Works well with others

I discovered Moroso during my first visit to Milan’s i Saloni 10 years ago. As I squeezed through the throngs vying for a peak at a new furniture piece or a design superstar, I quickly caught on that Moroso was more than just another Italian sofa manufacturer. It was and is where trends begin, where designers are discovered, where the industry’s pulse is felt. And this is due to its creative director, Patrizia Moroso.

After this year’s fair, I meet with Patrizia in New York over lunch. She sits snugly between her publicist and Kim Beck, an artist who has just finished an installation in the Moroso SoHo showroom. As they nod in agreement and pick from each other’s plates, the three women are more like family than colleagues. Exuding warmth, enthusiasm and passion, Patrizia tells me that fate has everything to do with her collaborations. “There is usually a sign.” she says simply.

Moroso the company had modest beginnings. In 1952, husband and wife Agostino and Diana Moroso set up a furniture studio in Udine, Italy. Within 10 years, they grew into an industrialized company with 140 staff. During the recession of the 1980s, Patrizia was pulled out of university and put into the creative role, while her brother, Roberto, took over the finances. Patrizia focused on upping the design quotient, working with the likes of Italian designer Massimo Iosa Ghini and Japanese designer Toshiyuki Kita. In 1999, she hooked up with superstar designer Ron Arad and, shortly after, with Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola. (The relationship with Urquiola is “more like a friendship where we talk daily and make things together,” Patrizia says.)

In Milan this year, Moroso presented M’Afrique. Partly inspired by her Senegalese husband, Patrizia wanted to show the creativity of contemporary African culture, rather than the tragic stereotypes that are more often seen. The collection is a combination of products designed by such big names as Urquiola and Tord Boontje — specifically for local production methods — and made by 20 families in Dakar; products inspired by Africa; and classic models reinterpreted in an African version. This collaboration with local craftspeople demonstrates the integrity and innovation that Patrizia believes will enable Moroso to succeed within the new economic climate. “I try to make objects with a soul,” she explains. “You can only do this if the people around you have the same attitude. Money isn’t the most important thing for me. When it is a true collaboration, and the intention is good, then money will arrive eventually.”

Before we get up from the table, I ask Patrizia where she sees herself 10 years from now. “Right here at this table,” she says with a laugh. “I’m happy with what I’m doing, so there’s really no reason to change.” CI