designer hanne willmann details the expanded freifrau nana collection

designer hanne willmann details the expanded freifrau nana collection

Hanne Willmann’s Nana chair for Freifrau is part of a collection that transfers the gesture of a warm embrace into a sofa and loveseat.

designer hanne willmann details the expanded freifrau nana collection
No corners, no edges, but rather soft curves: Freifrau’s Nana Love Seat and Couch communicate ultimate softness, both visually and ergonomically

 

 

The name says it all. Anyone who sees the curvaceous Nana Love Seat immediately wants to settle down in it, so cosy and inviting are its softly upholstered curves. And for many, the first encounter is also love at first sight, even if the typology of the loveseat actually refers to the characteristic of an oversized armchair for singles or a particularly cosy couples’ sofa. The seat with the Rubens figure and the two friendly arm cushions raised in the air was designed by Berlin designer Hanne Willmann. It is not her first design for Freifrau, but strictly speaking one of two design additions that followed her very successful debut.

designer hanne willmann details the expanded freifrau nana collection
The designer of Nana, Hanne Willmann, favoured a cover made of bouclé textile reminiscent of sheepskin. As always with Freifrau, however, countless other covers are conceivable

 
 

FROM BALLOON MODEL TO UPHOLSTERED SEATING

 

The Nana chair, also rather voluminous and cloudy in appearance, was launched in 2021. If you ask Willmann about the impetus for the first collaboration, she tells a story that sounds like destiny. ‘I had the impression at the time that my design would fit in well with Freifrau, so I simply called the company, and the creative director said: “I’ve just left a message in your mailbox”. But I didn’t know anything about that – it was pure coincidence.

 

‘The aim was to create something simple and perfect, to pursue the realisation of previously unheard-of seating quality’

 

This uncomplicated attitude is also something that Willmann appreciates about her collaboration with Freifrau to this day. In the development process, the company gave Willmann maximum creative freedom as well as technical and craft support. ‘I had thought that I would like to design an airy piece of seating furniture. We then experimented with small cushions and balloons in the studio, squeezing them in, squeezing them together or sewing them. At some point, we had a model that we thought: This is it.

designer hanne willmann details the expanded freifrau nana collection

designer hanne willmann details the expanded freifrau nana collection
During the development process, Willmann worked with balloons, among other things, which she pressed into the desired shape. The distinctive centre seam is also a remnant of the development process

 
 

Homage to the art of furniture upholstery

 

Willmann presented the design to Freifrau and was met with unreserved enthusiasm. It was clear to everyone involved that Nana‘s soft silhouette in particular would pose a great challenge for the upholsterers. ‘I went to Freifrau’s workshop several times to compare the prototypes with the model. The shape was adjusted again and again, and when we had the defined curves ready, it was all about comfort. After all, Freifrau stands for comfortable seating, above all. It took almost one and a half years until we were all finally satisfied,’ Willmann sums up. While the chair was still being finalized, Freifrau had already decided to make Nana into a whole family. The obvious choice would perhaps have been other frame chairs such as bar stools and so on, but Freifrau motivated the designer to be even more forthright and courageous, and so she finally proposed a couch and a loveseat with an ottoman.

designer hanne willmann details the expanded freifrau nana collection
Freifrau launched the Nana frame chair in 2021. It has now become an extended family which includes a couch, a loveseat and a spherical ottoman

 
 

Voluminous elegance

 

The loveseat as a category of furniture had until recently not been especially prevalent. But with more people having recently spent an unexpectedly longer amount of time in their own homes, for many, a lack of cosiness came to be noticed. In parts of the home where there may not be enough space for a fully upholstered landscape to be created or where a reading corner is still empty, more and more loveseats are now moving in. They offer opulent seating for one person by positioning themselves functionally between armchair and sofa. The Nana Love Seat is so present that it really becomes a piece of furniture sculpture. To achieve this effect, Willmann once again carried out many form studies. ‘In terms of comfort, we were familiar with the chair, but the new volume also raised new design questions. You could have worked with a plinth, for example, but then the model looked far too cutesy.’ She opted instead for the grand gesture and a piece of furniture as if from a single mould, and then developed the sofa with this premise in mind.

 
designer hanne willmann details the expanded freifrau nana collection

designer hanne willmann details the expanded freifrau nana collection
‘The aim was to create something simple and perfect, to pursue the realisation of previously unheard-of seating quality,’ says Freifrau of Willmann’s furniture series

 
 

Striking silhouettes without visual heaviness

 

Willmann is also a pioneer when it comes to the sofa – at least at Freifrau. ‘It is the first sofa in the programme.’ She appreciates the leap of faith, the openness and the flexibility that the manufacturer has also shown with it. ‘First of all, what interested me about Freifrau were the values. The special, feminine design, but also the local production and the sustainable and high-quality materials. When we got to know each other, the unique corporate culture was another plus. You can feel the family spirit, which is also transferred to the designers. We often sat together for hours, passionately discussing every detail. Freifrau creates furniture that they are convinced of and is less oriented towards what would perhaps be most sensible, from an economical point of view. In the end, though, they pull everyone along with them – because this is also felt by the customer, who is able to find furniture in the Freifrau collection that other companies might not dare to do.

 

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