How excellence is born: follow us to discover Poltrona Frau

More than artificial intelligence, the irreplaceable intelligence of the hands commands the Poltrona Frau factory in Tolentino (Macerata). From manual dexterity and artisan sensitivity, in fact, comes the excellence of a brand that, worldwide, has become an undisputed ambassador of Made in Italy. Poltrona Frau opens its doors to us: follow us on its discovery


Our visit to the headquarters of the company, which since 2014 has been controlled by the US group Haworth, begins with leather, which Poltrona Frau itself defines as ‘the princely material‘. Pelle Frau comes from the collaboration between the company and tanneries, with 21 processing steps. Each of its collections is the result of the experience of the in-house Research & Development Centre, which fine-tunes the perfect recipe with the support of tanning suppliers.  Around 230,000 square metres of cowhide pass through the Tolentino warehouse every year. From the thinnest to 7 millimetres thick, which is used to build the architecture of the product. The company has 12 collections in 158 colours, divided into three large leather families: pigmented, semi-aniline and aniline. All those arriving at the company are subjected to physical and chemical tests in the in-house laboratory.

The journey of the leather

Once the leather has passed the first inspection, it leaves the warehouse and is inspected on the surface. It then passes under the scanner and arrives at the cutting jigs. In order to reduce waste as much as possible, the orders are summarised in a single cutting order. Each jig corresponds to different quality zones, with orange identifying the most visible part of a product to which a perfect leather zone will be assigned. Then, in order of quality, we move on to light blue, blue, red and green. Subsequently, each cut piece of leather undergoes a further quality check.

200 artisans

In the Interior Design department, armchairs and sofas are manually assembled by the 200 craftsmen, who work according to the principles of Lean Manufacturing. A conveyor belt transfers the product from the covering to the packaging. The Poltrona Frau brand is applied to the leather using a heat press at 156 degrees for 20 seconds. The operation is modified according to the type of leather used.



Six materials

There are six basic materials for the structure of a traditional product: beech wood, jute, hemp, steel, canvas and dried palm leaves (placed either loosely or together with latex). First, the wooden supporting structure is constructed, with special attention paid to the springs, which respond differently to pressure depending on where they are placed. The structure is then covered in leather. In order to pass on the intelligence of the hands, at the various stations, work is often done in pairs: a young person next to a more experienced craftsman, likewise at the pleating station. The first secret that is taught is that the first fold must be made in the centre. It takes 12 hours to create an Archibald chair. For a Chester, it takes 55.

Research & Development

We are then accompanied to the Research & Development Centre, which also houses the testing laboratory. The facility was established in 1986 to test the family’s leathers, as they came from the nearby Conceria del Chienti (also in Tolentino), the company that acquired Poltrona Frau in 1963. The centre was renovated in 2019. It also houses climatic chambers where the leather’s resistance to the temperatures it will find in the containers is tested.

Interiors in Motion

We visit the Interiors in Motion department, where around 250 people work. This is where the interiors of luxury cars are assembled. For example: Ferrari, McLaren, Maserati, Aston Martin, Lamborghini, Jaguar Land Rover. The collaboration with the Prancing Horse started in 1994. On average, the interiors and upholstery of 69 Ferraris are produced every day, leaving for Maranello at 2 pm and 9 pm. The interiors of all Ferrari cars are made in Tolentino. Particularly delicate is the upholstery that has to cover the airbag. The perfect job is photographed and kept on file for 15 years.

Custom Interiors

Finally, we come to the Custom Interiors business unit, which was officially established in 1984, when Poltrona Frau made the seats for the Auditorium in Spoleto. Since then, more than 5,000 projects have been realised all over the world. Of these, a sample of 400 prototypes of seats for auditoriums, theatres, and yachts are kept in Tolentino. The intelligence of the hands should not only be handed down but also carefully preserved.

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