The Minotti story is a long one spanning 63 years and three generations. Now synonymous with elegant, prestigious furniture collections that redefine the concept of “Made in Italy,” the company was founded in the mid 1950s by Alberto Minotti. It wasn’t until the 1970s that Minotti was transformed from a surname into an internationally acknowledged brand when Alberto’s two sons, Renato and Roberto, joined the family enterprise.
Today, the company has showrooms in 70 countries (26 collections are marketed in Asia alone) and it has become a highly anticipated exhibitor at the renowned Salone Internazionale del Mobile di Milano (Milan Furniture Fair). Despite the global reach, the Minotti empire has always remained true to its philosophy: the interweaving of beauty with innovation, sophisticated modernism, and even elements of surprise.
Without question Minotti is still fiercely proud to be a family business. A new generation is already gaining the formal and practical education that will continue the company’s evolution. Whenever the topic of family is raised, both brothers have the same, immediate response — they smile with a warmth that speaks of laughter-filled gatherings that range from the simple delights of a weekday family supper at home to gala celebrations of major life events.
Balanced and timeless
Inspiration for every Minotti collection, Renato explains, is drawn from the heart as much as from what’s happening around the world in culture, art, even the movies. “We travel a lot,” he says. “Then we translate what we’ve experienced into designs that align with our personal taste.” The resulting mix of colours, custom designed fabrics, and architectural detailing are meticulously coordinated to create a cosmopolitan yet homey ambiance he describes as “the Minotti mood.”
The true alchemy, though, comes from a balance between two seemingly opposite concepts — modern and traditional. “To be simply traditional or modern is not enough,” Roberto says. “Timeless is a key word. We have discovered that virtually anywhere in the world, people who want to invest money into creating a beautiful house with beautiful decoration value, and expect, timelessness — timeless elegance, quality and service. But you must surprise people, because they also want something new and special. So the point is to invent a style that while it’s not shocking is not something you expect — rather it’s something you discover you need.”
“The three key elements to achieving this balance are function, proportions that acknowledge people live in their homes, and clean design,” Renato continues. “For example, you see how this sofa has different arm rests in different sections.” He slides effortlessly onto one end of a richly textured sectional. “You see how easy this is to get into? But now…” His fingers begin tapping on an imaginary keyboard. “Now, I pull out my iPad or laptop and I have a place to put it right on the armrest — that’s the function and the surprise.”
In a single, fluid movement, he moves to the opposite end where the armrest is slimmer and more elongated. “This part of the sofa is different. Why? Because you use it differently. It is more formal, so you sit up more. The function is different so the proportions must be complementary but different. This is the unexpected discovery.”
Each year, the Salone Internazionale del Mobile di Milano is where the newest Minotti furniture collection is unveiled. What that collection looks like remains a closely guarded secret until the grand reveal — even Minotti’s exclusive dealers have no inside track, no sneak preview.
“We don’t simply introduce new product here, we introduce an entire lifestyle and interior design concept,” Roberto says. It’s the culmination of months of intense study. Every aspect and nuance: construction, structural architecture, colour, fabric choices, to the carpet each piece sits on goes under the Minotti design microscope. “Complete representation is one of our greatest strengths. Usually our market produces one new sofa, one new chair, or one new cabinet — not an entire collection.”
In 2013, Minotti once again surprised and delighted the market with its aptly-named Eclectic Collection. This time the creative spark came unexpectedly from Minotti’s own 1,020-square-metre showroom in Milan. “We noticed how some pieces from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s had cultural elements that all worked together because, once again, they have a timeless quality,” Roberto explains. Bold new colours and finishings were added, new pieces designed, and another Minotti Mood was born.
Driven by passion
Creating high-end furniture design is something Renato describes as far more than a career. “It’s in our blood. Sometimes the first generation of a family business has all the push and drive, and then the second generation relaxes. We’re not like that. We’re still passionate about everything we do.”
“The world has changed since the economic craziness of the past few years,” Roberto acknowledges. “Consumers now spend money with a deeper understanding and awareness. People who purchase high-end luxury want serious design and quality – not just a nice sofa but one that’s helpful.” This new consumer also wants an investment they can enjoy for life. “The mark of great design is that you still love it in two years or five years or even 10 years.”
In Vancouver, Minotti collections are found at Livingspace in Kitsilano.
Photography by Hugh Zhao