Over to Bruno Allievi
Porada style in the world. A word with the CEO
Bruno Allievi, CEO of Porada
Porada was incorporated in 1948. How would you summarise the company’s history, which has spanned half a century, and in what direction is the brand now headed?
In 1948 Porada didn’t exist yet, except in the mind of its founder, Luigi Allievi, who at that time was a contract producer of chairs. The true turning point came in 1968, when Porada became a well‑defined company, adopting the name by which we know it today, changing from mere processers to producers of small furniture and proceeding to extend the range of different products available to their customers. From the very beginning, the company has chosen to participate in the Salone del Mobile Furniture Show in Milan, at which it won an award last year, marking its 50‑year attendance at the event. The other major milestone in the company’s history came the beginning of the 1990s when it participated in the fair in Cologne, an international showcase that opened its horizons to the worldwide export market. In the meantime, its work with various excellent designers enabled the collection to grow, and focus more on the elegant style and details which today characterise Porada products. As the years went by, the company began to take part in international fairs further afield, in Paris, Moscow and Dubai, in addition to the classic shows in Milan and Cologne. In 2013, the company took yet another essential step on its pathway to success, opening its first single‑brand store in London at the Chelsea Harbour Design Centre.
Italian style and Italian production continue to characterise value and quality in the world of furniture and design. How important are foreign markets and export for the company’s sales strategies?
The company’s decision to invest in international markets and in export has been tremendously successful. To date, export sales have grown and now account for 90 per cent of the brand’s total production. The most active markets are the United Kingdom, Russia, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia and the Arab countries. Over the last few years we have seen several new markets develop, such as Africa, where we have carried out some important projects and where the Porada style seems to be increasingly gaining favour as time goes on.
Manufacturing and design: what type of relationship does Porada have with the designers who work with them to create the new collections?
Rather than engaging the biggest names in the design world, Porada has always favoured working with a varied, skilled group of professionals, preferring to guarantee that the brand conforms to one style designed by the company, rather than several styles created by individual designers. We therefore strive very hard to ensure that the products designed by different designers are coherent with the same style. And the result is the “Porada style”, a mixture of elegant, practical products with simple designs and proportions.
Porada has always used a fine, natural material: wood. What role does technological innovation play in a company with a quality based on crafted products? In addition to wood, what other materials do you use?
We like to remember that wood is a living material, one that is continuously evolving, a fine material which must be approached with respect and skill. Over the years, Porada has successfully preserved the know‑how of the craftsmanship with which its products are created and implements this constantly in order to handle this material as effectively as possible. At the same time, we have strived to research the latest technological findings and this has enabled us to simplify and improve the production process, without ever disregarding the final human touch required to finish each single piece as one would a work of art. The other materials we use include crystal, marble and steel, which all integrate perfectly with our basic material, solid wood.
The contract and custom‑made production sectors are developing fast, especially for Italian companies, which offer a high level of quality, innovation and organisation. What kind of relationship does Porada have with these sectors?
The contract world is becoming an increasingly important part of Porada’s business. Over the last few years we have completed many large projects all over the world. Two hotels in Sochi for the Winter Olympics, a French casino, two large resorts in Africa, a school in Japan and many luxurious private homes. In general, hotels are our specialist field, thanks most of all to our ability to offer turnkey packages, in which Porada completely manages and furnishes rooms and public areas. In this sense, a certain ability to adapt is essential, and we manage to demonstrate our skill in this area with the custom‑made projects we complete to meet our customers’ requirements. Our contract catalogue is based on our residential solutions, but channelled to interpret the aesthetic and practical requirements of the hospitality industry. The result is a collection similar to our main catalogue in terms of taste and style, but adapted for use in the contract field.
Let’s talk about Porada’s presence in Italy and abroad. Can you tell us about the company’s single‑brand showrooms and its participation in trade fairs?
As I have already mentioned, for Porada, trade fairs have always been an essential showcase, a way in which our customers can “experience first‑hand” the quality of our products. For us, Milan is the main event. Here we invest an enormous amount of energy in presenting our range and it also provides us with the perfect occasion for meeting many of our customers. Paris, Moscow and Cologne are also important dates in our calendar. This year we will also be exhibiting our range on the other side of the Atlantic for the very first time, in Miami. As far as the single‑brand showrooms are concerned, our positive experience in London is forcing us to look further afield, and in particular, we are focusing on the Far East and the US, places where we are planning to launch single‑brand Porada stores in the near future.
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