A design Renaissance:the small Italian brands that are making it big in London

Niche Italian brands are charming Londoners with their blend of traditional skills and innovation. 

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You might well be au fait with the likes of Boffi, Cappellini and Moroso, but what about more niche Italian brands Flou, MiniForms, De Padova and Scavolini?

Such smaller design brands are landing in the UK, and in particular London, because demand is growing for what Scavolini’s UK branch manager Giacomo Meoli describes as “our Made in Italy values”.

“Novelty and standing apart from the crowd is what everyone is looking for,” explains Theo Mance, managing director of Kings of Chelsea, which distributes Roberto Cavalli Home in the UK. “Standardisation is not the way forwards, and the niche Italian brands offer all this.”

Add to this the fact many Italian brands want to tap into London’s major building projects with their high-end contract furnishings (FontanaArte’s reason for opening with Moroso in Clerkenwell), coupled with a recent growth in interest in mid-century design, and you have a small Italian Renaissance at hand.

At Hub Kitchens in Battersea co-owner Daniele Brutto has just launched TM Italia’s latest kitchen, called Miuccia, which features rose gold handles and ribbed deep blue cabinetry. De Padova, now owned by Boffi, is seeking its own stand-alone store. Aram will host luxury bedroom brand Flou from August.

Poliform has introduced more niche accessories labels in store to compliment its furniture. These include CC-Tapis — rugs made in Nepal — as well as Nemo lighting. Scavolini showed its kitchens — including a collaboration with Italian fashion brand Diesel — at Birmingham’s kitchen fair this year, and architect Foster & Partners turned to Lumina, a small, family-owned manufacturer near Venice, for new minimal lamps.

The reason? As Foster & Partners’ head of product design Mike Holland says: “The Italians are still makers with historic depth of skills and an open-minded approach to innovation that sets them apart.”

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