Minotti, creator of the classic modern sofa, is still a family-run business. Founded in Italy over six decades ago by Alberto Minotti, it’s now steered by his two sons, Roberto and Renato; we caught up with the pair when they stopped by Vancouver’s Livingspace.
Q: Minotti has created the most iconic sofa form in the modern design world. What makes it special?
Roberto Minotti: We try! I think it’s the story of the company. The Minotti company started in the ’50s. Our father founded the factory, and, years after, we entered the company as the second generation, in the ’70s and ’80s. Now, there is the third generation, the sons of Renato and I. The difference is the passion that we put into it. We are working 90 percent export—we are in 70 countries around the world. So we have to understand how the people think, how to approach the proposal of our product, which style, our quality. When we started, the company was classic in design. Then we became more modern. But we never try to be too vanguard, too modern. We try to be in balance between traditional and modern. The people that will spend money for high-end products and luxury need to have the quality, the timeless sensation, and especially to know that they are making a good investment for their money.
Q: You’ve managed to keep it a family business. How does this affect your work?
Roberto: To be a family company, there is the sense that there is a face, a person that’s responsible. There isn’t just the manager that only looks after the account and the numbers. We look at the numbers, but we look at the service, the management, the creative.
Renato Minotti: And the fabrics, the colour, the catalogues…
Roberto: We have a company studio with 20 people that work for engineering, for graphics, for communication, for interior decoration—it’s a real interior design studio that does everything.
Q: You grew up in this company. What have you seen change since the time your father ran the business?
Roberto: After the big war, when there was a boom in Italy, that was when our father started the Italian design system, in the ’50s.
Renato: And then we wanted to create a more international brand. We began to travel—we now have 31 brand stores, in Madrid and Vienna, for example, and also in Asia, and next December we open in Mexico City. Now, when we produce one product, the three most important ingredients are proportion, great design and function. Function is so important. If you look at one of our sofas, you’ll see the left arm is different. It’s lower and wider, so it’s easy to get on the sofa, and you can place a tray, a glass, a laptop on it. In the evenings, the family is around the sofa. This is important. When we are projecting the product, our architect puts attention on design—how people work from the sofa. It’s not only to sit on. In this age, people live around the sofa. You have to imagine, when you are sitting in front of the TV, what do I need now? I need a little table, an arm like this, because I need to put my remote or my glasses or my coffee, and you need a console at the back because I need a lamp for reading. I want to sit down very comfortably, or I want to relax, when it’s Sunday afternoon, in a long chair. To imagine the way the house lives around the sofa. The rest is important, absolutely, but the service is around the sofa.
Roberto: It’s everything else too. When you enter the monobrands of Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Prada, you have the sensation that everything is music, it’s a concert. A harmonic. In a living room everything is harmonic. When you arrive home after a busy, stressful day, traffic—you need your sensation inside, that it’s relaxed. It’s a concert of colour. WL