Passion for design
The beauty of a family business: double interview with the Minotti brothers
The Minotti family, intent on defining a new design. From left, Alessandro, Susanna and Alessio Minotti – third generation - and brothers Renato and Roberto Minotti, joint owners of the company, sons of the founder, Alberto Minotti.
extremely popular abroad, the minotti brand is present in 63 countries worldwide and has no less than 30 monobrand stores that export italian lifestyle to foreign shores
the minotti stores located all over the world are designed to illustrate the elegance, exquisite level of production and versatility of the collections
minotti miami is a prestigious exhibition space in the heart of the miami design district, which expresses a refined, cosmopolitan taste, perfectly in tune with the spirit of its location and the minotti style
the refined layout and décor of the minotti space recently opened in shanghai are enhanced by an amazing, sophisticated architecture
The Minotti Muenchen flagship store is the perfect embodiment of the timeless elegance that characterises the company’s lifestyle, going beyond the latest fashions.
The Minotti London flagship store has recently doubled its display area. The design, curated by Minotti Studio, has brilliantly combined materials, colours and construction details that strongly identify the style of the brand.
Minotti Wien is a large, bright showcase area located in a historical building of the austrian city which offers, as do all the Minotti flagship stores, a particularly expert décor consultancy service.
the materials used for decorating the minotti stores include concrete for the floors and warm wooden panelling for the walls
The new Minotti Aoyama showroom area by Sukeno is located in the prestigious Aoyama district, one of the fastest developing areas in the city of Tokyo and home to many famous luxury brands and buildings created by internationally renowned designers, defining an architectural context of exquisite charm.
A lot has changed since the fifties, and the Minotti company has metamorphosed from a small business built on craftsmanship to an international brand, still preserving its passion and family business identity intact. How have you managed to do this and how much have these aspects, which are so typically human, influenced the company’s success? What role does the generational change play in your business?
Our company was founded by our father Alberto in the post-war period. Like many other companies in the Brianza area, it began as a craftsman’s workshop dedicated to the production of upholstered elements. From the very beginning, it developed the know-how of upholstery and fine tailoring, qualities that Minotti is still famous for today, handed down to us by our father, together with the passion for this work. When our Dad passed away in 1991, my brother and I, who had already been working with him in the company for several years, decided not only to continue the business but also to give it a strong international identity, and so we launched a worldwide distribution that gradually grew, until the company reached today’s dimensions. Being a family business is undoubtedly an advantage for us: we are all focused on achieving a series of common goals, and share a creative ability and flexibility that make us stand out from the crowd. In addition to my brother Renato and I, Alessio and Alessandro, Renato’s sons, have also been working in the company for some time, and for a year now, we have also been joined by my daughter Susanna, so the third generation is already somewhat part of the company. We don’t tend to experience the problems that can sometimes occur with the generational change, because although we all have different roles, we work closely with one another in a team, and we all put an enormous amount of energy and passion into our work. In the end, the elements that most determine a company’s success are the people that run it, and the decisions they make.
In terms of lifestyle, Minotti can consider itself a forerunner. How would you define the concept of Minotti style in a few words, and how has it developed over time?
The process of defining the brand identity began a long time ago. First and foremost, it led us to make an important effort in terms of developing the product, in collaboration with the architect Rodolfo Dordoni, with whom we have been working since 1997. Since then, the company has distinguished itself for its well-defined idea of lifestyle, each year designing and producing an entire collection comprising not only seating systems but also tables, chairs, storage containers, beds and accessories sporting a strong industrial design element and a series of aesthetic features that are now recognisable as characteristic of the company’s particular style. Abroad, the lifestyle expressed by Minotti is often identified with the term “timeless”, a concept we adore. We like to think that we create products endowed with characteristics in the aesthetics and quality fields that will enable them to stand the test of time.
You are famous for the detail of your designs which come from the world of fine tailoring, and the meticulous care that goes into the finishes. At the same time, you use state-of-the art technologies in your production processes and continue investing in research. What is your relationship with the manual skill and workmanship the Brianza district is famous for and how do you find the right balance between tradition and innovation?
What distinguishes us from the production point of view is precisely the inseparable combination of technology and tradition. All our products are finished to a high level of workmanship and we succeed in achieving a considerable quality of manufacturing by combining the opportunities that modern technology offers – such as the use of mechanised cutting machines that guarantee extreme precision – with the experience of a team that puts all their sensitivity and passion into their work, manually finishing the details that make our sofas and armchairs true tailored products. The company upholds design as one of its key elements: for each product, the high level of design is accompanied by a strong focus on the functionality of the product and the use of the most appropriate technologies. Over the last few years, we have continued investing more and more in research and development, and in particular in developing moulds, both for the production of the foams used for the new seats, and also in the die-casting technology used to create details such as the bases of certain armchairs or the feet of some of our sofas. We have also enhanced our collections by adding furniture and storage containers, made with production techniques that can be directly linked to the best cabinet-making tradition in Brianza. Minotti strives to become the contemporary interpreter of the know-how that requires each detail of the furniture to be meticulously designed, especially in relation to how it will be used. Therefore, for us, the ability to offer innovation in the field of industrial design moves forwards closely in line with the commitment to maintaining the heritage of craftsmanship accumulated over time, typical of our land. And this is truly one of the founding values of our brand.
You are one of the best-known and most popular Italian brands on the international market. What is the secret of your success abroad? How much of your turnover is accounted for by export sales?
It’s not really a question of a secret, but instead of a healthy, determined company strategy that leads us to achieve good results in all the markets in which we operate, which now number over 70. All the decisions made by the company: from the design of the product, to the quality of the production, to the kind of communication chosen, and the sales and logistics services offered, all of this is conceived and organised efficiently to ensure that we meet the requirements of an international clientele, since today approximately 85% of our turnover is generated by export sales.
When did the process of internationalisation begin for your brand? Which countries do you operate in? Which up-and-coming markets are you focusing on?
The process of internationalisation began many years ago. As early as in the nineties, and even before that, we began designing products that would also appeal to customers in foreign markets. Today we operate in over seventy countries, and focus strongly on emerging markets in South America, Africa and also Asia, even if we are aware that the current international situation presents various problems and so a certain degree of caution is required when it comes to many of the developing countries.
How are you organised in terms of distribution abroad? How important are the monobrand stores? How many do you have and where are they? What led you to choose the locations? Where do you plan to open next?
We have an international distribution network that takes into consideration the unique features and dynamics of distributing design furniture in the various countries. For example, in Europe we have built and consolidated over time a widespread distribution network in the top points of sale in the various countries, with monobrand showrooms in London, Berlin, Vienna and Madrid. In Asia we are only present in our single brand stores, which are, to all intents and purposes exhibition areas that allow us to fully and accurately convey the style of the brand, presenting the variety and wealth of our collections in refined architectural contexts where everything has been carefully thought out to create a true brand experience. Choosing our locations is a complex matter and we do it in close collaboration with our local partners: of course, the position itself is important, but we also consider the characteristics of the building and the size of the spaces, which must enable us to present our collections effectively. In the USA, we operate a mixed distribution system, that is, we are present in showrooms that promote design, and then we have our flagship stores in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami, opened in autumn 2015.
What is your relationship with design in general and, more particularly, with that of Rodolfo Dordoni? Each collection is fruit of a ten-year partnership that continues to successfully characterise the brand identity. What is your role in the creative process? How are the new collections created?
We began working with Mr Dordoni in 1997 and, collection after collection, our relationship that connects us and the artistry, which are still a long way away from wearing themselves out, continue to produce excellent results, creating products that obtain positive responses from the market and above all, continuing that progressive and constant process that defines our company identity. The cultural background, professional experience and sensitivity of Rodolfo Dordoni have certainly found fertile ground in our company, which effectively translates his ideas into finished designs. There is a rock solid sense of understanding between ourselves and Rodolfo, and the collections germinate and blossom in a climate that is fertile with shared ideas, inspiration and thoughts, thanks also to the essential support received from all those who participate in the production experience.
You have always assigned a high level of importance to advertising campaigns, seeing them as true manifestos of the Minotti lifestyle. What are your communication strategies for the future? Could the cultural differences of the emerging markets require a different type of style?
One of our strong points, which has contributed immensely to building and reinforcing our brand identity throughout the world, is certainly our communication campaign. Today we advertise in the main magazines in the fashion, design and lifestyle sectors, in over 35 countries, in a total of approximately 147 publications and over 1000 advertising pages.
Minotti accompanies this focus on the most appropriate means for reaching the reference target group with a determined quest to build images that strongly identify the company’s style, characterised by an original communication language that is recognised and liked everywhere in the world, and also, unfortunately, widely copied. It is essential that our communication strategies for the future take into consideration the changes in progress and also envisage a diversified market presence, tailored in terms of the advertising methods used, and with a constant focus on the different market situations. Rather than a diversified communication strategy, we tend to think more about a “glocal” approach: “global” in terms of the image and language that communicate the brand lifestyle and “local” in that it identifies the most suitable methods to be used in each country in order to connect with the various target groups.
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