Wallpaper’s September issue features family portraits of some of Italy’s most prominent fashion and furniture dynasties; a good opportunity to see the faces behind some of our favorite furniture lines.
In the fifties, Fernando and Maddalena De Padova began by importing Scandinavian furniture to sell in their store in Milan, introducing it to the Italian market. After starting a factory in the sixties to produce licensed Herman Miller furnishings, the De Padovas graduated to producing their own pieces, collaborating with some of the tenors of European design (Achille Castiglioni, Vico Magistretti, Dieter Rams..) as well as acting as a platform for up and coming designers.
Today, Maddalena has given up the reins of the company to her son, Luca De Padova (Both are pictured above), who is determined to keep expanding the company and follow in his mother’s visionary footsteps.
Originally started by the four brothers Galimberti, Flexform is now run by four Galimberti cousins of the third generation (Luca, Giuliano and Matteo pictured above).
With the collaboration of renowned designers, namely Antonio Citterio, Flexform has developed a sophisticated and unmistakable aesthetic.
Flos was founded in the late fifties by Dino Gavina on the idea of using Arturo Eisenkeil’s ‘cocoon technique’ to create a line of lights. With the Castiglioni brothers and Tobia Scarpa in tow, Flos became synonymous with forward thinking designs and the use of beautiful and innovative manufacturing techniques, a departure from Italy’s interior design landscape of the time.
In the early sixties, the company was taken over by Sergio Gandini, a more entrepreneurial minded manager, and started making headlines around the world. Piero Gandini later succeeded his father and brought in new designers, including Philippe Starck who has been creative director since the nineties, setting a new standard of innovation for the company.
Today, Flos boasts a growing stable of some of the world’s most talented designers and expanding product lines in not only decorative, but also architectural and in soft architecture (Flos’ most recent venture, at the cross-section of lighting and architecture).
Kartell was founded in 1949 by Giulio Castelli, a chemical engineer with the endeavor to replace traditional glassware with plastic. With three pieces in the New York MoMa by the seventies and extensive research on the properties of plastic during the eighties, Kartell was already a well-established company by the time it was taken over by Claudio Luti, Castelli’s son-in-law, in the late 1980’s.
The company hit their stride in the beginning of the 21st century with the recruitment of some of the world’s most famous design talent; namely Philippe Starck, Ron Arad, Patricia Urquiola… creating some of Kartell’s most iconic products. Coupled with massive innovation in the technical department, especially in the way of environmental friendliness, Kartell has become an international benchmark for plastic furniture and design objects.
Today, Claudio Luti is accompanied by his children, Lorenza and Federico, in running the family business.
by Claire Toussaint