When Pasquale Natuzzi Jr. speaks on the evolution of Natuzzi Italia furnishings Nov. 16 at the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Annenberg Theatre, audience members will be transported to the company’s Italian roots in Puglia, but without the jet lag.
While Natuzzi covers the company’s nearly 60-year history and the evolution of its brand, there is an opportunity to see the real thing at the expansive Rapport International Furniture showroom in Palm Desert.
Rapport is an exclusive distributor of Natuzzi Italia, the brand that famously democratized the leather sofa in the 1980s and whose harmonious marriage of Italian craft tradition with signature innovation is a benchmark in the industry.
In fact, the supreme comfort and elegant forms of Natuzzi’s range of furnishings (from beautiful leather sofas to chairs, beds and more) are a natural fit for the desert’s highly sought after modernist aesthetic. Rapport owner Peter Skaaning elaborated on this and more for Palm Springs Life from inside Rapport’s 13,000 square-foot Palm Desert showroom.
• Read an Interview with Pasquale Nautuzzi Jr.: From Italy With Love (and Leather)
Palm Springs Life: I’m looking around at all this beautiful furniture, which is all Natuzzi, the Italian brand?
Peter Skaaning: So, really what we have here is two different showrooms in one. About 6,500 square feet of the 13,000 square feet in total is dedicated to Natuzzi Italia. It’s all exclusively done by Natuzzi, which is the world’s largest upholstery manufacturer.
Natuzzi has three levels in their brand: Natuzzi Italia, Natuzzi Editions, which is their overseas brand, and Private Label lines.
They started out only in leather, and of course has grown into a full concept furniture collection. So, now we can finally furnish the whole home. Whereas before, it was just leather sofas.
PSL: Right. Well I know that Pasquale Natuzzi Jr., who is the son of the pioneering Italian upholsterer, is going to be giving a talk in November, and he evokes in some of the descriptive information, “manu-tailing.”
Skaaning: Natuzzi is very much in tune with the whole fashion industry. And trendsetters for both textures, fabrics, and colors. The brand has been evolving unbelievably; it has never been better than it is.
PSL: Who is this furniture for?
Skaaning: Natuzzi Italia’s demographic, is the homeowner who has reached a certain level and enjoys imports…an upscale buyer to a certain extent. They really have three levels in their brand: Natuzzi Italia, Natuzzi Editions, which is their overseas brand, and Private Label lines.
PSL: Natuzzi did a lot to popularize the leather sofa in the 1980s. In terms of modernism, do you see these styles and designs in a sense democratizing the modernist look now?
Skaaning: It really does, because they have everything from the super contemporary, to their take on, say, a modern Chesterfield. Natuzzi can do anything and in between, and that’s why the brand is so versatile.
PSL: Is it all leather?
Skaaning: I would say maybe even half of what we sell, what we produce, is now fabrics. You know, there’s just a big demand for materials, for fabrics. And Pasquale Natuzzi, the founder, is very much in tune with the whole harmony of the home. Where the ideal way to mix it, is with leathers, fabrics, glass surfaces, stone, woods, and it all mixes together. That’s exactly how it should be.
Owner Peter Skaaning with his wife, Bonea Skaaning, lead company stylist and designer.
PSL: Do you think that in terms of the Palm Springs area that there would be a bigger appetite for fabric as opposed to leather because of the warm weather?
Skaaning: It’s a little bit a of a myth, because leather is a natural product. It does breathe, and there are quite a few people that come in and think that it’s too hot, or too cold, but the truth is, it’s really a skin hide, and it becomes the same temperature as whatever you have in your house. Whereas, maybe that’s where some people go wrong, if you go with a manmade materials, the vinyls, and the plastic of the world, that’s when you get that bad rep about it, because it gets sticky, it gets hot and it doesn’t breathe, and it’s like sitting on a plastic bubble and nobody likes that after a while.
PSL: What are some of the more popular items that people are looking at now? Are they looking at a certain kind of sofa or bed?
Skaaning: I’ll tell you what is very popular, and the Natuzzi saw it early on, of course it’s called motion sofas. It was big time, and in later years the electric motion. People want to be able to push a button and the whole thing reclines. You’ll see sofas — these transformer sofas. That’s sort of a name we came up with locally. And it really comes down to a sofa that looks like a regular sofa, sitting slightly off the ground as you can see. But with the push of a button, everything opens up, the foot rest comes out and the head rest comes up and it becomes sort of a theater seat type of deal. It’s all about comfort, and these are very, very popular.
And there’s the Re-Vive chair, which is the world’s only armchair that adapts to any seating position. The Natuzzi Re-Vive chair was the first and a real game changer. And I like to use that word game changer. It’s the world’s first performance recliner. It’s just an amazing piece of art. There’s 122 moving parts in that recliner. We call it a zero gravity chair. You lean back, you don’t have to push any buttons, you put your feet up and it’s really like zero gravity. It’s very comfortable. And especially for the desert. Believe it or not, we mostly sell them in pairs of two.
A popular Natuzzi item is the motion sofas that with a push of a button, everything opens up.
Natuzzi Italia: The Harmony Chain (Lecture), 5 p.m. Nov. 16 at Palm Springs Art Museum, Annenberg Theatre, 101 N. Museum Drive, Palm Springs. 760-322-4800; psmuseum.org. The event is open to the public.
The Rapport International Furniture Showroom, 73990 El Paseo, Palm Desert.760- 568-1500; rapportfurniture.com. The Palm Desert showroom is open seven days a week from 10a.m. to 6 p.m.