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19 October 2011
The Visionnaire Experience
IPE Cavalli’s youngest furniture label is shaking up the Italian furniture industry with some bold moves. Its CEO, Lepold Cavalli, who was in Singapore recently, tells us how.
Family-owned company IPE Cavalli is no stranger to the revolutionary spirit that often characterises the leaders in the furniture business.
Established in 1959, it introduced to the industry in its early years, an industrial foaming method from the automotive world that halved the time it took to produce a sofa.
Today, IPE Cavalli has 3 furniture brands with it's most important (and extensive), being 6-year-old label Visionnaire.
Visionnaire has turned a former cinema in Milan into a Design Gallery.
"7 years ago I met a couple of young designers, Samuele Mazza and Alessandro La Spada, and with these 2 guys we founded Visionnaire," Lepold Cavalli tells Indesignlive.asia while in Singapore to launch the brand at Marquis@QSquare.
More of the gallery...
"They proposed to us a collection that was very uncommon and in terms of style very revolutionary, because first of all it was a 'total look' collection. In Italy at that time, all the companies were specialised – even now most of them are.
"Actually we have the largest range in the market with 2,700 products in between kitchens, bathrooms, dining rooms, living rooms, bedrooms... and from next year also an outdoor collection.
"Visionnaire is a mix of different styles. It's a contamination between baroque and gothic and minimalism. It's full of opposites, full of contrast. There's a massive use of metal, which is a cold material, together with warm materials like velvet, leather, fabric...
"There is a very female side and a very masculine side. And these 2, together with the union of different styles, materials and perspectives makes the vision," he adds.
The Visionnaire club, Pineta, in Milan.
In a few short years, Visionnaire has blazed a trail in the mature luxury Italian furniture market with 25 monobrand stores in Italy and around the world, and 350 exclusive dealers in all the major cities.
This it has done by taking a highly innovative approach in brand communication. "We are dedicating a lot of energy to the entertainment business. For example in Milano we bought a cinema 4 years ago and we have now an iconic location in Milano for luxury events. We made more than 250 events in the last 2 years, and for the major brands of the world. Microsoft, Cartier, Lancome, Ferrari, Playboy magazine... any kind," says Lepold.
More of Pineta...
"We organise the welcoming, catering, audio visuals, makeup... It's very much related to what we are presenting in our collections; these collections are for customers who like to entertain, who like to show, a little bit, the dramatic, arrogant style.
"I think it's very important for a new brand like Visionnaire to introduce itself in a different way. Making events is one way... when they jump into the location they jump into our world. They can join this kind of philosophy," explains Lepold.
Besides events, Visionnaire bought over Pineta, one of the most famous clubs in Milan, 2 1/2 years ago.
"Now in Italy the brand is very famous because of that; everyone knows this club.
Visionnaire restaurant located in the Visionnaire Design Gallery in Milan.
In Visionnaire's showroom you can also find a restaurant, even an art gallery.
More of the restaurant...
This year, Visionnaire has extended its range with a recently launched bag and jewellery collection; a line of sunglasses will also be out in 2012.
"Many companies tell you they are building a lifestyle, but it's just something they say. I want to put this in reality."
Lepold says that the brand is aimed at a small niche. "It's not for everybody of course. Visionnaire doesn't want to be universal. But it's for a certain kind of customer that loves fantasy, irony, and history.
"In the luxury segment there is no need, so nobody needs a product. I think what they need is something that stimulates their creativity."
The products are there to establish scenarios. "Some products are protagonists, some are not... all of them are important to define the scene," explains Lepold.
And his next dream? To build a small chain of boutique hotels around the world. "There are a lot of new things that a furniture company can do. I think we're only just at the beginning."
IPE Cavalli / Visionnaire
Visionnaire is now available in Singapore exclusively at Marquis@QSquare.