NOW PEO­PLE – RODOLFO BAR EL

OWNER OF BAREL, A 60 YEAROLD ITAL­IAN AR­TI­SANAL FUR­NI­TURE SPE­CIAL­IST

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Owner of Barel, a 60 year-old Ital­ian ar­ti­sanal fur­ni­ture la­bel.

An es­tab­lished fam­ily-owned busi­ness spe­cial­is­ing in fur­ni­ture de­sign and the art of forged iron, Barel re­cently ex­panded its brand fur­ther, de­but­ing in South-east Asia with the open­ing of a flag­ship in Sin­ga­pore.

Why did you choose Sin­ga­pore as Barel’s first des­ti­na­tion in South-east Asia?

Barel has been look­ing to en­ter the Asian mar­kets since a few years ago. We be­lieve there’s great growth po­ten­tial here, and Sin­ga­pore is the per­fect gate­way to sev­eral coun­tries in the re­gion. As such, we are al­ways look­ing for the cor­rect solutions and part­ners.

Tell us more about the col­lab­o­ra­tion with lo­cal de­signer Jar­rod Lim.

We wanted to col­lab­o­rate with a suc­cess­ful Asian de­signer to de­mon­strate our in­ter­na­tional view and bet­ter un­der­stand what lo­cal con­sumers are look­ing for. When I first met lo­cal award-win­ning de­signer Jar­rod Lim, we im­me­di­ately re­alised a mu­tual in­ter­est to co­op­er­ate as we had the same vi­sion — to cre­ate orig­i­nal, de­sign-driven fur­ni­ture pieces. Af­ter weeks of in­tense di­a­logue, he pro­posed the de­sign of the Ming col­lec­tion, and Barel im­me­di­ately be­gan work on it. We in­tro­duced it dur­ing the Salone del Mo­bile Mi­lano in April, and it was a huge hit!

How does Barel keep up to date with de­sign trends, while main­tain­ing the brand’s phi­los­o­phy?

We al­ways try to col­lab­o­rate with for­ward­think­ing and in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned de­sign­ers and artists, in­clud­ing Si­mone Micheli, Elio Garis and Lorenzo Stano. These col­lab­o­ra­tions al­low for the dis­cov­ery of con­tem­po­rary de­signs, com­ple­mented with Barel’s crafts­man­ship.

As the younger gen­er­a­tion of the Barel fam­ily, what do you aim to achieve?

When my grand­fa­ther founded the com­pany in 1956, the chal­lenge was to cre­ate qual­ity fur­ni­ture for a de­mand­ing mar­ket. He un­der­stood that pro­duc­ing high-end qual­ity prod­ucts was the recipe for success.

Now, my fa­ther – who runs the com­pany – un­der­stands that it is time to ex­plore be­yond the Euro­pean mar­ket. This choice has kept the com­pany safe from some of the great­est crises of the Ital­ian fur­ni­ture in­dus­try, par­tic­u­larly be­tween 2010 and 2013. My sis­ter Veron­ica and I are in charge of bring­ing Barel into the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket, while en­sur­ing that we stay rooted to the brand’s tra­di­tion and way of cre­at­ing fur­ni­ture.

What is good de­sign to you?

Good de­sign must em­body three at­tributes – orig­i­nal­ity, eco-friend­li­ness and, most im­por­tantly, func­tion­al­ity. A ta­ble, for ex­am­ple, must be com­fort­able, durable and, of course, beau­ti­ful.

BE­LOW The el­e­gant Pam­plona ex­tend­able ta­ble re­tails for $6,500.

TOP RIGHT The Ming ta­bles fea­ture a hand-forged iron struc­ture, with table­tops in mar­ble, glass and lam­i­nate.

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