27 September, 2018 | The classic quality of Italian design gives it enduring appeal and investment clout, says Robert Marengo, founder of luxury décor store Illusso.
There’s something about Italian design… And not just in interiors, but across the spectrum and in all disciplines – from architecture to fashion to food. I think it’s because all the factors that make for good design – sound aesthetic principles, an understanding of proportion, strong engineering, a commitment to quality and attention to detail – are all present.
The close relationship between design and manufacturing is also crucial: creative capitals Milan and Brianza are in close proximity to one another, and the legacy of cooperation between top designers and manufacturers means that over time they’ve pushed each other and raised the standards. If you consider brands like Ferrari, Fiat 500, Vespa and pieces like B&B Italia’s ‘Up’ chair, you can see how they’ve retained their relevance. This design ethos means that many furniture pieces created over the years have transcended being merely decorative and have become investment pieces, some ending up in museums.
As a partner to some of the most exclusive interior brands in the world, Illusso’s focus is design-oriented first and foremost – our goal is to bring functional and beautiful Italian furniture to the African market. Our partners are a point of pride and have all been carefully selected to represent the best of premium Italian design – global names that signify quality and tradition. We knew all along that we wanted to hone in on the super-luxury segment – a small niche – which made it easy to narrow down our brands.
As a result, our stable includes industry heavyweights like Molteni&C, Maxalto and Flexform – companies that walk the line between classic and contemporary, and that have global reach and long histories (the oldest dates back nearly a century). But another reason they’re special is because most are family businesses. This personal investment means they have a particularly strong sense of pride and a vision for long-term success. It’s an approach that sees them focusing on quality and creating a legacy of enduring design (that doesn’t date aesthetically, and also lasts physically).
The nature of contemporary Italian brands as a whole is timeless though, as they continually interpret classic shapes while retaining their essence, thereby keeping them relevant through innovation as well as via collaborations with modern design icons like Antonio Citterio, Rodolfo Dordoni, Patricia Urquiola and Gio Ponti.
It’s these principles of understated good taste and a coherent design approach, as well as a balance between staying current and remaining classic that puts Italy in the lead for innovative, beautiful and high-quality design.