbed the circle of harmony — live the transition, the new collection features different design interpretations of the made-in-italy brand’s DNA by eight different designers.
during the london design festival 2021 — september 18th to 26th — the natuzzi store in tottenham court road will showcase sabine marcelis’ latest collection.
in a world undergoing a process of total evolution, natuzzi italia’s creative director PJ natuzzi (read our interview here) tapped rotterdam-based designer sabine marcelis to create flexible furnishings capable of overcoming the boundaries of the internal space of the house from a multifunctional perspective — all under natuzzi’s pillars of comfort.
for the second year in a row, PJ natuzzi has invited designboom to witness what the circle of harmony is about, and how he believes that forging relationships, creating new friendships and sharing both passion and love for projects results in honest and relevant products. while in puglia, we sat down with marcelis who walked us over the design process behind her products and commented on how she confronted herself with a piece she had never done before — a sofa.
sabine marcelis is known for her sleek, forward-looking pieces that take us to shiny, somehow futuristic places. for her collaboration with natuzzi, she’s bringing her highly-experimental imagination to the circle of harmony, in which art, design and architecture come together in constant research into forms and potential materials. with the idea of having our objects evolve with us over time, marcelis presents the block sofa and the patio coffee table, two pieces of furniture that express natuzzi’s renowned comfort and aesthetics together with marcelis’ material intention.
‘in the new domestic space, which is liquid and constantly changing, objects must also evolve, offering us more functions and following us everywhere,’ said sabine marcelis.
with the block sofa, marcelis explores the idea of a soft form combined with a monolithic base. available in three-seater sofa, armchair and ottoman versions, the collection has been set on wheels, allowing it to be easily moved around the home, adding to its fluid nature. like all marcelis’s work, the project stands out for its innovation: the exploration of materials, the study of geometries and the attention paid to the relationship with light give rise to an experience that amazes, from its unprecedented visual effect to its surprising dynamism.
the patio coffee table seems to be closer to marcelis’ universe, where pure geometries characterize its essential and refined aesthetic. its lightness is emphasized by the bronzed glass with which the structure is made and the unique wheels that define the base: a versatile complement, ideal for fluid and dynamic spaces that do not renounce the refinement of design as an indispensable element for the quality of living.
overall, the collaboration with marcelis represents a perfect synthesis between the designer’s vision and the identity of natuzzi.
DESIGNBOOM (DB): how did you first meet with PJ natuzzi and how did you approach this collaboration?
SABINE MARCELIS (SM): I was introduced to PJ through a mutual friend and collaborator, borre akkersdijk. he has also worked with natuzzi (see byborre’s collaboration with natuzzi on designboom here) and I’ve also done a few projects with him. he suggested we should meet, while implying we should work together. I’m not really an obvious choice for natuzzi. in fact, I think our worlds are quite different. we each have a very strong identity and design aesthetic. but in a way, I think that was really not only the challenge here but the fun part as well — how these two worlds come together and create something that is true and coherent to each individual world.
DB: your sofa is called block, could you walk us through this project?
SM: it’s quite outside my realm to work with soft materials, and comfort. I primarily work with hard materials like glass and cast resins. I enjoy playing with those materials in combination with light, something that was difficult to approach in this project. but materials are at the core of my practice, and still wanted to make this visible and palpable.
DB: your design is very forward-looking, in shapes, materials, colors and technology. on the other hand, natuzzi looks very much into its roots in comfort. how can these two worlds meet? how did you manage to merge them?
SM: comfort was a key player, but I also wanted to experiment with the interaction of different materials. I thought it would be fascinating to work with juxtaposing hard and soft materials, which is why the block sofa really has this very rigid, strong, hard base that is visually keeping this soft, fluid, comfortable shape in place. I enjoyed playing with this duality of soft and comfortable over hard and strong, coming together within one sofa. this sofa is the result of those two worlds coming together.
DB: sofas are not usually meant to be moved in a home. what is your idea of a domestic space, which brought to design a sofa that can actually be moved in the room?
SM: I personally feel that it’s a bit outdated to approach a domestic space as something that’s finite, and will forever stay the same once you’ve designed it. also, within my own home, we’re constantly moving things around creating new spaces, new atmospheres. that’s also something I wanted to bring to this collection.
I think it’s important that the objects that we surround ourselves with posses the ability to grow and change with us. furniture should be fluid, and multifunctionality is key. for example, you have a sofa that’s always in the living room, but you have a space outside where it could potentially be moved to as well. and in that sense, you don’t need two sofas.
DB: your work strikes me to be usually very smooth, and in fact it is described as “soft geometry”. block, on the other hand, seem to show much more the “hand” and the materic side of the materials. is it a new way for you to work or is it something done specifically for natuzzi?
SM: I wanted to really show the material properties. the fabrics we chose allowed us to pleat it in such a way that you can feel its softness, how it’s squeezed together. with this soft fabric, I think what’s interesting about it is that you can pleat it in a way, and you can show that it is soft by having it sort of bunched together. this is something I wanted to accentuate with the upholstery.
I think my aim with most projects is always to bring the materiality to the forefront and highlight what makes that material special in its own sense, or how can you showcase something unique about it.
brand: natuzzi italia
collection: the circle of harmony – live the transition
design: block sofa and patio coffee table
designer: sabine marcelis