Pier Ugo Boffi: a poet of work

Lentate sul Seveso, 27th June 2017. Pier Ugo has left us. Pier Ugo Boffi, together with Dino and Paolo, took part right from the beginning in the extraordinary transformation of their father’s cabinetry workshop into a factory. The facts are well known. On the eve of the Fifties, the age when everything seemed possible, propelled by the economic upturn and post-war reconstruction, the three brothers complemented each other seamlessly under the direction of Piero. Dino, the eldest, with a pioneering attitude, foresaw the importance of giving products a stylistic imprinting and understood that designers were indispensable in generating this new language in furniture. Paolo, the youngest, with his entrepreneurial inclination that still shows today, proved himself to be both vigilant and curious about all things regarding production and materials. And then there was Pier Ugo. No-one more than him could reach into things and had the ease in finding ways to give shape to what were just designers’ sketches, for which he was a solid interpreter, guide and co-worker in their development. He could overcome difficulties with fine intellect, particularity and method, while never avoiding challenges. He never seemed to get tired, spurred by his passionate dedication to work. He got into every detail to create an industrial object that could combine beauty and functionality, making sure that it kept its artisanal touch and turning it into a mould for the company. The three brothers, teachers and apprentices one to the other, worked their way up in the company and laid the basis for the transformation of the production processes. Working in close contact with the workers and the artisans in ever increasing numbers. Riding the innovative processes with polyesters, developed in parallel with the innate refinement and confidence with woods. Together the brothers, along with the indelible contribution of Pier Ugo, built the DNA of the company where one can still see the traits left by each one. And this is how Pier Ugo developed models and archetypes that have survived their time, like the famous T12, designed with Gian Casé, the revolutionary Miniktichen by Joe Colombo, the innovative Grand Chef by Pepe Tanzi and all the number ones that have marked Boffi’s history with the top designers at the time, up to the mid-Eighties. When the brothers part ways. Perhaps Pier Ugo’s skill at mending gaps, with creative and operative intuitions between what is just a sketch of an idea and reality, came from him being the “middle” brother. He found a way to solve problems, level them, write them off and go on. Now Pier Ugo has gone, for the second time. His son took over his position in the R&D lab long ago. He left quietly, as was his style, with few words but many facts. And now, just like then, the loss will be levelled by the solidity of his memory and presence.
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