Quality by design
Whether it’s the sleek styling of a high performance vehicle, the exquisite craftsmanship of a piece of furniture or the understated luxury and glamour of a designer clothing, Italy is internationally acclaimed as the leader when it comes to design.
And it’s not surprising. With a history of art, culture, tradition, excellence and an appreciation and passion for beauty that spans centuries, Italy has honed its glorious design heritage and reputation for style and innovation.
Another unique aspect of the biggest design brands is the fact that many of them are family brands – having thrived over generations. Here are some quintessential examples of Italian designers:
Founded in 1885, Bianchi is the world’s oldest bicycle manufacturing company. Frames, graphics and colours are still designed in Bergamo today.
The brand has always been associated with racing, after it competed in the most important racing event and has been chose by the greatest cycling athletes including Fausto Coppi, Marco Pantani, Jan Ullrich, and more recently Primoz Roglic and Wout Van Aert.
Bianchi is sold in more than 60 countries, with each Continent offering a wide selection of models for road biking, mountain biking, City-Fitness and e-bikes. Recently, they launched a gravel lineup model, allowing cyclists to tackle every surface and explore new adventures due to its versatility.
Founded in 1921 by brothers Giovanni Alessi and Fratelli Alessi, Alessi continues to be a family run business today.
Obsessed with quality and skilled craftsmanship, Giovanni wanted to make luxury items for the home. His products made of copper, brass and nickel silver, became immediately renowned for their meticulous crafting and perfect finish.
In 1932, Carlo Alessi, Giovanni’s eldest son, joined the family firm while still very young, designing most of the objects made between the mid-Thirties and 1945. In 1970, Alberto Alessi, the founder’s grandson, joined the company and collaborated with artists to evolve the brand even further, and he and his family still retain 60% of the company.
Alessi continues to pioneer cultural, aesthetic, executive and functional quality into industrial mass production and is renown throughout the world as being a “Factory of dreams”.
With its distinctive House of Savoy coat of arms and knotted rope design, Prada is one of the most iconic brands in fashion history.
Brothers Mario and Martino Prada opened their first store in 1913, selling leather bags, and quickly became entrenched amongst the Italian aristocracy after being awarded the title of Official Supplier of the Italian Royal House in 1919.
Despite excluding any female family members from working for his company, Mario was succeeded by his daughter Luisa Prada, who took over the business and ran it for almost twenty years.
In the mid-1970s, Luisa was joined by her daughter, Miuccia Prada who, after meeting her partner Patrizio Bertelli, a young Italian with his own leather goods business, took Prada into a whole new direction.
Prada and Bertelli began by adding footwear to their growing product line in 1979 and expanded their network of stores into markets all over the world. Following this success, they then launched a womenswear line in the late 80s which set the precedent for their distinctive clean lines, luxurious fabrics and refined style.
Today, Miuccia and Patrizio are still at the helm of the Prada Group which also houses several smaller brands including Miu Miu, Church’s, Car Shoe, and Pasticceria Marchesi.