Category Archives: Architecture

A New Shop in 4 Weeks: Ermesponti ‘s designing and refurbishing of the Corneliani boutique in Florence.

florence skylineAn important part of Ermesponti emerged in Florence.

Paolo and I studied architecture and married there. With notebook and pencil in our hands we learned the most important lessons directly from the buildings of Brunelleschi, Michelangelo and Leon Batista Alberti. Of course we studied all the fundamentals of the discipline through lectures and extensive reading but we discovered the essence of the art of architecture by drawing the buildings again and again. In this way we learned the strong bond between head and hands – architecture and craftsmanship – and we understood how important method is in the arts of the Renaissance.

Back in Mantua we began to run the old workshop of the Ponti family. We transformed it with a completely new approach which we appreciated from the Florentine workshops of the Renaissance. It was a lean approach to architectural interiors. We decided to call it Ermesponti’s “end-to-end” method, which starts from scratch and goes to completion. This became the key to completing a range of projects worldwide. (Please see poddaponti architetti website here).

When we came back to Florence later with the task of refurbishing the old Corneliani boutique we were so enthusiastic to use our experience and method there. The location was so special as it was the Palazzo dell’Arte della Lana. It has such an important entrance hall from the Portico by Buontalenti and such an amazing fresco by Maestro del Bargello inside a niche on the ground floor. We immediately decided to apply the very first architectural rule we learned in Florence when we were students. We call it “Genius Loci” , which respects and highlights the character of the building. That’s the reason why here in Florence the Corneliani boutique retains the architectural features of this particular location. For example, the presence of the Florentine walls was completely respected and the displays reduced to a minimum. The colours of walls and other materials, like wood and marble, were given a slightly mat finish too.


Actually the culture of Florence and Mantua came together. On the main wall of the ground floor we obtained permission not to obstruct the fresco as well as the wall. We also designed an understated 3D monochromatic pattern as a background which brings to mind the brand of the company. This pattern was inspired by the frescos of Andrea Mantegna found in the Camera degli Sposi in Palazzo Ducale, Mantua. The company logo was located intentionally in that corner in the manner of Brunelleschi’s details evident in Cappella Pazzi.

brand wall

But our work as architects was not only concerned with design and architectural culture. Using Ermesponti’s end-to-end method, we were able to complete all the work on site in the space of five weeks. The director handed over the shop keys on February the 23. After demolition work , we organized everything from marble floors to ceilings and windows in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile we made bespoke furniture and installed it in one week while the electricians were finishing the Air Conditioning and lighting. We were able to give back the shop keys to the clients and open on the 12 of March 2016. That’s what we mean when we talk of a real turnkey project. ( Please have a look at the time schedule represented below).

time schedule

In the end we were so happy because the results exceeded our client’s expectations. We were also happy to bring back to Florence everything we had learned from the principles of architecture to the fine details of craftsmanship which is the essence of our Ermesponti’s approach to interiors.

Find out more on Ermesponti’s website.

London Design Week – The Ermesponti report.

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Last week the London Design Week 2016 was on so we went to the Design Centre Chelsea Harbour in different occasions.

The Design Centre in Chelsea always tries to offer the latest directions in interior design and displays a good example of global names of the luxury interiors.

During this week, the place has been buzzing with people especially interior designers and – actually – if you are an interior designer or decorator, this is the place to come.

There are more than one hundred of shops offering materials and products (fabrics, carpets, wallpapers, trimmings, furniture and lightining) ready to be screened. Some products we saw were really inspiring and we found really close to what we think is beauty, unicity and luxury.

Among them, the trimmings by the Sevinch Passamanterie were beautiful pieces of art, handmade by artisans who master a very antique technique in making tassels and trimmings. This artefacts are so precious and unique, they are mainly produced for royal palaces and historycal houses (like The Wallace Collection Museum where we took pictures of few tassels weeks ago, without knowing where they came from!).

This year, the London Design Week also offered some brief insight from the hospitality world with two events.

We found very interesting the experience of Pasrichan Sharan, who took care of developing the Hoxton, well known place where-to-go in Shoreditch, especially among young professionals. The task of his team was to find the potential right location, to understand the right target and how to attract them.

The same task, although with a more ‘mature / high-end’ target, was undertook by another guest, Brian Clivaz in developing and managing an exclusive men’s club in Soho, the Arts Club.

The room they concentrated on was the main lounge area, the social space, where people come and gathered together. In both experiences (young professionals the first one, royalties and high society, the second) design plays a very important role. In order to create a smooth atmosphere, bespoke interiors with a few design pieces are used, some are vintage, in order to give a distinctive but recognizable character, a lifestyle, they are trying to sell to the customer.

Very interesting was also the meeting with Bernie Gallagher, chairman of the Doyle Collection, a family company, owner of eight boutique-hotels located in Ireland, England and US.

As they move to redesign and transform their hotels, the main thread for all of them was to deliver something “to be desirable and forever”.

For this long project, Bernie has been working with the architect Denis Looby from Sheehan & Barry Architects, met long time ago. Amazingly, every Doyle Collection Hotel is bespoke-designed, each with “a wholly individual look and feel”, combining fine architecture with elegant, modern interiors. I felt the views  this lady shared with us were really sensible and condivisible: a good manager spends with care, invests in the long run, has to aim high to be sure to deliver the best. We think they spotted it.


1 – Ermesponti bespoke interiors has a London-based Export manager: to contact her is as easy as sending an email.

2 – Feel like checking out Ermesponti’s international references? Here you are!

3 – Ermesponti bespoke interiors has just completed a bespoke interior project in the heart of London.

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Peter Zumthor – an appealing holistic approach

Peter Zumthor from Ermes Ponti bespoke interiors blog.
A few years ago Peter Zumthor was awarded a Golden Medal by RIBA – Royal Institute of British Architects (Britain’s most prestigious prize for architecture).

By chance, I found on the Internet  the video of the lecture he gave in London for this occasion. I was so impressed by the similarities between his approach to architecture and ours that I cannot help talking about it… but first let me share the video of his speech.

The background
Peter Zumthor is the son of a cabinetmaker – like Paolo Ponti- and this could be the reason why both of them are so pragmatic and love materials rather than pure form. They are both architects by training and profession,  but in their blood there is still something about craftsmanship. Zumthor admits not being so concerned about Beauty (I mean the abstract architectural Beauty), but his work is more about “creating a space that is  just right for his purpose”. This has always been our first aim at PoddaPonti Architetti. Shall we say that function always comes first and beauty follows? (The rules of Vitruvius is all about this: Utilitas/Function + Firmitas/Permanence  = Venustas/ beauty).
 peter zumthor on ermesponti blog
The project.
One of the dreams of Zumthor is to design “a house without a form”. He set up a project starting from the site and the brief. That’s exactly what we do at Poddaponti Architetti and at Ermesponti. Each project is always site-specific and custom-designed according to the exact needs of the client (we never forget the lesson of “Genius Loci”).
Zumthor work on ermesponti blog
The process.
Zumthor defines his approach to the whole project as a “holistic process”– great expression!  We are not so keen on oriental language, but the concept we have in mind is exactly the by peter zumthorAccording  to our cultural legacy,  we rather prefer to call it “end-to-end process”. In fact the cultural background of this approach is the Italian Bottega or handicraft workshop of the Renaissance and the theory of architecture described by Leon Battista Alberti, which is still unrivalled nowadays. ( Even the most famous  entrepreneur of today, Steve Jobs,  set up Apple using these ideas)
peter zumthor workThe client.
He declares:
…if someone wants a Zumthor building, that’s not my client! If someone wants a well-made building, that’s my client!
He also adds:
I am not a brand
We haven’t  the privilege of Peter Zumthor who can choose and sometimes refuse clients, but we are lucky enough because our clients choose Ermesponti for the same reason of top quality. If they want a custom-designed, custom-made, personalized interior, they call us!
The aim.peter zumthor works on ermesponti blog
The title of the lecture was ” Presence in Architecture”  and this theme seems to concern Peter Zumthor the most. We agree with him. We believe that architecture is about creating “a sense of space”, of interior space, which is able to make an immediate impression on people who walk there. Of course we do not have the same tasks and the same big project, but, like him, we always search for this “presence” in our small project.  We should call it the fifth dimension, He talks about the aim of experiencing real architecture which is like the experience of real music. There is a historic relationship between harmony in these two subjects. We totally agree.
peter zumthor work: therme valsIn the end he compared ‘presence in architecture’ with the one we have in a pure landscape. He concluded the lecture with these last words:

You know what I mean. You have a feeling. You are in the world, you are part of the world and there is something bigger than you

That’s a good point for creative people! We create pieces of architecture, art or music, but not the whole world! We invent using our hands and brain and the legacy of the past. With a sense of humility we should say…
We are all little beings!
peter zumthor on ermesponti bespoke interiors blog

ermesponti interior design: the story in pictures of a small but significant piece of contemporary architecture in a Milan historic building.

Cornelian cylindrical tailor-room by ermesponti interiors


Directly from the architect’s notebook, the first idea of a circular  volume around a structural column. From a limit to an opportunity. From a structural column a pivot space around which revolves the design section of the entire store. Seeing is believing. ermes-ponti-interior-sketch


After talking to the architects, here’s the carpenter sketch (crumpled copy of the original) Mr. Alberto has done in order to build a small piece of contemporary architecture in a Milan historic building.


We are well under way; worksite is ready. The structural work is finished, including the cutting of a supporting beam and the seismic upgrading of the entire building. The time is right: our master carpenter Alberto goes to Milan for the last check on measurements. ermes-ponti-interior-3


With the sheet hand-drawn by the architects we’ve seen earlier, plus a 3D simulation that gives the idea of the the construction’s complexity, Alberto gets to work and in the ermesponti laboratory. Here we can see the pre-assembly stage. Building time: about 20 days. ermes-ponti-interior-2


Alberto is now putting his work in place. With just one assistant. With care, intelligence, passion and taste for a well done job. This job is his job; he cares for it because he’s been taking care of it since the very first conception.ermes-ponti-interior-4


After a few days, the store is completed. A VIP circular lounge serves as a hub between the 4 levels of the store. Do you realize how complex was this circular volume around a pillar to create? The absolute consistency between the first sketch and the fina realisation, throughout the whole process is a result of our method, the ermesponti, lean,  end-to-end process :-)Dettaglio interiors Corneliani Montenapoleone store by ermesponti


But the ideas don’t stop here… you can find them in the details as well. Do appreciate the rediscovery of an old hand-crafted leather with a drawstring, usually sewn in the corners. Here is renewed, making it a three-dimensional pattern of contemporary taste. This way of working it gives a “border” to the skin surface; the little cords draw strips of different thickness on the curved panels, according to the product niches positions, made in shiny Macassar ebony with polished stainless steel profiles.

A trip to San Vitale’s Basilica in Ravenna, with Paul Valéry and Leon Battista Alberti

Paul Valéry wrote in Eupalinos or The architect from the mouth of the Phaedrus:
And do tell me (since you are so sensitive to the effects of architecture), didn’t you notice, going around the city, that some buildings are mute while other buildings speak and some others – very rare –  sing?
Well, a few weeks ago, we visited one of the capital – almost forgotten – of our country’s history and culture: Ravenna.
Le volte della Basilica di San Vitale a Ravenna
Here you can find many buildings that – as Valéry would say – speak, and even some which sing (we thing that master Riccardo Muti would like them as well, since he said that the deepest music lies in between sounds and not in sounds themselves, just like architecture it’s the space defined between the columns, not in the columns themselves).
And what a song rises from the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna!
A song – after 1500 years – still very much alive, strong, clear. Unforgettable.
A song that can be defined as “spatial”.
In San Vitale the chant of architecture feels so complete, with all senses involved in space perception.
Veduta interna della Basilica di San Vitale a Ravenna

Roman architectural space here reaches its highest degree of “dematerialization” to the point that…. no place can be  more spiritual.

San Vitale puts the first stone of the development of all religious architecture of medieval Europe.
The circular architectural style, typical of Roman temples, becomes in San Vitale an organic system that breaks up the space in the direction of the centrifugal static forces.
The outer wall is almost denied, it is like a skin, moving and breathing.
The alabaster windows filter light like marble.
The thrust of the dome to the top is almost backwashing and the depth of the apse – crumbled by the immaterial light of the mosaic surfaces – steer straight for the “elsewhere”: the sky?
Mosaico alla Basilica di San Vitale a Ravenna
Even the original mosaics of the floor give an unusual depth… the feeling you get is like floating in a very sophisticated spatial dimension, almost immaterial.
A building is like a body
…wrote Leon Battista Alberti a few years ago (in 1450) in his De Re Aedificatoria and its harmony is the “concinnitas” of all parties.
This is exactly what fascinates in San Vitale.

The architectural body itself and the relationship between all its parts (from the walls to the opening, to the single architectural detail) elevates us to another dimension.

There is no direction; the floor and the dome will suck you in and everything seems to spin around.

How could a human creation, an architectural building, reach such levels of mysterious beauty?
More than men’s work, it looks like a creature of God: pure light and spirituality.

Yet, man has designed and built this architectural masterpiece.

It’s amazing how the mind and hand of man can reach such high levels of expression.

The architectural chant of San Vitale is moving – then as now – with a harmony that touches the deepest chords of the human soul.

L'interno della Basilica di San Vitale (Ravenna)


From a humble balcony in Verona to the luxury of Puli Shanghai. What’s behind a decorative pattern.

To travel is to learn.

We travel a lot – luckily our work leads us to realize bespoke interior a bit everywhere – and sometimes the mind makes unexpected and surprising connections. An example?

Motivo grafico su balcone di VeronaTrue story: imagine finding the same decorative pattern on a balcony in Verona and – an intercontinental journey later – at the Puli Hotel and Spa in Shanghai, as a partition of an extremely luxurious environment.Puli Hotel and Spa Shanghai

Maybe you’ll think that we take too many planes, and that jetlags have strange effects on us!

But, no: just look at the pictures and see for yourself these unusual coincidences… 

Venetian bricklayers share the same visual language with Asian luxury resorts?

Well, why not? :-)

Puli Shanghai

New interiors for your home or your retail business? In case you have doubts, here are our solutions.

We’ve been in business a long time, and our professional experience has taught us the questions that come to our customers’ minds when approaching an interiors project.

The following are some of the most common questions we have encountered in all these years.

Customers wander about some crucial questions and sometimes they are not very sure about where they can find the right answers. Or even if any answer is actually available at all on the global market of interior design, today.
Well, given the questions, we’d like to try to give the ermesponti answers…
Consider them the ermesponti manual to your interiors needs!

“How can I get a project for a special, cosy home, conceived and designed just for myself?”

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Ermesponti is a special place where architects and craftsmen work together for you.

We can really make your home reflect your personality. We made your own home as your best portrait: unique like you.

“Where are the highly skilled craftsmen I need to take care of my interiors project?”

Schermata 11-2456968 alle 21.32.22Your specific needs are, indeed, the only project you need.

Let the Project Masters interpret them (beware of designers uncapable of listening).

“Where are the highly skilled craftsmen I need to take care of my interiors project?”

Schermata 11-2456968 alle 21.34.40We can fit the bill.

And we do it by constantly working together – Architects, designers and artisans – as in a Renaissance Shop, in a continuous exchange of knowledge, experience, practice…

From the vision to the crafting: this is how ermesponti approaches projects.

“I need an architect and an artisan for my furniture… how can I spot such a team and have them working together for me?”

Schermata 11-2456968 alle 21.43.21We are both.  And work together for you.

Ermesponti provides a complete and full service: from the very first sketch to the final setup.

No multiple figures to talk to, stop the contractors crazy, long and overpriced game.

One shop + one person in charge + one job = result.

“I wonder how can I get a complete and full service for my bespoke interior.”

Schermata 11-2456968 alle 21.46.19We work from the very first idea to the final installation.

For ermesponti the essential conditions to start a custom project are clients’ requirements and building’s restrictions.

That’s all we need to deliver a very personal project and a 100% bespoke solution.

“Time and cost are essential to my interiors project: how can I make sure they’re taken into the right consideration?”

Schermata 11-2456968 alle 21.45.41Tight deadlines and well-defined budgets?

They are our priority, too.

They are the starting point for a real custom project; both custom-time and custom-cost.

“I love the high quality interiors of some yatchs .. I would like to have the same custom details in own home too…how can I get it?”

Schermata 11-2456968 alle 21.45.58We can manage all of these: yachts, houses, shops.

We love cross fertilization. At top levels.

Let’s do up your spaces! We love to do it together with you; we promise it will be one of the most significant experiences of you life. Creating from a white sheet of paper the new shapes and materials for your new customized interior!

“My interiors should reflect my life… that’s why I want to change it, now, I’m in for something new! Who can interpret my mood?”

Schermata 11-2456968 alle 21.50.07You’ll be amazed at how radical and powerful a change of interiors can be!

Change your world… your interior world, and make it absolutely, unmistakably yours.

Forget the “design-by” approach  and try the “designed-for” approach to life!

“I’ve had enough of overpriced luxuries of Brands design. Where can I turn to in order to have proper quality at proper price?”

Schermata 11-2456968 alle 21.51.31We design and produce excellent quality at a fair price, and we do it just for you.

No one else in the world will have your solution.

“I dream of a high-end (but normally priced) renovation, with handmade 
work and exquisite Italian taste and touch … where are the specialists for such a interior?”

Schermata 11-2456968 alle 21.51.02We are the one-stop shop for you.

We work directly from our Mantua premises for the whole world and all kind of brand and personal projects.

In short?

If you want to change the whole world, well, that’s hard stuff.

But if you want to change your own world- the space where you live and work – with ermesponti you can. And, believe us, the standard of your own life will change with it. Nothing compares to dwell in a bespoke interior where everything is according to your style and expresses you own personality.

Contact us: we’re sure you won’t settle for anything less than your bespoke, handmade, Italian interiors!


How would you design the interior of a house? Materials? Furniture? Design? No, sir: talking to who’s supposed to live there.

New York Interiors by Ermes Ponti

Whoever works in the interior designer industry, like us, can choose different approached to a new project.

She can choose to go the famous-design-object way.

She can choose to design and manufacture bespoke furniture.

Or else, all this can be left aside, to sit down and talk.

Talk and understand. Not only the residents’ needs, but also their taste.

Look around. Try to get the feeling.

Find the aesthetic and functional solutions for that specific person.

It may seem trivial, but almost everythng we see around is designed and manufactured with different criteria, often standard.

Something taking no account of the people who actually will leave in that space.

Take for example the house of an American writer, on 5th Avenue in New York, a project carried out thanks to the network Design-Apart of which we are partner (the project of “living showroom” head office of D-A on the 23rd is our work too – case history here).

It’s a flat with significantly particular tastes – far from our own, to be honest – but by no means despicable, of course.

Bright colours, ethnic flavor, different materials: many objects from all over the world, mixed together, for an environment with a defined personality, expression of the eclectic tastes of the hostess.

The project was born spontaneously as a reinterpretation of her own tastes, of pre-existing structures and its contenitive and functional requirements.

We have selected for her just a few samples, the ones you see in the picture:

Sample 1: a rare sycamore frisè shellac lacquered (natural gloss finish) with an hot orange-red colour, with an almost exotic flavor, suited to her ethnic taste

Sample 2: a very light – almost iridescent- sycamore grooved (flute), reminiscence of the Parisian decorations of the thirties of our colleague J-E. Rulhmann.

Sample 3: stone gray Sahara (on the top) suggested by the colour of the kitchen’s floor

New York Interiors by Ermes Ponti

The writer was thrilled to recognize herself in the choice of her designers, who came from Italy to propose her a kitchen retrieving the design of her beloved column.

She appreciated the selection of mixed colours and materials so consistent with her tastes and with the essences, materials and objects of art of her apartment.

Now she can say to have an apartment unique in the world; her best portrait! Finally!

NY Residential interiors by ermes ponti

Sounds easy enough, right?

Not so, appearently.

Each time is a surprise for us to find that very, very few work truly consider the real needs and tastes of customers.

A method that – if applied by the principle, from the beginning of the project – combines the advantage of a “tailored” job to the pleasure of a unique solution in the world, even for a house of two rooms.

New York Interiors by Ermes Ponti

[Photo gallery + video] The new Corneliani’s extension in via Montenapoleone, Milan

How did you spent your summer holidays? Seaside or mountains? We chose Milan, Via Montenapoleone. We only had month to do all the site works – furnishings included – for the opening of the new additional wing of the Corneliani’s boutique in Milan fashion high street (btw, the PoddaPontiArchitetti Studio mentioned on Corneliani’s website is… us: an architect firm within a handicraft workshop). 1-foto iniziale During the last week of July we gradually removed the fittings and demolished the wall to open and enlarge the ground floor space on the right side of the entrance. We did a thorough survey and started the furniture production. In the meanwhile, we organized the works on site from floor to ceilings, from lighting to plants. On August 22nd everything was ready to start the installation of our furnishing.

You’d never guess how difficult it can be to work together – bricklayers, plumbers, electricians and carpenters – in such a small room… But as we accepted the project, we knew perfectly how things should have been done.

panoramica alberto scala Despite all the problems of the site – including the problematic height of the stairs – we  were finally able to fit everything in a perfect way. All the cables behind the wall panelings, the air conditioning diffusers perfectly aligned with the ceilings and the furniture, impressive handmade wooden details on the new brand wall… dettaglio

Have you seen the brand wall, do you recognize it ? We designed this pattern for the first time for the facade of the Corneliani flagship in Shanghai reinventing it from the famous Mantegna‘s fresco of the “Camera degli Sposi” at Palazzo Ducale in Mantua.

After that, Corneliani decided to use it in his next winter collection and soon it became the new Corneliani brand pattern, also for the strong bond with the cultural heritage of Mantua, where the company is located. In Milan, you can find the brand wall in front of the entrance doors. It is built by backlit ebony circles and iron bracelets fixed on a chessboard of leather panels decorated by special drawstrings sewed on its backside (produced by our friend Berto Salotti in record time for us!). Please take a look at the impressive details of the ebony frame junction: we must thank our master carpenter Alberto for making them with such a loving care! brand wall The opening day was scheduled for the first week of September, but we were ready almost a week ahead! The Corneliani Creative Director – Mr. Sergio Corneliani in person – opened the doors of his renovated Montenapoleone store on Monday September 1st and, while doing so, was perfectly aware about the key figure to credit for such a perfect job: his trustworthy architect Paolo Ponti! foto finale

[Video] Three questions to Barbara Santoro, co-author of “Italian Factor”

Barbara SantoroWe had the pleasure of meeting Barbara Santoro a few weeks ago in Rome, at the presentation of the book co-authored with Francesco Morace, “Italian Factor – How to multiply the value of a country”.

While we have been following, with great interest, the work of Francesco Morace for many years, meeting Barbara Santoro was a revelation and a pleasure both for her entrepreneurial passion and  her talent for communication.

We asked her to answer a few questions for our blog.

ermes ponti – I understand that the book Italian Factor, co-authored with Francesco Morace, was your idea, “ a sudden intuition” as you put it.  Can you tell us what inspired you?

Barbara Santoro – – Like all apparently “sudden” intuitions this too was the fruit of a complex series of different events, personal and professional experiences and reflections.

The most significant of these goes way back to when I was seven, when my family and I emigrated to Canada.

The moment the Leonardo Da Vinci  left the port of Genoa, I became profoundly aware of being Italian, and when I finally set foot in Vancouver, I understood what it meant to be a foreigner.

The first few years were tough; I learned the language quickly enough, but there were more profound issues:  back then, being Italian was seen with diffidence and prejudice.

In the span of only a few years however, thanks to the talent, the courage and the entrepreneurial spirit of my fellow Italians, everything changed:  being Italian became something to be proud of and everything that was Italian, tasty, tasteful and masterfully crafted became extremely desirable.

I came  back to Italy many  years ago, and in my work with Italian businesspeople,  managers and professionals in every field, on the development of their international communication skills , I realized  just how precious my intercultural experience had been.  Because I learned, without a doubt, that each one of us, besides our individual talent, education and determination, can count on the added value of a brand which is universally recognized and positioned as the third most important in the world:  Made in Italy.

Because  the sheer fact that WE are Made in Italy means we can count on an extraordinary competitive advantage.

The question is: how can we leverage this heritage?

A year ago, or so, I was working with an entrepreneur who in a few days was going to have to take part in an international press conference, in Brazil, in English, for the inauguration of his project.

He was in a state of panic not because his English wasn’t adequate but because he didn’t know how to describe what he did in a few, effective words.  When I asked him the question he said: “it’ll take at least a couple of days”.

After a torrent of words I understood that his company “italianizes” huge construction projects in the world.  Simply put, they complete office buildings, hospitals, shopping centers, and hotels with finishings, flooring, fixtures, furnishings and art, strictly Made in Italy.  The result is, that without incrementing expenditures, and  staying within the original budget,  market value  and sales are increased by 30%.

The challenge was: how to tell the story not just effectively but with marketing flair?  How to condense genius, beauty, artistry, innovation, tradition, culture and the know-how of a family, a business a regional territory and a country?

I suddenly realized that the sum total of all these typically Italian attributes constituted in fact a business development “factor”, a multiplier of value, that could be expressed in three words:  The Italian Factor!

italian factorep – Let’s start from “The missing ingredient”… you mentioned it in your presentation  at the Chamber of Deputies in Rome.  What do you think it is?  And what is the recipe?  And finally, who do you think can benefit the most from it?

BS – Every company is unique; the specific ingredients may vary, but the recipe is the same in every case:

For every company or value offering we need to

1) recognize the value and uniqueness of what we have to offer (The Italian Factor);

2) acquire with humility and determination that which know and aknowledge is missing or weak;

3) study, study, and keep studying  the market, the competition, the trends and the best practices of the major players;

4) enter the International arena armed with the most appropriate and effective marketing and communication tools possible.

We  must use the language and the tools of communication (brand identity, country of origin heritage, narrative and storytelling) and marketing (relations-based and  cultural)  using the media channels appropriately: web-based, social and interpersonal.

In my experience with Italian companies, the “missing ingredient”  lies almost always in the ability to communicate and promote the unique value proposition with confidence, and absolute effectiveness not only in Italian but most importantly in English, the language of International marketing.

This, I believe is one of the most important ingredients, which combined with the distinctive qualities summarized in the “Italian Factor”, can give the necessary propulsive energy to people, enterprises and to our Italian economy.

ep  – You repeatedly stressed the importance of self-branding as essential for Italian companies:  where would you begin?  And which, would you say, are some of the best practices to emulate?

BS– I stress the point because the talent and creative originality of our “cultural heritage” is uniquely ours; it cannot be acquired or imitated, whereas the techniques and strategies of International marketing and communication can and must be learned.

To underestimate the importance of this often means handing over, on a silver platter, our brands and our excellence to foreign groups who know how to leverage, enhance and promote our distinctive quality characteristics  and cultural value summarized in “The Italian Factor”.

Best practices?

There are many among the brands which are fortunately still Italian-owned:  Prada, Tod’s, Cucinelli, Ferragamo, to name just a few.

But among those acquired and repositioned by International groups we have historic brands such as Poltrona Frau, Gucci, Fendi, Bottega Veneta, Cova and Acqua di Parma.

The list is long, painful to read,  and it cries out for serious reflection.

There may be any number of negative factors which can critically affect the life of a business: from inter-generational transition to the hair-raising evolution of new technologies, to the sudden challenges of socio-demographic changes and the threats of International competition from emerging markets.

But the same factors, if faced with entrepreneurial passion, creativity , courage and the drive to affirm the quality of our work, can profoundly modify the destiny not only of a single company but of an entire country.

We thank Barbara for kindly sharing with us her personal experience, her observations and her vision.

And now, a brief video excerpt from the “Italian Factor” presentation in Rome.