From Friuli in Italy, Chairs by Billiani

Long known for its use of wood, Italian chair and seating manufacturer Billiani recently introduced a collection of upholstered furniture at the International Furniture Fair in Milan. It unveiled several variations of the wooden Gradisca chair by well-known designer Werther Toffoloni, who’s been collaborating with Billiani since 2004, along with the INKA collection by Roberto Romanello.  A+A recently interviewed Billiani’s Giulia De Lorenzi and Toffoloni, via email:

What’s the background of the company?

Founded in 1911, Billiani is a long-standing and family-held Italian company with its success based on simple but fundamental values and principles. The know-how in craftsmanship, the love of details, the search for maximum quality of all materials, processes, finishes and designs are handed down from generation to generation and shared with every member of the company staff. Over the years, Billiani has been specializing in the manufacturing of wooden chairs, stools and armchairs for the contract segment, enriching and evolving its product range continuously in order to satisfy always new and different needs of clients and applications.

The work of the internal creative team of Billiani is integrated by projects of renowned designers, such as Marco Ferreri and Aldo Cibic, Fabio Bortolani and Emilio Nanni, Maestri such as Werther Toffoloni and young International designers such as Paul Loebach and Daniel Fintzi. The result is a series of products that combines high-class contemporary design and top-notch ergonomics.

The intent of your design?

We create products that are aesthetically appealing and sturdy: comfortable, solid and well-balanced chairs to offer a valued and timeless product. The designer should be not only a technician nor a poet nor an artist: he has to understand the orientation of the market and to relate with the contest using his know-how and his creativity; for this reason, we don’t have to talk about design but we have to reason about industrial design that means design applied to the company.

The inspiration for your designs?

I draw inspiration from the principles of organic formalism based on the identity of function and shape. All along working in a company, side by side with the needs of the workforce, fed my willing to improve: during the post-war period a part of Friuli region was going to become “the chair district”, heading the traditional workshop to a mass production and international dimension. In this lively and hard-working humus the creativity was and still is stimulated thanks to the unceased interchange between the craftsmanship and new technologies.

The challenges of the work?

In this global market characterized by crisis it’s important to stay focused on concreteness and experience, the values that made this region great. In fact we don’t have to be teased with a superficial approach that wants only to shock the audience. For this reason it’s fundamental to have an in-depth experience of the entire productive process, from the beginning to the en. Moreover, to rely on a pre-prototype drawing in real scale allows to study every single detail and to prevent every kind of problem.

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