Presented at Edra’s Milan showroom in late October, at first sight this slim volume looks rather like a liturgical breviary with its long, narrow format, its leather cover with gold-coloured embossed writing, the bookmark ribbon the same red as the cover and the slender body of text. There’s also a mystical reverberation running between the lines: “Chance brought me together with Edra, just as it had brought me together with Cassina, some time before. And chance is a gift from the angels that must be seized as soon as it comes up.”
Stories, events, thoughts, points of view, ideas, dreams, anecdotes and reconstructions of this eclectic figure are amalgamated and intertwined with the author’s words. It could be described as an autobiographical biography. Giampaolo Grassi says that Francesco led him into a wonderland. But who, in actual fact, is Francesco Binfaré, aside from what we already know? He says himself that he is not a designer and that he gets cross when he is described as such. He is neither a designer nor an architect – an author perhaps, although authors do everything themselves, like writers. He, on the other hand, simply produces the model, and the model is not concrete, it is an idea of what is in his mind, he continues. His truth emerges from this jumble of definitions: “My VAT registration says I’m an artist-inventor.” […] I felt it was time to put artistic expression into design. I wanted design to become aware that it was a new field of art.”
Born to an artistic family just at the right time, as he generously loves to point out, he dreamt of creating “an Italian Bauhaus.” This he achieved, as director of the Cassina Research Centre, from 1969 to 1976. “The Centre was like a ship on a mission,” he says. “We were sent by Queen Isabella, but it wasn’t important to know what she wanted. The important thing was to navigate the ocean and try to find the New World, a land we weren’t sure even existed. We were interested in exploring because it gave us the freedom of the oceans.” There Binfaré mapped out endless itineraries and pathways, and continues to do so, creating a real Design and Communication Centre for research and the promotion of projects in 1980, which was to spawn a number of Italian design icons.