Design decoded: ‘Cestone’ Sofa

This woven sofa design by Italian brand Flexform is a contemporary classic that celebrates craftmanship

'Cestone' sofa by Antonio Citterio, Flexform

Launched during the Milan furniture fair ten years ago, Italian architect and industrial designer Antonio Citterio’s ‘Cestone’ sofa for Flexform is a modern design classic. The key to its success is that it looks good from all angles, thanks to its hand-stitched and woven strips of 100 per cent Italian saddle hide. It’s a favourite material for the brand – having been secured over a sleek metal structure, it forms the sofa’s back and sides.

As a result, the sofa can live successfully asa centrepiece of a living room, rather than being pushed against a wall. ‘What sets every Flexform product apart,’ says Citterio, ‘is the fact that it is quickly recognisable, conceived for everyday living and always easy to use’.

'Cestone' sofa by Antonio Citterio, Flexform
’Cestone’ sofa by Antonio Citterio, Flexform, Photos: Domus

But what exactly makes the process of this sofa’s construction so special? Put simply, it’s Flexform’s decades-long commitment to supporting Italian craftsmanship. Skilled artisans at its factory in Meda (where all of the brand’s products are made) cut the Italian-sourced cowhide strips by hand in a time-honoured tradition, ensuring that there are no imperfections, before weaving and stitching everything into place (see picture below).

The sofa’s recognisable cowhide strips are cut by hand, then weaved and stitched into place

Next, the woven section is secured to the metal frame of the seat back and armrests using aluminium buttons. Then, to create its relaxing, cloud-like softness, the sofa’s base is layered with padding, which is bonded to a protective fabric, before seat cushions –available in a collection of 13 fabrics, including four suede options – are placed on top.

The ‘Cestone’ is available as a sectional two-, three- or four-seater sofa. There are also side tables and a coffee table, which both attach to the sofa, and a matching armchair. Citterio once said that ‘time authenticates the validity of the idea’ – and he was right. A decade after this design’s inception, we’re still appreciating both its entirely relevant construction and its timeless appearance.

This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration November 2018

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