Category Archives: People

What’s a carpenter, for us at ermesponti

It’s easy to say “carpenter”.

In ermesponti we grow this ancient craft with care and respect.

Falegname presso ermespontiMany of our “falegnami” (the Italian wording our international customers don’t know) are actually master carpenters, who learned to work with wood, over the years, project after project, within our company.

In ermesponti, from the owner – who, despite fifty years of entrepreneurial history has always wanted the word “carpenter” on his ID – to be a carpenter means to be at the heart of the company, Signor ermes ponti,titolare dell'azienda omonima, al lavoro con un falegname where “thought” becomes “act” through the work of hands, and then returns then to thinking phase in a constant and smooth process, with no separation between “those who think” and “those who make”.

In ermesponti “thinking” and “making” are two perspectives of the same glance, two phases of the same project, two moments of the same day. There is no separation between the work of the mind and the work of the hand, regardless of the business roles.

Un falegname di ermesponti (Mantova, Italy) al lavoroThis constant “dialogue” between thought and action is a continuum that leads, in our opinion, to excellence in the production of a piece of interiors, whether residential, retail or yacht.

On a practical plan, here’s how the work is organized.

Every carpenter is responsible for its own work and its own micro-project (the part of the job covered in the specific work phase).
After talking with the architect on drawings, an ermesponti carpenter draws by himself the computer tabs needed for production, then cuts the panels with the CNC machine, so to achieve pinpoint accuracy even in the most challenging process; finally he completes the most important parts manually and assembles the furniture in the lab before the painting step, to verify its perfection.

This approach, simple yet not trivial, allows us to increase widespread creativity, while the natural problem solving of the artisan works together with the architect.

That is how we create value for our customers.
“If you want to be an architect, learn to be a carpenter”

We definitely agree, Mr. Shu!

Falegname al lavoro presso ermesponti Mantova

What’s luxury? Just unnecessary goods for the rich, or something more? And a quote by Mr. Riccardo Muti.

The media often refer to Luxury as one of the contemporary obsessions.

And off with diagrams (the capitals of luxury and so on), European market figures (17 billion), growth trends (400 million people, consumers 35-40 yrs. old in continuous growth), by top consulting firms… and even customer labels: socialwearer, experiencers, absolute luxerer.

A quote about the latter:

The most coveted prey (notice: prey) among top companies, she’s the rich, refined, elegant absolute luxurer.
She belongs to the European elite and the Happy Few emerging market, spends on clothes and watches but also for travels and wines, with a particular attention to everything unique and customized. She generates a market worth billions of euro per year at a cost of 30,000 euro per person.

They even invented a “Luxury barometer” (measuring the tendency to future spending), according to which the global trend is growing (-5% from 2014 to + 15% in 2015).

Also the growing interest of consumers in respect of social and environmental sustainability is growing (from 8% to 13%), especially in Europe and the US.

All of this comes in addition to other values, increasingly relevant ​​to those in need of a product: quality, craftsmanship, exclusivity.

All positive concepts and values – obviously – especially for our beloved Made in Italy that, despite the painful contraction of the domestic market, still stands as one of the largest exporters of these goods defined luxury.

But then I think…

What’s luxury for real?

Can we accept – as Italians – to reduce the idea of luxury to unnecessary goods for the rich? Can we tolerate a concept of luxury merely linked to exclusivity and price, as suggested by the media?

Mr Riccardo Muti helps us in this with the great interview he gave to  Nicoletta Polla Mattiot. He said:
“Luxury is a whisper” 
Intrigued, I look further, and I found a wonderful articole on his Facebook Official page: “The luxury of being Italian.”
Sounds even better, thank you mr. Muti.
Il lusso di essere italiano (Muti)
Mr. Muti’s Idea of luxury is freed from numbers and market values, to approach intangible values:
Everyone should study music (note: or architecture, which in the Renaissance was the same thing): it refines the soul. It leads us towards a better society
I fully agree.
And, what does Mr. Muti look for, when creating music?
What you do not see. What lies beyond. Mozart used to say that music is deeper in the middle, between the sounds and in the sounds
(Just like architecture: not in columns but in the spaces between the columns…).

And yet, the Mr. Muti expresses pride in being Italian: “Being born in Italy is a privilege. I’m proud of my passport and I’d like no other.”

He continues: “As an orchestra leader, I can follow the musical lines of 120 people playing together. I can follow them altogether, but I also perceive each one of them. They all move forward to a common goal: beauty”
And finally, on luxury:
There’s a wonderful luxury offered by music (notice: offer, for free); intensity in elegance, slow and intensive playing, as Toscanini taught us. by Toscanini. It’s also a way of life. Feel the simple, topical difference between screaming “I love you” or whispering it
Touching, isn’t it?
Says Mr. Muti: “I think music shouldn’t be a privilege for the few, but a right for everyone. And it’s a public issue to teach it. No one can own the music.”

Luxury can be seen, therefore, as intangible, cultural, almost spiritual. Is the invaluable value that has shaped the spirit of our culture, in the forms of our art, music, architecture, literature.

We try to define it, but we can’t; it sure is “a whisper” more than an obsession. We can all hear it, but few people really feel it, because it’s not in things, but between things, beyond things.

The story continues or not? Thank you Mr. Chipperfield.

Flipping through the slick pages of one of the most famous Italian design magazines (Interni 650)  I felt lost. The issue is about the last Salone del Mobile 2015 and its size seems bigger than ever, boasting over 400 pages about all the new collections, products and trends launched by Italian and international big brands.
It is the “Design by” apotheosis,  of course. The polar opposite of our Ermesponti approach to the project of a bespoke interior; for us it’s “designed for”, unique, like the best portrait of each client. It doesn’t matter if it is going to be a retail interior,  a home or even a yacht.
But finally, 30 pages before the end,   I found something very special that enhances the whole magazine.
Here I found some very interesting interviews with the leading
figures  of this  design season: from the omnipresent Michele De Lucchi Rome's Valentino Showroom by Chipperfield Architects - From ermesponti's blogwith his new studies “La passeggiata” for the workplace,  to the undisputed design star, Antonio Citterio, or the brilliant Gabriele Centazzo… just to mention a few of them. Every interview was really readable and fascinating, I must admit that one in particular was super special for me as I feel a strong affinity with each quote of the interviewed person, the British architect David Chipperfield, of whom you can see, above – the Valentino Flagship Store in Rome, just to name one of his extraordinary projects.
He and David Chipperfield Architects in Milan also  designed the new Driade Showroom Milan by Chipperfield Architects - From ermesponti's blogshowroom of Driade in via Borgogna (shown)  as a neutral, pure, simple container conceived as an art gallery space.
Let’s go through a few of his remarks.
” All of us – as human beings first and then as architects, designers or art directors – face a universal challenge to grant meaning of life”.
It may seem too philosophical, but I really liked this quote as one of the most significant aims of everyday life for each of us. I am not joking.  If we reminded  ourselves of this each day, the world could really change into a better place.
When he was asked to take part in the new Driade adventure he commented:
“I did immediately respond. I am an architect, I don’t know how to be an art director. In the end it’s all a matter of having ideas”.
I love such kind of humility, but also the precise sense of the final answer which  concerns the essence of  invention both in architecture and in industrial design – having ideas. Once, during the initial period of Italian design after the war, all the designers were architects by training and profession (Gio Ponti, Carlo Scarpa,  Achille Castiglioni and so on…). They combined the cultural heritage of the theory of architectural composition with the culture of making of small Italian companies in the Brianza district of furnishing. They did a revolution, using their simple problem-solving approach and the legacy of Italian architecture and applied art.
And also when he was asked about the “Common Ground” (the theme of the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale curated by David Chipperfield three years ago) between design and architecture, he continued:
“Architecture is design. Everything is a project.”
Of course, he explained better, saying that
“the information involved in the design of a museum is much more complex than what goes into the design of a table”
…and not only the info, we should also say the skills and the sense of space. He also recognized he doesn’t have “the particular ability furniture design needs to have” – he also mentioned Mari, Morrison, Grcic – but in the end he admitted again, as an excuse: “I am an architect”.
I appreciated and admired the crystal-clear answers of this giant of contemporary architecture. Behind his British aplomb and savoir-faire, I recognize his subtle opinions not only about how it is super difficult making architecture in Italy (“especially if the public administration is involved”). This is – unfortunately – undeniable. Talking about the future of the “healthy fashion and design industries” he warns…
“that  they should not be squandered, though it could happen very quickly”…
Pay attention, guys: everyone has been warned by David Chipperfield ‘s brilliant considerations.
Chipperfield seems to suggest that the wind is changing for the world of design. He goes to say:
“it’s a new question because we have to start asking ourselves David Chipperfield architecthow many new products we really need, to be more aware, to formulate a different idea of growth. We have gone from needing to wanting and design has shifted from supplying necessary goods to stimulating the desire for things that aren’t needed. This is why we have to be more aware of the role of design and products. It is a big commitment for a furniture brand that has to carefully evaluate the quality and durability of things. The project has to have integrity and that happens when it has a reason to exist. “
The first quote was not so theoretical, we agree with you and take note, thank you, Mr. Chipperfield.
(Daniela Podda)

The Ten Commandments of “Crescita Felice” (Happy Growth), a book to read and… some thoughts.

morace-crescita-feliceWe’d like to finish this series of posts dedicated to Francesco Morace with a small extract from his book “Crescita Felice – Percorsi di futuro civile” (Happy Growth, referring to a way of making economy grow, in a sustainable way).

In particular we find very inspiring the “10 Commandments” for a Happy Growth, at the end the book:

  1.   Grow up on the difference, like nature does
  2.     Accept body challenge and mutual recognition
  3.     Enhance the unique encounter between people and places
  4.     Create an ethic of ties, beyond religions and ideologies
  5.     Give space to vital pragmatism beyond media
  6.     Follow the happy approches beyond exaggerated desires
  7.     Understand real life memory, beyond virtual dimension
  8.     Cultivate the sustainable trust chain
  9.     Refocus on public vision
  10.     Win back the art of making decisions

Which of these principles feel most relevant for us?

Well, while reading prof. Morace’s book it we felt very close to his whole point of view.

As a matter of fact, we’ve taken part in its Milan presentation, both in person and online with the live twitting and Storify event, and we broght back a lot of food for thought, so… here are our little thoughts, which may not be as bright as Francesco’s but… :-)

  • The concept of “Happy comsumption”, often mentioned at the presentation as well, reminds us of the ermesponti tailoring experience in which the customer is at the center of a unfogettable experience that ranges from the tailored design to the realization of its desired interior space to live

  •  The lifestyle portrait of the person who lives in a home, makes us think about point 3, where the encounter between people and places is described as “unique” 

  •  Als on the concepts of “genius plus” combined to architectural “genius loci” defines an affinity between the client and the location, pillars of our work

  • The “new zero km” concept, in ermesponti applies to the close relationship with between us and the customer, who’s fully involved both in the planning and in the production, according to the ermesponti method

  • The sustainable trust of point 8 is siomething we enjoy every day since many many years, from our clients and partners

We wish you all to enjoy such a refreshing reading, and thank you prof. Morace for inspiring us!

From our Twitter channel, the 02/19/2015 live tweeting on the presentation event of Francesco Morace’s book “Crescita Felice”

Crescita Felice di Francesco MOrace: live tweeting by ermespontiIt was February 20th, 2009, when Professor Morace launched “Il Senso dell’Italia”, which gave rise to the adventure of Italian Rennaissance and to books about a company’s own talent, which also involved us of ermesponti.

Exactly six years later, February 19th, 2015 – in the same Hall of Honor of the Triennale in Milan – Francesco Morace launches a message of optimism and hope for our country just from the title of his new book:

“Crescita Felice”
Percorsi di futuro civile

In our own way, we would celebrate this event with an open sharing of the concepts that Francesco Morace will explain, through our Twitter channel @ermesponti with the hashtag #CrescitaFelice.

It’ll be a pleasure to dedicate a complete live tweeting to the presentation of the book and the ensuing debate, from 6 pm up to the end of the meeting.

See you online on @ermesponti, following the hashtag #CrescitaFelice!

[Video] Happy growth: Francesco Morace’s economic recipe in his new book. Save the date for presentation: Milano Triennale, Feb 19th.

We all want  our economy to grow, and do so happily.

If the suggestion of “happy decrease” never quite convinced you, if you’re looking for a sustainable path for economic development, if you think that the beautiful and the “well done” still make sense in this little crazy world of ours… this book, written by our friend Francesco Morace, is probably the right choice for you.

On rather: for us :-)

See you at the Milano Triennale, Thursday, February 19, 2015 for the presentation of the book “Growing Happy” by Francesco Morace – Egea editions.

Santoni Italian shoemakers: the beauty of craftsmanship which binds us together.

Reading the book “Costruttori di bellezza”, which we recently mentioned, we noticed that many things about crafting feel familiar, no matter the industry you’re talking to.Schermata 02-2457055 alle 09.49.10

Santoni is an artisan shoe company, extraordinary in many ways, not least its reality of 500 employees and worlwide exports.

ermesponti is something entirely different, even though design and craftmanship apply in the everyday work of our teams, in order to create unique interiors – be it commercial or residential.

Yet… let us mention some parts we read in the book that we feel particularly familiar with:

P. 51
Leisure time of a younger Andrea Santoni, founder of the company:

“From six year-old onwards, once I’d finish working at Bruè, I also worked in small workshops to round up. And I would work there till around midnight, then go home, always walking. For a short time, when I was 25, I’ve also helped my parents to work on the fields.”

Andrea Santoni con il fratello

P. 72
Technological developments in relation to craft skills:

“Once, everything was handmade. Today, in the shoe business there are high-tech machines, but the manual conveyor is still pushed like in the past: with the hands. For some respect, in Santoni we worklike we did sixty years ago. “

P. 99
On how to deal with the actual economic crisis:

“Do not change the way you work, for the sake of the economic crisis. We have to continue investing even more on the know-how and on quality. A positive attitude that proved to be successful.’

That’s what Giuseppe Santoni replied to a journalist who asked him what was the best idea to face the global economic crisis began in 2008.

It’s a pleasure for us to get to know better the  Santoni  by reading these pages: it’s an example that inspires our work.

…And how many excellences such as theirs we have in Italy? 

Schermata 02-2457055 alle 09.42.20

Speaking of Art and Crafts: a book, a few thoughts and best wishes from ermes ponti for 2015.


Passionate as we are of well done work – the work of which we try every day to be Italian masters – we came across an intriguing book.

We’re talking about Costruttori di bellezza – Filosofia della calzatura maschile secondo Santoni, book published by Marsilio and dedicated to the shoes company Santoni, located in the Marche region.

We’d like to share some views on the presentation of the work and also a wish to our ecosystem, made of customers, suppliers, craftsmen,  friends and talents.

First, the storytelling of work is as important as the work itself.

We realized that  the “savoir faire” must include a “faire savoire” attitude. This, in the first place, made us like this book right away.

Secondly, nowadays it’s important to put the work of Italian companies at the center of general attention: it’s an essential support to our economy!

Let’s mention two cases, of which we’re part: Rennaissance Link and Italian Factor.

Finally, it’s time to create contacts and relationships not only for the usual activities of production and sales, but focused on relationship and networking.

And about the wish…

Simple: let all this… just come true, in a spirit of renewed confidence and renewed competitiveness of our ecosystem, because it does have the numbers to win any goal.

A Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2015 to all!

“I’d like a nice table, for my kids to do their homework.” Story of a table… almost perfect.

ermes ponti: tavolo wenge su misuraThis is one of those stories we really like, in which we can find what we love more about our work:

  • direct relationship with the customer
  • possibility to create made-to-measure  furniture
  • a feeling for beauty and functionality (utilitas-venustas, from Vitruvius and so on…)
  • intelligent use of resources, ecologically and environmentally speaking
  • attention to the choice of the essence, in relationship with the specific home

Remember the song we used to sing as children?

To make a table, you need wood, to make wood, you need a tree…

This time we couldn’t sing it, because the table we’re about to tell you about was made without cutting any tree.

The story starts with a lady, a customer of ours – whose home we know well, having furnished it with tailored solutions.

She turned to us asking for a simple object, but with a specific functionality:

“I’d like a nice table by the fireplace, for my kids, to do their homework.” 

A special challenge  for us: something to work on both in terms of design and as a realization project… just like we always do, as a matter of fact!

First of all, knowing that our customer cares for the environment, we took the opportunity to propose a “zero impact” solution:

The table will be made exclusively with spared wood, in small pieces. No extra fees for the material.

“Interesting”, said the customer. Tavolo su misura eremes ponti

Indeed, it was the opportunity we were waiting for to use scraps of fine true Wengè wood.

Beautiful bits we were keeping aside, awaiting for a chance like this.

The re-use idea, if you think of it, does belong to our architectural culture, from the Roman walls to the Byzantine mosaics, and the Venetian terraces… nothing new under the sun!

The challenge was accepted – not without doubts – by our most meticulous carpenter, Alberto.

He saw from the beginning the opportunity to create an extraordinary piece, but also the difficultiesto get the work done: long time, difficult processes, uncertain result… ermes-ponti-tavolo-wenge-bespoke-4

We decided for a 43×43″ plan, polished surface, untreated or perhaps with a film of oil citrus sprayed hot. Then 2″ thick edge.

A quick sketch to explain the idea and then we were all set.

Alberto is happier now:

The effect of the combined veins of the different types of Wengè, ranging from black to various browns to white, creates a mosaic in which each tree tells a different story. Without doubt, a very special table.

ermes-ponti-tavolo-wenge-bespoke-2The thicknesses of the table has been decided with our brass expert.

The top, very heavy, needed triangular supporting elements to make it more stable… they too have been coated in Wengè, while the burnished brass edge is left exposed.

The work of Alberto is now an amazing piece, something to be proud of.

Finished, then?

No: we realised by looking at it that a round table may not be the best to do schoolwork on, especially to draw.

So we cut a slice of it… should we call it the beauty of Japanese imperfection wabi-sabi?

However – even if the customer says she is very happy – we have a feeling we’ll need to wait until the schoolyear is over, to know if the table served its purpose as expected!

Tavolo ermesponti fatto a mano con scarti di wenge

Three questions to Francesco Morace, co-author of “Italian Factor”

Francesco Morace

We’ve been following for a while now, with attention and participation the important work of the sociologist Francesco Morace, of whom we have already spoken on several occasions.

A particularly interesting event has been the presentation of his last book, co-written with Barbara Santoro, “Italian Factor” at the Chamber of Deputies in Rome in July.

Having been there with the authors, we’ve had the chance to ask some questions both to Barbara (interview here) and to Professor Morace.

With him, we started out recalling the experience with the cultural project “The Renaissance Link”.

ermes ponti – The Renaissance Link and Italian Factor: two parts of the same cultural path?

As you know, we keep track of all your steps…

Francesco Morace – Even before Renaissance Link, my cultural path about Italy has started with two books: Italian Ways in 2003 and Il senso dell’Italia in 2008, in which you can find  the foundations of an Italian Renaissance, starting from the lack of awareness of our uniqueness.

With Renaissance Link, we created an Association able to deal  with such issues, by creating awareness in companies and institutions.

After 4 years, 50 presentations in Italy and 3 books (Verità e Bellezza, Talento dell’Impresa and Impresa del Talento), we thought that the aim of raising public awareness had been reached and we decided to dissolve the Association, and set each one of us free to continue with its mission individually.

This is also one of the reasons I accepted with enthusiasm Barbara’s proposal about the book to write together.

ermes ponti – You rightly report, in your speeches, examples of excellence.

A tip for all the Small Businesses operating in the market average, without peaks of excellence, but without ever betraying the “good trade”?

We believe that, among the 120,000 factories that shut down in Italy recently, there were some quite valuable, even if not outstanding… what do you think?
italian factor
Francesco Morace – In this regard, let me mention an article in which I try to clarify the difference between Luxury and Excellence: the “good trade” is part of the culture of excellence but it’s just not enough in difficult times such are these we live in.

To this, we must add the fact that Italian tradition hasn’t innovated enough. 

The vast majority of the 120,00 businesses that have closed were, unfortunately, not equipped in this dimension.

ermes ponti – Politics in business: easy relationship, as we all know…

Where would you start to establish a dialogue with value?

Francesco Morace – I believe that politics is always a reflection of a country and its vices/virtues.

We are the ones who choose the political class, that way the change will have to be deep, and arrive even in the foundations of being Italian.

However, it seems that the new political season that Renzi and the PD have launched will bring positive developments.

We need to bring along a new awareness and collective responsibility, a new focus on the common good and to the possibility of a happy growth.

This is exactly the focus of my new book, which will be published with Egea in January 2015, called “Crescita felice. Per una economia civile”.