“Creating flexible, efficient and eco-sustainable architecture”: This is how Progetto CMR, one of the most prominent design studios on the national and international scene, introduces itself. The company, founded in Milan in 1994, has 10 offices worldwide and over the years has designed the offices of some of the world’s largest companies.
With Frezza it now has a long-standing collaboration, a ten-year long period that has seen the birth of two iconic products: the Be.1 system and the Yo seat. This year the two collections will be updated in order to offer greater customisation and respond to the new functional and aesthetic demands of the market.
We interviewed architect Matteo Colombo, Project Leader of Progetto CMR, who told us more about the development of these new restylings, while reflecting on the evolution of offices and communal spaces.
The way we ‘inhabit’ office spaces is constantly evolving. How would you describe the relationship between people and space? How could we improve it?
Progetto CMR’s mission has always been to create spaces in which the end user is the undisputed protagonist. Environments must always be at the service of people in order to generate, through a harmonious relationship, well-being, productivity and satisfaction.
With more than thirty years of experience in developing projects of all types, and in view of the digital evolution that our world is experiencing, our vision is clear: the users of the future are the ones who demand spaces, buildings, and objects that are increasingly versatile and multifaceted, able to support a human nature that is increasingly searching for change.
Transformable spaces therefore give way to constellations of elements that are paradoxically simpler and more static, encouraging people to move around them for a dynamic and ever-changing human experience.
Frezza started 2023 with its new promise “Design for evolving Humans”, a claim we’ll see throughout the year and in all the new product releases, such as Be.1 version 4.0. How has the product evolved with respect to the needs of the user?
Be.1 itself was in some ways a pioneer of the new flexible office philosophy.
In a world of movable, foldable and transformable furniture, we presented ourselves at Frezza with a countertrend product, dynamic in design but solid in substance, and new mottos such as “move people, not furniture” and “one bench fits all”.
Over the next ten years, and still to this day, Be.1 has evolved in accordance with its users without betraying its nature: there has been no transformation of the desk system, which is still perfectly in line with market demands, but a widening of the range with functional islands that support different and innovative ways of working.
Adjustable desking systems, total privacy stations, stand-up meeting and open space conference areas, collaborative and brainstorming spaces: everything contributes to the creation of an office environment that is always surprising, stimulating and a source of well-being.
The Yo seat, which you designed for Frezza, is a very successful product. What are its distinguishing features? Where did the inspiration for the product concept come from?
From the very beginning, the aim of the Yo project was to create a seating system for informal and educational spaces that was both essential and versatile, simple and immediate, colourful and light.
All elements of the design were the result of months of joint work with Frezza’s technical team. Between various prototypes and adjustments, we searched almost obsessively for a simple design with clean lines, capable of balancing well-being with aesthetic beauty.
The result is a timeless product which has been included in the most diverse interior design projects, accompanying each one with discretion and harmony.
But its timelessness does not prevent Yo from growing and evolving: constant technological, materic and formal research has given shape, just this year, to a new release of the product, which retains the essence of the original, but is updated in form and expanded in solutions.
Yo and Be.1 are the result of a collaboration between manufacturer and designer. What are, in your opinion, the essential elements of a successful partnership?
The first requirement is a shared vision in terms of product nature, identity, target audience and market positioning.
If this prerequisite is met, the probability of a successful collaboration is high. However, other aspects such as open and efficient communication, mutual respect and shared expertise, cannot be ignored.
Only through the creation of an unprecedented mix of skills and by learning from each other can the designer, the producer and his network of partners produce unexpected, unique and innovative results.
How would you describe the relationship between Frezza and Progetto CMR?
We’ve been working with Frezza for more than a decade now, so we can only define the relationship between us as tried and tested and of great understanding and mutual esteem.
Everything we do is guided by our common goal, which is to give life to products in which we all firmly believe.
This relationship has stood the test of time and has preserved, over the years and in people, a desire to create new and evolved products, capable of keeping pace or anticipating the changes that we are experiencing everyday.
We would like to thank architect Matteo Colombo and the entire Progetto CMR studio for the interview.