Poltrona Frau’s New Deal armchair
Dating back to the Belle Époque, Poltrona Frau’s name suggests something Germanic. But, in fact, it’s entirely Italian in heritage. Founded in Turin in 1912 by Sardinian Renzo Frau, the name is simply a combination of his surname and the Italian word for “armchair”. The name may be prosaic, but it’s furniture never has been.
Particularly noted for its exhaustive process of tanning that gets the absolute best out of leather and an eye for innovative styling from the word go, by the 1930’s Poltrona Frau was the latest word in beautiful moderne furniture. What many often associate today with the term “Art Deco” is a design style that started on Renzo Frau’s sketchpad.
Even if you don’t know it, you’re familiar with Poltrona Frau’s design. The classic model 904 armchair is a bigger film star with a longer career and a more enduring fan base than any Hollywood studio could hope for. It’s appeared in hundreds of films either made or set in the pre-WWII era. And, yet the stylish 904 has managed to combine a career as screen star with that of homemaker. Even today, the original – or many copycat styles– are favoured by grand hotels, chic lounge bars or even just those who love a great, comforting armchair with an impeccable design provenance all for themselves at home.
The offer from the heritage design house includes the Vanity Fair and the New Deal, both based on Renzo Frau’s original sketch for the legendary 904. And both are available in a kaleidoscopic choice of colours in that famous 21-step tanned leather.
But, if you prefer something more contemporary, don’t dismiss Poltrona Frau. Today’s classic started out as cutting-edge and one of the secrets of the company’s success for more than a century is that it has always embraced the most contemporary design. Fortunately for us, and smartly for them, they continue to manufacture many of the design greats that they’ve produced over the last hundred years. They’re a bit like a museum of furniture design. Only with the benefit that you can take it home.