De Padova 28.01.16

DePadova

Reinvigorated by its alliance with Boffi, the venerable Milanese brand is venturing outside the Italian market, says David Michon

Fernando and Maddalena De Padova made their name in Milan as the first to import the now-classics of Scandinavian design in the 1950s, and then by launching an eponymous furniture brand in 1984. Yet they never made major waves outside Italy. Today, however, De Padova is poised to take that step – with help from Boffi, which purchased the company in April.

Action has been swift: Boffi’s art director, Piero Lissoni, has already minimally refined (“invisibly retouched”, he says) a handful of De Padova designs, with the remainder to be revisited by Salone del Mobile in April 2016. And, since October, De Padova has a new showroom – an opportunity to convey the brand’s updated message.

Having occupied a prominent shop on Milan’s Corso Venezia, with double-height windows looking onto two busy roads, the showroom is now tucked away – a destination – in what was once the atelier of Dolce & Gabbana. It’s designed with great intimacy, reflecting a focus shift from “furniture” to “living”: it’s as if you’re walking into someone’s (very stylish) apartment. Partnerships with Altai, Flos, Gaggenau and Domenico Mori, among others, pull together almost turnkey-solution rooms, from bedroom to kitchen. “It was our idea for many, many years to integrate Boffi with another company – to bring our activity to the rest of the house,” say Boffi’s chief executive, Roberto Gavazzi.

From the late 1990s it had looked for the right partner, but never reached a deal. Talks began with Maddalena 15 years ago, but she was unwilling to push De Padova abroad. In 2010, her son Luca took over and, though he was more open to the idea, he still needed convincing: “He’s a careful man,” says Gavazzi. Economic difficulties in Italy, however, meant that few options existed but going international, and Boffi – another Italian brand of high quality – was a cultural fit and a global platform. De Padova will now be popping up in Boffi showrooms, from Denver to Shanghai.

 

Words

David Michon

 

Above: De Padova describes its new space as “a big industrial loft”

quotes story

It was our idea for many, many years to integrate Boffi with another company – to bring our activity to the rest of the house

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