Stefano Panterotto was born in Trieste, near the Italian border with Slovenia; Alexis Tourron in Clermont-Ferrand, a small city in central France. Having come of age under the shadow of the 2008 financial crisis, they roamed the world in constant search of greener economic pastures. So as they went from Venice to Milan, and then to Sydney and their current home in Lausanne, the duo was forced to constantly purchase and quickly discard cheap furniture that made sense in their nomadic lifestyle.

Impersonal furniture can make you feel forever stuck with some sort of Peter Pan syndrome

But as Panter&Tourron, their design studio, now has fixed roots in Switzerland and they’re both approaching 30, they felt the need for change. ‘This type of impersonal furniture can make you feel forever stuck with some sort of Peter Pan syndrome,’ said Tourron.

That’s where Tense, a flat-packed furniture collection with a permanent soul, comes from. The five pieces, on display at Alcova during this Milan Design Week, are lightweight yet built to last. The lounge chair, the low table, the room divider and the two lamps can be assembled and disassembled with no additional tools – in fact, just using mere tightness, torque and tension. One of them, for example, stands thanks to a strap; the other employs a precisely printed 3D fabric that moulds around an aluminium structure and thus eliminates the need for screws.

But why did they propose a model of permanent itinerant ownership, when the market – including the king of flat-packs, IKEA – is moving towards a furniture rental system? Tension, they explain, brings us back to humanity’s first construction systems: stretching animal skins on bone frames to create shelters. In that same vein, even in the age of the sharing economy, they see something primal in the idea of owning the things that make one’s house a home. ‘As product designers, we believe that we carry the attachment to things in an almost tribal way,’ explained Panterotto. ‘The sharing dynamic is the future of everything, but then again, a piece of furniture is like a nice piece of art: it’s something you want to carry with you and eventually pass on to your relatives, to keep a legacy of how you grew up.’