Craftsmanship inserted in industrial structures, know-how passed down from one generation to the next, and in-depth knowledge of materials and processes of workmanship: these are still the strong points of furniture Made in Brianza, the fertile ground that gave birth to Italian design. Giorgetti’s challenge is the preservation of this heritage, developing it in structures projected into international markets.
The company founded in Meda in 1898 still has the atmosphere of a cabinet maker’s workshop, with skilled artisans crafting solid wood by hand. Their know-how, together with customized numerically controlled machine tools and the latest generation of technologies, give Giorgetti the capacity to create tailor-made products, representing one of the firms main resources today. Ongoing collaboration with designers has also contributed to shape the identity of the brand, thanks to long-lasting, timeless creations.
Since 2015 the company has been part of the Progressio SGR fund, and is guided by the CEO Giovanni Del Vecchio. The spirit of the financial operation lies in reinforcing the corporate culture, an effective combination of professionalism, history and passion, reorganizing the internal divisions to achieve shared objectives of growth and positioning.
Over the last year, the efforts have been concentrated on the idea of crossover interior design, leading to two important new developments: on the one hand, the opening to the kitchen sector and the enhancement of the catalogue with furnishing and decorating complements; on the other, the organization of an in-house division for the contract market.
“Due to the capacities of its structure, but above all the identity of its style, Giorgetti is a crossover company, because it can coordinate a range of offerings of atmosphere inside the entire home,” Del Vecchio explains. “Our proposal does not only permit the positioning of iconic objects in a space, but also makes it possible to truly design the space around our products, changing the design and retail perspective.
The approach to the kitchen sector is more of a change of vision than of production methods. We are not interested so much in volume in this area, as in demonstrating something different in terms of workmanship and attention to detail. The kitchen is the completion of our core business, a demonstration of know-how. Giorgetti has always accompanied end users on the way to a complete, personalized project, but today we want to approach this potential in a more methodical way, with a more varied offering of furnishings.”
A legacy of craftsmanship and highly specialized human resources represents a strong point of differentiation: “We stand out for the quality and difficulty of our workmanship,” Del Vecchio continues, “as well as the ability to transform and shape materials into a unique proposal in terms of design, which is also extremely functional and geared to meet the needs of our clients.
In its long history, the company has acquired specific knowledge of different kinds of wood. For example, with work with certain South American woods that are very challenging due to their density and hardness, which often have to be ordered twelve months in advance for the supply, with another twelve months for the aging. We use them because their color and grain transform the design of an object.
These abilities and research regarding materials create a unique product, different from all the others. Apart from the supply of materials, we have a very short production chain, with staff capable of interpreting the solid wood, minimizing scrap. Such professional skills are learned over time, and are very hard to find. We conduct training programs and organize workshops with local schools to help people understand the value of this craft. If we do not cultivate know-how and create a turnover of expertise, our sector runs the risk of extinction.”
Carlo Colombo, Rossella Pugliatti, Roberto Lazzeroni and, since last year, Alessio De Francesco are some of the designers with whom the company works. The furnishings interpret the Giorgetti catalogue in a personal but discreet way, without being self-referential in style, working well with the company’s “long sellers” like the Progetti collection.
“The collaboration with designers was an extraordinary idea of Carlo Giorgetti, who at the end of the 1980s decided to bring in architects who had never designed furniture, to allow them to experiment. Giorgetti has an in-house research center with young designers: here too, there is a unique mixture of the ability to work with modern tools, like 3D printers, and the crafts techniques applied in our prototyping workshop.
But doing everything in-house could lead to a self-centered approach, whereas opening to the outside permits a clearer perspective. The continuity of these collaborations is also fundamental, because it guarantees knowledge of the company. The designers create things for us, rather than the company producing editions of pieces created by others.
For the complex crossover project we are implementing, it is important to be involved in collaborations specifically focused on our style. Giorgetti has very clearly identified long-term bestsellers. To combine these products with new ones, also on a stylistic level, is possible thanks to the common denominator of our know-how, around which we can imagine the products of the future.
We do not have a big turnover of designers because we want to work with continuity, without the immediate objective of the creation of a product. Among our collaborators there are those who are better suited to one product typology than another, but we ask them to work across the board on the home, from accessories to upholstered furnishings, to start with our needs, creating design that is even more closely integrated with our catalogue. In this sense, working with just a few designers is helpful.”
Giorgetti is a presence in 106 countries around the world, with streetfront Stores, the so-called Ateliers – apartments in which to welcome designers or clients into elegant domestic settings, offering complete consulting services – and the Giorgetti Studios, smaller monobrand spaces in which to display specific decor solutions, that latest of which has been opened in Florence.
Retail activity is of strategic importance for corporate growth: “The distribution network,” says the CEO, “is the outlet for the work of communication and design, which gets lost if it does not meet with corresponding efficacy in post-sales services and the expertise of the sales force planning. We are coordinating the design of the retail spaces in a more forceful way, and investing in personnel training with an in-house organizational structure.
The Atelier formula invented by Carlo Giorgetti, the Studios that conduct strategic work on the collection, and the monobrand stores are the three complementary retail approaches. The Atelier and the Studio have more institutional and project-oriented aims, while the Stores are more commercial. Where markets are concerned, we do not have one area of concentration.
We operate extensively in Asia, Europe and certain areas of the Middle East, and we will be focusing more closely on growing markets in North and Central America. Major investment has gone into the field of contract, with the creation of an in-house division, the natural evolution of our crossover ability to design spaces.
This is not the contract of big numbers, but the creation of projects of very high quality, exclusive customized solutions, especially in the world of hospitality, for example, with hotel suites or lounge areas, like the one created for Turkish Airlines. Contract represents an ideal area for companies of this size, which are able to conserve high quality and control over all the phases.
Too much growth can lead to a loss of focus. At present Giorgetti gets 15% of its sales from custom projects, and 85% from retail. Our objective is to increase the former, though our main thrust will still be the latter. Because it is the distribution network that creates contact with the user, and through dedicated services can become a generator of business.
Photos by Emanuele Zamponi – Text by Valentina Croci