Christophe Pillet readily admits that his recent collaborations with Flexform don’t exactly appear groundbreaking. “They are very normal,” says the French designer. “The table looks like a table. My chair looks like a chair.”
Echoes, First Steps, and Any Day — Pillet’s collections for the storied Italian furniture company — may be simple in form, but they’re luxurious in execution, the result of pairing timeless design and humble materials with master craftsmanship. It’s the essence of both Pillet’s design philosophy and Flexform’s ethos.
The three collections take notes from both Scandinavian and Mediterranean design. The earliest, the aptly named First Steps, was released in 2020 and comprises an indoor chair and bar stool, along with two similar outdoor counterparts. The chairs and bar stools have a recognizable silhouette — sleek, minimal legs that rise to meet a simple seat and back frame. What moves them beyond traditional is the textural contrast between materials: a metal structure and a tightly woven paper cord seat and backrest (polypropylene cord is used in the outdoor seats). “The game here was trying, with a radical absence of material, to do something extraordinary,” Pillet explains. “[It’s] doing a normal thing in an abnormal way. Only a few very good companies are able to do that.”
Pillet makes use of the same interplay of materials to define both his Echoes and Any Day families, launched in 2021. Echoes features chairs, armchairs, stools, a footstool, and a chaise. Each has similarly clean lines, a metal structure, and woven seats and backs brought to life through the made-in-Italy craftsmanship that Flexform is known for. “They are very humble, ordinary, well-known materials,” Pillet says. “It was nice to put [them] into the hands of extraordinary craftsmen.” Any Day offers a variety of tables with metal bases that can be topped with either wood or stone. Like First Steps, both Echoes and Any Day are also available as outdoor series.
In collaborating with Flexform, Pillet joins the esteemed group of designers who have contributed collections over the company’s history. “For more than 60 years, they’ve been doing the best furniture,” says Pillet. “They don’t need a designer. They need new points of view, to open new doors in their mind — new expressions for telling the same story.” It’s why Pillet for Flexform just makes sense. The 62-year-old’s career has been defined by the fresh perspectives and trademark elegance he brings to projects of all kinds, from restaurant interiors to sunglasses to furniture. He’s designed for Lacoste, Emeco, Vitra, and Shu Uemura, but he says his collaboration with Flexform stands apart. “The goal here was really not to make a product but to bring ideas,” he says. “This way of working, for me, is amazingly interesting and so different. It’s really opened new ways of designing.”