Eclectic and connected

The world of design welcomes 5 new Italian brands. What they have in common is a fertile relationship between craftsmanship and industry and an innovative, recognizable style. They all work with the creative support of important design firms, focusing on the international market and online operations


by Valentina Croci


Fucina is based on five decades of experience of Lidi, a Brianza-based firm specializing in metalwork. The first collection, Digest, has been created by Sam Hecht and Kim Colin, Pauline Deltour, Jun Yasumoto and Maddalena Casadei, art director of the brand, who share in the pursuit of essential, understated elegance. The collection eliminates joints and bolts from view, seeking a light but sturdy look, far from the usual connotations of metal furniture.

Maddalena Casadei, what is the most innovative aspect of the brand?

In recent years various companies have been formed connected with the use of metals. So we have decided to get away from the industrial aspect: no visible nuts and bolts, but processes of welding, hinges, invisible structures under tension. The pieces are welded and polished almost perfectly, seeming monolithic. They play with the contrast between the weight of the material and visual lightness. We have chosen to work only with iron, treating it like a precious metal. The designers share an approach of pure industrial design, and have shifted our vision.

What are the distribution channels?

For e-commerce we are with Artemest, and we are now negotiating with foreign dealers. Fucina was in the TwentyTwentyOne store during London Design Week. Because these are products that if they are seen in real life can convey all their unique qualities.

Firmamento Milano is the startup of Carlo Guglielmi, who brings five decades of experience in the technical lighting sector. With the creative input of 12 outstanding international architecture firms, the company offers discreet but authoritative products with a focus on quality and a fertile relationship between craftsmanship and industry.

Carlo Guglielmi, why this startup?

I have repeatedly been urged to get back into the world of lighting, but since I didn’t want to be weighed down by previous situations, I decided to create a new company completely under my control, where I can work without being influenced by others. I wanted Milano in the name because for me it means knowing how to study, to learn, to conduct research and experimentation… to gain know-how, to change and to take risks.

How did you choose the designers?

I thought it would be worthwhile to trace back through the early phases of the Italian design system, generated by a fertile relationship between the great architects of the 1960s in Milan and the small-medium companies that made up the city’s industrial fabric. The products are the results of extraordinary creative and productive capacities, so they can find their way to the market through a selected number of qualified dealers, about 90 in Italy. We believe our products should be presented and explained, so we do not sell online.

Exto is a Brianza-based company that relies on the experience of its founder Andrea Galimberti in the contract sector. For its debut the nod went to Sam Baron, Paolo Cappello, Matali Crasset, Lorenzo Damiani, Francesco Faccin, Constance Guisset and Lanzavecchia+Wai , to address the theme of personalization of materials: metals with lacquer, chrome or even gold-plated finishes, mixed with solid wood; glossy and matte paint combined with cowhide, parchment, raw iron and polished steel.

Andrea Galimberti, why create a new brand?

We wanted to take on a precise, recognizable identity, demonstrating what we are capable of doing. Remaining in the contract sector forced us to be eternal craftsmen, though we had the organization of a small industrial firm.

What is innovative about Exto?

The use of an international design language that is closer to limited editions than to mass production; more affordable than works offered by galleries, but equally poetic, with great attention to detail.

What will be the positioning?

High-end, for sure. We want to achieve worldwide distribution through official dealers. We are already focusing on our participation next year at the Salone del Mobile in Milan.

Overlooking is the storage system designed by Lorenzo Damiani for Exto. It stands out for the forceful but discreet presence of ‘winged’ handles along the whole length of the front part of the cabinet, for the opening of drawers and doors.

“As in a work of architecture,” Damiani says, “every element is marked by a close exterior-interior relationship. The drawer is the place ‘of the house’ to put objects and garments, while the handles take on the function of a balcony on which to place objects ‘in transit,’ like memos or books.”

The handles are made in solid walnut and assembled by interlocking in rows, whose arrays in the natural wood version become a decorative feature, in discreet contrast with the squared forms of the structure.

Like the other furnishings by Exto, the system offers a wide range of finishes from which to choose: if the outside of the cabinet is in Canaletto walnut, the inside is painted in different colors, or vice versa.

The drawers can have the winged handle or be flat, with a push/pull system, to created variegated fronts. Accessories like mobile containers can be hung from the handles.

Medulum reflects close ties to the Venetian lagoon. In Latin the name means the waterway Venetian nobles used to reach their summer residences. The collection of 8 pieces is the result of collaboration with Mauro Accardi and Silvia Buccheri of the studio Bacs Architettura, art directors of the brand, and the 4 decades of experience of the Zanchettin woodworking shop. It interprets the wild nature, colors and atmospheres of the Venetian lagoon, as well as the opulence of patrician estates.

Diego Zanchettin, what is the idea behind this brand?

I wanted to combine the design object with the concrete expertise of a crafts workshop. I like the fact that the Medulum products, all unique since they are made by hand, one at a time, narrate the particular environmental characteristics of the area in which the firm was born and has grown. The special affinities and shared sensibilities between me, Mauro Accardi and Silvia Bucchieri made the collection take form in a spontaneous way.

What is the company’s positioning on the market?

Medium-high, due to the design quality and fine craftsmanship, the intrinsic characteristics of the objects. The distribution happens through portals specialized in this type of product, and through selected dealers.

Mason Editions comes from the experience of Lucepura, a Veneto-based company specialized in the lighting sector, and from the encounter between Fabio Mason and three independent designers: Martina Bartoli, Serena Confalonieri and Matteo Fiorini. The latter two are also in charge of art direction. The first collection of furnishing complements and lights relies on linear design, with simple forms, but in an eclectic way involving contrasts of materials and colors.

Fabio Mason, what are the characteristics of the brand?

The passion for design objects and for elegant finishes and details. After having worked for several years alongside the most important artisans of the Veneto district, I felt the need for a brand that would narrate Made in Italy, with extreme environmental awareness.

How have the designers interpreted this brand identity?

Each of them has applied their own stylistic signature. Martina Bartoli focuses on an essential approach that plays with gestures and juxtapositions, suggesting new material interpretations. Serena Confalonieri looks to natural phenomena through leaps of scale and simplification of forms. Matteo Fiorini seeks disciplinary contamination in simple objects, whose movement gives them elusive contours. We are also thinking about doing more affordable products for our e-commerce channel.