Let the product and quality do the talking. The century of Calligaris

calligaris, design, salonemilano

Calligaris, Stand, Salone.Milano 2023

“We couldn't be happier with this historic milestone and, with our values, we’ll continue to write further chapters of the innovation and service that have always distinguished us.” Conversation with President Alessandro Calligaris and Nicola Girotti, Head of Product Design Pininfarina 

A story that began in 1923 at Manzano, a town in the province of Udine in Italy, when Antonio Calligaris founded a small workshop where the timeless Marocca chair was created. Today Calligaris boasts 100 years of tradition and craftsmanship and is celebrating them with the reissue of the Orbital table designed by Pininfarina in 2011. 

The relationship between tradition and innovation: the main stages, from the Milano 1966 chair to the restyling of Orbital to mark your 100th anniversary.

Alessandro Calligaris: Innovation has always been one of the pillars of the company. We’re always on the lookout for innovation in both materials - just think of our new fabrics derived from recycled PET or ceramic table tops combined with glass - and projects. We’re among the companies most widely recognized for the different extension systems of our tables. Even historically we have distinguished ourselves by our ability to innovate. And though we started with a single product in a single material, we slowly expanded the catalogue, offering different products - first of all the table, and then continuing with padded furnishings and accessories - in different materials, from plastic to glass as well as all fabrics. 

Was Orbital chosen for a particular link with your 100th anniversary?

Nicola Girotti: To  celebrate its first 100 years, Calligaris wanted to revisit some of the most representative products in its range. The Orbital table is certainly among the most iconic pieces in the company's history. Designed in 2011, it received the prestigious Interior Innovation Award the following year. Returning to the project and studying the restyling was a natural process. 

What were the changes made to the initial project?

N.G: The company's aim was to revisit some iconic products for its centennial, making them more timely without distorting their identity. The approach we followed in restyling was to make the object more contemporary and customizable. The new Orbital is the outcome of a process of rationalizing the lines. The forms are lighter, while expanding the surface area of the top enhances the uniqueness of the technologically advanced automatic extension mechanism.  

When did the transition from subcontractors to the Calligaris brand take place, and from wood to other materials (metal, plastic, leather, glass)? Do you have a material of choice?

A.C:  Since the 80s we have started to introduce other materials, but I have to say that wood is always our distinctive feature, and I felt the need to add tables to the chairs. From this all the other categories gradually arrived. 

You have been president since 1986. What did the transition to the third generation represent?

A.C: For me the company was an opportunity to grow, and we grew together. Since I joined I’ve tried to expand the sale of products in new markets by interpreting the tastes and needs of the market. Taking part in many fairs around the world has enabled me to develop, while our roots remain firmly embedded.  

From the first collaborations with designers such as Franzolini, Lucci-Orlandini, Iosa Ghini, until today.

A.C: We’re organized with a style office that works with a number of external designers. My idea has always been not to choose starchitects but to let the product and quality speak for themselves.   

calligaris, salonemilano

Alessandro Calligaris

calligaris, salonemilano

Calligaris, Stand, Salone.Milano 2023

calligaris, salonemilano

Calligaris, Stand, Salone.Milano 2023

calligaris, pininfarina architecture, table, salonemilano

Calligaris, Orbital, restyle, design Pininfarina Architecture 

calligaris, chair, franzolini, salonemilano

Calligaris, Colf, design Franzolini, 1987

calligaris, table, pininfarina architecture, salonemilano

Calligaris, Orbital, restyle, design Pininfarina Architecture 

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21 August 2023