Monica Mazzei explains the concept behind the artisan workshop, deeply ingrained in Edra


Photo courtesy Edra

The Perignano-based company was set up to create extraordinary products to be passed down from generation to generation, embodying the values of quality, research, comfort and good looks that drive the owners’ and the designers’ approach.

Monica Mazzei is a free spirit, in tune with that of the family company, Edra, which was set up out of a desire to create products founded on uncompromising quality and on a passionate research process. Edra didn’t come out of nowhere, but from the Mazzei family, that had produced furniture since 1949. In 1987, they felt the need to take things “further” and bring to the market objects guaranteeing unique comfort and “something superlative and timeless,” says Monica, vice-president of the company. Their strong point and their obsession from then on have been “research, real research, promises no certainties, but it’s the only way to achieve  far-reaching improvements; when you achieve your objective it brings ethical satisfaction, because its value is unique, original and definitive.” Burnero Mazzei, father of Monica and Valerio, took part in the Salone del Mobile for the first time in 1964. Since then, they haven’t missed a single one.


Monica Mazzei, ph. Giovanni Gastel

What is the value of the event for you?

The Salone del Mobile is a unique, fantastic time, the whole world comes together in Milan, Italy gives of its best. It’s where the true value of Made in Italy can be showcased. Our products are made with fanatical care – the extraordinary structural quality and that of the materials, crucial for total comfort, and the texture of the coverings are features that need to be demonstrated, allowing our collection to be seen and touched by  the rest of the world.

Is there an anecdote about the Salone you’d like to share?

Leaving Tuscany to go to the Salone was a great event that marked out our family life from the previous months. My father only came to the seaside for the last week of the holiday because the stand and the products for the fair had to be got ready – it was held in September from the 1960s to the 1990s. Then we all left for Milan. My elder brother Valerio remembers a funny story: “In 1961 I was 6 years old, and the family all went to see the 1st Salone del Mobile. I was hugely excited, I was proud to be going on my first trip in our brand-new car, I saw Milan for the first time, the shops full of toys, masses of lights and lots of other things. Entering the Salone, apart from the long lanes of shiny stands, I also saw the escalators – another huge novelty - incredible – they were impossible to resist.   I started going madly up and down – the way children do. At a certain point . . . crash!!! … I slid down all of them, every single one. I was wearing shorts, so the vertical grooves on each tread made so many dents in my legs that it made me laugh and cry all at once. 60 years on, I regard it as a real “blood pact” between me and the Salone – and I’ve loved it ever since.

A wish to celebrate its 60 years?

My biggest wish is to be able to enjoy the Salone and all the beauty and intensity of the excitement at the fair once again. With lanes packed with people happy to be there to check out what we, the companies, are showcasing on our stands. Enjoying the city of Milan with its fine buildings, the showrooms and the art exhibitions, presenting Italy’s beauty to the world.


On the Rocks, Edra, ph. Matteo Piazza

On the subject of beauty – what’s its value and the value of technology to Edra.

We have dedicated our endeavours to beauty right from the start. Technology was the first word we associated with beauty. Technology is beauty, and together they are a tool for ensuring people’s visual and physical wellbeing. The idea for the Smart Cushion, for example, invented and patented many years ago, allows us to shape the back and arm rests of our sofas precisely the way we want. It brings life to sofas, making them wonderfully dynamic, and ensuring absolute comfort. The same goes for Gellyfoam®,  a material invented and patented by Edra, which guarantees an incredibly relaxing experience. It’s precisely this extraordinary “materials technology” that makes Francesco Binfaré’s seating, such as the On The Rocks, the Standard, the Grande Soffice and the Chiara work. Their beauty, which we can admire from the outside, resides especially in the hidden, extremely high technology that makes them possible.

What do you remember about Massimo Morozzi?

Massimo was a great master, we built the project for the company together. His approach was extreme at times, but equally it was necessary to be able to see different, more conceptual points of view, true design research.

How do you choose your designers? Elective affinities or hedging bets?

Life consists of choices, of meetings and also perhaps of affinities. We don’t hedge bets. If we do something, we believe in it totally. Sometimes our choices are seen by other people as having a go or hedging our bets, but that would have been in the case of a particular project. We choose our authors first and foremost for their way of thinking. Sometimes it is they who choose Edra. Their ideas range from visionary to extremely classic. Naturally the human factor helps to keep relationships alive, powerful and enduring: that’s where affinities that are not merely professional come into it.

Can you define any of them?

Zaha Hadid, an apparently tough character on the outside, was really very sweet. She was capable of designing on different scales with exactly the same sensitivity. Objects, like sculptures, that looked like fantastical micro-architecture. Francesco Binfaré is a master and is, perhaps, the greatest connoisseur of this job, making sofas and armchairs. He’s an architect, an artist, a poet, a philosopher … a real thinker who looks beyond. Jacopo Foggini has an extraordinary ability to play with light, manipulating it, making it take on different tones and brightness when it hits the material he’s working with, polycarbonate. He too is a master and an artist when he works with this amazing material, and always manages to craft it into unique sculptural shapes. Fernando and Humberto Campana are both eclectic characters, like their pieces. In their hands, materials – from the poorest to the most prestigious - acquire a new dimension and new life, as if by miracle as well as skill. Masanori Umeda is a gentle poet, with the sort of delicacy that only the Japanese culture can express.


Famiglia Mazzei, ph. Giorgia Panzera

I think I’m right in saying that you don’t talk about collections. There’s not a temporal aspect to your production. Rather as if you were creating works of art.

Yes, that’s right. Our philosophy means that we create “eternally contemporary” objects. We have always produced a small number of products in quantitative terms. We devote a great deal of attention to each of them, and it takes time, years sometimes, to create every detail meticulously. Some of them are one-offs, handmade, like Foggini’s, for instance. The company does have collections, such as the  Flowers Collection by Masanori Umeda, which only consists of two pieces: the Getsuen and Rose Chair armchairs. Even our latest project,  A’mare by Jacopo Foggini is a small outdoor collection made up of basic products: tables, chairs, armchairs, a bench and a lounger, whereas the Flap sofa is a single product, and comes in one single size. We love it when these pieces break into the art world, through museums, and are recognised as real artworks.

How did you tackle and what have you learned from these recent, difficult times?

We carried on doing as much as we could in the usual way and, thank God, we managed to keep going. We created projects and tools for communicating our products. We published Edra MAGAZINE Our Point of View to tell people about us and allow them to really get to know us. We carried on producing, with the same quality, service and punctuality as always. We optimised our production methods and had time to do some good thinking, in a bid to improve everything we possibly could, without ever losing sight of our relationships with people.

A subject that’s on everyone’s lips: sustainability. What steps are you taking towards the need to guarantee or even restore environmental wellbeing?

The company is careful about its choice of materials and external collaborators. Every operation and everything we do at Edra has to be sustainable. All the products and all the materials, packaging included, are low environmental impact, as low as possible. But these are factors that should be taken for granted these days. You can’t conceive of corporate conduct that fails to respect certain obligations. What makes the difference is producing things that aren’t destined for structural or aesthetic obsolescence. Edra produces things that do not get thrown away or are not recycled. Our products are designed to last over time.


Standard, Edra, photo courtesy


Grande Soffice, Edra, photo courtesy


Grande Soffice, Edra, photo courtesy


On the Rocks, Edra, photo courtesy


On the Rocks, Edra, photo courtesy


Standard at palazzo Gianfigliazzi Bonaparte, photo courtesy Edra


Standard, Edra, photo courtesy


Standard, Edra, photo courtesy


Standard, Edra, photo courtesy

Salone del mobile Salone del mobile
1 March 2022