In your dual role, what can you tell us about what to expect from the new edition of Eurocucina?
As a company, here at Ernestomeda our expectations are very high – especially after being literally overrun by visitors in the last two editions. I have a feeling that it is going to be another record-breaking Salone del Mobile, so as a group we are expecting big things. In terms of trends, I think we are only going to get an overall picture on day one of the event itself. I’m a big believer in increasing the interaction between the kitchen and living areas, which has been a popular trend for a while now, but I think it’s going to get even bigger. It is for that reason that our art director Giuseppe Bavuso has designed Inside System, a new fully customisable line of accessible compartments and cabinets. It is a really versatile piece that tallies with the idea of innovation in the kitchen, which remains our focus.
Is there only room for a few specialist brands in the high-end sector of the market?
Ernestomeda’s mission is to operate at the higher ender of the market and that remains our objective. At the same time, our belonging to the Scavolini Group means we occupy very different sectors of the market. Our strategy is about constant innovation and development and despite the fact that we have to compete with the German groups, Italian companies are increasingly becoming the leading players on the international stage. In 2012, we decided to intensify our focus on innovation, partly by teaming up with the architect Giuseppe Bavuso, in order to set ourselves apart from the rest of the market. I believe that when people buy Italian products, they now expect something original – something unique. That goes for fashion and cars, so why not kitchens too?
FLA data shows that the overseas market is growing for the industry…
That is right. The sector’s imports increased by 3.7% in 2017, which was a great result. As regards our company, we are focusing on the Asian and Middle Eastern markets. Last year, we recorded great results in Turkey, Iran and Singapore, while the Salone del Mobile event in Shanghai was a real success. One interesting aspect is the fact that new opportunities have opened up for the Italian market in general in China, as a result of the problems afflicting some of the big German corporations. Salone del Mobile was the perfect opportunity for us to tap into that market and the work that we are doing – both on an industry level and as individual companies – will definitely deliver results.
Are you entering new markets through the retail or design channels?
Normally, we start out by creating local partnerships. You have to taken into account the fact that as a product, kitchens require services and logistics that can only be supplied by a partner on the ground who is familiar with the various market issues at play. The contract sector comes as a result of initial work done through these channels. However, our company strategy is to develop both avenues at the same time.
You are promoters and partners of the Milano Contract District project. How has the experience been so far?
Milano Contract District came about as a result of a partnership with Ernestomeda and its Contract Division in 2010. In 2016, this was extended to encompass other furniture sectors not linked exclusively to kitchens. As a founding member of the project, I can’t help but be pleased with what we have achieved. For us, MCD is a vital channel which allows us to provide an all-round interior service offering – from kitchens to furnishings, bathrooms, flooring, lighting and finishes. Its biggest strength is definitely the consultancy side of things, as we are able to follow the evolution every step of the way, from start to finish. It means that the service is able to meet the needs of all the various operators involved in the project. We are currently working on taking MCD to the next level, but I can’t say any more about that just yet!
What are some of the stand-out projects you have produced?
Through Milano Contract District, we have taken an active role in projects associated with CityLife, such as the furnishings for the One-11 Penthouse at Zaha Hadid’s residences. We were also one of the main partners on BNP Paribas’ MIA residential project.
The jewel in the Ernestomeda crown is the Yacht Division. In 2004, we launched what has grown into a very reliable and productive collaboration with the Ferretti Group, which is something we are really proud of and helps us to keep improving across both design and innovation. This year, the group was a winner in the “Best Interior Design Motor Yachts below 399GT” category at the Boat International Design & Innovation Awards with “Telli”, the first Custom Line Navetta 33 – which features an Ernestomeda kitchen!
How do you build up that credibility among designers and developers?
You definitely need specialisation, flexibility and innovation. We also have the benefit of being about to show overseas operators that we are a very well-established, professional company thanks to our production hub, our showroom in Milan’s Via Larga and our partnership with MCD. It is obviously a plus for us to be part of one of Italy’s leading groups too. The question of affinity is definitely a factor too.
We are also able to use Italy’s manufacturing traditions to our advantage by giving foreign companies an all-encompassing insight into what we do – it’s not just about the company and our products, but our sense of unity with the local area and the social framework we belong to. I have absolute belief in that part of our identity and think it’s something we should all be focusing on.