To launch her furniture brand, Marta Sala plucked more than one decree from the rulebook of her uncle Luigi Caccia Dominioni, one of Italy's greatest post-war architects.
'In my uncle's time, spaces were conceived entirely by the architect,' explains Sala. 'They designed not just the walls but all of the objects too. It was all thought out according to the needs of the owners.'
Sala's new project, a 12-piece furniture collection entitled Marta Sala Editions follows much of the same logic. Sala is not only the CEO and owner of the burgeoning enterprise, but also muse to Claudio Lazzarini and Carl Pickering, the first of what she hopes will be a roster of cherry-plucked architects behind the brand's designs.
The team spirit very much reflects the collaborative approach that Caccia Dominioni fostered in 1947 when he founded the furniture label Azucena in Milan with fellow architects Ignazio Gardella and Corrado Corradi dell'Acqua, along with his wife Franca Tosi and Maria Teresa Tosi, Sala's mother. 'Caccia designed [the furniture], while my mother produced it,' explains Sala, who started working at the family company herself more than 20 years ago, and left only in January last year. 'My mother had a very close relationship with my uncle, and she was the one to say, "yes, this is working" or "no way."'
Sala has reproduced the same intimacy with Lazzarini Pickering, a Rome-based duo whose pieces mingle functionality and intelligent design with the highest quality handcraft, and promise long, useful service. 'It's about designing pieces that have limitless possibilities and can sit in a real house,' says Pickering.
The prices in this collection are not astronomical. 'I don't want to be Promemoria or Armani or Hermès,' she says. 'Bauhaus is my guide here, they had the best quality, the best design at the best price.'
The company's new showroom, also designed by Lazzarini Pickering, features a maze of graphic painted stripes on the walls and is lined with contemporary art. 'It's definitely not the clean white showroom that everyone else has in Milan,' Pickering observes. 'I think it's going to shock a lot of people.'
The only person it likely won't shock? Caccia Dominioni himself, who is still alive at age 101. 'I'm looking forward to his judgment,' Sala says, hopefully.
For the full, unabridged version of this article, turn to our May 2015 issue, W* 194 - out now