Italian architect and designer Pierluigi Cerri left behind a tremendous legacy spanning multiple disciplines, with no creation more memorable than his cult classic Ouverture sofa. 40 years after he first designed it, Cerri’s modular, industrial-style sofa has been reissued by a frequent collaborator of his, the Tolentino-based furniture company Poltrona Frau. “With its brutalist structure, ‘Ouverture’ highlights the system of beliefs that conceived it as a protest against bourgeois conformism,” Cerri once said of the design.
When Cerri first released the Ouverture sofa in 1982, it was unlike any other furniture at the time (or any that had come before). The design draws inspiration from music, architecture, and technology, incorporating industrial elements like a distinctive metal frame perforated by circles. And while the framework of most sofas remains hidden beneath upholstery, the Ouverture puts it on full display, leaving the T-shaped steel bar and simple legs visible as a major design element.
The sofa’s load-bearing beam is free of joints, supporting its weight in such a way that it almost appears to float. Finished with matte black epoxy powder, the metal is meant to evoke a high-tech aesthetic, contrasting with the warmth and malleability of the cushions. Poltrona Frau has only tweaked a few small details from the original for this new reissue: the cushions were modified to be more ergonomic, and the sofa now comes in two sizes, a two-seater measuring 239 centimeters long and a three-seater measuring 318 centimeters.
The Ouverture sofa may be 40 years old, but unlike most other furniture pieces from the 1980s, it remains a contemporary classic. Original vintage sofas from the first release are sought-after collectibles, selling on sites like 1stDibs for $7,000 to $10,000.
“Apparently simple in form, the cushions conceal a wealth of details: from the backrest buttons, a recurring detail of 1980s designs and nod to traditional upholstery, to the slight tapering of the joint between the seat cushions and the backrest, for the optimum overlapping of the two elements,” says Poltrona Frau. “The cushions, with removable covers in either leather or fabric, are filled with goose down and polyester wadding with a polyurethane foam insert that ensures non-deformability and absolute comfort.”
Poltrona Frau rereleased Ouverture as part of its celebration of the company’s 110th anniversary in 2022. It’s available in various upholstery options, including bouclé, twill, piqué, and the company’s signature Pelle Frau leather in a pleasing variety of shades. Dusty eggplant, tomato red, malachite, tranquil marine blue, and a bright goldenrod are among the more colorful options, alongside plenty of neutrals. Prices are available on request.
Pierluigi Cerri died on November 29th, 2022 at the age of 83. He is celebrated as a visionary three-time Compasso d’pro laureate. In addition to his work in the worlds of design and architecture, he was a curator, graphic designer, academic, and editor for Casabella and Rassegna magazines. He handled the design of collections for Italian publishing houses like Electa and Einaudi and designed objects and layouts for well known brands like B&B Italia, Unifor, Desalto, and Fontana Arte.