Luca De Padova @ Milan Design Week 2011

An interview ( in Italian) with Luca De Padova, the CEO of De Padova (since 2010).

Luca De Padova explains … “Our parents, together with all the talented individuals who have worked with De Padova created and developed this outstanding business venture; my sister Valeria and I, having been fortunate enough to start with an already successful company, want to contribute to make it grow and to further enhance its image.”

Luca De Padova has worked in De Padova  from 1984 to 1988, before leaving to estabish his own brand “Zoltan”, which was later fully integrated into the De Padova collection. He returned to De Padova  to take charge of the company’s research and development efforts.

He is responsible for developing relationships with new and emerging designers, already investing significant financial resources to the development of new products, to strengthen the brand and increase its presence in traditional and emerging foreign markets

Luca became the new CEO of De Padova  on the 18th Jan, 2010 and together with his sister Valeria, they drive the business forwards.

To better understand the influence that De Padova has had within the furniture design markets in its “over 50 year” history as recounted by Luca  ( in English ) …  continue here  

È DePadova 50 years of design. Intuitions, Passions, Encounters, edited by Didi Gnocchi

About De Padova

A journey through the history of the firm and international design which began for Maddalena De Padova one summer’s day in 1956, when in the company of her husband Fernando she suddenly decided to make a journey to Denmark to discover the clean, light lines of the Nordic designers.

And this was just the beginning. Maddalena’s curiosity, her intuitions, her encounters with designers and architects like Charles Eames, Achille Castiglioni, Dieter Rams, Vico Magistretti, the anecdotes of a lifetime, are told in the opening pages of the book, which recalls how the history of Maddalena De Padova is also the history of the evolution of Italian taste.

A style that has entered homes, changed the idea of living, accompanied and directed the history of Italian Design.

10 Questions to Luca 

by Ivana Riggi for Archimagazine

1. It would be fair to say that “De Padova” was born from an intuition ?  Tells us about that episode in the distant 1955 when your parents hijacked the goal of their journey from Copenhagen to Rapallo ?

I take what is written in the book dedicated to 50 years:

“Mary Magdalene and Fernando have a little more than two decades. I’m on board and Juliet at the traffic light in Piazza Duomo, the Alfa slows. In the boot there are two suitcases and vacations were planned for Rapallo: costumes, light clothing, linen and cotton. It was hot and Maddalena, looking at the deserted city, turns to her husband and asks: “Fernando, but because instead of going to Rapallo why not go to the North, in Copenhagen? Do you remember those wonderful Scandinavian furniture that we had seen at the Triennale? And that bowl of clear wood, perfect … you remember? “.

On that trip they saw for the first time work Bojesen, Finn Juhl, fabrics and carpets Unika Vaev. There they found another way to live the houses are modern, bright, simple and essential.

What has been the “discovery” of Danish design and that was reflected in your showroom is situated in Via Montenapoleone ? It was a choice that could be called “courageous” ? If so why ?

Surely it was a brave choice, but it was the beginning of the story of De Padova. Includes a library of Finn Juhl, a table and a sofa that they sent to Milan to expose them for the first time in the shop on Via Montenapoleone. It was the first time I arrived in Italy. A revolution and a risk, but with a great desire to change, to erase the past, the dramatic wartime. So they also altered the house, the way of living.

In 1958 the factory was founded ICF De Padua produced under license in Italy, the American collection of office furniture Herman Miller. How did this choice and how he was encountered by architects Hermann Miller and Charles Eames, George Nelson, Alexander Girard ?

ICF was founded De Padova, based first on the canals then Vimodrone, near Milan, in Italy that produce office furniture Herman Miller. The encounter with American designers of the Miller Maddalena De Padova absorbs the secrets that will form the core of his philosophy: the importance of the environment by George Nelson, the “connections” by Charles Eames, the role of objects by Alexander Girard, a métissage between technology and accessories, everyday products are often the popular tradition.

The first meeting was with Nelson, who headed the design section of Miller. It was he who wanted Eames holding. Nelson instead submitted Ettore Sottsass Maddalena De Padova. Charles Eames arrived in Italy a few years later and managed to convey the concept that in furnishing a house, there must be a common thread that can link different things and that the details are crucial in creating a product. The meeting with Girard opens a gateway to the world instead of the objects of folk art, rugs, fabrics.

In 1967, unfortunately, his father Fernando died, everything changed in the corporate life?

Well, that was a tragedy that changed all our prospects, our family mean. My mother had to take over a company with 160 people for several years, in addition to the new showroom in Corso Venezia, then I myself have had to interrupt their studies for a long time and deal with it, until then my mother has chosen another path . Certainly if it were not for that event many things would be different and also the source of certain products known today probably would have been different, it really has been a dramatic jump compared to the existing sense of security.

In 1986 was the manufacture’s “Editions De Padova distributed abroad. Almost in parallel, in the early nineties, was born thanks to its entrepreneurial spirit “Zoltan,” which will be acquired by De Padova in 2008. They were two parallel paths which then did they meet? Tell me about it?

The “De Padova Edizioni” are born in the early 80, I tried it for some ‘years of working closely with my mother while in the meantime completed my course of study. Unfortunately I could not, so I looked for a way forward which could serve for the future. A journey across the boards, even if small, first as a distributor and retailer then also imported small but important collections abroad and finally I made the choice to have and manage my own collection. However, because of my position, I never completely left out the De Padova, which has also led to many tensions. Eventually in De Padova I realized that it was a useful experience, with no desire to compete. And in fact, then in 2005 my role was that of De Padova  R & D in continuity with my main job in Zoltan.


Have you used the collaboration of the greatest designers on the international scene: from the “historic” as Vico Magistretti, Achille Castiglioni, Dieter Rams ‘new’ as Denis Santachiara, Patricia Urquiola, Thomas Sandell, Studio Cerri & Associati, Marco Zanuso Jr. just to name a few. They are different generations of designers, and this showed a different approach with your company and the various stages of maturation of the project?

The collaboration with the two great Italian designer Achille Castiglioni, Vico Magistretti has formed the image of De Padova for many years. Most of the furniture was designed by Magistretti and Castiglioni was busy at the forefront of the preparations. However in those 80 years was close to the strong association with Dieter Rams, designer of the famous steel bookcase Universal Shelving System, De Padova has developed using other materials.

If we also think the designers who work with us, it is important to find a line with the company, which allows the name of De Padova live with the name of the designer. The keys to success are in a nutshell: the strategic aspect: the need for thorough check of range so it does not work on unnecessary things or already well covered by other products, careful selection of designers and / or projects, as regards’ technical / production: production engineering, with particular attention to timing, all in an environment that is designed to achieve high quality in all stages.

We work very well with our “new” designer, Naoto Fukasawa by Jasper Morrison, Paolo Pallucco, Carlo Colombo, from Nendo to Lust, the most famous but we like the dialectical confrontation with the younger ones, the Lorenz-Kaz to Lemongras by Damian Williamsson Monica Forster, from Aksu-Suardi-Setsu Ito to the main of which will be added in the new 2011. When I think of these names, I realize that in many cases, these pairs of male / female. Perhaps here is also one of the reasons for the success of their projects. In general, the design world today provides expertise in a highly balanced gender male / female.

I can not say how it was for me to work alongside a Magistretti, because I have not had the opportunity. I can only say that we sometimes informally exchanged views on new projects and to those few I could imagine the richness of the confrontation.

In January 2010 she became the new CEO of De Padova. “Simplicity, elegance and consistency” within the character of De Padua and its values. I am asking an ethical question: how do you keep them in a society like ours that, correct me if I’m wrong, tends to degrade?

Personally, I think rather than following the epochal crisis that hit on all the developed nations and mature sobriety and internal consistency combined with a clear and strong business ethics and values ​​much attention to the environment will be understood by a market smarter . It is said that those values ​​should not get along with the elegance and seduction as an added value of design.

Always give particular attention to the environment and our products. De Padova, as now not merely expose them in his showroom, but it creates a refined environment in which many citizens of Milan and the world are identified.

Then recently added a fully stocked department invites you to browse items in the spacious showroom.

Moreover, since the company’s success depends on the quality of the entire supply chain carefully say in the selection and the relationship with our partner retailers in order to give them the right space operational assistance to our customers in offering the correct corporate image, a simple communication also supported by initiatives of “culture” during the most “hot” in our industry.


De Padova also provides for investment in cultural events, all the programs being implemented. What is it?

De Padova in fact a culture forever. The design itself, understood as research and discovery, is already perceived as “culture.” My mother Maddalene in the 50’s imported Scandinavian design in Italy and the U.S., then unknown: they revolutionized the culture of the interiors of our homes and were no longer the same. De Padova was also the protagonist of the industrial culture. In the ’70s, for example, Interparete was the result of a research project, and marked a revolution in aesthetic and functional.

The rediscovery of a great master such as Dieter Rams was the result of a research culture. The showroom in Milan has always had an open eye on the world: in the 80 De Padova made the audience discover the Shakers, an unknown Midwestern American community. Today we continue on this path, not because it is a must, but because it is part of our way of being: in an area already populated by culture in the sense of design objects, we also offer cultural events in the strict sense.

The exhibition “Effect Castiglioni,” which we presented at the last Salone del Mobile, is a tribute to a great teacher of the internationally recognized design but above all a real gem. “With the Studio Museo Achille Castiglioni we decided to expose the maquette unpublished projects carried out by Castiglioni temporary architectures from the 50s to 2000 for art shows and fairs.

Your company continues to strengthen its presence in key international markets. From June 2010 your collections in New York have an area of ​​excellence and visibility Study Anise: the new store at Greene Street, Soho, in the city center, from October 2010 are from Functions, the new showroom in the district Los Angeles, West Hollywood. This is actually working actively for some time in the world of design, Functions, for example, was one of the first to expose contemporary furnishings in Southern California. The question may seem trivial, but I will put it to him too: in 2006 have completed fifty years of work experience with continuing success in a capillary in the world, as you can?

In more than 50 years of De Padova has remained true to the philosophy of origins: the design as a means of spreading an emotion. The passion to work for a rigorous, attention to classics like the taste for innovation has been passed from our parents. This is what has formed the unique style and the success that De Padova is understood and appreciated at all latitudes.

We started this conversation since 1955, focusing attention on an episode of his parents, we conclude in 2010 recalling “Gold Medal of the Apostle design” received on 17 April this year by his mother. This is an important recognition for the enormous contribution that he gave in the design. Greeting each with a thought to the future: what hopes?

That Italy would emerge from the crisis with renewed vitality, that our SMEs can find a way to compete in a world now truly global.

DePadova showroom in Milan



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