On the flexible line between tradition and modernity, looking to the past for skills and cultural heritage, but also to the future to envision new habitat horizons. This is the balance of Illulian, a company that has reached its 60th anniversary, with the third generation of the family at the helm. Keeping faith with a lasting legacy – not just of the family, but also in terms of production, with roots in faraway Nepal – Illulian turns out a wide range of collections of carpets, which combine pure decorative impact with the character of works of art, transmitting emotions and narrating stories. To learn more, we had a conversation with the owners Davis and Bendis Ronchetti Illulian.
60 years of Illulian: is there a formula behind this longevity?
Across three generations, we have been able to create an internationally recognizable brand. We never stop searching for something new and experimental, and we never get tired of creating, proposing, even at a very fast pace (every year we come out with at least ten or fifteen different designs): so this is only the beginning, because this enthusiasm, this dynamism and energy allow us to always explore new creative directions. Obviously there is also and above all the quality of the product, ‘designed in Italy and made in Nepal.’
How are you celebrating this anniversary?
We decided to make the Evolution carpet, a special edition that captures and interprets the spirit of the brand. Two worlds, ancient and modern, reflect each other and interact: one part was created starting with the Serapi carpet, an excellent Persian variety, while the other has a contemporary touch: with this game, we pay homage to our 60 years of activity and our evolution.
Experimentation on products is nothing new for your company.
This year, in particular, we have focused on Limited Edition, bringing different realities and signatures together: Marc Sadler, Cristina Celestino, Monica Armani, Setsu and Shinobu Ito. This collection gives us the chance to vary the production, with proposals that are not precisely part of our background, getting away from habitual approaches. Limited Edition begins with this orientation, with an initial rug made in collaboration with the comedian and painter Dario Ballantini, the proceeds of which are donated to the Associazione Amici del Centro Dino Ferrari, under the title Se ti guardo. Next came a project with the photographer Bob Krieger, and from there we understood that we could involve not only designers and architects, but also artists, graphic designers and versatile creative personalities, in a context of constant variety.
What will you be showing in your debut at ICFF?
In a very large space, we tell our story through all of our bestsellers: Skyla, Woodstock, Madama Butterfly, Makan, Rehab for the Design Collection; Colette and Romance for the Palace Collection, for example. We arrive at ICFF convinced of the quality of our product and our manufacturing, clearly with a very competitive, strong identity. The American market is very important for us, after we approached it a few years ago thanks to a trade fair, Maison&Objet Americas in Miami, which allowed us to begin new collaborations with architecture firms, which are still in progress. We want to boost our visibility and activity in this large territory, starting from Texas and then moving towards South America.
What are the distinctive factors in your production?
We pay maniacal attention to every production aspect. Each piece is made entirely by hand, using excellent materials that stand up to wear, including pure silk and Himalayan wool. The same goes for the colors, made with vegetable dyes to ensure natural shadings. There is a poetic touch behind every product, something that is out of reach for most companies in this field: every rug is made in Nepal by two or three persons, for the standard sizes, who by express request (to which we respond) have to begin and finish the job together, according to cultural precepts of Tibetan Buddhism; if for a particular motif one of them has to be absent for a long period of time, the person is not replaced, and the work is not completed until their return; this gives the carpet good karma, a positive factor that is transmitted into the home that eventually contains the piece.
Tradition and innovation, antique and modern: balancing these characteristics, how does the product evolve?
We keep an eye on fashion, interior design, color trends, forms. Our catalogue is vast because we do not limit ourselves to a few pieces per year – we like to investigate and to create. Not just in the Design Collection, but also in Palace (the two main ranges), for more modern carpets, though with a classic spirit. We are therefore able to adapt to different types of homes and habitat trends: from the most minimalist to the most refined retro overtones, which are very much in vogue, where our rugs can easily be combined with authentic pieces from the 1950s and 1960s. This year we have focused on more geometric designs, for example, to mark the centenary of the Bauhaus. All the way to complete customizing, in terms of design and size. Examples include the recent creations for residences in Saudi Arabia and Oman, reaching measurements of 100 square meters per piece.
What is the meaning of the carpet in the home environment?
It is a fundamental feature: decor without carpets is incomplete. We believe that ‘a sofa without a rug just floats,’ because its location in the space is not indicated. The rug has the function of bordering, of improving acoustics, warming the space and adding color. Fortunately, design culture has spread today, and Made in Italy has played a major role in this sense: so now there is greater attention to detail, also in decoration, and for us the fact that we can respond to any request is a source of great pride.