Minotti opened its first UK flagship in London on 4 February. A 380 sqm unit in Margaret Street W1, the store (which is run by their local partners of 15 years, the European Design Centre) allows the Italian thoroughbred to present its entire range to the trade, while its central location and large, street-facing windows will no doubt help establish it as an alluring choice to UK consumers.
A clear leader in the contemporary Italian furniture sector, Minotti was set up over 60 years ago and despite being sold in 59 countries, is still family run by brothers Renato and Roberto Minotti. As well as sofas and armchairs, tables and coffee tables, beds, sideboards, bookcases and rugs, Minotti recently added textiles to its eclectic output.
See more images from inside the store and artistic director Dordoni's favourite pieces
Design direction and the concept for the new London space comes courtesy of Milanese born-and-bred Rodolfo Dordoni, the brands artistic director (below).
We caught up with Dordoni to talk design, Minotti and why he's staying positive about the economic downturn.
Dordoni started working with Minotti around 13 years ago, first designing individual products and for the last 11 years as artistic director. He defines Minotti's style as 'classico-moderno' rather than 'avant-garde', with more of an international style rather than just Italian.
Dordoni also insists that it is the style and type of construction, for example the upholstery on the sofas has a sartorial look, which singles Minotti out.
One of his favourite pieces in the new collection is the Helion sofa, which Dordoni also has at his home in Milan.
Another standout is the Smith 'panca' or bench, a horizontal seating system made up of individual 'bricks' of leather cushions laid side by side.
He recognzies how important the monobrand store has become. 'It used to be that design was just about things, individual pieces like a great sofa from Magistretti or lamp from Castiglioni,' he recalls. 'Now, by presenting the pieces in an environment like this, the customer gets to see them in context so you are really selling the whole style,' he says.
As for style, grey seems to be a signature colour for Dordoni, along with navy blue (his colour of choice for clothing) and brown. The collection also reflects his personal preference for natural materials such as wood, leather and stone. This year's new collection, which will debut at the Salone del Mobile in April, is themed nature, not 'in an obvious eco way but more in the sense of the materials'.
In addition to furniture design for Minotti, Dordoni also designs for a host of other important Italian producers; glassware for Venini, lighting for Flos, outdoor furniture for Roda and beds for Flou.
Current projects include two hotels, one in Castello Romano currently under construction near Rome and a 60-room hotel in Milan, in Piazza Bertarelli set to open in 2010/11.
Milan's best fusion restaurant Zero in Corso Magenta (see the 2009 Wallpaper* City Guide) is his work, as well as the top floor eatery in La Rinascente Milans historic department store, where he has just completed the entire men's section second floor with its impressive 7m ceilings. He is also currently working with boat makers San Lorenzo on a new range of 25m to 40m long boat, or as he calls them 'houses that travel'.
As far as the economic downturn is concerned, Dordoni believes it can only have a very positive effect on design. 'We have gone too far towards show and a type of vulgarity,' he insists. 'People have been too weak and spoiled and failed to develop their own style, and instead everything and everyone looks the same.' Now he hopes 'we will move towards something more discreet, not so much austere but perhaps more sobre. A change in priorities should result in something less exhibitionist, more sane and more tasteful'.