Beyond the historic villas and milky blue waters of Lake Como lies the small Italian town of Cabiate. With terracotta roofs, meandering cobbled streets and centuries-old churches, this was the birthplace of Porada, a furniture brand with its roots in the forest. Celebrating its 53rd anniversary this year, the brand has a reputation for taking the warp and grain of wood and producing masterful collections of Italian furniture design.
AN ITALIAN FURNITURE LEGACY
Porada is known for its fluid silhouettes and sustainable, traditional craftsmanship. A family-run business, it aspires to create pieces—durable, timeless and effortlessly elegant pieces—that can last for generations.
The brand’s family tree can be traced back to Luigi Allievi, who, along with his brother Egidio and his four sons, established a business making and selling chairs in 1948. Two decades later, Porada was founded, expanding the production to every facet of contemporary furniture design. The fertile surrounds of the Italian landscape provided the raw materials for each artful construction. Alongside wood, pebbled marble, coarse granite and local metals were foraged and transformed by the masters of the atelier. Today, the business is run by Luigi’s descendants who can remember visiting his workshop throughout childhood.
LEADING THE SUSTAINABLE FURNITURE VANGUARD
Each piece of Porada furniture is made in Italy with sustainability being carved into every design, from the slice of the sapling down to the plastic-free packaging. “Everything’s born from the love of wood,” explains the brand’s mission statement, highlighting its ability to work in harmony with nature. It continues, “The solid wood [is] worked with the craftsmanship of those who know how to turn a log into a piece of artwork.”
And what wood might that be? Porada predominantly favours Canaletto Walnut, extracted from ecologically sustainable forests of North America. And in 2011, the brand also acquired 220 hectares of forest in Burgundy, France—the land being repopulated with grafts of ash once the trees are cut down. A more recent addition to their collective of raw source materials is the Spessart Oak finish, sourced from the Spessart Forest in Bavaria.
Wherever the wood comes from, the logs are always transported to Italy, where they are chopped and placed overhead in the factory and allowed to dry over the course of a year. As is to be expected of a natural product, once the slabs have been cut into uniform shapes, issues with certain logs can emerge. This is when unsuitable slabs are tossed into a furnace and the wood waste, combined with solar paneling on the roof, is used to fuel the Porado factory in its entirety. A completely self-powered furniture factory—it’s quite an achievement. The remaining shafts of wood, of course, are joined, clamped, glued, expertly hand-sanded, varnished, polished and re-sanded before finally being worked into a beautiful piece of furniture.
THE PORADA VISION
Long before these sustainable processes take place, though, comes visualisation and nowhere is that more obvious than in the company Porada keeps. The brand has worked with some of Italy’s most esteemed designers, each lending their creative bent to the brand’s characteristic tasteful utility, also known as “Porada style”. Tarcisio Colzani, M. Marconato and T. Zappa, and Hans Sandgren Jakobsen are just some of the names to have worked alongside the studio’s maestros, creating modern Italian sofas, dining tables and coffee tables with the ability to become modern classics.
With each year comes over 20 new designs, fusing craftsmanship with the contemporary, while continuing to reproduce their treasured classics. The Infinity dining table—an undulating base under sheet glass—designed by Stefano Bigi, is a bestseller. Launched in 2009, the structure was influenced by the arcs and bows of the mathematical infinity symbol. French designer Patrick Jouin is behind the iconic Ella chair, the frame inspired by American and Japanese traditions of solid wood furniture. Dating back to the 70s, the Trittico triple-legged table and the Tony stackable tables continue to enchant a luxury market to this day.
AN INTERNATIONAL REPUTATION FOR LUXURY
Outside of it’s beloved homeland, the fine Italian furniture maker has decorated luxury properties in the Middle East, UK, US, Japan, Southern Africa and beyond. With such a bright reputation, it’s no surprise the elite of the interior design world favour Porada furniture. The Four Seasons in London’s Canary Wharf is home to Porada furnishings—utilised in the designs of Bruno Moinard and Claire Betaille of Paris-based 4BI et Associés. Similarly, upholstered Porada wares can be found in Le Burgundy Hotel, Paris, the interiors conceived by acclaimed designer Patrick Juliot. The brand is frequently commissioned to furnish entire spaces; in recent years, the brand has added to its portfolio two hotels in Sochi for the Winter Olympics, a French casino, large resorts in Africa, a school in Japan and countless private homes.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the brand is taking a renewed look at the importance of solidity and durability. Sara Allievi, the brand’s Marketing and Communication Manager and granddaughter to the late founder Luigi, has noticed the Porada customer has rediscovered the merit of a beautiful home during the lockdown, filling their surroundings with objects that inspire joy. “Where you see furniture, we see a home,” the brand explains. This ethos has always been at the heart of the Porada, back when it was a small family business producing traditional chairs. Though infinitely bigger today, this sentiment remains unchanged and, this year, the brand opened a new showroom in Cabiate. It all goes right back to where it began—the verdant land fringing Lake Como where inspiration drove innovation.