When you are trying to create a spectacular space, there are generally certain names you know you can always count on. When Robert Burg needed a truly standout sofa to complement the main living room on his recent Riverwind project, he thought of Fendi. This Italian fashion house is renowned for the perfect blend of traditional production values, innovation, sophistication and style. Here’s everything you need to know about Fendi…
Who is Fendi?
For those not familiar with interior design, Fendi might be familiar solely as a name in fashion – handbags and fur coats in particular. The Fendi Casa furniture range has been available since the late 80’s and is a byword in the industry for cool sophistication. This Italian design house has been around for over 90 years and has a colorful history.
The Beginnings of Fendi
Back in 1918, at the age of just 20, a woman named Adele Casagrande founded a leather business in the heart of Rome. Even in the 21st Century, this would be seen as quite a bold step. For a young woman to achieve it in the male-dominated world of early-Twentieth Century Italy was unheard of.
Although essentially a small workshop with a shop frontage, the store could not have been better positioned. It was situated on the Via del Plebiscito, right on the crossroads of an area frequented by the cream of Roman society.
Just a few years later, Adele Casagrande married a like-minded entrepreneur, Edoardo Fendi, and the Fendi name was born. The couple opened a small boutique next to the workshop and specialized in both fur and leather goods. They had five daughters – all of whom would go on to play a part in the running of the business.
How did Fendi grow to prominence?
There will always be a market for sheer quality – and this was what the Fendi store offered the well-to-do of Rome at such a difficult time for the country in the aftermath of the First World War. Fur coats, purses, luggage: Fendi design offered the beautiful people products that were chic and incredibly well-crafted.
By 1932, the time had come to expand. The company opened a larger store and fur workshop. Greater capacity helped the Fendi name to become more widely known outside Rome. Crucially, there was no compromise when it came to quality.
For instance, in 1938 Fendi unveiled their Selleria collection of bags. They took a tried and tested design (the traditional ‘doctor’s bag’ shape) but gave it a contemporary twist – making it chic rather than merely practical. Added to this was the finest possible material Cuoio Romano – a soft yet grainy calfskin that’s beautiful and durable in equal measure.
How has the Fendi name continued to endure?
Essentially, it was by keeping a close eye on what was going on in the world of contemporary design. In terms of innovation, the Selleria collection of the 30s was a taste of things to come. By the late 1940s, the Fendi daughters had started to take a leading role in the business. This was the age of the ‘New Look’ when clean lines were very much en vogue. Fendi responded by launching products in keeping with the times.
The biggest innovations in the decades after WWII were in relation to furs. The danger was that this material was going to be left behind: it had a staid image in an era of new, cool synthetic fabrics and styles. That all changed when Fendi started to work with Karl Lagerfeld in 1965. Suddenly a stiff and rather staid material was incorporated into designs that were soft, light and a pleasure to wear.
How did Fendi become a name in furniture design?
By the mid-1980s, Fendi had become an internationally renowned name thanks to its craftsmanship and impeccable design values. Diversification was a natural step.
The Fendi Casa range was launched in 1989. It’s aim? To create furniture and design objects to bring the flavor of Fendi into the home.
It’s the attention to detail and the craftsmanship employed on Fendi design pieces that attracts so many interior designers. Take a sofa unit for instance: there are plenty of manufacturers who produce pieces that look the part – at least for a few months. But how well does that stitching hold up after a couple of years? How long until the arm rests start to fray?
It takes foresight on the part of a designer to realize that lots of pieces of furniture will give you the look you want. If you want the real deal and something that will definitely endure, you need to look for the very best that’s out there.
This is why names like Fendi will be with us for a long time to come.