Founded in 1973 by the Benedini family in the Verona region, Agape has since become a synonym of the very best bathware. Despite its creation during the international oil crisis, the brand quickly made its mark through its innovative vision and for reformulating a room that had long remained unchanged. Developing new ways of interpreting the bathroom, the company brought this space to the emotional centre of the house, now essential for well-being and relaxation rather than merely fulfilling functional tasks. Agape (one of the many Greek words for 'love') has surprised us year after year by combining the best in Italian manufacturing and the talent of international designers such as Patricia Urquiola and Marcio Kogan to develop elegant bathroom collections, which have noticeably changed our perception of this part of the home.
Just like when it was founded in the 1970s, the Italian brand made an important step in 2010, another difficult time for the global economy, with the launch of the Agape Casa collection, demonstrating the eternal optimism of the Benedini family and its trust in its DNA, defined by clear codes of sobriety, elegance, experimentation and quality. Entirely dedicated to re-issuing archive pieces designed by the iconic architect Angelo Mangiarotti, who passed away in 2012, the collection presents the genius and timeless design of this Italian master beautifully, while also expanding Agape's horizons to the rest of the home.
One of the great symbols of the modernist movement and one of the most recognised faces of Italian design and architecture, Angelo Mangiarotti applied his unique talent to projects of various sizes and fields, without ever losing his characteristic precision, functional approach and constant pursuit of elegance. Guided by a strong sense of moral values, the architect blended ethical and aesthetic qualities brilliantly, in the belief that “happiness” would be achieved through “righteousness”. Whilst in architecture, Mangiarotti demonstrated his respect for engineering by applying industrial principles to his buildings, design and sculptures, organic and fluid lines dominated his work, which included projects as diverse as furniture, lighting, decorative accessories, televisions and public monuments.
By combining the lines of an architect, the precision of an engineer, the attention to detail of a designer and the free spirit of a sculptor, Angelo Mangiarotti managed to pack all these qualities into the furniture that he developed over his extensive career. Comprising pieces hand-picked by Agape from his archive, in collaboration with Studio Mangiarotti, the Casa collection showcases Mangiarotti's creative vein over five decades, showing an unusual aesthetic consistency. Although they are genuine Italian design classics, the chairs, tables and bookshelves from Agape Casa are extremely relevant today thanks to their timeless design, which set new parameters of style, form and construction. Developed without ever “forgetting the real needs of users”, the collection reveals an original way of dealing with the furniture that surrounds us, making it functional in an intelligent and innovative way by giving it an appropriate, sophisticated and unusual form. Created based on the original models and designs, the pieces were carefully analysed and updated by Agape Casa's technical department but still stay true to Mangiarotti's vision, as well as the theoretical, structural and formal aspects of his projects.
One of the features that jumps out in Mangiarotti's furniture is the profound appreciation for materials, a reason for which the architect developed a series of ingenious fittings that allow the various elements of each piece of furniture to slot together using the force of gravity. This seeming simplicity is translated through a complex study of form and an effort to strip it back visually, a perfect example of which is the Eros table from 1971. Comprising just two elements, the marble table is built with no joints or clamps, maintaining its position by using the weight of the table top and conical shape of the base, which can be visible through the table top and becomes a sophisticated decorative detail.
Also a result of Mangiarotti's research in the field of gravity-based embedding, the impressive Eccentrico table is a clear affirmation of the experimentation and desire to push design boundaries. Conceived in white Carrara or Nero Marquinia marble, the Eccentrico works through the friction between the robust oblique base and the elliptical table top, which can slide down if necessary.
The modular Cavaletto furnishing system also uses gravity-based embedding as its starting point. Made entirely in wood, the shelving unit created in 1955 comprises a trestle in the shape of an upturned V, which can accommodate the various storage elements, including closed modules and simple shelves.
Another storage solution in the collection is the Multiuse furnishing system. Just like his contemporaries Charles & Ray Eames and Charlotte Perriand, Mangiarotti also developed a system that combined wood and coloured panels. Designed in the '60s, the appealing Multiuse has an aluminium cross-beam section as its main structural element, which allows the functional doors to slide to either reveal or conceal the various compartments.
Designed in 1978, the 3T chair shows Mangiarotti's genius once again, blending structural simplicity and elegance. With only three legs, this comfortable chair made from traditional materials such as leather and wood features exceptional construction elements and attention to detail. The solid oak base comprises a solid T structure that joins the two front legs and the back leg, which works like a kind of mast for the leather “sail” - the seat – that sits atop the structure.
Although many of Angelo Mangiarotti's pieces were designed more than half a century ago, their simplicity, intrinsic quality and timelessness has led more and more members of the new generations to appreciate the mastery of this iconic Italian architect and designer.
Originally published in Essential Macau Magazine.