Bigfoot: Protek’s concealed furnishing system to maximize space

Interview with Giovanni Maggioni, founder of the Lecco-based company that has been producing subframes and sliding window and door systems since 2001.

One of the first rules to maximize space in small rooms is custom-made furniture. It is also because of the growing demand for smaller residential spaces, dictated by new lifestyles and recent urban transformations, that Bigfoot was created. This is a concealed furnishing system produced by Protek designed to meet contemporary living needs, using all the available space in the room, from the home to hotels, as well as workplaces. A design idea that intelligently uses all the structural elements of separation and passageways. We talk about it with Giovanni Maggioni, who founded his company in 2001 along with his brother Maurizio.

Starting from the beginning: how did the Bigfoot System come about?
The space and how to make the best use of it has always been the subject of the debate in the field of architectural design. The idea came from observing the design of the ugly wall-mounted shoe racks that everyone has at home. So, I asked myself whether I could find a more functional and aesthetically pleasing solution. As a manufacturer of subframes, the next step was to ask whether the wall could be used. The answer was yes, and with Bigfoot we created an opening within a separation wall, taking advantage of the unused spaces. The idea is to extrude the volume, empty it out and insert an element inside: the first module created was precisely a shoe rack. Hence the name Bigfoot.

Then the range expanded and gave rise to different applications.
After the first project, other uses came one after another: we wanted to transform the space and do it quickly. So, we came up with a storage closet for bathroom accessories. Then we thought of a solution for the kitchens of micro-apartments, again with the aim of minimizing space and making it functional. Then we created a solution to house cleaning accessories, from cleaning supplies to hoovers. This idea also stems from observing the changes taking place in the home. What used to be the service room or utility room has practically disappeared from modern houses: hence the idea of a versatile solution, with integrated sockets, that can cope with this lack. With regard to the sleeping area, we created a concealed bed to recover space by using the wall.

Have you also thought about smart working?
My Office and My School are two modules designed to create micro-spaces where you can work (and study) remotely with maximum flexibility. It is not easy to find a space in your home, especially if it is small, where you can organise your workstation. That is why we have designed two spaces with a folding worktop and a document holder and, of course, equipped with the connections and electrical sockets needed to work. As a further development, this year we also presented an outdoor version to maximize space on balconies, loggias and terraces.

From a technical point of view, how important was the use of technology to bring Bigfoot to life?
I would say fundamental. Today we are at the second generation of the system: it has been completely redesigned so that it can be used not only inside the wall with the Architectural version for plasterboard or similar cladding, but also with the Interior version, with provision for panelling or rigid panels. Technology has come to our aid in this respect, and I am thinking above all of the rapid prototyping machines that are extraordinarily useful in the sampling and simulation phase.

In Milan, Protek’s flat accommodates all the possibilities offered by the system.
We are on the seventh floor of The Central Tower, a Citterio-Viel redevelopment project of an existing building by the Milan-based BBPR studio. The Protek flat, designed by architect Rudi Manfrin, displays the dynamic solutions devised by Protek to minimize the available space. Alongside the Bigfoot system, in some of its many variants and finishes; there are also the subframes of the Linear collection, both hinged and sliding, which are practical to install and give the space elegance and modernity.

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