When technology and craftsmanship meet in design, the result is the Erasmo Sofa. At least, this is the result if the creators are Afra and Tobia Scarpa. This sofa reflects the couple’s aesthetic and design research. There are no unnecessary frills or decorations. Furthermore, the lines and the look of the Erasmo sofa are elegant and simple. The materials meet and merge into a new and innovative creation made of contrasts and opportunities.
The technicalities and the sophistication are in the details. From the construction to the materials, this piece of furniture speaks of industrial style and abilities. This couch is far from the traditional Italian design, from the artisans working wood and design patterns in the 60s and 70s. There are no geometric or floral patterns on the Erasmo sofa. The materials speak for themselves, and there is no need for frills. It’s one unique creation that has its own flow and beauty.
Afra and Tobia Scarpa created this piece of furniture in 1973 for the Italian design company B&B Italia. The collection featured this component divan and an armchair. The novelty is in the technology that the couple used. In fact, the padding is in cold polyurethane foam while the structure features wood and, in a later version, even iron and steel. People can rearrange the Erasmo sofa, adapting it to their rooms’ needs and to their space.
The seats are soft and in leather, a sophisticated material that goes back to the roots of design, away from the use of plastic. This isn’t an impersonal couch, but it’s a piece of furniture designed to be enjoyed and to last through the decades. Plus, the covering can be assembled and changed, so it’s just as adaptable as the sofa itself. People could easily fit it in the seats, which made the Erasmo sofa a personal and emotional piece. For once, users were participating in design.
The History Behind It
The partnership between the designers couple and the company B&B Italia began with the Coronado sofa in 1966. This first couch was just as advanced and innovative as the Erasmo sofa. In fact, the Coronado featured steel for the structure and polyurethane foam for the padding. To design both sofas, Afra and Tobia Scarpa took into consideration the industrial production chain. The company B&B aimed at going international, and the processes had to be fast and affordable. So, the design industry went from unique and artisan pieces to a chain production made of industrial aesthetics and different materials.
Both the Coronado and the Erasmo sofa accomplished the goal. And they both featured an armchair to create an elegant, comfortable, and resistant set. But furniture wasn’t just supposed to be practical. It was also supposed to be alive and to create emotions. That’s why people can arrange each piece of the Erasmo sofa, making it fit with their spaces and lifestyle. These creators believed that design and furniture had to generate emotions, which explains why they never used plastic as a material. While plastic felt cold and impersonal, wood and leather felt warm. They felt human, actually.
The relationship between the two designers and B&B Italia also produced the Bonanza and the Dialogo, more iconic pieces of Italian design in the decades after World War II. Names like Afra and Tobia Scarpa brought Italian design to the international stage, just like creator Mario Bellini did. Without a doubt, they succeeded in their goals, and pieces like the Erasmo sofa are still popular nowadays.