Interview with Lapo Ciatti
How did Opinion Ciatti come into existence, and what is the story behind its name?
The company was founded by my grandfather Rolando at the beginning of the 1950s. Its story began with my grandfather’s passion for arts and crafts, and his search for furniture with specific functions, driven by an intuition: creating a piece of furniture for that then novel and peculiar device, television, which started to appear in Italian homes right around those years. Over time and with succeeding generations taking the helm, manufacturing processes and products have naturally evolved but the goal has stayed the same: today, just as then, we are still creating new and exclusive design furniture for both homes and public spaces.
As for the name of the company, “Opinion Ciatti” comes from a play on words devised by me and Bruno Rainaldi, who sadly is no longer with us. “Opinion”, as the word is commonly intended, expresses the disposition to the research and sharing of ideas, while “Ciatti” is obviously our family name, and marks our continuity with the company founded by my grandfather Rolando. Thus, the name “Opinion Ciatti” reflects our company’s unique approach, our “opinion” on design, that is, creating products that express a unique personality combined with a precise function.
Opening in 1966
Lapo Ciatti, CEO and Art Director. How do these two roles combine?
My company is deeply rooted in design, with every aspect revolving around planning and creative expression. The key to a company’s success lies in the seamless alignment between the CEO and the Art Director, and in Opinion Ciatti I hold both roles. Of course, this presents both strengths and challenges. I balance my responsibilities as CEO and Art Director to lead Opinion Ciatti on a path of strategic growth, which also involves making sure that product design reflects the identity and vision underpinning our work. I believe that combining these two roles ensures an integrated and consistent approach at all levels.
Talking about inspiration, how do you get your ideas? What is the thread that unites the pieces of your collections?
Ideas seldom form through a rational, deliberate decision. Indeed, marketing research can help uncover untapped niches and trends, but I aim to constantly find innovative ideas to improve the daily lives of the people who use our products. Travelling extensively also has an impact, drawing from diverse cultures, as in the case of our latest mirror, “Oodh”, which is inspired by Cambodian elements. A design rooted in Florentine tradition with international influences. Ideas come as intuitions and are never trivial, but always deeply rooted in local identity. Thanks to our in-house development team, they are then transformed into concrete and innovative products. In addition to internally designed products, we foster collaborations with external designers, involving both talented young artists and established professionals. This synergy results in a harmonious blend of diverse perspectives and fresh inspirations, enhancing the value of our collections.
In describing your collections, you have often used the “spices and sauces” metaphor. How do your designs relate to the decor, just like spices and sauces relate to cooking?
I loved this metaphor the very moment it was proposed to me. If you think about it, without spices and sauces our recipes would not have those special, characteristic flavours. I like to think that our creations infuse that unique flavour to environments, stirring emotions while retaining their functional nature.
In essence, the “spices and sauces” metaphor accentuates the significance of objects in shaping a space’s decor, enriching it with customization, personalization, creativity, and visual allure, just like the spices and sauces that add taste and complexity to a dish.
Five words to describe the company today.
The five words that best describe Opinion Ciatti are the same that express our fundamental values:
Creativity: we stand out for creativity in design, the result of a constant search for new concepts and innovative approaches. New functions and new applications.
Identity: our company has a strong identity which reflects on its innovative and distinctive products. Opinion Ciatti’s individual and unmistakable style stands out compared to that of other companies in the design sector.
Originality: we constantly seek to push beyond the ordinary and conventional, aiming to offer objects that break away from the norm. Always with one goal in mind: creating pieces that help us better experience the spaces we inhabit.
Pragmatism: our products offer pragmatic solutions whose quality and functionality combine with aesthetic allure and usefulness. They are manufactured with skilled craftsmanship and attention to detail.
Sustainability: we value sustainability and seek to reduce the environmental footprint of our products by choosing eco-friendly materials and practices and promoting responsible production methods. The company intends to increase its awareness of and contribution to sustainable design.
Talking about sustainability, how is Opinion Ciatti addressing this issue?
Sustainability is a topic that can no longer be ignored. My company is committed to identifying new materials and innovative manufacturing processes in order to offer our children a cleaner earth and a more sustainable future.
We carefully select our partners locally in order to achieve a shorter supply chain and reduce the impact of transportation. Another aspect we strongly believe in is the durability of our products, which translates into a design approach that prioritizes the longevity and resistance of our furniture, thus decreasing the need for frequent replacements, and contributing to reduced consumption and waste. Additionally, our company promotes the recycling and reuse of materials. This involves using recycled or recyclable materials for our products and implementing waste management practices to minimize environmental impact. For example, we have reduced plastic in our packaging by 80%, with an aim to remove it completely by the end of 2023. I would define our approach to sustainability as a holistic one, as it is set to become an integral part of the company’s entire production process.
How do Opinion Ciatti’s products reveal the connection with the Tuscan territory?
I feel very lucky to be able to live and work in the place where I was born and where I grew up. I love my region, a land rich in history, art, and culture. I breath Tuscan and Florentine excellence daily, and this inevitably influences my creations. This inspiration is noticeably visible in the Firenze carpet collection, which features the ceilings of the Church of San Lorenzo and the domes of the Medici chapels; or in the selection of local materials and in the finishes, like for example the eco-compatible composite resembling cocciopesto, a material used since ancient times and whose colour evokes the Tuscan landscape; or the Casentino cloth we have just added to our upholstered collection: a “rough” but charming fabric, just as we Tuscans are.
What is in store for Opinion Ciatti in the future?
This is a difficult question! I can’t predict the future, but I can tell you how I would like to see my company in a few years’ time.
I’d like to see it develop and evolve in many directions, anticipating emerging trends and market demands. An innovative and cutting-edge company that leverages new technologies to further enhance the quality and experiential aspect of its products. A user experience that embraces different realms and accepts the challenges of the virtual world. A company that thrives on creative collaborations with talented artists, designers, and architects, using conscious participation and the melting pot of ideas as the key to understanding the needs and aspirations of those who choose our furniture.
An increasingly international Opinion Ciatti, with strategic partnerships and showrooms in various parts of the world, aiming to introduce our products and philosophy to new contexts and reach a wider audience. A company that is fully sustainable both in terms of products and processes to leave to my children.