Flexform‘s furniture is angled but flexile, strong but supple, robust but comfortable, tenacious but delicate. These seemingly opposing traits work in perfect harmony through the Italian brand’s many creations. In fact, their philosophy—to combine comfort with sophisticated aesthetics—is within the name Flexform itself: a portmanteau of “flexible” and “form.”
Founded in 1959 by brothers Romeo, Pietro and Agostino Galimberti, Flexform is still owned and run by the Galimberti family. Over the last 50 years the company has become well-known and well-respected—working with renowned designers like Paolo Nava, Gigi Radice, Cini Boeri, and longtime collaborator Antonio Citterio. It’s no surprise that we were excited to visit their headquarters in Meda (a small village in Brianza, the Italian region with the highest density of design companies) to find out about the elements that make this company one of the vanguards of Italian style.
Next to the factory’s entrance, several folding bicycles (vintage Graziellas) and a few scooters each have names written on their frame. This efficient mode of transportation makes sense in the wide, airy spaces. Though immense, the building is more peaceful than what one might expect from a functioning factory.
Inside, Flexform objects come to life, with their angles narrowing into meticulous edges and straight lines blending into curves. This is especially evident in their large sofas, whose cushions are generously padded without appearing exaggerated. It makes even the most minimal styles immediately welcoming.
In the production process of sofas and chairs, wooden load-bearing structures meet elaborate weaves of belts supporting varying elasticities, expertly hand-stretched by craftspeople to create the ideal tension. Padding is made from polyurethane of different densities and pillows are plump with certified goose down.
Since goose down is a natural product that needs to breathe, Flexform’s leather cushions are equipped with small ventilation holes. These functional elements are arranged to form the company’s logo. When cutting leather, Flexform’s skilled craftspeople work with sophisticated, high-tech machinery, combining irreplaceable human touch with technical precision.
Each hide is laid on a wide workbench where it is carefully observed in order to identify imperfections. Any flaws are highlighted with a yellow pencil. Then the lights in the room are switched off and existing patterns are projected onto the hide. Craftspeople move the projections around the hide to avoid defects and reduce off-cuts to minimize waste. When the operator is happy with their mapped-out hide it’s laser cut it. These precise pieces of material will then be used to cover furniture.
Flexform is perhaps best known for their immense experience in textile upholstery. This is particularly obvious in the central production space which is filled with rolls of luxurious fabric, pattern templates and rows of sewing machines. As with their leather, the fabric-cutting process is done mechanically, but only after employees study it centimeter by centimeter to ensure the utmost quality. This procedure changes when the customer selects a fabric displaying a pattern that needs careful consideration and matching. In this case, fabric is placed and cut completely by hand, but only after testing proves the material will live up to the high performance standards set by the brand.
All of these fabrics are then diligently sewn together. Every employee completes each step with the same care and precision we’ve seen in high-end fashion houses. The recently renovated sewing space is isolated from the rest of the production area, where it’s quieter and cozier. They pay particular attention to sewing eyelets—a resistant, flexible element that must remain in place that can be hooked on and off with ease.
When covers are ready it’s time for sofas to be dressed. In order to place the upholstery perfectly employees dive into the fabric until they almost disappear inside. The finished product is then taken to a machine that creates a delivery box in real-time that’s perfect for its measurements, ensuring the piece will arrive in the best condition possible.
Outside of the facility, one quickly notices that there’s no warehouse. Flexform doesn’t need one, as every single piece of furniture is made to order. There’s no assembly line here, rather vast spaces full of materials begging to be touched while highly skilled artisans put individual elements together.
Altogether, delicate details are hidden underneath bold upholstery; human hands work on lush fabrics and moments later, machines laser-cut the very same material. People wheel around on vintage bikes to and from high-tech equipment. The factory itself perfectly echoes the dichotomies that work so beautifully in their finished products.