Paolo Timoni will be the first to tell you he knows nothing at all about design.
No, he’ll say, he’s a management consultant.
He’s spent much of his career in the states working with McKinsey on telecommunications clients, then on his own, helping turn around the Italian manufacturer of Vespa motor scooters.
Now he’s engaged in another kind of turnaround, on a much larger scale: he’s working with Italian companies and artisans still suffering from the economic downturn of 2007. Domestic demand in Italy has collapsed by 40 percent, so there’s excess production capacity.
Naturally enough, manufacturers there are beginning to eye the affluent markets of North America.
“Italy’s export-oriented, but of the 50 percent exports that go outside of the country, only eight percent goes to North America – the rest goes to Europe, Russia and the Middle East,” he says.
Thus was born IMAESTRI, the online platform and comprehensive resource for architects, interior designers and contractors here. Its goal: connect the best Italian artisans with the best possible North American designers.
“There’s a curation of the 30,000 Italian companies that are the best, by a few selected advisors,” he says.
The idea is to translate their paper catalogs into an online library of Italian furnishings, lighting, bath products, and wall coverings, allowing designers here to discover, shop and manage projects online.
“They can browse any time of day to see what’s possible and also the prices, and then collaborate with their client to make a decision,” he says. “We take care of all the fulfillment, and ensure that it’s brought to the U.S. and delivered.”
It seems a fair enough proposition: Italian artisans applying passion to their work, with North Americans appreciating its exquisite design.
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