When Afra and Tobia Scarpa designed Soriana for Cesare Cassina in 1969, they mightn’t have known it would become a lasting icon. It was awarded a Compasso d’Oro the following year, and more than half a century later, remains one of the brand’s most coveted pieces for interior design projects around the world.
“The idea came instinctively, and the piece was produced
relatively quickly,” says Cassina CEO Luca Fuso. “Scarpa
showed a prototype of the armchair to his father’s friend
who exclaimed that it was as soft as a ‘soriana’—referring to a
tabby cat in local dialect—probably thanks to the abundance
of soft fabric used to create its welcoming forms.”
The seat lives up to its name: what first strikes about Soriana is its curvaceous silhouette generously wrapped in upholstery—an enticing, almost seductive invitation to sit and sink into its body. But it is the simple genius of the Soriana that saw it so well-received in the ‘70s, and which makes it so timeless. Taking its shape from the grip of a metal brace, the sofa’s gently textured upholstery is pulled into buttoned creases that accentuate its voluptuous aesthetic.
“Soriana represents an informal way of living that was typical of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s,” Fuso says. “It was probably one of the first sofas without armrests—an outstanding idea that the market soon picked up on.”
Founded in 1927, Cassina has pioneered modern
furniture design for almost a century with its avant-garde
perspective and material innovation, collaborating with
architects and designers such as Le Corbusier, Marco
Zanuso and Ico Parisi. Today, masterworks such as the LC3
Fauteuil Grand Confort, grand modèle by Le Corbusier,
Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand (part of the Cassina
I Maestri Collection), and the Maralunga sofa by Vico
Magistretti, remain some of the brand’s most iconic pieces—
enduring successes on which the brand has capitalised by
revisiting them using modern materials and production
Fuso says this pioneering approach is in the brand’s DNA, as epitomised by the creation of Cassina LAB, an initiative born about three years ago from a collaboration with POLI. design at the Milan Polytechnic. “Cassina has always been a pioneer in its field, a first mover,” he says. “We believe that it’s important to innovate, to anticipate our consumers’ needs, and understand how design, and we ourselves, can evolve.”
“With Cassina LAB, we carry this out through identifying circular materials and renewable energy sources to make our products and by creating designs aimed at extending a product’s life cycle.”
Responding to by Soriana’s decades-long popularity, Cassina worked in collaboration with Tobia Scarpa to create a modern version—a reinterpretation staying true to the piece’s original design but brought up-to-date with new innovative and environmentally conscious materials. “It was important to us to not just bring back Soriana from our archives, but to also rethink its materials to favour environmental sustainability while maintaining the utmost respect for authenticity,” Fuso says. “The main challenge in redeveloping any of our products, including Soriana, with a more conscious approach, is to identify the most suitable materials that do not sacrifice comfort or performance.”
To replace Soriana’s original polyurethane structure,
Cassina LAB developed a series of bags filled with
microspheres made from BioFoam®, the first patented foam
made from biopolymers. Hardwearing, biodegradable and
compostable, this new material makes the seat recyclable at the end of its life, while also—crucially—enhancing its
comfort. Similarly, a recycled blown fibre padding produced
from recovered PET bottles from Plastic Bank® complements
both the seat and the lining’s padding, adding to Soriana’s snugness while supporting a circular economy.
“Our products have always been produced to last a lifetime with the highest quality materials and workmanship excellence. But if we can reduce environmental impact by using better processes and circular materials that don’t sacrifice aesthetics or comfort, then we should—it’s our duty.”
The updated Soriana comes in a selection of chromatic combinations and a black, blue, burgundy, green or white painted metal frame, as well as a chrome brace version; a nod to the original version for purists. The Soriana range includes an armchair, a chaise-longue, a two or three-seater sofa and a pouf.