Degrees of intervention

Research, curiosity and daring attempts often lead to changes that modify the use of materials and / or objects built with the same. “Degrees of intervention” change a shape without altering it completely; changing the destination of use of an object enables multiplying its functions.

Permaflex, based in Pistoia, used polyurethane foam to protect the framework of spring mattresses. One day, the company came up with the idea to use the same material to make an armchair. It turned out to be an excellent idea. The result proved that polyurethane foam, if used at an appropriate density and in the right size, could fulfil not only the function of providing comfort, but also meet elasticity and structural requirements. The only drawback of the prototype, however, was that it remained deformed when subjected to heavy compression. For this reason, the company asked Bayer if they could research a formulation for creating non-deformable polyurethane foam. After a few days, samples of material started to arrive in three different densities, all with a minimum deformation degree. From then on, Permaflex starting producing upholstery using this new material in place of rubber latex (foam rubber).

Prototipo Polistirolo Espanso

The first prototype for testing the technical and structural capabilities of polyurethane foam. It was obtained from straight contours cut from a single foam block.

This idea and experience led to the foundation of UNO PI (chemistry for furniture industry), with its own internal chemical research laboratory for testing the various raw materials sent in by Bayer in the form of mixable components, which, when appropriately mixed, would give life to a wide range of foam materials, both soft and rigid (foamed, integral, Baydur, etc.).

The “degrees of intervention” devised by Gianfranco Gualtierotti while working for UNO PI can be assessed based on the technical design and industrialization of the company’s products from 1967 to 1975.

These years are regarded by Gualteriotti as the most formative period in his life. The future designer, in fact, is known to have spent them creating studies and prototypes for sofa armchairs, not only of the cold-foamed type, but also using more complicated and diversified technologies for the construction of seats for airliners, such as European DC 10s, presidential DC-9s and European A-300 B airbuses.


Rezia prod. UNO PI – design E. Guarnacci, F. Padovano

Gualteriotti’s “degrees of intervention” would eventually enrich the productions of companies, designers and architects of great importance.

Gualteriotti’s “degrees of intervention” would eventually enrich the productions of companies, designers and architects of great importance.

All this thanks to continuous, often daring interventions.

Pierluigi Bacci


Rezia used several automotive technologies. The spring structure was made using zig zag springs developed by Ondaflex thanks to its long-standing experience.


Nuava prod. UNO PI – design E. Guarnacci, F. Padovano


Nuava Entirely made of cold foam polyurethane with different densities.


Duna prod. UNO PI – design E. Guarnacci, F. Padovano e C. Vagnoni

A modular system with a supporting structure made of “Baydur” rigid polyurethane. This project demonstrated that rigid polyurethane could be used as a support with no need to add reinforcement metal parts.


Seat Model 020 prod. UNO PI for DC 10 aircraft. design Sergio Lenci

This product was developed using different technologies and materials, from aluminium alloy to rigid and flexible polyurethane foams, as well as various thermoformable plastic materials. Its design was rather complex as it was bound by strict international aeronautical standards covering various aspects, from size to weight and mechanical strength up to end-use characteristics.