“Tailoring, courage and a bit of madness.” This is the DNA of antoniolupi today, according to its creative ‘front man’ Andrea Lupi, head of research, design and communications for the family firm. Tailoring “that comes from the project itself, its capacity to adapt to the needs of designers and spaces, with extreme freedom of materials, measurements, colors and finishes, going beyond the definition of the industrial product.” Courage “to think outside the box.” A bit of madness, “stubbornly insisting on making (only in Italy) only the projects I like, without paying attention to the demands of the market, even when the projects seem impossible. Being entrepreneurial dreamers.”
The three concepts find concrete expression, almost like a manifesto, in the new corporate showroom at Stabbia, already a profoundly Italian tale of courage in its own right. The project comes from the need to restore the space after the devastation caused by a storm that made headlines in September 2014.
The showroom has returned, larger (2300 square meters instead of 600) and more beautiful than it was before. Starting with the ‘water dance’ that surprisingly greets visitors at the entrance. A spectacle of son, eau et lumière orchestrated, with an automated conductor, by shower heads set into the ceiling, whose tailor-made essence expresses unusual sizes (up to 75×100 cm, practically a shower panel).
After the large pool at the entrance, the display winds like a fluid path through habitat and lifestyle solutions, effectively staged in the styling by Paola Pastorini. Because the bath still exists, but it is scattered throughout the home, in dialogue with the living area and the bedroom zone, “while the most private nucleus is set aside for the fixtures, which in foreign countries often have a space apart,” Lupi explains.
So a tub, perhaps built-in, can be a presence in the bedroom or the living area, surrounded by a bookcase, and a cabinet-washstand can evoke the colors and finishes of the furnishings in the living area. Different environmental colors (dark blue, powder pink, Havana brown, gray) and stylistic references (from Deco to Op Art) create the scenes that construct clear lifestyle indications around the collections: from Urban Modern to Future Classic, by way of Modern Romantic.
“We wanted to show that our products can cover multiple taste areas, from contemporary to decorative, because different souls coexist in the company.” The company catalogue has a single very strong identity, but each designer has his own character, Andrea Lupi explains: “Carlo Colombo was very materic at first, Nevio Tellatin has a technical approach, Domenico De Palo has a poetic sign, while Roberto Lazzeroni brings bourgeois refinement.”
In over sixty years of history the company has been a witness and a protagonist, and often a forerunner, of the evolution of the world of bath furnishings. “Just 30 years ago, the bath was still organized with a ceramic washstand on a column, a mirror and wall lamps, an acrylic tub, and the wildest touch might have been a cabinet under the washstand. Today bath design has been liberated, the concept has changed, and new materials permit unusual forms and sizes. So over the last 10 years we have been able to offer made-to-measure solutions, at 360 degrees.”
The question of materials is closely connected to the success of the Tuscan brand. “Our original material is glass, with which my father began to produce mirrors and then furnishings, cabinets, accessories. Starting in the 1980s, we inserted ceramics, wood and metal in the catalogue.
The true breakthrough came in the 2000s: Carlo Colombo explored stone and above all Corian, revolutionizing forms, measurements, technologies. Then, with Cristalplant, we brought out more sculptural impact and lightness, as in the Baía bathtub, a bestseller. Today we are offering our own patented material, Flumood, ecological and compact, with a silky touch, ready to be customized with materic textures. And above all, it lets us express new ideas about color.”
The sequence of iconic products bringing absolution innovations to the sector is inseparably linked to the evolution of materials. Like the Slot washstand in Corian designed in 2002, the first to eliminate the drain mechanism – another bestseller – or the Materia collection by Colombo, which introduces the concept of the multimateric system in the bath. Or the collection of fireplaces “Il canto del fuoco” by Domenico De Palo, which in 2010 led to the idea of integrating the washstand in the architecture, poetically expressed in the Strappo, Silenzio and Soffio models that seem to blend into the walls.
The research on the aesthetic of subtraction and extremely clean forms is “a true condition for elegance, in my view, because the project should have just a few indispensable signs in order to be understood,” Lupi asserts. The results include a very recent washstand of striking character (“you either hate it or you love it”): Battigia, designed by Michel Boucquillon.
“The project extends the idea of the washstand built into the wall, but with an even more rigorous, contemporary look. Seen from the side it seems like a shard of crystal thrown into the wall, from which the water emerges as if by magic, since the faucet is hidden from view, built into the Corian structure of the washstand embedded in the wall. The light inside it, blue or white, underlines the emotional aspect, especially at night.
It is truly a new product type: more than a washstand, it is a lamp-sink. In which, once again, we demonstrate our ability to customize, because we can make it in different lengths, from 90 to 300 cm, and in different materials.”
Battigia opens up new, futuristic scenarios for the bath environment, but glass represents a link to the history of the company, also in symbolic terms. What remains of the original antoniolupi? “The second generation. Four siblings who manage the family firm, with passion. And the base. The roots and the production are still in Stabbia, though we operate practically all over the world (the firm has recently opened four new showrooms in Southeast Asia, ed.).
Maybe this too reflects our touch of madness,” Andrea Lupi concludes. In the end, spreading design and innovation from the land of Leonardo is also a form of luxury.
by Katrin Cosseta – photos by Walter Monti