As communications director for Italian staircase design company, Fontanot, Laura Fontanot talks about the roots of the company legacy, its global explosion, and just what exactly a staircase with the ‘Made in Italy’ label means
Tell me about the Fontanot legacy. What does the company represent?
Albini&Fontanot has a long story to tell and a deep-rooted history that goes all the way back to 1947 when the Albini brothers had a small business in Rimini making handcrafted staircases. At the time, the laboratory located in Rimini, had just 6 people working for them, and served mostly a local clientele.
Now we have 170 employees, 300 external collaborations and we produce more than 40,000 stairs per year. But we still maintain the same tradition and commitment as 50 years ago: creating original and technological solutions for design.
Where does the Fontanot design gather its influence from?
The Fontanot design is ‘Made in Italy’, so for many in the foreign market, it’s unique. The Research and Development Department pays close attention to other countries, drawing inspiration and ideas the foreign design habits. For example, oak wood in the Scandinavian countries, rather than a stained wood in Spain or the versatility of the products in the Anglo-Saxon countries.
The Fontanot design is not only a projected staircase plan, but an unveiling of aesthetics. The staircase is a piece of furniture for all purposes besides being just a necessary product. Our most innovative stair is Techne, both for its aesthetics and for the production of a stair that is completely recyclable. The secret is to always be innovative and take into account peoples’ needs.
What makes Fontanot unique in a foreign market?
Fontanot is unique abroad because we are the only ‘stair’ company that has adapted itself, since the 1980’s, to the aesthetics and simplicity of its products. The stair has come to be thought of (as we alluded to before), not only as a necessary object to connect two floors, but as part of the furniture decor in the home. Just think of the stairs often positioned near the entrance of a room or the house, they must make a statement.
I think that the difference abroad is exactly this: aesthetics. Obviously, the technical characteristics are also our strongpoint. Just think, all of our spiral staircases (apart from the customized stairs), are adjustable in height, some are even adjustable in rotation and tread as well. This is the result of extensive research and development.
Which projects/products are you most proud of and why?
I would have to say that Techne is our pride and joy. It’s the evolution of passion for innovation. It is in fact one of the first staircases in the world to be built using technopolymer, a material that is 100% recyclable. Of course keeping in line with our vision, Techne is also aesthetically pleasing and has garnered much attention as we have as a company, for sustainable design.
Tell me about business outside of Italy and plans for 2015.
Our two big goals in the foreign market for 2015 is contract projects and the web. We’ve collaborated with several prestigious architects to realize staircases for high end projects. Just recently, we concluded the staircase for the lobby of Bosco Verticale in Milan, and we are in the process of finishing the staircase for Isozaki Tower, set to be the tallest skyscraper in Italy.
Contract means knowing how to interpret the requests of the client: taking a project that is on paper and translating it to real life, taking care of the various phases, including conception, production and installation, respecting the budget and delivery times for some of the most ambitious requirements. This is the future for Fontanot.
This, and showing the world that ‘Made in Italy’ means high quality, innovative design.
This is the official Fontanot webshop: http://uk.fontanotshop.com/