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Art&Creative Direction

I took charge of FontanaArte art and creative direction in 2012, as part of the strategic plan developed by Nice Group, the home automation Italian giant who bought the world-known company founded in 1932 by Luigi Fontana and Gio Ponti.

Parola, by Gae Aulenti
Model 1853 (aka Fontana), Max Ingrand

After many decades of unrivaled prominence in the field of interior design, FontanaArte was suffering a certain lack of innovation, while meantime many younger companies managed to keep up the pace and explore new materials, applications and strategies: it was the right time to crave for a new narrative, a new lineup, and a respectful yet innovative identity.

My previous expertise as Senior Designer in Foscarini came in handy: not only I had a designer mindset, but I also knew how to manage complex projects from the concept stage to delivery.

A new journey had begun: FontanaArte needed to be rebuilt.

At first we had to reinvigorate a strong confidence in designers building consistent and precise briefings. I started contacting foreign designers especially, in order to have a wide dialogue platform: many famous ones, some really talented but not actually mainstream, some totally unpublished but really promising. My mission was to stay true to Gio Ponti’s passion for research and experimentation, that is the true genetic print of the brand, as I could check studying the wide archives inside their headquarter.

FontanaArte HQ entrance filled with old drawings and sketches. Ph. Diego Alto (www.diegoalto.com)
Enjoying the large and comfy talk area at Euroluce

After almost one year of constant rush, working 16 hours a day discussing with designers, engineers, suppliers, sales agents and researchers we managed to pull out quite a wide lineup, consisting of 10 brand new products, that were exhibited during Milan’s furniture fair (Euroluce) in a giant booth measuring six hundreds square meters and designed by Luca Nichetto. A well-known journalist defined that show the “best relaunch ever”, and this can give the sense of how well we nailed it.

Lastly, a new show-room was built in a very central Milanese area where every competitor already was, a tangible sign of the brand’s regained primacy on the international stage.

A visitor touches a hung Cheshire lamp during Euroluce fair, designed by GamFratesi
A good size…
Street view of the new FontanaArte showroom in Corso Monforte, Milan

The following year saw a concrete expansion toward foreign markets: for the first time FontanaArte exhibited at Stockholm furniture fair with a collection enriched by some specific contract-oriented products and new extensions, put in place in order to develop a new market branch. Without any Euroluce fair in Milan, we decided to involve the amazing Moritz Waldemeyer to arrange an interactive display in Corso Monforte showroom, a beautiful and captivating installation called “The Speed of Light”.

A very cool documentary by photographer Diego Alto about the amazing Moritz Waldemeyer installation in Milan showroom.

2015 was again the time for the biennial Euroluce lighting show inside Milan’s “Salone del Mobile”, so I worked even harder to deliver a consistent proposal of new products that could live up to the expectations and to the success of the previous exhibitions. This time, apart from involving new designers and working with some familiar ones, I designed HollyG, an iconic lamp presented that year in a box-themed booth designed by CalviBrambilla architects.

CalviBrambilla architects bundled everything into big boxes

In 2016, no Euroluce had to be held, so the brand was all about the “Fuorisalone”: CalviBrambilla architects built a very shiny showroom wittingly inspired by Warhol’s Factory. Moreover, another FontanaArte great breakthrough had been a new NYC showroom in Greene Street, Soho, where all new products were exhibited.

My HollyG lamp exhibited in FontanaArte’s showroom disguised as Warhol’s Factory
NYC showroom in Manhattan

As often happens to rapidly growing brands, FontanaArte was then incorporated in a much bigger group, together with world-famous furniture manufacturer Driade and others. I felt the subsequent governance couldn’t allow me the same freedom of working and initiative I had previously and after we defined a decent transition process that would have last until early 2017 I resigned, glad to have contributed to the rebirth of such a great Italian design representative.


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