Mariano Comense is located halfway between Milan and Como, in that triangle of territory, Brianza, which is difficult to delineate in its characteristic features. We are located in one of the epicenters of industrial production in northern Italy and there is silence, in Brianza there is the silence of Italian towns in August. You quickly realize that everything happens inside the walls of companies, within warehouses and sheds, and that life is spent at work. The vehicles beating the roads are just cars and trucks, and that of the treads on the asphalt is the only noise you hear, constant, like a sort of muffled hum. I am in the forecourt in front of MDF Italia’s headquarters, waiting for Luca and Marcello to come in and talk to Marco Cassina, the brand’s Marketing&Communication manager.
We decided to meet Marco because MDF stands among the Italian companies that have had one of the most decisive metamorphoses in recent years. A metamorphosis that is still going on and which we will talk about during the interview. The company was founded 30 years ago. After having found its vocation with the use of aluminium in the domestic world, the company has always evolved, not only from the point of view of product types but also on the formal, material and sign side.
In the Mariano Comense building, executive and commercial offices, the Research & Development office and the product display space coexist. I meet Marco Cassina in the company’s showroom, which has very little of the typical showroom and much of a metaphysical architecture―thanks to the brand renewal designed by Studio Pitsou Kedem Architects (as well as the stand at the recently concluded Salone del Mobile. ed.). The renewal of a brand is a slow, almost karst work, which in order to be complete and durable, has to move on several fronts: from product to communication, from images to architecture. MDF Italia is investing on various fronts in a deep and delicate way, without breaking that industrious silence that surrounds it.
TOMMASO CALDERA: Hi Marco, first of all, thank you for hosting us in this beautiful space. First and quick question: how did the Salone go?
MARCO CASSINA: Thank you for the opportunity and this initiative. The Salone went absolutely fine. Finally, after quite a long time, there was a chance to meet again with all the corporate stakeholders such as clients, architects, and partners around the world. Some countries were missing, but it was, for all the participants, the opening of a new chapter after these troubled years. So Salone had an absolutely positive outcome. This was the first presentation after a process that has involved the company for the last two and a half years, where we revised the whole corporate image and also the live presentation of several very important collections for the brand.
TC: Soon we will talk specifically about this renewal that you are bringing to the company. But first, let’s step back and make an introduction: can you tell me a little bit briefly about the history of MDF Italia, then the more recent history, which is the one that interests us specifically?
MC: MDF Italia was founded by Bruno Fattorini in 1992. The company made several collections and then found its identity – starting from an intuition of Bruno, who was both an entrepreneur and a product designer. His intuition was to bring a material that was initially used only within working spaces into the domestic world as well, and we are talking about “bare and raw” aluminum, as the saying goes. With the introduction of this material all the collections were born: for example Minima 3.0 – still in catalogue today – or tables that made aluminum their strong point. They were extrusions. These tables that sought to achieve abundant dimensions, were made through the use of different materials as tops: from ceramics to glass. They were extrusions. These tables that sought to achieve abundant dimensions, were made through the use of different materials as tops: from ceramics to glass.
Material research and experimentation have always been in the company’s DNA. In 2007 my father, with another partner, acquired MDF Italia and then took it over completely in 2013. From here new processes obviously started. Before at MDF Italia a lot was designed by Bruno Fattorini with some other designers like Piergiorgio Cazzaniga and Xavier Lust, but my father, with the experience he had with Cassina, he brought with him his whole network of architects. First of all Jean Marie Massaud, with whom, in 2009, they created the first collection that was a great success. The Flow collection formed by chairs, armchairs and stools, ferried MDF Italia into a whole new chapter. Before MDF Italia was a company very recognizable for bookcases and tables, as we were selling a lot of them, but always without chairs. We were then lucky to find a chair collection that went very well with the tables we produced, and it was an immediate success right from the presentation.
Now the second generation is in charge, which is me and my brother, who have taken on more and more operative roles. I am in charge of marketing and communication, also following the production part and the relationship with designers while my brother follows the commercial and contract part.
Listen to the podcast and find out more in the full conversation.