Pliè shelving system by UTIL

February 2018
The collection of UTIL, the Lisbon-based international furniture and accessories brand, might come across as a motley crew of a family, but despite appearances, the projects share a common narrative. They all tell a story of friendship and hospitality, of sharing and connection. UTIL’s creative director, Manuel Amaral Netto, launched the brand’s youngest sprout at the latest edition of Maison & Objet: the Pliè shelving system, developed in collaboration with FROM Industrial Design.
UTIL was launched in 2017, and the family consists of nine products so far: a hanger called Hal, Oyster the bench, Pinto the side table, a set of two glasses and a bottle called Dual, a fruit bowl that goes by the name of Spout, Basso the minibar (named after the famous Bar Basso in Milan), the AB centrepieces, Kite the lamp, and Pliè, the delicate yet industrial-looking shelving system. Together they form an elegant collection, created by various designers based all over Europe, and produced in Portugal. ‘We have so many good sound casters, glass blowers and metal workshops in Portugal — the crafts are still very much alive here. So for me, it’s very natural to produce in my home country,’ UTIL’s creative director Manuel Amaral Netto explains.
‘UTIL develops furniture and accessories that make sense in our daily life and in the way we socialise,’ says Netto, who enjoys working with fellow designers he met during the course of his studies, and with whom he developed a professional and personal relationship. ‘When you visit a friend, your host will ask for your coat and will hang it in a cloakroom, will offer something to drink, invite you take a seat, etc. Those small daily life rituals are about friendship and hospitality, about sharing and connecting. That's where the inspiration for UTIL comes from. We focus on that narrative, it’s a human and playful collection.’
Maison & Objet, which took place just outside Paris in January, was the launchpad for Pliè: a flexible aluminium and meticulously crafted shelving system that offers multiple storage solutions for home or office interiors. Designed by the Italo-German studio FROM Industrial Design (Cesare Bizzotto & Tobias Nitsche) for UTIL, Pliè combines strong self-standing and wall mounted pieces, with or without sliding doors, in various colours. Previously, Netto developed the Volta lamp together with Bizzotto & Nitsche, for which they were awarded First Prize of the SaloneSatellite Award. ‘I see Pliè as a statement: as a designer, if you develop a shelving system instead of only furniture and accessories, you enter a different world. Thus we show we’re here to stay.’
Written by Veerle Devos
UTIL’s creative director, Manuel Amaral Netto, was born in Lisbon in 1983. He graduated in 2006 from ESAD Caldas da Rainha. After his studies, he worked for various designers in Portugal, Italy and The Netherlands, before completing the Master programme in Product Design at ECAL, Switzerland. After his graduation, he co-founded FROM Industrial Design with two former colleagues from ECAL, presenting a collection of products during the SaloneSatellite in Milan 2014. They received the First Prize of the SaloneSatellite Award with the Volta lamp. Since then, Netto has been collaborating with brands like Cassina, Leucos, Baccarat, USM and Vista Alegre, and a number of cultural institutions. In 2017 he launched UTIL.