Interview with Romeo Sozzi

1. Promemoria was created “in his image and likeness”. What are the lessons it conveys?

The company has grown like a meandering river in a world that is growing and changing, but always retaining certain values, primarily respect for the materials, the clients and the use of the product.  I became part of this niche of “things made well”, a method I am internationally recognised for and that therefore gives me the force to continue.
But the driving force is the passion. Together with curiosity and humility, these are the three values I want my collaborators to share.

2. How did you manage to keep the company a family business?

I have always invested the company’s earnings in new machinery and innovations. Creating a nice, positive working environment is fundamental so that the employees can also be gratified and fascinated by the internal development.  And the owner must be part of this system, engaged in the work and attentive to any problems; in this way, they feel part of a family. It isn’t by chance that my three children have joined the business and are now engaged in the various production phases.

3. Among other things, you are both the founder and the designer of the collections…

Yes. At the start of my career, I worked with various architects but the situation became complicated, both from the economic point of view and mutual understanding. This is where Promemoria comes in, moving through the layers of the client’s requirements. As the owner of a small carpentry business, I did my own research. About 3 or 4 years ago, I started to collaborate with friends, including architects like David Collins, Bruno Moinard and Olivier Gagnère, to create the capsules collection. I’m not interested in a part-time architect who designs for more than one company: this is industrial design. I look for more intimate relationships.

4. This unique way of thinking is reflected in the uniqueness of the production. How would you define your style?

I would use the expression “simple to say, but difficult to do”.  Simple does not mean superficial, just the opposite; it means thinking twice about things in order to make them simple, however complex.  Our mission is then to adapt the product to the different personalities and needs of the clients, with whom we thereby establish a partnership.

5. What do your clients request?

They ask me to go beyond what I have already created, so I feel a little like a tailor when I create an item of furniture. Our client is usually a person of middle age, with several houses around the world, who spends a lot of time on planes and has global interests; this is a person who knows quality, very strong-willed, often educated and so teaches me things I do not know. It is these dialogues that create better experiences. And it’s thanks to this care for the client that we have obtained exponential growth in the turnover in the United States, while halving our sales outlets.

6. Which other markets are important for you? 

Europe, especially Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, along with France, where results are good; developed markets like East Asia, from China to Korea and further south; finally, the Russian and Ukrainian markets.

7. You have long operated in Russia: how were you affected by the recent market crash?

We have seen a contraction, but I am satisfied by the results. There has certainly been a change in the situation but I remain confident and foresee good prospects in the future: sometimes, all it takes is time for matters to take their course.  I arrived in Moscow as a pioneer and that’s what I have remained; I have a wonderful, lively monobrand store (alongside those of Lecce, Milan, Paris, London and New York) that sees the changing taste of people, which becomes increasingly simple, emphasising the essential and the design.

8. What is your opinion of today’s furniture industry?

I am convinced this world will not come to a halt, even if we do not go back to certain ways of consumption; but we need new ideas, new ways of living, greater simplicity: I feel the home is still composed of humanity. Less furniture is required, but more important furniture: it is not necessary to have a three-metre long table that is never used, nor ten seats that are only used twice a year.  Quality is also dictated by the how money is spent.  It takes courage to get rid of useless articles of furniture.  But if a product is well made it will last, if the colours are right, carefully chosen, they will always be contemporary.