"MDF Italia, pushing to the limit" says Marco Cassina

MDF Italia showroom

MDF Italia showroom, MDW21

With “supersalone” just over and the 60th anniversary of the Salone fast approaching, Marco Cassina, Marketing & Communication Manager of MDF Italia, gives us his impressions. Values to be respected, a huge desire to experiment and rediscovering a sense of community.

“supersalone” has been and gone, what are MDF Italia’s impressions?
The overall impression was undoubtedly more positive than we expected. There was a varied range and large number of visitors, and it was an opportunity to make initial contact with architects and retailers after such a long time. You can’t really generalise, you would almost have to break it down by country: there were countries that were well represented, like Belgium, Holland and Austria, others less so. It’s also hard to understand the underlying logic, because it’s not just a matter of commercial strength: not many participants or visitor flows from Germany, Switzerland and France, where we’re very well-known.
Not just the Salone.
Precisely. We’ve also worked on the company showroom, based on the project drawn up last year by the Israeli architect Pitsou Kedem, after setting up a new display with a layout by Francesco Meda and David Lopez Quincoces. We were able to redo everything and invite a series of clients on customised tours around the company, to see things for themselves, nurture relationships and make contact again. Lots of them had never been to see us, they were familiar with the catalogue, or knew the export manager, so it meant that they were finally able to meet the people who work here and understand just how greatly it reflects our identity and the company philosophy.
What are the values that make up your identity?
The company has evolved since being set up by Bruno Fattorini in 1992. The values that have always underpinned it are innovation, breaking with stereotypes and compositional diversity, as in the Random bookcase, for example, one of our most iconic best-sellers. Lightness and simplicity are values that clearly chime perfectly with our ethos, in terms of both product and communication, like our graphic identity and our catalogues. So, subtraction, trying to pare down superfluity right down to the essence so as to make for a more human-centric representation. Research into materials innovation is also a major part of what we do and has always been a testing ground - we were one of the first to use Cristalplant, and to apply cement-coating to the surfaces of our tables. We researched light concrete for Jean Marie Massaud’s Rock Table after seeing a project by Zaha Hadid.
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MDF Italia showroom, MDW21

To the limit and beyond?
We try to push even further, and that includes materials. With Jean Nouvel’s recent table, one of the magical things was taking it to the extreme: the whole table is intersecting and pressure-mounted, with not a single screw. That certainly made things a lot harder. Taking things to extremes, going beyond and swimming against the tide are crucial, we always try to deliver added value.
What did you learn from the pandemic and from being without the Salone for nearly two years?
We’re used to working day by day, and we’re a very close-knit company. Obviously, it had quite an impact. But there was a great community spirit, a feeling that held us together because working is an integral part of everyone’s lives, we’ve adapted to new tools, to technologies, it’s been hard work but it sparked an acceleration of development, of company digitisation.
How have you changed?
The company has invested in innovation and digitisation projects geared to modifying processes, including internal communication. We are working on developing a CRM that we will launch in a few days’ time, we’ve revamped the Acerbis website and we’re working on the management system. It’s all a process that makes quite an impact but it takes the brand to a new level in order to improve.
The pandemic has altered the way we approach interior design. Can the same be said of you?
The pandemic has certainly changed the way we live. It has made us all appreciate our homes more; by spending a lot more time there, many people have seen what and how to change. Not to mention the smart working world - we have come up with more comfortable chairs and workstations that can be used to eat or work at. The wave of positivity around home living has indubitably meant that everyone has invested more heavily in improving their quality of life.
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MDF Italia, New Collection MDW21. Ph Credits Lorenzo Cappellini Baio

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MDF Italia, New Collection MDW21. Ph Credits Lorenzo Cappellini Baio

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MDF Italia showroom, MDW21

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MDF Italia showroom, MDW21

 

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Oval Table NVL by Jean Nouvel Design for MDF Italia. Ph Credits Thomas Pagani

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Oval Table NVL by Jean Nouvel Design for MDF Italia. Ph Credits Thomas Pagani

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Oval Table NVL by Jean Nouvel Design for MDF Italia. Ph Credits Thomas Pagani

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As they say in our circles, the April Salone is tomorrow. What are your plans?
We will be launching new collaborations, including a new collection of chairs with Jean Marie Massaud. We’ve been developing a new type of product over the last couple of months. The last two years have shown us that the rapid pace at which the sector moves makes us take on too much, not always as well as we’d like. We realised that it was time to slow down, to be more objective, to do fewer things but to do them better. There’s a significant oversupply, we don’t need to be constantly chasing innovation, sometimes we also need to allow ourselves more time.
5 October 2021