5 Iconic Furniture Brands from Spain You Should Know: Expormim.
Since its founding in 1960, the Valencia-based family-owned Expormim has firmly committed to artisanship and tradition. Now in its third generation, artisans transmit their knowledge from generation to generation. Serving the residential and contract market, the company’s pieces are on the cutting edge of design. Collaborations with leading architects, furniture, and industrial designers, such as Oscar Tusquets Blanca, Benedetta Tagliabue, Jaime Hayon, Manel Molina, and Mario Ruiz, have led to widespread recognition and visibility for the firm’s products.
Known for hand-crafted rattan pieces and highly technical outdoor ones, the raw materials used to make furniture are sustainable and eco-friendly. Materials such as aluminum and stainless steel used for outdoor structures and the technical fabrics on upholstery have a high percentage of recycled material. International certifications received, such as Greenguard, OEKO-TEX®, and Reach guarantee that the fabrics and materials are respectful of the environment and healthy to use.
Expormim has used rattan as the primary raw material in all products. When this material fell out of favor at one point, the company halted its rattan furniture production, storing materials in the factory until tastes changed. Once they did, there was a return to its design roots with updated traditional techniques.
Since 2005, Expormim has incorporated its studio for R&D&I (Research, Development, and Innovation). Composed of industrial designers specialised in the furniture industry, Studio Expormim produces its collections but also supports the development of external projects. Witnesses and heirs to the know-how the company has gathered over time, Studio Expormim incorporated the latest designs and technological innovation into its artisanship through constant research and experimentation with new materials, the latest creations, and technological innovation to its artisanship.
Expormim won the Premio Nacional Del Diseno in 2021, the highest design recognition in Spain.
Fontal Armchair by Oscar Tusquets Blanca (2012)
The Fontal collection, by renowned Spanish architect, painter, and designer Oscar Tusquets Blanca, was the first collection released after the company’s return to the use of rattan. The design was born from the wish to recover rattan as a quality material and reclaim Spain’s rich craft tradition while maintaining the technical know-how retained and passed on my local artisans. Tusquets explained, “I have tried to give a new look to an ancient technique by replacing the brackets and bonds traditionally used as connecting elements by twinning one cane to the next. Thanks to this innovative solution, we have achieved a strong, flexible, and lightweight structure. The Fontal evolved into a warm, likable, and luxurious seat in the true sense of the word”.
The armchair has a structure of natural, peeled, and tinted rattan. Seat upholstery are natural or synthetic leather, virgin wool, velvet and polypropylene fabrics.
Frames Seating by Jaime Hayon (2014/2021)
The Frames collection debuted at the International Furniture Fair of Milan in 2014, capturing the attention of both the media and the general public. After four years of development work, Expormim expanded the collection to include a new chair, a dining armchair for small spaces, and a low armchair, which saw its debut at the International Furniture Fair of Milan in April 2018.
The dining chair structure is of peeled, tinted natural rattan. The seat and backrest have a tinted natural wicker (“octagonal wicker”), and the finish of the legs is rattan. Optional cushions fabrics include natural or faux leather, and Ascendent of Carlucci.
Armadillo by MUT Design (2020)
Closely linked to Expormim for years through designs such as Nautica or Twins, the multidisciplinary team MUT designed the Armadillo indoor collection as “a revision of a furniture classic in rattan: the papasan chair (a bowl chair or moon chair). But this is a radically free and wonderfully postmodern version”.
Far from being relegated to a corner, Armadillo blends beauty, Mediterranean essence, and the artisanship of Expormim, beckoning one to sit in it. Simplicity and attention to tradition characterize this work. It is an ode to calm, a new design made in Mogente (Valencia) by artisans who still bend and sand the rods by hand. The result? Guaranteed stability and almost transparent visibility.
Altet Dining Chair by Studio Exporim (2012/2021)
The redesign uses more efficient and technical production processes, maximizing the use of material. For example, short sections of rattan come from the scraps of other collections. The original edition, the essential, is entirely made of rattan with an optional removable cushion. The second version has a rattan backrest and upholstered seat, providing increased comfort. The third comes fully padded to provide even more softness with its curvy silhouette and enhance its warmth. The newer version offers three levels of comfort, depending on the customization options, and a wide range of fabrics and finishes. The colour palette comprises fourteen different shades. All paints are water-based and low COV, while fabric options meet the OEKOTEX and Greenguard certifications.
Nautica Swing Chair by MUT Design (2012)
Nautica by MUT Design is a hanging chair that pays homage to one of the first pieces created by Expormim in the 70s during a new wave of rattan furniture. Alberto Sánchez, the creative mind behind Spanish firm MUT Design, redesigned it almost from scratch. He approached the piece from a fresh perspective, maintaining the beauty attached to natural materials yet avoiding nostalgia as an aesthetic resource.
The swing is notable for the subtle play of shadows that results from its rocking movement, evoking the reflection of sunlight on the liquid skin of ocean waves. In spite of its visual lightness, the piece is remarkable for its sturdiness and resistance. It is “the result of the painstaking attention to detail, the desire to stimulate, and the respect for tradition are the reasons that handcrafted rattan is the only material used in this design.”
Nautica became one of the company’s icons. It won one of the most prestigious international awards in the design field in 2014, the Red Dot, in the category of best product design.
The Swing chair features a structure made of peeled and tinted natural rattan.
Cask Collection by Norm Architects (2021)
The Cask lounge collection is a modern take on classic rattan furniture. The combination of geometrical simplicity and traditional techniques makes it a contemporary design that is novel and familiar at the same time. The construction consists of two simple circular rattan shapes that form a mesmerizing geometrical shape held up by a row of classic back ribs. The inspiration for the Cask collection is classical round pieces of furniture, which have historically played a fundamental role in the history of design.
Norm Architects, who have been working on the principles of “restraint and refinement” since 2008, had the brief of delivering a collection with the purest lines and the fetching beauty of classic designs. The result is two rounded pieces of rattan placed together. The fanciest minimalism. They aimed “to create a series of lounge furniture (a small sofa and a lounge chair) with a unique, contemporary design and very comfortable.” Versatile, cozy, and elegant, all the ingredients of a classic.
The wide range of available rattan finishes and textiles can make these pieces as bold and cheerful as to fit the mood of any contemporary atmosphere.
Taking something simple and making it even more so belies the complexity of its manufacturing process, which involves stripping objects down to their basic versions.
Lapala Outdoor Collection by Lievore Altherr Molina (1998/2022)
This classic collection by Lievore Altherr Molina was designed in 1998 and expanded in 2022 with two radically contemporary versions -one with a four-legged base and another with a pyramid-shaped base of FSC® certified sapele wood legs. A brand new Lapala keeps up with the times, being more natural and sustainable, yet its Mediterranean essence remains intact. As the designer explains, “Her curves and gentle shape keep the sober, light, and versatile character of the original design. This update has increased comfort through its improved ergonomics and a higher performance to weather conditions because of its woven nautical rope on a painted stainless steel frame.”
Gres by Miguel Milá (2017)
Miguel Milá is widely considered one of the references of industrial design in Spain, and the firm could not pass up the opportunity to collaborate with him. The current version of the Gres stool is a re-edition of a 1960s version, now produced by Expormim artisans. The stool’s structure is made of peeled natural rattan and finished with a three-step high-resistance coating. The base and the upholstered seat are available in various colors. It has low and high stool models.
Photography courtesy of Expormim.
Read about other iconic Spanish brands in 5 Iconic Furniture Brands from Spain You Should Know: Sancal: Breaking the Mould for 50 Years and 5 Furniture Brands from Spain You Should Know: BD Design: 50 years of Iconic Design.