Dezeen Magazine

Coronavirus news Italian brands respond Italy factory closures

"Challenging situations spark human innovation" say Italian design brands hit by Covid-19

The coronavirus pandemic will eventually lead to higher quality, more sustainable products, according to Italian design brands that were forced to temporarily close their factories this week.

Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte closed all factories that manufacture non-essential items on Saturday 21 March, meaning production lines for internationally renowned design brands fell silent. "We will slow down the country's productive engine, but we will not stop it," said Conte.

Covid-19 "causing us to re-evaluate what truly matters"

Italian brands have rallied, vowing to come back stronger than before. "Challenging situations spark human innovation," said Molteni&C head of marketing and communication Giulia Molteni.

Founded in 1934, Molteni&C is a family-run business based in Milan that specialises in luxury furniture. "Despite all the challenges that this pandemic brings, it is also causing us to re-evaluate what truly matters," Molteni told Dezeen.

Coronavirus news Italian brands respond Italy factory closures
Coronavirus is "causing us to re-evaluate what truly matters" said Molteni&C

Molteni&C is one of several firms that spoke to Dezeen earlier this week, before speculation mounted that Milan's Salone del Mobile might be cancelled. The fair is due to confirm today whether or not it will go ahead.

Travel restrictions, lockdown and the cancellation of real-world events will push brands to explore new ways of using technology to connect with clients, Poltrona Frau CEO Nicola Coropulis told Dezeen.

"Digital and physical worlds will be even more connected," said Coropulis. "Though the physical experience remains paramount in our industry, digitalisation will bring to close relationships between brands and consumers."

"Post-crisis consumers" will value different things

The crisis of Covid-19 will be a "turning point" for everyone, Coropulis predicted. "Italian companies will discover the benefit of acting together in a more systemic way to defend the undisputed excellence they stand for," he said. Furniture brand Poltrona Frau, which was founded in 1912, is headquartered in Tolentino in central Italy.

Giuliano Mosconi, president and CEO of Zanotta, believes "post-crisis consumers" will have different values.

"We believe that once fear is over, if the financial resources for families and businesses are sufficiently guaranteed, we will see a recovery in the economy, perhaps characterised by more aware and optimistic consumer behaviour," Mosconi said.

Zanotta has been making upholstery and furniture since 1954 and is based in Lombardy, one of the areas worst affected by coronavirus. Mosconi said the lockdown would have a significant impact on sales. "Now production is suspended, we will most likely see a sales reduction of more than 30 per cent compared to previous periods," he said.

Factories hope to re-open in a few weeks

The state of emergency and factory closures will be a challenge for its iconic brands, but all the companies Dezeen spoke to had optimistic messages to share. "Our factories are smart and flexible, and they are able to re-start quite fast, hopefully in a couple of weeks," said Molteni.

"We all are called to face new individual and common responsibilities, which lead our communities to embrace new, stronger and more convinced purposes," she added. "We truly are determined to continue cultivating the beauty and quality of Made in Italy, as we’ve been doing for over 80 years now."

Some of the brand's comments chime with predictions made by trends forecaster Li Edelkoort. Edelkoort told Dezeen that coronavirus has put the world into a "quarantine of consumption" that will help people re-learn to value simple and durable possessions in favour of endlessly buying new and disposable objects.

While coronavirus cases continue to rise in Europe and America, factories in China are beginning to open again after they were shut down for weeks during the country's effort to stop the spread of the virus.

The image is courtesy of Molteni&C.