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How four designers

founded an ethical brand

Back in 2011 I received a call from Matteo Zorzenoni.

It surprised me, because we haven’t been in contact since our university days at IUAV, ten years before, but we met during a photo-shooting set by a well-known Italian design magazine and picturing the most notable emerging designers of that decade. I remember we came back from Milan together and had a long nice chat  about design, us and our future plans.

Maybe it’s because I picked him up and drove him home, but he was calling me to ask if I would have fancied to participate a design exhibition that would have took place in Milan, in the glorious Ventura Lambrate district, at the time really flourishing and sought after by world designers and artists.

The briefing was really promising: CNA, the association coordinating craftsmen nationally, or better its local agency from Vicenza, northern Italy, promoted a joint venture between designers and its associated craftsmen to conceptualize, produce and exhibit a series of product.

Young, cute and unemployed. The legendary photo-shooting made by Case da Abitare magazine listing the most promising designers of the new generation. (Ph. Elisabetta Claudio)

Nowadays, this connection between designers and the craft world is quite common, but in those (wealthy) times, when industry was all about producing fast and large, craftsmanship was simply not a design solution. Why producing a single costly marble lamp when you can produce tons of it in plastic at the same price, an engineer would have asked back then.

I accepted, of course, and I was then put in contact with the other participants and the association itself.

Apart from Matteo, I met lovely couples Zaven (Enrica Cavarzan and Marco Zavagno, which I already knew, being all of us students at IUAV), Pedrita (Rita Joao and Pedro Ferreira), and Takuya Matsuda.

Unfortunately, Taku is not with us anymore, but I will always remember him as one of the most funny and memorable Japanese guys I ever met.

Together, we delivered a full set of products exhibited under the name of “Edition of 6”, and we received good praise for our works.

The initiative was so successful we were proposed to do it again the next year. That time we extended the collaboration: new manufacturers and suppliers were involved, while new designers worked together to deliver another lineup: Paolo Cappello, Valentina Carretta, Oscar Diaz, Leonardo Talarico plus me, Zaven and Zorzenoni. Again exhibiting in Lambrate district in the amazing Officina Temporanea, a dismissed garage often used for art installations (indeed, I did one myself a couple years before!) and under the name “Edition of nine” we hit the bull’s eye again, and we collected many publications and praise.

Some beautiful shots by Giuliano Koren about production process. Dirty hands, clean hearts.

All this work was not meant to rest a matter for publication only, though: during those years, me and my three fellows Enrica, Marco and Matteo started noticing the global economic crisis was touching smaller businesses we got in contact and many others we used to work with. Italian manufacturing sector is mostly made of micro or family-run businesses: their main strength is not economic improvement and growth, but great commitment and tremendous skill; to put it clearly, their focus is not doing business, but create beauty instead, and the situation could eventually make those companies collapse.

We decided then to plan a new business model: instead of working on the final selling price reducing the (already meager) supplier’s margins, we started talking with manufacturers with an honest approach, trying to reduce at the minimum other costs. Sales, marketing, assembly, storage: everything was tailored in order to keep correct prices and decent batches but don’t overcharge labour costs for this.

Well, we had just founded SomethingGood.

The first collection was designed by the four of us only, and included decoration vases, kitchen tools, small office accessories. The unusual thing that probably aroused curiosity was the fact we put on the same level producers and designers, while the brand itself was almost invisible. It was a sincere, spontaneous and authentic narrative about people, finally.

Federico Covre and Federico Marin made these amazing shots for the first catalogue:

The reaction of the press and the design community was enthusiastic and we started immediately working on the second collection.

Again, we decided to extend the call and work with colleagues and friends whose work we had much appreciated: Oscar Diaz, Odo Fioravanti and Tomas Kral helped us designing a new lineup of tableware, candleholders, containers. SomethingGood got featured by almost every national magazine and much part of the collection was bought by e-commerce giant Yoox for their Christmas catalogue.

Federico Marin took these shots getting the true spirit of the whole collection:

The activity we carried out since “Edition of” experience (together with the more and more pervasive financial crisis) made many other companies shift from an highly productive industrialization to a more sustainable model, and the customers’ taste shifted to that kind of happy crafty imperfection we tried to promote through our work. SomethingGood had finally achieved one of the most important goal we set and we started thinking about a happy retirement.

We decided to make one last exhibition in Milan: as a celebration of diversity, we took fifty production-raw teapots and started experimenting cutting, carving, hybridize them, obtaining a small catalogue of the same items in its different variations. We decided to stop there, sure as we were (and are) SomethingGood contributed to provide a new vision of the ever-changing design environment.

Thank you, thank you, thank you




for your constant inspiration through this amazing great journey.


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