GRAY gets the scoop in an exclusive Q&A with the brand’s CEO Luca Fuso, and its art director Patricia Urquiola.
By Rachel Gallaher
Designer and Cassina artistic director Patricia Urquiola at the opening of the brand's Seattle showroom.
Last week, on the heels of unveiling its Los Angeles store, Italian furniture brand Cassina opened the doors on a new Seattle showroom. Located on Western Avenue, the expansive space showcases a series of vignettes featuring pieces from some of the most significant designers of the 20th century, from Gio Ponti to Carlo Scarpa. To celebrate the opening, Cassina’s CEO, Luca Fuso, and its art director Patricia Urquiola came to town. GRAY had the opportunity to sit down with the duo and hear more about the choice to open in Seattle, discover Urquiola’s favorite spot in the city, and learn about the Cassina Perspective, a continuing touchstone for the company as it nears its 100-year anniversary.
The new Seattle Cassina showroom.
GRAY: What makes Seattle a good fit for a Cassina showroom?
Luca Fuso: After opening our biggest store worldwide [in Los Angeles], Seattle was a natural thing for us. The scene is very different here, and we think that it fits with the Cassina Perspective, which is the idea that you can mix and match things that have been designed by different minds and in different time periods and make a unique, beautiful space. There’s an appreciation for quality and craftsmanship. When you buy from Cassina, you’re taking home a piece of your home, not just a display in a showroom.
Cassina CEO Luca Fuso in the new Seattle showroom.
GRAY: Cassina is approaching its 100-year anniversary in 2027. How has the company evolved since its founding, and in what ways has it held onto its heritage and original approach to retail?
Luca Fuso: Fifty years ago, we created the Cassina iMaestri Collection, which is a way for us to have a connection with our past—and with some of the most important icons of design. We celebrated with an exhibition, Echoes: 50 Years of iMaestri at this year’s Salone del Mobile Milano. We will be releasing a book about it this fall. The pieces in this collection are still as beautiful today as they were when they were conceived.
We are trying to connect with that legacy all the time, especially when we look for new talent—we want to create timeless pieces that will always be in our collections.
A glimpse into Cassina's newest furniture showroom.
GRAY: What’s next for Cassina?
Luca Fuso: We’re always finding new designers and new ways of doing things, including working with new materials, and looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint. Durability is the first step to sustainability, so we pride ourselves on the fact that our products last forever. However, if someone does want to dispose of a piece, we are thinking about ways in which all new products can be easily taken apart and separated into different components at the end of their life cycles.
GRAY: Is this your first time in Seattle? What are your impressions?
Patricia Urquiola: I have always been very lucky, every time I come to Seattle it has had very nice weather. The last time I was in town, to speak at Boeing, I visited the downtown public library three times. On this trip we went back and visited again—it is very impressive. I think it’s one of the nicest works of Rem Koolhaas, a masterpiece. We always go upstairs and come down through the space; it’s like a ritual for me.
One area of Cassina's Seattle showroom, featuring a mix of contemporary furniture.
GRAY: How does Cassina balance heritage design with new talent and why that is important?
Patricia Urquiola: Balance is instrumental to what we do. Fifty years ago, the owners said, ‘Let’s work with Gio Ponti and other contemporary designers of the day, but also go to the Le Corbusier Foundation and the [Charles Rennie] Mackintosh foundation.” The pieces from these designers still hold up and help make the voice of Cassina. There is a timelessness and attention to detail and quality that make a design successful, and we still look for that today.
GRAY: Tell me the highlights of Cassina products introduced at Salone del Mobile.
Patricia Urquiola: Among other new releases, we introduced a new product [the Wax, Stone, Light lamp] from a young Dutch designer [Linde Freya Tangelder]. I like it a lot and love that she could express herself in a way that balances art and design.