The History of a Family Business

FLEXFORM’s history is a family history. Now at the third generation, FLEXFORM was founded in the furniture manufacturing district of Brianza, in Northern Italy. This is where the unique worldwide phenomenon of design Made in Italy began, in the 1960s. A territory where the history of many small crafts workshops working with wood, metal and upholstery since the early 1900s intertwines with that of the great masters of Italian design, trained in the School of Architecture in nearby Milan. The FLEXFORM story is part of this historical context. In 1959 the Galimberti brothers started a crafts workshop, which they called “Flexform di Galimberti.” They opened their first streetfront showroom, displaying sofas and armchairs that found their way, in the postwar era, into elegant buildings in Milan, villas overlooking Lake Como, and even the foyer of Teatro alla Scala. Their sons transformed the workshop into an industrial facility, and in 1967 FLEXFORM became a joint-stock company. Intuition prompted the family to work with the leading designers of the time: Joe Colombo, Asnago-Vender, Cini Boeri, Rodolfo Bonetto and many others. With the young architect Antonio Citterio, during those same years FLEXFORM embarked on a path of professional growth that has continued without interruption to the present, for over forty years. The decade of the 1970s marks a decisive turning point in the firm’s conception of products. Avoiding repetition of past styles, the production became increasingly original and contemporary.

“The family is a great value, an important legacy of resources, stimuli, knowledge. Roots allow us to look to the future. Without awareness of our history we cannot imagine future scenarios. It is true that only he who knows where he comes from can know where he is heading. It is an honor and a commitment for all of us in the third generation to continue the work of our predecessors. To keep alive what we like to call the “we attitude,” i.e. the awareness that it is the team – and therefore the brand – that is the real player, not the individual. No soloists, but a group that thinks in the first-person plural, never the singular. The challenge is to keep intact that expedition behavior” – to use a term borrowed from Jeff Ashby, the Space Shuttle commander – namely the altruistic and generous behavior typical of mountain climbing expeditions, where valuing the team above all other concerns is the key to success. So continuing to think in collective terms for the benefit of the brand is the most important challenge for our family business.” 

In the 1970s the family understood the importance of exploring new markets, beyond the national borders. They approached Europe, where the German-speaking countries, in particular, demonstrated great interest in their understated, elegant and comfortable sofas, especially in Germany. Overseas growth was also constant and unstoppable, as Flexform gained visibility in the most exclusive furniture stores in America, Asia and Australia. With the advent of the new millennium, the company launched a program of internationalization through the opening of exclusive FLEXFORM flagship stores.