Nowadays, furniture making is almost all about mass production and huge enterprises. Machines have replaced humans at every stage of the production process practically everywhere. If you take any mass-produced furniture piece, you can bet that human hands touched it just a few times at the best.
Just a century ago – at the beginning of the 20th century – the picture was quite different. There were lots of small factories and family-owned workshops, not to mention individual cabinet makers. The furniture they produced was different, from simple unadorned items to high-end custom-made ones.
In such small workshops, workers often were treated like relatives rather than hired workforce – and in many cases many of them actually were relatives. People worked for decades in the same place. A teenager could start working as an apprentice and retire decades later, being a skilled craftsman. Husbands, wives and their children could work shoulder to shoulder.
In the course of time, small workshops that made common pieces lost a competition to huge factories. In fact, it was a common trend in all industries, not just in furniture making. The reason was pretty simple: the bigger the factory, the more cutting-edge machines it could afford. Use of sophisticated machines reduced the cost of production. The lower the cost of making is, the cheaper the end product will be for a consumer. When choosing between two similar-looking items of the same quality, consumers, as a rule, prefer the cheaper piece, don’t they?
Well, it depends
Every rule has its exception. Workshops that produce high-end furniture pieces can afford the luxury of not following the trend. These enterprises needn’t cut corners. They can focus on creating top-quality items that remember the warmth of craftsmasters’ hands. They can use the best materials, whatever their cost. In other words, they can afford to prioritize quality and artisanship.
Bellavista Collection – a company that manufactures and sells Italian luxury furniture – is a tangible example of such an enterprise. Bellavista manages to combine the strengths of a traditional family-run enterprise with all the pluses of the 21st century.
Family-Owned, Family-Run, and Family-Like
Family-like atmosphere is what is achievable only in a few relatively small enterprises, and Bellavista can boast of it. 20 people in total work here, led by two company’s founders and owners, brothers Attilio and Fabrizio Zanni. Their wives and four children work at Bellavista as well, which means that eight out of twenty people – almost half of the staff – belong to Zanni family. It makes this company special and greatly facilitates its management. It’s easy to manage a firm where everybody shares the common goal.
Just like in olden times, employees tend to work here for decades. People study at the workplace, grow as professionals to share their experience with those who come here later.
Decades of Experience
Bellavista brand itself is eight years old: it was first introduced to the public in 2010 at Milan Furniture Salon – a highly prestigious international trade event. However, by 2010, the brainchild of Zanni brothers had already existed for decades. For more than 30 years, Attilio and Fabrizio Zanni gained their experience in custom furniture production at Casa Zeta. In 2004 their first participation at Milan Furniture Salon showed that their works are highly promising and well worth a brand name. A few years after, Bellavista Collection came into existence.
Thus, being officially eight years old, Bellavista Collection is, in fact, three decades older in terms of the experience, which most of its team can boast of. And it’s a great advantage.
Woodworking, which is the core of the company’s specialization, is a trade where various know-how, practical knowledge, and expertise matter a lot. Year by year, Bellavista’s professionals gain plenty of real-life experience no manuals can give. It is difficult to overestimate the importance of this practical expertise because Bellavista’s craftsmasters use only natural solid wood, which is challenging material indeed.
Every professional fully conversant in cabinet making will confirm that you will never find two pieces of wood, which will be exactly like each other. Turning wood into a furniture piece is a much trickier task than using, say, plywood or particleboards. That is why various derivative wood products are so popular in mass production. They all are absolutely uniform, whatever piece you take. Unlike engineered wood products, natural wood is the material only knowledgeable masters can work with. That’s exactly the type of masters who work at Bellavista, where centuries-old traditions of Italian craftsmen are enshrined.
Finding the Right Balance
But treasuring traditions doesn’t mean working in an old-fashioned way only. It has nothing to do with ignoring machines altogether. Well, it’s possible to make furniture in the same way as it used to be done centuries ago, using only simplest tools. But it would make little sense nowadays. Striking the right balance between handiwork and use of machines – that’s what makes all the difference. Bellavista has managed to do so.
Here machines do help craftsmen but do not replace them. Various machine units, along with electric power tools, appliances and equipment enable woodworkers to get rid of the most tedious and backbreaking jobs, leaving more time and muscle strength for creative tasks. That’s the most efficient method of making perfectly crafted items, professionals from Bellavista say.
The same principle works equally well everywhere. Woodworking is the main but far from the only craft the company is engaged in. Apart from a cherry-picked selection of Italian luxury furniture, Bellavista offers other products related to interior design such as lighting fixtures, boiserie, decorative items, etc. It means that Bellavista manufactures a variety of products like handblown glass lampshades, accessories and furniture fittings made of cast metals.
Bellavista’s foundry and glass-blowing shop are also outfitted with modern equipment. It relieves Bellavista’s masters from drudgery, enabling these people to create real masterpieces. Each of these items will further become a highlight of some interior, creating a special atmosphere of a home where beauty go hand in hand with utility.