The latest furniture debut from Armani/Casa is inspired by a ubiquitous and universal pattern, but that is where the familiarity ends. Mr. Giorgio Armani does not linger in expected places. The fashion legend has been in the industry for more than 35 years, and he has maintained a cult following for his fashion, his boutiques, and design collections. Straightforward furniture would be out of character. For example, when Robb Report needed an elegant companion to a rare spirits photo shoot for a recent issue, Armani/Casa’s limited-edition, handcrafted Canaletto walnut and lacquer Club Bar cabinet ($63,180) felt right. It has a fold-out tempered glass top and bronze drawers that host an ice bucket, utensils and precious bottles. Only 50 models exist—not your standard-issue, Mad Men-esque cocktail command center.
And the Net side table is similarly distinctive. It makes a play for refined simplicity, which is something that Italians seem to innately understand. Furniture is not just furniture, it’s art, beauty, and the source of a happy life. This design comes from a man who makes very clear distinctions in his work, “the difference between style and fashion is quality.” On first glance, the Net is a quietly sophisticated table with checkerboard top. That is part of the well-made illusion: Rather than applying a finish to the table’s surface, artisans combined transparent cubes and opaque cubes to create a contrasting effect. This alternating technique—pairing glossy, transparent methacrylate with matte Canaletto walnut—is a solid salute to craftsmanship. It’s an unconventional blend of two materials and a time-consuming process.
While the checkboard has been part of visual culture for millennia—hand-painted on pottery from the Predynastic period, covering floors in the 15th century Europe, adorning New York City cabs, Vans sneakers, and every major raceway–it is rarely done with this kind of luxury. The Net happens to be an exception, and a very literal invitation: the surface is meant to serve as a board for those who love to play chess. And as it turns out, Armani/Casa happens to offer excellent chess pieces.