A van with a trolley bearing the message Design will save the world. The Zanotta collections and the desire to return to social relationships in this unprecedented moment in history. Departure: Manhattan, destination: the United States. A four-month tour through iconic locations in North America. Contemporary humanism is the essence of the brand’s philosophy.
Francesco Secchiaroli firmly believes in the vision of Giuliano Mosconi – President and CEO of Zanotta and Tecno – an enlightened entrepreneur who has worked for years to put the real protagonists back at the center of design: people. In a historical moment in which social distancing has become an everyday paradigm, Francesco decides to set off on a journey to visit partners, dealers, architecture studios, bringing new and iconic Zanotta furnishings along for the ride. A coast-to-coast expedition in the United States: from Miami to the Grand Canyon by way of Texas, Tennessee, New Mexico, California, Arizona, magnificent national parks and huge lakes. Zanotta on tour…
Francesco, how did the idea of a Zanotta tour in the States come about?
The tour springs from the brand’s culture. The farsighted intuition of our president Giuliano Mosconi, always with a focus on the importance of human beings in design culture, has generated a corporate philosophy with roots in the individual, in what we might define as a new humanism. Hence the idea of approaching people, after a period of long-distance digital relations. With a van towing a trolley, loaded with iconic Zanotta products and part of the new collection, I set off from New York to meet our dealers and partners scattered across North America. The welcome was incredible, warm, friendly. A moment of personal sharing that has transformed our professional relations into truly solid bonds.
How did the adventure begin?
I began the trip in Manhattan, departing from our NoMad headquarters, transporting new Zanotta products and the iconic creations of the company. We wanted to do something to meet our collaborators, but the adventure became even more complicated, because I ended up driving for 24,000 miles, discovering places I knew nothing about. At first I thought about purchasing an RV and furnishing it with Zanotta products, but then I realized that in the States you can spend the night only in certain places, far from my real destinations. So I bought a trolley to tow behind the van, bearing the inscription “Design will save the world”…
When did you get started?
I departed on my own, in the month of November 2020, with a dense calendar of appointments. But traveling in the States, especially with all the restrictions of the health crisis and the political situation connected with the presidential election, was a lot more demanding than I had imagined. It was really complicated, but also magnificent. After about one month, I asked my good friend Marco Lafiandra – a designer and photographer residing in Los Angeles (he made photos of the Zanotta furnishings in the most surprising locations) – to join me on this adventure. He agreed, and the voyage became a moment of constant discovery.
You have taken pictures of Zanotta products in amazing natural settings…
It was thrilling to show the products from the tour, immersed in literally magical natural contexts, in dialogue with canyons, deserts, forests, national parks, landscapes seen in westerns. From the Grand Canyon to Monument Valley to a frozen Lake Michigan, where our red Sacco stood out against the skyline of a silent Chicago…
One particular anecdote?
When we got to Monument Valley and entered the park we met the owner of a Navajo reserve, a man who guided us in our discovery of every corner of that magical place. We were very impressed by his great wisdom, his extreme respect for Mother Nature, and what he considers his true wealth: the earth. From that moment on our “design portraits” made nature their central focus, immersing Zanotta in a perfect dialogue and an exquisite harmony with the environment.
Other special stops along the way?
There were many memorable places, but one that struck me in particular was Marfa, Texas, an abandoned frontier town where the artist Donald Judd bought a ranch and transformed it into an art hub. At this very eclectic, timeless location there is one intriguing permanent installation: Prada Marfa, made by the Danish artists Elmgreen & Dragset, composed of bricks, plaster, glass, MDF, carpeting, designed to resemble a true boutique. The large windows present accessories, shoes, handbags, selected and supplied by Miuccia Prada. A pop-up work of architecture I temporarily transformed into the wall of a living room, furnished with our products. A perfect home for the Zanotta collections!
What were the most rewarding experiences?
To discover the humanity and affection of my counterparts and collaborators, who invited us into their homes – an unusual situation in the United States, where meetings usually take place in public spaces. Their enthusiasm and warmth were truly remarkable. It has been an incredible human experience. And in business terms, it has been a great success.
What projects are in store for Zanotta in New York?
I can’t tell you yet… but soon there will be a big adventure in NYC. Something original and unexpected…
Photo © Marco Lafiandra