“It’s a great honor.” This is how Paolo Brambilla responds to the first, apparently simple question “What does it mean to you to be appointed as Art Directors of Zanotta?” In a few words, the architects Calvi Brambilla convey a personal sense of respect, esteem and responsibility regarding a brand that has written the history of Italian design and of Made in Italy in general. A brand they will now contribute to guide in their new position, directing and supervising all the aspects that define its global image and personality, from products to communication. This concise reply sums up an entire, profound bond.
“Zanotta has made an extraordinary contribution to the success of Italian design from the outset, but there is more to it – they continue. – For us, it is a love story that began long ago, because we grew up as designers with the Zanotta catalogues, taken as examples when we were still in architecture school.” Since then, Fabio Calvi and Paolo Brambilla have had an exceptional career, which since the founding of their studio in 2006 has enabled them to explore the world of interiors, installations and product design. Precisely from the great masters (Achille Castiglioni, first of all), they have learned how to define a working method permeated by subtle irony, as a chosen accent for expression.
When they were asked, years ago, to design the Zanotta displays at the Salone del Mobile, their youthful passion found a new channel and new vigor, offering the creative duo a chance to get to know the company in greater depth. This was the start of a long relationship that in 2017 led to the production of “Zanotta: Stories”, tales of contemporary spaces and ways of living. “The Stories project served to illustrate the fact that those who choose products by Zanotta are people who like to surround themselves with beautiful, intelligent objects, but without restricting living space inside a standardized domestic setting. On that occasion, we identified various personalities that seemed to be significant in relation to the communities of the 21st century: urban farmers, new nomads, independent makers, and so on. Although the pandemic and the war have confronted us with difficult realities, we will continue to seek dialogue with people who have a thirst for a better future.”
That better future made of innovation and quality of life is where Calvi Brambilla want to arrive with Zanotta. Along the way, the brand’s heritage coexists in harmony with its new offerings. In almost 70 years of history, Zanotta has accumulated a vast archive of over 200 products, created by the skill and ingenuity of the greatest international masters of design: Sacco by Gatti-Paolini-Teodoro, Allunaggio, Joy, Sella and Mezzadro by the Castiglioni brothers, Sciangai by De Pas-D’Urbino–Lomazzi, Tonietta by Enzo Mari, just to name a few.
“Innovation is a priority for a brand like Zanotta, so paradoxically we will have to innovate precisely to respect the tradition. Among other things, we will do it by involving the designers who are best able to interpret the contemporary world, who can help us to open up windows on the future. At the same time, we will keep memory alive through all those pieces – and there are many of them – that have the ability to be timely in spite of their many years of life. We will present reissues and at times we will reinterpret classics, always with the complete respect they deserve. We believe that a dialogue can be established between recent pieces and those of the past, bringing out new aspects even in masterpieces we thought we knew inside-out.”
The heritage of Zanotta will thus remain in the spotlight, not just as history, but also as a way of approaching the contemporary, a key of access to the future. “We believe that heritage, quality and freshness are the fundamental values of Zanotta. We want these three elements to always be striking in the catalogue offerings and in the brand’s communications.” It seems clear that the new art direction represents the high point of a relationship that is already well established, based on a lucid vision that will undoubtedly lead to surprising results. The Salone del Mobile in April will be the first setting for this unprecedented interaction. Curiosity takes over, and we cannot help asking for a preview: “We are working on a three-year plan, so at the next Salone we will find several directions that can be developed more fully in the years to come. There will definitely be a working mixture of new products, reissues and additions to existing lines. Above all, we hope that Zanotta’s Salone 2023 can be inspirational, both for architects and for the public at large.”