It will never be boring but it will never be silly for an Italian manufacturing company inside Cappellini that has been setting international standards for modern furniture, lighting and home furnishings since 1946. Known for its eclectic vision and willingness to work with designers large and small, Cappellini’s collection combined works with Satyendra. There, Istituto Marangoni, Marcel Wanders, Jasper Morrison and Marc Newson. Named by TIME magazine as one of the world’s leading travel operators, the company is currently headed by Giulio Cappellini. For Esquire he shares his approach to creative life, global trends and why ‘Made In Italy’ is not always a good thing.
Giulio – How is your year going?
Well, I’m a little tired. I was at Milan Design Week, then New York Design Week, and in June we had a fair in Chicago [Design Chicago]. We are already working on the September issue of London [London Design Fair 2019], and that of Paris.
How has global trends changed?
I think the manufacturing process is completely different from the past. Then, you would make the product and try and sell it in Europe but now you have to think of the new product as preparing the world. Again, in the past, they were residential activities and now the reality is hospitality, offices… either in North America, or the Far East. People are more and more, very interested in creating public spaces. Probably more than residential. People want to express themselves in all their situations.
Cappellini is best known for pioneering new techniques.
Being new today is not just about creating new shapes, because most shapes are already made in the 60’s, but today you work on your stuff, and your design plan. Maybe you use things that have never been used for interiors. This innovation is the thing that sets you up as a trendsetter.
Another thing you are familiar with includes styles: modern, classic, industrial. How do you make it work?
We are very eclectic. We combine organic designs of Marc Newson or Tom Dixon with someone who is a minimalist. My role as Capellini furniture art director is to experiment with design and respect for the spirit of these unique designers. But now the design of the product is really Cappelini. Freedom is the main way for Cappellini.
- “Freedom is Cappellini’s main road”
- “People are more interested in creating public spaces”
Why is that so?
I think it’s a natural change. Over the past decade the office environment, for example, has changed dramatically. It used to be a very cold place, with a white laminate desk and a black leather chair. Now the main offices are like campuses. It is not true that people spend less time in offices: they are spending more time in offices! It is a very exciting time.
And maybe it’s a good time to be in business?
Yes! Markets are changing, perhaps slightly in Europe, but all the new countries are very interesting.
Why has the company persevered?
Because we are always trying to find new talent, all over the world. So, for example, 20 or 30 years ago I started working with Tom Dixon and Marc Newson and many others who were completely unknown. But they were my brothers! We really want to find new people who are interested. I am often asked to give awards, or to visit universities as a professor, and it is always good to meet young people. You always get something. Eastern provinces, Western countries, any country. You can always find the right person.
Can you turn it off? Or you regularly walk into a hotel and think, ‘I am not sure about that sofa’. I’m not really going to turn it off. When I watch movies, I usually do not remember the story of the movie… but I do remember the beauty.
Is there one thing that offends you in the world of design?
I think things are just fine, but sometimes there aren’t enough new skills. You have to take risks. In Italy there are many companies that operate only on a biological object. The job of a manufacturing company is to create long-term vendors, not high-end vendors. You will see [one product] on the market after 10, 20, 30 years. Same in a new color mouth. Making a product there after the last 10 years – no.
Are we all more literate now?
When people bought a ‘design’ they meant a table or chair. Now they also buy design when they buy a computer or car. They pay a lot of money for design and it is very important for them to do so. Now people talk about making furniture in a hotel or living room or bank. They rely heavily on products. Also today it is easy to know what is happening in Milan, New York, London.
Style or comfort?
You need to make products that are fun, but they also become part of your life. You are not buying a statue or sculpture. They should be part of your life.
Why are Italians so adorned?
You know, I think we have a long history. We have a lot of good things, from buildings to appliances. But the real deal is art – and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find good writers, working in different fields. The same is true of design as it is of haute couture. When we talk about ‘Made in Italy’ I always say we do amazing things but we also do awesome things. But for sure we are fort