written by:
illustrated by:
January 31, 2009
Originally published in Green Goes Mainstream
Moroso, the Italian furniture company known for discovering remarkable designers such as Ron Arad and Patricia Urquiola, assembles between 100 and 150 pieces per day in a factory outside Udine.
101 manufacturing morosso

Their 130-strong team works in a cluster of humble sheds from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with an hour break for lunch. They are overseen by Agostino Moroso, who has worked there for 54 years, and his daughter Patricia, who masterminds the company’s creative side and tracks new designers to work with.

In the hall outside the factory floor, a gray-haired man in charge of textile cutting enjoys vending-machine espresso. Stepping inside yields a candy-colored view of rolls upon rolls of wool felt and other fabrics. There is no specific order to the pile, but the espresso-drinking man knows the type, color, and precise location of each and every one. He reappears and climbs onto a platform, which is attached to a fabric roller that glides 50 feet or so along a table, unrolling the wool. A computer-operated cutter makes calculated patterns across orange felt, which adheres smoothly to the table with help from thousands of tiny suctioning pinholes. The cut pieces are then carefully bagged and labeled. Twenty-five specialized seamstresses sew the upholsteries together.

A muscle-bound man wearing an alligator belt screws the heavy metal base onto a Fjord chair. He runs a steam iron along every sewn seam; the wrinkles shrink and flatten. Nearby, a Take Off chair by Alfredo Häberli sits upside down on a table. Its zippered denim cover won’t quite close around the structural frame, conjuring memories of tight jeans after a well-fed holiday.

The prototyping room is calm today. A welded-metal frame of Urquiola’s Antibody chaise, introduced in Milan this year, sits on the floor. Marino Mansutti, a Moroso family member who has worked here all his life, helping designers turn ideas into realities, is enjoying the calm after the pre-Milan rush. “It was nuts,” he says. Now he finds time to wipe away dust under the phone on his desk.

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