Fashion Designer Stefano Pilati Turns His Textile Expertise to Sculptural Furniture
A good fashion designer has a strong understanding of the ways in which textiles drape around the human body; how to mold them to various forms and fold them to accentuate their beauty. It’s no surprise then that a cross-disciplinary endeavor between one of the great contemporary fashion designers of our time and a Parisian interior design firm is so successful.
Stefano Pilati, former Yves Saint Laurent lead designer and founder of fashion brand Random Identities, teamed up with Pinto Design chair and co-artistic director Fahad Hariri to produce two striking pieces that use textiles to create voluminous forms that stand on their own as sculpture, but also cradle the body in ergonomic comfort.
The collaboration began with Pilati’s attempts to solve an interior design puzzle of his own. When he moved from Berlin to Sicily at the start of the pandemic in 2020, he purchased an 18th-century villa with proportions far too grand for the furniture he owned at the time.
“Everything looked tiny, the volumes overwhelmed any object to the point that I preferred nothing more than something that didn’t fit,” he says. “Then I put a carpet on the side of the sofa and after I put it on the chair. It was quite simple, but very effective. What I liked [was that] it was a material that was quite rigid, was that you could mold it, and everything became quite sculptural.”
Already a fan of Pilati from his days with Yves Saint Laurent, Hariri reached out through a mutual friend and visited Pilati’s Italian home. He found the experimental draping of the straw and water hyacinth rugs on sofas and rattan armchairs a revelation. The duo worked together to adapt the concept into a reproducible piece for Pinto Design, alongside a sofa drawn from Pilati’s origami-like way of folding the fabrics that wrap his own furniture.
The use of rugs and semi-rigid materials sculpturally transforms the basic shapes of a chair and sofa, maintaining their original functions while making them visually larger in selective ways. The sand-colored “Dune” sofa consists of rounded forms, with the fabric stretched tightly across the seat and back. The outward-tilting arms, however, have an extra bit of draping that gives them an interesting silhouette. Oversized at 350 x 135 x 96 cm, the sofa features a beechwood and solid oak base, high resilience foam padding, and coil springs. The upholstery is a cotton, linen, viscose, and silk blend called “Shanghai” from heritage French textile house Maison Pierre Frey.
The “Sculpture” armchair is molded on Pilati’s own chair using the art of lost-wax bronze casting, a technique used by sculptors like Auguste Rodin. The result is more rigid than it looks, and (crucially) durable. Pilati and Hariri envision the collection as multipurpose for either indoor or outdoor spaces. The chair will be produced in a run of 8 for 45,000 each, and the sofa will be produced in a run of 30 for 65,000. Both will be available exclusively through Pinto Design.
“I agreed to this project because I find industrial and artisanal design generally inspiring,” Pilati told WWD. “It is possible to find some affinities across the industrial aspect of fashion design where it becomes necessary to recall the physics, gravity, proportions, and tensions shared between elements and surfaces. Upholstery, as a craft, is something a fashion designer can understand with a certain familiarity, I believe.”