Few brands in the world are still going strong after 100 years. Such companies are wrapped in rich heritage, entwined in years of storytelling and, more often than not, dedicated to putting traditional craftsmanship at the heart of their story.
One of those is Poltrona Frau, an Italian furniture company that has created fine homeware since 1912. Founded in Turin by Renzo Frau, the brand aims to use only the finest fabrics, including its own copyrighted leather, Pelle Frau. Its products are brought to life by skilled artisans at its factory in Italy.
While the company has existed for more than a century, its story in the UAE only began this year thanks to a partnership with Majid Al Futtaim. Since arriving in the Emirates, Poltrona Frau has opened a showroom in Jumeirah, Dubai, which will soon be followed by a store in the city’s Mall of the Emirates. As the brand finds its feet in the UAE market, it has revealed a collaboration with British fashion designer Ozwald Boateng.
Boateng, who made his name creating bespoke suits on London’s Savile Row, has four decades of experience in the fashion industry. The designer has built his name on a commitment to putting traditional craftsmanship at the forefront of his brand. The mirroring values of the two creative forces meant this was a match made in heaven. “It came to life through a friend, who’s an amazing interior designer,” Boateng tells Luxury.
“I flew to Italy and met Nicola [Coropulis], the chief executive [of Poltrona Frau], and we got on really well. The next day, I went to the factory to see how they worked. One of the things that blew my mind was the attention to craft and quality. When I saw this, it became very easy.”
The collection began with one key item – a Chesterfield armchair, known simply as the Chester. It is based on a design that has been part of the house since the beginning, when Renzo Frau was first inspired by Edwardian versions.
“I’ve always had a love for the Chesterfield,” explains Boateng. “It’s very traditional; it fits into my language, and when I started in the early days of my career, every time I had my picture taken, I would be sitting on a Chester. So, it made absolute sense for this to be my first piece. Also, because it’s iconic and traditional, there is a link to my roots on Savile Row.”
The collection also features a range of soft furnishings, accessories and textiles adorned with distinctive patterns inspired by Boateng’s own culture and heritage. “I think it’s merged well,” he says of the two brands coming together. “When you look at the pieces, you can see the quality of Poltrona, but you can definitely see my language. If you know my approach to fabrication and my work, you can see it in the furniture.”
While this is Boateng’s first time expanding into interiors, it seems to have been an easy transition.
“In terms of me as a designer, my strength is textiles. I have an archive in the thousands, so it’s just about how I implement that in different areas. How do you interpret it on to wallpaper, into velvet, into different quality fabrications that you can apply to furniture? The quality of execution is paramount; as long as I’ve got that as a secure position, then suddenly the opportunity creatively is endless.”
The collection was first unveiled at London Design Week in September before going on display at Dubai Design Week last month.
“I’ve actually got some of the pieces in my space, and I think when it comes to design, you have to put it in situ,” says Boateng. “It should work in any environment because they’re traditional pieces, so it’s just a question of your taste. Do you want something a bit stronger in colour? And then it’s about how you mix it. Are they white walls, or are you doing part of the wall in wallpaper? Are you painting?
“It’s like creating a language, and I feel that this language I’ve started with Poltrona is unique, and I think there’s a space for a new language in that world.”