Echino by Sebastian Herkner for ZanottaAt more than a year after the acquisition of Zanotta, what direction has the company undertaken?
The acquisition of Zanotta is not financial at all, but arises from an observation: we are returning to a new ‘Humanism’ that places man at the centre of things; not because of a cultural attitude, but because technology and the digital world are pushing us in this direction. There is a question of new customisation, of individuality, there is a different relationship with things, with ownership, with status: we are more frequently finding ourselves. The objective that guided us in this context was to associate our Group with a company able to narrate or satisfy new consumers more on the side of their passions than on that of style. And the only company, in our opinion, that had and has a great significance on this front is Zanotta, with its free approach to objects that is light, sometimes ironic. We therefore decided to work on the ‘passions’ of the consumer of the future.
Were the Zanotta Stories born from this consideration?
Yes. Once we talked about age ranges and positioning to identify types of consumers; today, instead, the categories have changed and there are much more transversal consumer attitudes, we are witnessing totally new attitudes in everyday life, linked to what makes us feel good. We have come to the conclusion that these passions are strongly connected to places. For this reason, at the Salone del Mobile we transferred these ‘passions’ into a logic of ‘urban passions’, which intends to reflect on how spaces and cities have a strong empathy for the individual behaviour of people. We reproduce about this concept by creating rooms dedicated to different places: Berlin, Rome, Paris, Shanghai and Barcelona, while the city of Milan will be protagonist of the exhibition space at the Caselli Daziari of Porta Garibaldi.
What does that imply in the world of furnishing?
The first impact is a more intimate representation, the creation of an environment that must make sense to the consumer. What changes, for example, is the role of the icons: they represent a world to which the company helps you belong, a world that is represented by that object. But if consumption becomes more personal, the icon as a symbol has less effect. This does not mean that objects of great meaning do not have a different value for each person, if we can tell its story in a different way. This is why in our representations of ‘urban passions’ we have included some of these ‘special objects’ taken from the Zanotta Editions collection, that is to say, products halfway between art, design and craftsmanship, to which we want to restore great focus. If then they have a universal meaning, it doesn’t matter: if the consumer likes them, he or she will want to have them at home.
This year we celebrate the anniversary of a Zanotta icon: the Sacco.
A celebration postponed only by one year, since the company was engaged in more than 60 events dedicated to Achille Castiglioni in 2018. We will therefore celebrate 50 years + 1 of the Sacco. For the occasion we involved an Indian artist Krishnaraj Chonat, discovered by chance, who for the Venice Biennale of Art had created an actual size version of the Sacco in Carrara marble, placed with two works of art. A sculpture of a quality and softness that were almost along the lines of ‘Michelangelo’. We have therefore purchased the piece of art, which you can see at the entrance to the stand at the Salone del Mobile.
To which markets are you exporting this vision?
Zanotta has always been a company greatly loved in Western Europe. But since the acquisition, the idea has been to focus attention on the United States – and here we can see the synergy with Tecno, which has a consolidated presence in the market as well as having a New York office: we recently opened a single-brand store in Miami and we are back in the major cities, including Denver and Chicago. Great attention has been given to us by Asia: we are visible again in Singapore, in the Philippines and in South East Asia, as well as in Australia in the cities of Sydney and Melbourne. Lastly, we are discovering China, which has given important feedback to our story: last year we opened two stores in Shanghai and one in Shenzhen, in addition to having successfully taken part in the Salone del Mobile.Milano Shanghai and Design Shanghai in March.
Zanotta and Tecno: separate companies, or shared ones?
The missions of the two companies are certainly different, so we intend to move in a parallel way in their respective strategies. The structure we are setting up for Zanotta seeks to be autonomous, linked to the residential world and to the soft-contract sector that it is gradually discovering. For Tecno, on the other hand, we started immediately with a ‘design culture’, investing heavily in technology. In this period that I call ‘post-war’ – after a war that took place on the financial level, but with the same destructive effects on the economy as a real war – the single product and the representation of the same is no longer sufficient for doing business, a company needs to present itself in a more global way, so each representation becomes a design. This new era is however a period of great opportunities, which as a furniture industry we can grasp, opening up to a different dimension, in perspective, and with the strength of Italian creative ability behind us.