China never ceases to surprise. And this might just be the beginning, if we listen to the economic analysts. It was in China, in 2004, that De Rucci began: though unknown in Europe, today the brand is a global player in the production of high-quality beds and mattresses, with over 2000 stores around the world and sales of almost 2 billion dollars per year.
It is supported by a capillary network of sales and production, with functional bases in China, Malaysia and Australia, and an outstanding reputation on the Asian continent, thanks to which it successfully sells ergonomic systems for the bedroom, from frames to mattresses, pillows to platforms, all the way to bedding, designed in terms of target and style to match the ambitions of affluent Chinese who now make aware investments in the area of quality furnishings.
But the management of De Rucci has always understood that the appeal of the brand has to come from the cradle of design, in Europe, and precisely Milan. With this in mind, an operation was begun that already at the end of 2014 led to the opening of the first De Rucci store in Europe, at Cologne, with Sofia Loren as its symbol.
The true leap forward, however, came for De Rucci at the start of 2015 with the creation of a new collection, a capsule collection the is the nucleus of the new brand De Rucci Milano.
A project that marks a decisive breakthrough with respect to the original brand, and starts with a designer, Corrado Dotti, and with a place, Piazza Castello 19 in Milan. Corrado Dotti is the Italian designer the Chinese brand has hired as art director for the new venture and its identity: because the products and style of De Rucci Milano have to be rigorously Italian, made in Brianza, to export all over the world.
The image space is the showroom at Piazza Castello 19, a large facility with many windows, known to the trade for having been the historic home of the office furniture brand Castelli.
“The De Rucci initiative,” says Corrado Dotti, “is pioneering because a company with a global profile has decided to invest in the new creation of a Made in Italy brand, with all the trappings. With a collection of 15 beds presented during the Salone del Mobile in April we have created the basic nucleus of De Rucci Milano. They will be followed by other models, as well as a collection of upholstered furniture and a series of complements, some of which I have already developed for the displays: ottomans, benches, lamps, tables, bedside units.”
Corrado Dotti, based in Milan, offers De Rucci his extensive professional experience in the upholstered furniture sector: after having worked with Matteo Thun, he designed for Armani Casa and Natuzzi, companies where he learned the secrets of working with leather, materials and quality finishes.
The character of the De Rucci Milano collection is uncompromising: “The mother company has not asked for a mediation with international tastes,” Corrado Dotti continues, “nor has it demanded a focus on the classical and excessive style that is successful in Asia. The mission is to build a brand with an original profile, that speaks Italian in its cultural references to design, style, manufacturing, but knows how to get into tune with the future clients De Rucci will seek all over the world.
New monobrand De Rucci Milano stores are already planned in Japan and Singapore, the United States and China, as well as various corners: if we consider the fact that the whole operation began just a few months ago, it is easy to see the speed and energy of this group, not just in economic terms. With respect to the companies that export Made in Italy, De Rucci has one major advantage: it already has a market, which it probably has decided is mature for a leap of quality, not just in terms of price but also in terms of taste and awareness.”
In this development phase the designer is joined by the manager Marco Di Lorenzo in the role of European Operation Director, to nurture the commercial growth of the brand, including activities of marketing and public relations.
The flagship store in Milan, with its unique location and large spaces, will be the model for the other stores in the world; already in July it will be renovated to present the new products for September.
The De Rucci Milano collection, even in its names, reveals its Milanese approach: the models are called Sforza, Ticino, Bagutta, Monforte, Sempione, Carroccio, Visconti, Brera, and ideally start with the Verziere model, a double bed with discreet lines, textile headboard and base, a subtly romantic design, then moving towards minimal designs, like the model Monforte, with simple, rigorous lines, especially in the version with a beech base with Canaletto walnut or wenge stained finish, and a linear headboard covered with a single piece of natural aniline-dyed leather.
The various models alternate entirely upholstered bases with slimmer profiles, large headboards and more restrained ones, at times featuring a single detail, like stitching with buttons for a retro look in the Sempione bed, or the longitudinal stitching at the center of the headboard of the Visconti model, designed for younger consumers.
Also thanks to the nearly tailor-made production done in the finest workshops of Brianza, De Rucci Milano takes its rightful place in the range of Italian products that are ‘beautiful and well made’ whose potential on emerging markets from 2015 to 2020 has been analyzed by a recent research project ‘Exporting the Dolce Vita’ conducted by Centro Studi Confindustria and Prometeia with the contribution of sector associations, including FederlegnoArredo.
While from here to 2020 exportation of such Italian products should have a cumulative increase of 55%, China is considered the most promising market in this area. Also because the positioning of Italian furnishing products on the Chinese market is far below its effective potential as yet. So the race is on…
photos Paolo Veclani – text Antonella Galli