Artemide’s president, Carlotta de Bevilacqua, believes in looking to the future where there’s much to feel good about in the design industry and beyond. Having remained in Milan during the Italian lockdown she’s seen up close how hard these past few months have been, but this time has also meant a chance for her to focus on what’s important: innovation and sustainability.
WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN BASED DURING ITALIAN LOCKDOWN?
I’ve been in Milan at home with my husband, Ernesto Gismondi, the founder of Artemide. It’s difficult for sure – it’s been difficult for everyone – but it’s been interesting too. During the entire period I’ve never stopped thinking about the future. I am feeling positive and I think people perhaps have more respect for nature, for the planet. Difficult times are an opportunity to make something different and to give greater importance to what we really need for us. For Artemide that’s always been about innovation and sustainability.
WHAT HAVE YOU IDENTIFIED AS IMPORTANT?
First of all, most importantly, it’s the safety of people. Our entire team is like family – that’s the very nature of a family business. Before there were even government-imposed restrictions, we were looking at how to protect our staff. We have three factories in Italy, one in France, one in Hungary and one in Canada – that’s a lot of people. We had to stop of course, as did our supply chains too, but we’ve tried to look at this moment differently and respect it. And then restarting, it’s about new products of course, but actually it’s about reorganising a system, a new point of view. I like to speak about disruptive innovation. This surely is the time for that. And resilience: to never close our minds, but to create a new balance.
FOR THE PEOPLE YOU WORK CLOSELY WITH, HOW WILL YOU OPERATE GOING FORWARD? WHAT WILL THE OFFICE LOOK LIKE?
This is an interesting situation because across our different offices – the headquarters with all of the product development and research team and then our offices in Milan where marketing and communications team, we’ve traditionally moved from one office to the other. So obviously digital tools have always been useful for us. Not only between us but also our network of architects and designers around the world that we work closely with on large projects. Obviously whenever its been possible we like to meet, but if not it’s on a digital platform. It’s normal. That’s fine. But we also do need to stay together and that is why it’s good to come back to the office. With all that we can do to ensure everyone’s safety, it’s important to be together, to share ideas. We like to be together.
WITH ARTEMIDE BEING AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE ITALIAN DESIGN COMMUNITY, HOW HAVE THE VARIOUS COMPANIES COME TOGETHER AT THIS TIME?
We have a great relationship with many of the other big Italian design brands. The idea is really to find a new perspective for the future. We speak about digital platforms, sustainability and how Italy can restart. We need to start together in an intelligent and positive way. Naturally it was really disappointing not to have Salone del Mobile this year, but we’ve learned that there are other ways to communicate as an industry. Perhaps we’re not quite so fast to present new products and so on, but we’re still able to do it. We’re just communicating them in a new way. We go on, it’s different, but it’s positive.
DOES THIS MEAN THE LANDSCAPE OF HOW NEW DESIGN IS PRESENTED NEEDS TO CHANGE? WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR TRADESHOWS AND REGULAR INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL?
We need to change something for sure, but I believe it’s still important to go on with fairs, but in a different way probably. Like our business channels: we didn’t close retail when we launched the web. And it’s probably the same for the fair. We still attend the fairs even when we’re pushing the digital presentations more. We can have both. I believe that confidence is important. It’s not just a matter of making something new but to make something different, something that matters and adds something. This is about new meaning.
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