Paul Smith x Gufram: The Sunrise Cactus

Inspired by Paul’s saying “every day is a new beginning,” the dreamy Sunrise Cactus is our second collaboration with playfully eccentric design house, Gufram.

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For many, the idea of having a life-sized polyurethane cactus in their home is a preposterous notion. What does it do? What possible function – other than perhaps a place to hang your coat or hat– could it serve? But that’s the beauty of Gufram’s domestic sculpture, the Cactus. Its purpose is simply to embody a spirit of playfulness, and in doing so to subtly alter its surroundings.

It was first dreamed up in 1972, by designers Guido Drocco and Franco Mello, who wanted to create something that questioned the rigidity and conformity of interior design. In the years since, the Gufram Cactus has found its way into museums and design-conscious homes the world over.

Paul was honoured to pay tribute to the iconic piece back in 2016 when he collaborated with the brand for the first time, creating the Psychedelic Cactus. Now, he’s teamed up with Gufram again to create a new limited-edition piece that, fittingly, made its debut at our newly reopened Melrose shop in LA. Dubbed the ‘Sunrise Cactus’, its pastel ombre design mimics the first sight of daybreak, and is inspired by Paul’s optimistic saying, “every day is a new beginning.”

Founded in 1966, just before a wave of counterculture and student protests broke across Europe in 1968, Gufram is a brand that has built its reputation on a stable of avant-garde, out-of-the-box designs. That period is special in Gufram’s history, as well as in Italian design as a whole. “It was a time when families were inviting young architects, designers, creatives and artists to work in their factories,” says Charley Vezza, CEO of Italian Radical Design, a group which includes Gufram as well as Memphis Milano.

“Since the beginning, Gufram has been a playground for creatives to create amazing things and free their imagination,” Charley adds. “I would say that, in the world of Italian design and furniture, we definitely have a nonconformist approach. We always look at what [others] do and try to do the opposite.”

Charley’s own aesthetic world has been shaped and moulded by Gufram. He took the reins in 2012 when his family acquired the company, but his connection with the brand goes back much further. In fact, he counts himself lucky enough to have grown up surrounded by Gufram pieces.

“We lived in a very experimental house, with a lot of modernist and functionalist furniture,” he explains. The Cactus, in particular, was special. “I’m so related to it that I cannot judge it from the outside anymore. It’s like my son,” he says. “But it started as my friend. When I was a kid, I was living in a house full of Gufram and the Cactus was one of my imaginary friends.”

“For me, it is a character, a person,” he says. “He has his own personality, he’s not just an inanimate object. He’s prickly. He has a tasteful irony. Sometimes he pulls your leg a bit too much. He likes to change colour. He liked to be seen. He’s the guy that when he enters the room, everybody looks at him and he likes to have that attention.”

The new Sunrise Cactus is the latest version of him. He brings the outside into your home as a symbol of optimism and hopefulness, the same spirit that Paul’s quote encapsulates. “We want to be the spark in your living room,” Charley says, “and the Cactus does exactly that because he is the guy that changes the party when he enters it.”

Discover the Paul Smith + Gufram Sunrise Cactus here.

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Published: 11.23

Words: Molly Isabella Smith