Sponsored Design

PJ Natuzzi “Hunts” for New Collaborators at Design Fairs, Fashion Shows, and Art Schools. His Approach Is Revitalizing the Family Furniture Business

Portrait of PJ Natuzzi by Alberto Zanetti. All images courtesy of Natuzzi Italia.

PJ Natuzzi has always gone against the grain.

“My father used to call me ‘Bastian Contrario,’ which means that I was stimulated by doing the opposite of what people were asking me to do,” he admits. The forward-thinking son has since channeled this contrarian tendency in his role as Creative Director of Natuzzi Italia, the family’s furniture company. “Over time, I developed that into a natural attraction towards change, being an ‘element of disruption,’ people say.” 

The Memoria sofa designed in collaboration with Karim Rashid.

Disrupt he did when his tenure began in 2020: Natuzzi has driven the brand’s shift from furniture maker to Mediterranean lifestyle purveyor, expanding the Natuzzi Italia umbrella while maintaining a commitment to its roots as a family brand founded in the coastal city of Taranto. The transition wasn’t without its roadblocks, yet the upstart remained firm on his outlook. "I believe in looking at the environment around you and trying to improve it," he says. "Not feeling scared of making a change happen is something that I have in my DNA. I think my father had it, too."

The Uragano table.

As the company celebrates over six decades of excellence in luxury furnishings, this focus on legacy and longevity is precisely what’s pushed Natuzzi toward collaboration: Months into his tenure, he established the Circle Harmony Project to invite designers to guest spot with Natuzzi Italia, thus “mixing DNA,” as he sees it. Counting Andrea Steidl, Simone Bonanni, and Sabine Marcelis as previous collaborators, Natuzzi Italia released its latest Circle of Harmony creation—the Memoria sofa—just in time for New York Design Week.

Created with industrial designer Karim Rashid, who has originated everything from cosmetics to interiors to packaging,  the elliptical shape and smooth contours recall an elongated infinity symbol. It’s a striking silhouette, at once entirely Rashid’s calling card and wholly Natuzzi Italia’s relaxed elegance. 


Collaborations like this are what give Natuzzi energy—he approaches every project with the emotions it will evoke top of mind. “I wonder how it is to work with some brands that are very stiff,” he observes. Health, too, is another concern on his agenda: Natuzzi Italia’s Comfortness collection uses micro-mobility technology to adjust the way people sit. “Healthy aging is something we're all keen on, and one of the major antagonists of healthy aging is sitting still. The micro-mobility feature is designed not to sit still.” It’s this sort of conscious innovation that is driving the creative director’s many projects—and driving traffic. 

“Every new collection, people come to me and ask, ‘So, who's the new designer? What's the next story?’” He’s already looking for his next collaborative partner, a process which he describes as a “hunt.” He’s headed to design weeks, fashion weeks, art fairs—wherever he may find a new strand of Natuzzi DNA. He laughs before concluding, “You don't know what you can find in the woods, right?”