Friday, April 15, 2011

Cactus clothes stand | Guido Drocco and Franco Mello | Gufram, Italy | 1972

Gufram Cactus clothes standGuido Drocco
Franco Mello
Gufram, Italy, 1972

Guido Drocco was born in San Benedetto Belbo, Cuneo, Italy on September 19, 1942. He graduated in Architecture at the Polytechnic of Turin (Politecnico di Torino). He performs professional work in the field of Architecture and Industrial Design and is active in Turin. Since 1996 he has been a lecturer in Architectural Design at the Faculty of Architecture at the Polytechnic of Turin.

Franco Mello was born in Genoa in 1945. He lives and works in Turin and Spineto Scrivia. Mello works in design, packaging, graphic design, publishing and art. In 2004, he created the “DOG Design” collection. He has edited books on art and designed catalogues and posters for numerous artists from Arte Povera to the Transavangarde, including Piero Manzoni, Giulio Paolini, Giuseppe Peone, Alberto Burri, Yves Klein, Bridget Riley and Pinot Gallizio. He teaches “Industrial Design for Visual Communication” at the Polytechnic of Turin.

What was eventually to become Gufram was born at the beginning of the 1900s as an artisan company specializing in chair manufacture.  Between 1952 and 1966, the company transformed its production from classic to modern, culminating in a name change to Gufram in 1966.  Open to collaboration with artists, architects and designers, Gufram became a cultural and successful commercial enterprise.

Since 1978, Gufram has been operating successfully in the Contract sector, designing seats for cinemas, theatres, auditoriums, conference halls, multipurpose halls, hotels and university lecture rooms, with a significant range of products strongly characterized by Italian design. The fundamental elements of the Gufram philosophy are research, innovation, quality and design.

Gufram logo

Click the logo above to be taken to the Gufram site.  Gufram is now a part of Poltrona Frau group.

Turin must have been an interesting place in the late 60s.  First off, it was the late 60s, but beyond that, Turin is home to large scale manufacturing.  Working class sensibilities applied to artists, architects, and designers gave rise to antidesign.

So to the point of this post: what a friendly Saguaro!  The Gufram Cactus is part of a set of design icons created by Gufram in the late 1960s and early 1970s known as the I Multipli Collection. The I Multipli Collection features objects produced in a polyurethane self-hardening foam with a patented lacquered finish called Guflac.  The collection is featured in many of the finest museums and contemporary art collections of today, including

The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Pompidou de Paris
Vitra Design, Germany
La Triennale, Milan
Tate, London
Musée des Arts Dècoratifs, Paris

In 1986, Gufram reissued the Cactus clothes rack in an edition of 2,000. It was released in white in 2007.  Recently, it has been released in red and black.  Expect to pay about $3,000 for your Cactus if you buy one new. The Cactus weighs in at 18kg, just under 40 pounds.

Gufram Cactus clothes stand

Green and white Cactus clothes stand.  Image source:  Modern Design Interiors.

Gufram Cactus clothes stand

Detailed view of the urethane foam of the Cactus clothes stand painted green with Guflac.  Image source:  Deconet.com.Gufram Cactus clothes stand

Black and red Cactus clothes stand.  Image source:  Cooperative Design.

Schematic of Gufram Cactus

Schematic of Gufram Cactus.  Image source:  Gufram.

Sotheby's Cactus clothes stand

Image source:  Sotheby’s / Architonic.

Sotheby’s sold the above Cactus rack in its December 12, 2003 “Important 20th Century Design” auction in New York.  The early, rare brown-flocked Cactus coat racks were made exclusively for Stendig and distributed to the American market.  Measures 65” (165.1 cm) tall.  Estimated at $6,000 to 8,000.

Gufram miniatures

Gufram miniatures.  Image source:  Wright Auctions.

Lot 862 at the Wright “Modern Design + Utopia: Lost and Found” sale of March 30 – April 1, 2008.  Estimated at $1,000 to $1,500, sold for $3,360. Made of injection-molded polyurethane, Guflac.  Size 6.75” wide by 7.25” deep by 7” tall.  The lot included three models, from left to right:  Cactus, Torneraj, Detecma.


Albrecht Bangert, Italienisches Möbeldesign: Klassiker von 1945 bis 1985, Munich, 1985, p. 100

Nina Börnsen-Holtmann, Italian Design, Cologne, 1994, p. 91

Philippe Decelle, Diane Hennebert, Pierre Loze, L'Utopie Du Tout Plastique 1960 - 1973, 1994, pp. 102-103.

Cara Greenberg, Op to Pop: Furniture of the 1960s, Boston, 1999, pp. 25 and 28


Ambasz, E., ed. (1972). Italy: The new domestic landscape:  Achievements and problems of Italian design. New York, NY: Museum of Modern Art, NY, p. 99, 101 and 103.

Mello, F., Retrieved March 8, 2011 from http://www.castellodirivoli.org/eng/homepage/Mostre/Frame/pagine/Archivio/Scritti/Gufram.htm

Retrieved February 27, 2011 from Poltrona Frau. http://www.poltronafrau.com/portal/page/portal/UI/webpages/groupsite/brands/sheet?p=brand:gufram&lang=en

Retrieved February 27, 2011 from Architonic. http://www.architonic.com/dcgal/cactus-coat-rack-sotheby-s/4103472

Retrieved March 6, 2011 from Wright.  http://www.wright20.com/auctions/view/FJOJ/F5XX/862/LA/none/ERG7/0

“Outdoor design dal 1870”, by Franco Mello and Pier Paolo Peruccio Electa Ferrino celebrates its 140th anniversary with a book. (2010, June 8). Retrieved February 27, 2011 from http://www.ferrino.it/en/homepage/press/275

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