MASTERS OF MINOTTI
The Italian furniture house marks turning 70 with a flagship store in Melbourne
Renato and Roberto Minotti are elegant in crisp shirts and sharply cut blazers.
The sons of the late, legendary Alberto Minotti — founder of one of Italy’s leading furniture manufacturers — the brothers are in Australia to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Minotti brand with the opening of a flagship store in Melbourne. Joining them are Renato’s son, Alessandro, and the company’s art director, architect Rodolfo Dordoni, who has worked with the family-run business for 20 years.
The Minotti men are decisive and aesthetically understated — a walking personification of their made-in-Italy brand of sleek, sophisticated design. Dordoni is a little more relaxed, sporting a smile and designer sneakers. It’s his first time in Australia. “I had dinner at the Sydney Opera House and was given a private tour,” he says. “It’s one of the icons of my life, so to see it was one of the best moments for me. The light is beautiful here and the relationship between the architecture and nature is impressive.” Renato, who, with his brother, opened the first Minotti store in Sydney in partnership with the Engelen family — the owners of Dedece — more than a decade ago, agrees. “We have a good friendship with Tim [Engelen, Dedece’s general manager] and his family,” he says. “Australia is an important market for us.” Minotti’s distinctive aesthetic is a blend of innovation and clean, contemporary styling with a respect for tradition, detail and handcrafted finishes. It’s a subtle approach imbued with a transcendental timelessness that spans generations. “Our strength is our translation of one design language — the same mood, the same colours, the same materials and setting of products — to create an emotion that is very universal everywhere from Germany to the United States,” says Roberto. This vision was born in 1948, when Roberto’s father, Alberto, opened a workshop in Brianza, a region north of Milan, producing upholstered furniture. Combining the traditional skills of craftsmen with the latest manufacturing technology, Minotti flourished in the economic boom of postwar Italy. Renato and Roberto joined the business in the 1970s and ’80s, taking the helm and starting international expansion after their father passed away in 1991.
With a presence in 63 countries — including a third Australian location in Perth — and 38 flagship stores, Minotti is furthering its global appeal with two collections in celebration of its 70 years in business. The first, Albert & Ile — named after founder Alberto and his wife, Ileana — is an update on classics from the company’s archive. The second looks to the future in a collaboration led by Rodolfo Dordoni with French designer Christophe Delcourt, Japan’s Nendo and Brazilian design star Marcio Kogan. “We gave each designer the mission of a project with their own identity but to follow the Minotti DNA,” says Roberto. “For us, French design is decoration, Japan is minimalism and Brazil is warmth, so we asked each designer to include these qualities in their designs. We developed this idea to give Minotti a different point of view.”
The Minotti vision is being handed to a new generation — Renato’s sons, Alessandro and Alessio, and Roberto’s daughter, Susanna. “The important thing is that we don’t think about the numbers,” says Roberto. “When you follow the turnover, you lose heart — and if you don’t work with your heart, you lose your passion. We think with passion first.”
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT Alessandro Minotti, Rodolfo Dordoni and brothers Roberto and (seated) Renato Minotti.
Minotti Ring table, $9270, and Tape armchair (without armrest), $6060, both from Dedece.