Italian furniture design has always emphasised the use of fine quality materials
and beautiful craftsmanship.
Read more about its history and discover the top Italian furniture brands you need to know of.
HISTORY OF ITALIAN FURNITURE
Whilst history would suggest that the luxury furniture and decorative arts worlds have been completely owned by France from the Louis’ of the 17th and 18th centuries to the Art Nouveau and Art Deco of the 1910s-30s, the late 20th century decades brought an exciting newcomer to the design realm: Italy. The contribution of contemporary Italian furniture designers has left an indelible mark and has established the country as a major exporter of modern-day classics.
“Nowhere else in the world can one find so many varied examples, both in terms of conception and of formal outcome; so many applications of diverse forms, from fashion and graphics to product and set design; such an extensive and multifaceted documentation recorded in literature; and such an international resonance,” says Paola Antonelli, senior design curator at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and renowned expert of Italian design, in the preface of Design Directory: Italy.
Consider the Castiglioni brothers, Vico Magistretti, Ettore Sottsass, Gio Ponti, Gae Aulenti, Marco Zanuso, Fornasetti, Harry Bertoia, Joe Colombo, Carlo Scarpa and Gabriella Crespi—all names which have become ingrained in the design world’s vocabulary for their nonchalant Modernist style. These lodestars of Italian design were proof of the country’s creative vision in the second half of the 20th century and, these days, the same fervour for innovative design remains.
Paola explains, “To this day, Italian furniture design companies have been able to maintain their status and their experimental verve and, in a time short of great indigenous designers, are attracting the best talents from all over the world. They keep the flag of Italian Design flying high.”
TOP ITALIAN FURNITURE BRANDS
Known for: woodworking, elegant and timeless style, craftsmanship, international influence.
Giorgetti is a company with a tradition of more than one hundred years and an international flavor, rooted in the city of Meda, in the center of Brianza.
Giorgetti collections arise from the craft tradition and the industriousness of territory: unique furniture, the high quality of workmanship and the selection of materials. The elements of furniture that range from the purely classical style to the modern style, enhanced with the latest collections.
The true leitmotif of collection is wood, the expensive element of the company, was formed and worked in innovative ways without ever departing from the fine traditional cabinetmaker. The wood has been enhanced by the inserts in other materials over the years: leather, metal, glass and textile, which are natural and precious, in many textures and colors.
The elements are processed and combined with taste, elegance and attention to the details in order to ensure the customers a timeless product that goes beyond fashion.
Known for: stand out for its unmistakable style, devoted to the production of timeless furniture solutions
With over 90 years of history and its headquarters in Meda, Cassina is the quintessence of Italian design. From the early collaboration with Gio Ponti to the creative direction of Patricia Urquiola, the catalogue is a true collection of icons, such as the Maralunga sofa and many more models that are able to anticipate future trends. Cassina also stands out for the re-edition of historical pieces, including the LC collection of armchairs, chairs and tables, now relaunched with a new range of fabrics and finishes for outdoor spaces. From the Superleggera chair to the newest outdoor proposals by Rodolfo Dordoni, Philippe Starck and Patricia Urquiola, all designs by Cassina stand out for the quality of the project beyond ephemeral fashions. Combining artisan tradition and technological progress, the brand has also updated the legendary I Maestri collection, which includes icons designed by Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand.
Known for: leather, identity, icons, craftmenship
Renzo Frau founded Poltrona Frau in Turin in 1912. From 1926 it was appointed supplier of the Italian Royal Family, the Savoia dynasty. From then on, it will furnish all the most important houses, grand hotels, the interiors for Expo Turin 1928, and the lavish transatlantic Rex, pride of the Italian Navy. The more you “live” a story, the more interesting it becomes. This is true for the leather of their sofas as for the company’s history, so full of personal experiences, encounters, professional skills and inspiring visions, which have made it a “unicum”. A story that completes itself and stands out in the multi-coloured Italian manufacturing and creative world. There is something that no automatic sewing machine, no computer, no precision laser can ever perform: the intelligence of our hands. That special combination of experience and sensibility that allows you to feel if a padding is well distributed, or if the pleats have the right thickness. Beautiful and responsible: the quality of Poltrona Frau products is not pursued at any cost.
Known for: versatility, minimalism, iconic design and modernism.
An extraordinary convergence of design and industry, the expression of a contemporary approach.
People, ideas, places, projects and products are what make B&B Italia unique, now as ever.
An adventure that validates courageous vision. A story and an identity that unwaveringly focuses on the future.
B&B Italia's uniqueness lies in an unrivalled blend of creativity, innovation and industrial potential. The artful anticipation of trends and expert response to the evolution of taste and the needs of living deliver a collection of contemporary design furnishing, whose premium quality marks an impressive chapter in the history of Italian design. B&B Italia includes 3 internal divisions, which are:
Powerful lines that combine modernity and tradition.
A complete range of “new classic” furnishings that stand apart for the excellent quality workmanship, precious materials and refined details. Maxalto declares the value of “made in Italy” with unmistakeable timeless elegance.
Founded in 1947 by architects Luigi Caccia Dominioni, Ignazio Gardella and Corrado Corradi Dell’Acqua, Azucena has always been held in the highest esteem as an Italian brand, combining formal elegance, understated luxury and an aesthetical purity in its collections, all manufactured to the highest standard. B&B Italia acquired this historic brand, intending to preserve it as part of Italy’s rich heritage, and it is being relaunched in 2018 with a series of “modern classics” designed by the architect Luigi Caccia Dominioni from the late 1940s onwards.
Known for: international design, sustainability, leather and tradition. Natuzzi builds its history starting from a series of values, which can be considered as the solid roots of the brand. It is from these values that the company has drawn nourishment to expand internationally and branch out its operations. A tree-structured growth, a symbol that recalls and reaffirms the importance of the environment in which we live. The great interest in environmental sustainability has in fact led the company to develop a plan for renewable energy.
The headquarters in Santeramo in Colle has 5 active photovoltaic systems, as well as the Matera and Laterza plants produce electricity and reduce CO2 in the atmosphere thanks to 21,000 photovoltaic modules. This great involvement in respecting the environment is sanctioned by international certifications.
The design of a sofa or an armchair, as well as that of a bed or any other piece of furniture, is treated in detail; the quality and durability of raw materials is certified through numerous load, strength, wear and light resistance tests.
The vigor of a majestic tree can also be seen in its fruits and Natuzzi has been able to give many: the numerous Italian and international awards received, do nothing but attest to the authority of the brand. From the prestigious American Furniture Hall of Fame (2008), through the China Awards Capital Elite Prize (2010), to the most recent Italian Talent Award (2015), each embodies a milestone in the company's extraordinary growth.
Known for: made to measure, uniqueness, high-end, classic and luxury style. In the 60s, a group of cabinet makers from Veneto decided to unite their experience and artisan skills in the creation of a business entirely focused on the production of bespoke furniture, characterised by particular attention to metal details and the application of state-of-the-art mechanic automation systems integrated in furnishings. The Scalco family, founder and owner of the company, is proud to represent this heritage. In particular, Serafino Scalco transmitted his passion for work and spirit of innovation to his sons. Upon acquiring experience, Loris and Franco Scalco founded Faoma in 1980; they have gradually consolidated and improved company performance and continue to do so today. The complexity and importance of projects has constantly grown and as a result the company has broadened its range of skills in all fields requiring excellent craftsmanship for the characterisation of exclusive, quality interiors.
Known for: art déco style, luxury bathroom, luxurious details. The company is a century-old family business characterised by courage, tradition and a strong identity. It has market presence in more than 25 countries, the main ones being: Russia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium and the United States. The Oasis production portfolio includes a wide range of furniture collections for the Home, the Bathroom and the Contract industry for the construction of projects for both residential and professional purposes.
The Oasis Home Collection is inspired by International Style and Art Déco architecture and design. Oasis furniture blends precious materials with perfect craftsmanship; details and finishings give a special touch to products which express the finest made in Italy.
The design of the Collection is inspired both by the Art Déco period and by the more luxury and sophisticated masterpieces of Italian heritage, successfully mixed and matched with ‘900s Masters of design.
The Oasis interior design conveys a classical but modern style, definitely evergreen; the line perfectly combines with Oasis Bathroom Collection, to create a complete interior design concept, for a total look satisfying the most demanding interiors.
Known for: Furnishings, including its sought-after garden collection, made from highly-prized materials like original walnut crotch to soft and exotic nabuk This Italian furniture company’s collections are extensive with options for every part of the home, including exterior design and accessories. Most of its products are made by hand and they pride themselves on achieving nothing but their vision of absolute perfection. Founded in 1967 by Alberto Smania who worked in iron manufacturing, he began by crafting his first low table which later led to him expanding from iron into wood. Today, with Smania’s new MyMood service, you can adapt the colour, finish and fabric on any of its products to produce tailor-made interpretations of its original pieces for clients who value unique, personalised interiors.
Known for: contemporary finishes and informed, slightly dramatic silhouettes The modern offshoot of Angelo Cappenlini, purveyor of French-inspired furniture (think Louis and Regency styles), Opera Contemporary enjoys all the history of its predecessor’s Brianza heritage (which extends to the 1880s) but with a renewed aesthetic for the modern age. Its collection exchanges intricate rococo lines for clean, angular ones and rich damasks for luxurious plain velvets – interpreting historical design in a unique way. A button-back sofa, for example, features a dramatic undulating back and a roll-back bed is updated with sabot-ended tapered legs and a simple split quilted headboard. Each design harks back to a time of tradition but with the modern luxuries of exotic high-gloss veneers, modern engineering (cantilever chairs for one) and simple metal trims.
Known for: uniqueness, craftsmanship, made in Italy.
Flexform identity reflects their all-Italian values. Their is an all-Italian success story. Their furniture is crafted in one country - Italy - from design concept to finished product. “Dedication and determination have allowed us to stay true to our identity and we have built a reputation for ourselves in countries near and far. Interaction with different cultures has broadened our perspective and helped us cultivate an openness to new experiences. But our production philosophy has remained the same. Our products are prized because they are the embodiment of “Made in Italy” and because they are an almost magical distillation of elegance, comfort and inconspicuous luxury. We meet expectations. This is what we consistently give our clients, because it is in our DNA, effortlessly.” “At Flexform, the Made in Italy philosophy also extends to our quest to employ the best master-craftsmen; their skill is evident in their products. Their sofas and other pieces of furniture require remarkable expertise, the touch of “knowing hands” that is essential to making a product of such premium manufacturing quality. The Brianza district is renowned in the world of furnishings, because it is filled with specialized craftsmen whose expertise and skills are passed down from one generation to the next. The products they make are unique and unrivalled.”
Known for: history of design, avant-garde, contemporary
The story of Zanotta is of one intuition —of risk taking, curiosity, reward and, above all, accomplishment— written over six fruitful decades. In that span, the brand has churned out a staggering total of 550 designs, with almost a fifth residing in permanent collections at the most prestigious museums and institutions around the world, represented by 330 individual pieces.
And while its position in the pages of design history becomes ever-more rarefied, Zanotta’s creations are intended for much more than collecting dust behind glass walls and velvet rope. Every piece, rather, is deliberately designed for active enjoyment in daily life.
Founded on the philosophy that culture and profit aren’t at odds; convinced that the furniture industry mustn’t simply bend, passively, to public demand, but must actively anticipate future needs; and espousing both exceptional form and uncompromising function, the Zanotta company and catalogue remain true originals.
Known for: contemporary, young and elegant style.
Pianca creates furniture systems and occasional furniture for residential contexts – bedrooms and living rooms – and for the contract market. Their approach to design aims at customising products and places to meet the needs of people whose lifestyles are based on flexibility, mobility and change but who still want to feel at home no matter what. Their respect for the history and founding values of their brand – territory, Italian culture, family and genius – and the desire to make authentically sustainable products, make appreciating the human aspects of their company second nature to us, resulting in their ability to blend their rational side (thinking) with their more emotional and empathic side (loving).