To tell the story of its 90 years, Molteni&C. chose a transversal perspective which, through art, photography and fashion, illustrated the relationships with great designers in an unusual way compared to the consolidated stylistic system

Opened in 1934 as an artisan workshop by Angelo and Giuseppina Molteni, among the founders of the First Salone del Mobile in Milan in 1961, Molteni&C is today part of one of the main industrial groups in the high-end furniture sector, recognized internationally for its great tradition and collaboration with the most prestigious designers.

Molteni Group is present in over 100 countries around the world; Giulia Molteni, Head of Marketing and Communication, belongs to the third generation.

If in 2015 the exhibition 80!Molteni, curated by Jasper Morrison with the graphic design by Studio Cerri & Associated and set up at the Gallery of Modern Art in Milan, had told the origin of modernity, what will this 90th be like?

Giulia Molteni: "2016 had already marked the beginning of a process of historical revision of the company and its archive which still fuels the activities of the Molteni Museum , for this 90th we bring a fresher vision. We chose an artistic director outside of our world to reinterpret our company and our contents in a more contemporary way, with a new spirit and a more artistic point of view.

We had already created a historical catalog but never a real book about us:Molteni Mondo. An Italian Design Story, published by Rizzoli New York, is our first coffee table book.

Curated by Beda Achermann, a Swiss creative director from the world of fashion (he worked, among others, with Karl Lagerfled), with his cinematic eye it tells the story of the relationship between company, designers and architects".

Does this choice fit into an increasingly close connection between fashion and design?

Giulia Molteni: "To tell this story we chose a transversal perspective which, through the disciplines related to design - art, photography, fashion - illustrated the relationships with great designers in an unusual way compared to our usual approach stylistic. The celebrations will continue for the following 12 months in all the big cities, starting from Shanghai where we will inaugurate a 2500 m2 Flagship Store next June, the largest we have in the world".

What are your favorite pieces?

Giulia Molteni: "The Correspondence of Aldo Rossi (1987), accompanied me in the houses I have lived in since I was a girl: it followed me as a student, it was with me in New York where I lived, in my house when I returned and also in my house when I was married… It reminds me of happy days.

I love the D.154.2 armchair, designed for one of the projects dearest to Gio Ponti, that of the villa of the Planchart family of collectors in Caracas (where the originals are still found today) from 1953-57. This year we present its sister, the Due Foglie which is its evolution, together with a two-seater sofa, an expansion of the collection".

"I am also very fond of the Porta Volta. The first design object by Herzog & de Meuron, it is the chair produced by UniFor with which the architects furnished the National Library of Jerusalem. Everything, from the armrests to the backrest to the seat, had to be designed for those who spend hours and hours in front of the precious books of that place. Translated from the world of the UniFor project to that of Molteni's house, it is one of the pieces that best represents us. As many as 27 prototypes were made of this chair."

Are you also presenting other new pieces with the 90th anniversary?

Giulia Molteni: "The new Logos system by Vincent Van Duysen and a new re-edition of Gio Ponti's cane armchair, created in collaboration with Bonacina".

What are Molteni&C's most successful pieces?

Giulia Molteni: "Il7 Volte7 – protagonist in the 90s of a successful advertising campaign under the banner of the claim “From Hangers to Doors” – which, precursor of modular wardrobes, sees the centrality of our existence in mechanisms. We never launch any product that doesn't contain something exceptional compared to what already exists. Innovation must be the basis of design."

"This year marks 30 years of the Less table by Jean Nouvel, still a best seller, of which a new version will be launched in September in partnership with UniFor. Then Graduate, the first suspended bookcase designed by Jean Nouvel for Molteni & C. in 2003. This year theArc table by Foster + Partners (2010) will be relaunched (2010) which saw the birth of a new material: concrete brick, or lightweight concrete with fiber of glass".

Ron Gilad has set up many of your most beautiful installations, as well as the Molteni Museum. How does the partnership continue?

Giulia Molteni: "For the Designers Days in Paris next June the installation is designed by him, as is the new layout of our museum for the 90th in which 50 new prototypes will be exhibited, some never before seen. Characterized by the dividing walls by Renzo Piano for UniFor, the museum has a surface area of 1400 m2: an overview of the uniqueness of the Molteni Group, which welcomes 360 degrees from the office to the home".

Future prospects

Giulia Molteni: "We have exceeded 100 single-brand stores, we are a “small pocket-sized multinational”, increasingly global. Growth will continue in this direction with more synergies between the group's brands and the many projects on the table between now and 2026.

Segments linked to hospitality are also growing: in particular serviced apartments, small and medium-sized apartments that take advantage of the services of branded hotels such as the Mandarin, to name a few, furnished with kitchens and wardrobes by Molteni & C. And then, alongside yachts and superyachts, there is the new trend of small super luxury cruise ships with up to 400 cabins, tailor made, also branded.

More than 40 people have recently been hired, 80% of whom are women (miraculously!). We opened Washington, then Munich, New Delhi, several new markets including the entire Middle East are looking seriously and spontaneously at design, which still has a lot to say in the world.

We are growing and, despite being the largest in Italy, we still remain a small group."