THE PATH TO REDUCE THE ENVIRONMENTAL FOOTPRINT
Visionnaire continues along its path of sustainable growth, focusing on the fundamental values of the brand: responsibility on its own Italian territory, ethics work, and highest quality of Made in Italy. Also thanks to the decision to express the company’s strategic orientation through the statements of intent contained in the “Decalogue,” the Brand has been able to set its course: the idea of products that embody a concept of absolute quality, combined with rigorous, responsible commitment with respect to the environment.
In the second value of the “Decalogue – “Nature” – Visionnaire states: “the desire to safeguard our natural heritage takes the form of vital awareness that informs and orients our cultural vision, focusing on aspects of design behavior that take on the value of theoretical gestures and practices useful to express a precise, perceptible civil commitment”.
Ten foundation values. Ten programmatic precepts. Entrepreneurial energy blends with the poetry of the creative act. Each of the key concepts of the Visionnaire philosophy is defined through a sequence of words that express a vision, with the force of a credo. To narrate our own roots, to verify our identity, to outline the trajectories of an ambitious future. Volume curated by BRH+
The sixtieth anniversary of the founding of IPE, and the fifteenth of its Brand Visionnaire, offer a unique opportunity for me to trace back through a long sequence of personal memories, and beyond. These milestones are also useful to bring impetus to a new cycle of projects, which while avoiding celebrations as an end in themselves can lead us towards the achievement of important new objectives.
The first goal: to get beyond the chronological narrative in order to capture, and try to narrate, that mental process that leads us to be Visionaries, every single day. A process made of future memory, capable of influencing our project in the present. My grandfather – Vittorio – my uncle – Pompeo – my father – Luigi – and my brother – Leopold: Italians, enlightened industrialists, ingenious researchers, Captains courageous. And then, precisely, intuition and infinite freedom. In the presence of so much poetry and the ethics of doing, I decided to create this book, which contains the seeds of the future along with the deep roots of the past. I would like to thank all the people involved: creative talents, designers, artisans, staff, and clients. Friends who without hesitating in the face of the perils of an immense, daily challenge, carry Our Values in their hearts.
Art Director Visionnaire
“Design should try to improve people’s lives, but in my work I see very few things that are based on this perspective. I always feel as if I am in a big circus in the open air, where only a few things actually make you think or at least smile, and even fewer lead to re- flections on potentially interesting developments. The rest is just a pile of polluting plastic.” Delfino Sisto Legnani
Correspondences. Associations. The ten foundation values of the “Decalogue” inspire signature interpretations in photographic images: the re- flection of a concept, the discovery of a visual counterpart. The ten programmatic tenets are translated into shots that expand the horizons of meaning and perception. The realms of Visionnaire are universes to ex- plore in an infinite time frame.
10 videos that interpret the ten values of the Decalogue have been created as multimedia artworks that convey the viewer into an immersive psychedelic voyage; each video captures a concept, starting with a symbolic material subject that is transformed into a pattern, a forceful metaphorical composition. Hands, bodies, natural elements and architecture weave the tenets of the decalogue into visual form. Video Project developed by MyBossWas Studio.
FELIX BURRICHTER - THE VISION OF VISONNAIRE
“Stepping into the Visionnaire showroom in Milan’s Piazza Cavour, the sight of a bear is the last thing you’d expect. And yet there it is, almost 2 meters long, with fluffy brown fur and a thick gold chain around its neck, looking poised to pounce. Dubbed the Dubhe, the bear is in fact a chaise longue conceived for Visionnaire by Samuele Mazza in a shape that seems at once ergonomic and aerodynamic, like a furry fantasy Formula 1 race car ready to zoom about the showroom floor and off into the streets of Milan. A humorous, anthropo- morphic hybrid bear-lounge is perhaps not what one would associate with Italian luxury furniture, but that is precisely the point: true creativity is the creation of the unexpected, the circumvention and disruption of expected norms and codes. The Dubhe’s high-velocity look also reminded me of another work of design that dis- rupts normal relationships to startling effect: Ron Arad’s Rover chair, originally made of two readymade objects found in a London scrapyard — a car seat and a structural tubing frame — it quickly took on icon status and is now found in the most important design col- lections around the world, including the MoMA in New York. What takes the Rover from trash to treasure is the way it transgresses expectations of how individual objects function. Like the Dubhe, the Rover chair makes its meaning by being both radically itself and precisely what it is not. A chair and a chimera, its creative power resides in how it elides typically separate forms and functions, offering an invitation to see things differently. Arad’s chair takes on additional importance because it speaks directly to Visionnaire’s founding legacy. Created as IPE in 1959 as a manufacturer of automobile seats, the company channeled its decades of both artisanal and industrial manufacturing exerptise and commitment to quality into the production of high-end furniture. Like the Rover chair, Visionnaire looks to history and to the future at once, recognizing that legacy — of design, of style, and perhaps most critically, of craft — is as important to invention as the promise of the new. The serial readymade of the Rover chair and the sensual plushness of the Dubhe also read with another type of seat inherent to Visionnaire’s legacy: the escapist comfort bub- bles that are the seats in modern movie theaters. It is only fitting that Visionnaire’s flag- ship finds itself in the storied Cinema Cavour, designed in 1962 by Vittoriano Vigano. The theater is classically a space of fantasy, where the moviegoer gives him- or herself up to another reality. That too is the work of great design — we use it to invent our world, and in so doing, reinvent ourselves. The world of Visionnaire shows this: bold and flamboyant, it forges fearless spaces and encourages experiences that go beyond the mere aesthetic. (Perhaps another reason why Visionnaire regularly supports artist exhibitions in its adja- cent gallery space, named Wunderkammer — art as its own form of fearlessness.) The power of design is its ability to make lofty aspiration into tangible material, only to beget further aspiration and imagination. That’s why decorating a dream house is not about realizing one’s fantasy, but rather creating a platform to fantasize even more. Be- cause truly creative work enables and empowers others to give into the urge and exercise their own creativity. In such a world, objects like a curvaceous bear lounge or a roadster style chair can be endlessly leveraged to create not just new rooms or homes, but new identities, new experiences, new worlds. Because only creative products encourage us to have wider vision and to be visionaries.”
LEON SUN - BACK TO THE FUTURE
“They say China and Italy are very similar countries: the Chinese and the Italians share a love of family, good food and life. Both nations have a long history, have produced a splendid civilization and make brilliant contributions to the history of art. The first value of the Visionnaire Decàlogo is about “culture”: we often talk about “cultural heritage” and inno- vation, but exactly what does this mean? It is a heritage that has to have the possibility of being passed on: this ability to perpetuate itself depends not only on the tenacity of the individual or the family, but also on the care that goes into safeguarding the transmission of traditions. The legacy of IPE, with Leopold and Eleonore, has reached the third generation and has fostered and permitted the founding of Visionnaire. In spite of this brand’s established position, its “spirit” still needs to be narrated: also for this reason – and to realize the value of its remarkable cultural heritage – for the 60th anniversary of IPE and the 15th of Visionnaire this Decàlogo has been created, to interpret and summarize the convictions which the company and its brand have explored and continue to pursue over the years, setting a new standard for the furnishings sector and allowing us to appreciate Italian design from yet another perspective. Today a number of contemporary artists are contributing – as designers and communicators – to the success of brands in the world of design, while many designers have increasingly become artists. Though many people still think that art and design are two separate fields, the world-famous Brazilian design duo of the Campana Brothers responds perfectly to that position: “For us, the dividing line between art and design no longer exists. From a creative standpoint, we believe that there is not much difference between designers and artists, because both are researchers and witnesses of their time; this is the key to create freely, without boundaries, without labels, to express yourself without restrictions, give rise to new connections and hybrids.” At the same time, through their inventive flair, these two designers set a powerful example: having become famous in the sector of furniture design, they have then approached decoration, architecture, landscape, fashion, art and other fields, relying on their ability to use materials in order to transform and reinvent, with a rare focus on the interaction between traditional craftsmanship and mass production. Visionnaire has frequently developed relationships with artists, not limiting its activity to the furniture sector, but expressing its potential as a refined player that knows and interprets the universe of art.
We experience engagement when we interact with objects that prompt emotions; this concept is addressed by one of the ten values of the Visionnaire Decàlogo. “Everyday objects, if used with love, have a soul and become an irreplaceable part of life. For me, holding a person’s hand in a sincere way, to warm it, is a way of demonstrating selfless love. The same is true for the objects we care about. Taking a small object in the hand every day is like holding the hand of a person. Isn’t that a form of love? I write about my everyday life, my personal objects and their friendship with me. Though it is difficult to express, I want to work hard in order to transmit love,” the Japanese essayist Matsuura Yataro has said, who in History of the love of things writes: “In the love of things, love is actually the precious, unique memory associated with the object. As creators, we should know how to put feelings into the products we create, to offer emotions to the people who will use them.” Today, honoring the anniversaries of IPE and Visionnaire and appreciating the commitment of three generations, we celebrate the creation of a universe of Italian contemporary furnishings that stand out for their extraordinary, unique character. At the end of a long time span of six decades, a new cycle now begins, and this Decàlogo represents the golden key for access to the next exciting stages of a special entrepreneurial and creative journey. I wish Visionnaire a very happy future.”
NATALIA TIMASHEVA - DIGITAL TIME DESIGN
Will we continue to leave objects to our heirs in the future? What will the design we pass on to posterity be like? Will it be sustainable, of high cultural and ethical value, or will it be frivolous, senseless and mediocre?
With the growth of digital technology, the number of objects that surround us becomes increasingly more limited. In the past we did not do away with objects at the same pace as we do today. The platforms offering a vast range of services and scenarios for a life in constant acceleration are growing by leaps and bounds. Inexpensive items can be more and more rapidly replaced. The social networks get us used to the idea that design is something superficial, whose main objective is communication. Nevertheless, this is not always the case. There are still companies that safeguard traditions of craftsmanship, that constantly work on product development, trying to produce objects of an entirely different category, which might be called “Timeless”. The quality of these objects must be excellent, long lasting, and capable of conveying feelings, of responding to personal needs and desires. The key word in the creation of timeless design is customization, personalization: this is why companies offer dozens of color, sizes and materials – all in a single collection – so that compositions designed with a tailor-made logic can be inserted in interiors with extreme precision. At the same time, we feel a desire to find a “shelter” from the continuous digital intoxication, inside our own personal habitat space. The wellbeing of people and the environment – these are the new priorities. How does the design industry respond? Designers work in close contact with artisans, bioengineers, robotics experts, confirming with their commitment that the timeliest need is to work in the area of environmental sustainability. Professionals in various sectors strive to make the planet cleaner, and to make our lives simpler and more carefree; the technology of the latest generation gets in tune with crafts. This “Techno Craft” is highly coveted today: we want to conserve the warmth of the objects of the past in our domestic setting, and we want to experience the quality of work done by hand. The Contemporary Lifestyle sector to which Visionnaire belongs, as it addresses the most highly evolved concept of luxury, which can be called True Luxury – where the worth of goods reflects the values they embody and convey, and is thus not just a matter of price – has a complex, delicate objective: to stimulate the desires of people who possess many material things and need nothing more, communicating an important idea, a concept, a value – the values expressed in this Decàlogo of Visionnaire, for example – for which a new category of objects must become the principal ambassador. We seem to want to achieve a new utopia: that of a society that respects everyone, based on personal responsibility, positive actions and optimism. We are concerned not only about environmental impact, but also about the longevity of material goods, which we want to purchase only in limited numbers: we seek quality, and we are ready to change the world.”
BEHIND THE SCENE
Beauty is a word with an intense, multifaceted meaning. Besides indicating an outlook of positive energy and hope, the contemporary beauty narrated by Visionnaire sums up an attitude, that of creating extraordinary, unique projects and objects. Constant technological research, experimentation with materials, the juxtaposition and mixing of element, the hands of our craftsmen that test, perfect and define a new material solution: these are the factors that go into every single product, making it unique, inimitable, yet reproducible.
SUSTAINABLE CHOICES AND TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATIONS
The brand, which stands today as a Meta-Luxury manifesto, is based on the values of knowledge and research of timelessness that add up to achieve a unique result of its kind. A luxury of contents and values which finds application in the responsible use of materials, in a technological research that the company carries out with commitment, in investments to make the production chain more efficient and the quality of life of its artisans. The convergence between the well-being of the individual and the entire ecosystem that hosts it arises at the center of Visionnaire’s reflection at the dawn of a new decade of necessary environmental and social awareness. Wellness and sustainability also translate into the choice of innovative performing fabrics and leathers through recycling logics and a low impact production process, they represent a new technological and sustainable milestone.
Wood is a living and fragrant material that communicates warmth and hospitality.
It wraps with its own deep smell that, to most, recalls the ancestral concept of home, refuge. It invites us to caress, to contact with the incredible natural geometries of our growth layers. Each ring a stage of life, each layer an imprinted transformation. Every knot, crack or imperfection reminds us that wood is a living and constantly evolving thing. Despite the infinite creative possibilities offered by the use of this material, the only thing that cannot be obtained from wood is a tree. These precious living organisms populate huge green lungs of our planet and it is essential that the balance between what man takes and returns to nature is guaranteed.
Keeping its commitment to implementation of sustainable development and responsible management of forest heritage, Ipe s.r.l - Visionnaire has obtained the FSC™ Forest Stewardship Council™ FSC-C147146 certification and PEFC Program for Endorsement of Forest Certification. With a view to moving forward on this path, Ipe s.r.l - Visionnaire offers a selection of products from the Anniversary collection (2019) which can be ordered with FSC™ and PEFC certificates upon request.
LEATHER AS A RENEWABLE MATERIAL
Leather tanning is one of the most ancient forms of recycling, inserting itself within a process of production that goes from the management of cattle farms to the creation of products intended for the consumer. Leather that would otherwise be discarded as a by-product and disposed of, generating a high rate of global pollution, thus finds use in other manufacturing processes. The skin re-enters in this cycle in which the processing waste of the tanning process becomes essential for further productive applications.
Wellness and sustainability also translate into the choice of innovative performing fabrics and leathers through recycling logics and a low impact production process, representing a new technological and sustainable milestone. Starting from Beauty, biennal collection 2020/2021 and project in constant evolution, the brand has begun to introduce cladding options with high-performance characteristics. Such as Iris, outdoor and indoor textile product made up of polyester threads, obtained from reuse of plastic bottles dispersed in the environment. Entirely produced in Italy, guarantees a very important reduction of CO2 emissions and waste of water for energy savings of over 60% compared to normal production processes. Assam fabrics, obtained through the combination of synthetic and natural fibers, show cutting-edge performances as well: from the possibility of lowering body heat and therefore decreasing sweating and heart rate of a seated person, to the absorption of humidity in the environment with the consequent reduction of the energy consumption due to the use of artificial air conditioning; this material is processed without chemicals toxic to health.This strong commitment continues with a new project, a sample book titled Re-Generation, entirely on fabrics and leathers that comply with criteria of low environmental impact. In this special selection of materials, each single fabric is provided with a technical sheet containing details about composition, spinning, weaving, cultivation systems and raw materials’ traceability.
MARBLES: MANUFACTURING TECHNIQUES AND TECHNOLOGICAL PROCESSES
Nature is and will always be the greatest living artist, the utmost source of inspiration to produce beauty. Varieties of marble from various parts of the world, generated by complex metamorphic processes of stone, are the precious gems nature bestows on us, as its own exceptional works of art. The combined action of temperature and pressure in the earth (across millions of years) generates stratification of the original stone with resulting crystal formations that are absolutely unique and impossible to replicate.
Every block of marble taken from the same quarry (measuring about 3x1.5x1 m), though similar in color, consistency or composition, will be different from the others, and even the slabs obtained from a single block will have variations of form and design. Each slab, like a sculpture, therefore has unique veins and hues, just as the possible micro-cavities due to the natural process of formation of the stone are all unique.
These hollows are skillfully filled and sealed, usually making the process invisible. They are integral parts of the slab, and as such they cannot be considered defects, if observed in the types of marble currently included in the collection. Visionnaire guarantees constant research and quality control, as well as the selection of the finest slabs available on the market. All the natural features of the stone are traces of an age-old history with which we come into contact, an evolution that has come before us and will exist after our lifetime, as a natural memory that is passed on to the future. The task of the art direction division is to conduct constant research on new and interesting types of marble, and to transmit the special value of uniqueness that sets marble apart from other materials, thus making our products into jewels of nature. The big news on the use of marble concerns some new processing techniques which, by exploiting the natural veins of the stone, guarantee unprecedented and extremely natural results, such as the one called “Vital Lymph”, which through the micro-relief of the thinner veins makes the stone like a living organism. These techniques can be applied on marbles that have certain metamorphic properties and which, depending on their appearance, define the very name of the processing: Sea Waves, vein enhancement technique for Confusion Dark marble; Snakeskin, technique micro-relief and wavy surface for Fior di Bosco marble, as well as Crocodile skin for Port Laurent marble; and Galuchat, double engraving technique and micro-relief for Black and Gold marble.
On the experimentation front Visionnaire uses Antolini’s revolutionary Azerocare process for some of its products. The Kobol wellness unit will feature the ethereal texture of Dover White marble, while the Leonardo wellness unit will be enhanced by the expressive power of marble in black & white Dalmata; finally, the Kerwan dining table will be made with Port Laurent marble. Azerocare is a unique process that guarantees permanent protection - with polished finish - of marbles from stains and corrosion caused by the contact of the surfaces with acidic foods and organic substances, without altering the colors, the tactile perception and the specific properties of natural stone. This process, only patented and carried out at the Antolini production units, makes the surfaces non- permeable, avoiding the proliferation of bacteria and also making them simple to clean. Always aimed at increasing the quality standards of its materials while providing the maximum attention to the environmental impact of the proposed solutions and production processes implemented, the company has studied this technology with greater attention to environmental protection; in fact the Azerocare process does not produce any emissions into the atmosphere, nor does it generate processing waste.
ERGON CAPITAL, CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY REPORT
Visionnaire: A Pioneer Brand In Sustainability In Its Industry
Founded in Bologna in 1959, the luxury brand Visionnaire is committed to creating products that embody a concept of absolute quality, combined with an environmentally sound approach. In line with its ambitious CSR strategy, Visionnaire targets to become a Benefit Corporation by the end of 2022.
2019 was a pivotal year for Visionnaire, with the Italian brand publishing its 10 foundation values in an artbook-manifesto entitled “Decàlogo”. The idea was for the company to reaffirm its identity and to formalise its commitment to meeting high standards on social and environmental issues.
Visionnaire has been a pioneer in working to reduce its environmental impact, combining innovation with respect for the environment. The Bastian sofa, part of the Greenery Collection released in 2017, was one of the brand’s first experiments with low-impact materials. The sofa’s support systems can be made from jute, in a move away from petroleum-based elastic belting, while the padding can be produced by a bio-based expansion process. The pillows are filled with seeds, while the coverings can be made from natural fibres derived from linen, wool or cotton, and coloured with vegetable dyes.
Since then, a number of new materials have been added to Visionnaire’s palette, including Iris, a textile made of polyester threads obtained from recycled plastic bottles. Along with being 100% recycled and 100% recyclable, it can be used indoor or outdoor. “This process guarantees a 60% reduction of CO2 emissions and water waste” says Eleonore Cavalli, Art Director at Visionnaire. The latest innovation is a 100% recycled velvet with a soft touch. “Our goal is to use low-impact fabrics that still feel luxurious and provide the soft touch one gets with usual fabrics.” Visionnaire will present a new project, a book titled Re-Generation, entirely on fabrics and leathers that comply with criteria of low environmental impact. In this special selection of materials, every single fabric is accompanied by a technical profile, providing details on its composition, spinning, weaving, systems of cultivation and traceability, to get to a view of the entire product life cycle.
To support its vision, the Italian brand works closely with its suppliers, approximately 50 artisans all located in Italy. They were asked in particular to complete a self-assessment ESG questionnaire with two main goals: raising their awareness about the environmental and social impacts of their activities and starting to collect the data needed by Visionnaire’s R&D team for its work on production methods that are reducing the environmental impacts of the company’s designs.
Ergon is now supporting Visionnaire in its ambition to go even further in the sustainability process, with the company planning to become a Benefit Corporation. To prepare for this status change, the company is working on a process to monitor and assess its precise impact on society and the environment. “Today, customers do not buy furniture for the aesthetics alone, but for its values: made in Italy, ethical suppliers and a goal to lower impact on the environment; this is what we call “meta luxury”, the new luxury” explains Eleonore Cavalli. This change of status, which will enhance the company’s market positioning, attractiveness to investors, and its ability to attract and retain talented people, is expected to be completed by the end of 2022, along with another ambitious project: calculate the company’s carbon footprint and set a goal of becoming net zero.
3 certifications support the company’s commitments: the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and ISO 9001 25% of the company’s product range will be FSC-certified in 2021, ensuring the responsible sourcing of wood
50% of Visionnaire’s contractors already use today recycled raw materials in their production processes
“As a meta luxury brand, we want to take on the formal commitment of generating benefits for society and the environment through our business activity. Our investors and suppliers are fully aligned and committed to this.”
Eleonore Cavalli, Art Director, Visionnaire
“Visionnaire’s commitments to create low-impact designs and support Italian craftsmanship increases the brand’s unique attractiveness. At Ergon, we are convinced that this CSR strategy will help them to thrive and continue to expand.”
Riccardo Collini, Partner, Ergon.
Tra le aziende dell’arredo, Visionnaire ha iniziato ad affrontare il tema della sostenibilità con la collezione Greenery nel 2017, partendo da divani e letti, dando la possibilità di avere una selezione di prodotti realizzati con procedimenti a minor impatto. Il brand, che si pone oggi come manifesto “Meta-Luxury” (nuovo significato di lusso che supera il concetto di solo possesso di beni preziosi ma si rivolge ad oggetti portatori di valori, che possono raccontare una storia e permanere nel tempo), prosegue nel suo percorso di crescita sostenibile, puntando sui suoi valori fondamentali: responsabilità sul territorio italiano, etica del lavoro e massima qualità del Made in Italy. La sostenibilità delle sue realizzazioni è incentrata sulla scelta dei materiali. Dalla collezione Greenery, il divano Bastian ad esempio viene proposto con sistemi di supporto realizzati in juta e l’imbottitura con espanso derivato da procedure a base biologica. Per il rivestimento vengono ora utilizzate fibre naturali, tessute con processi controllati e tinte vegetali; per la pelle viene proposta una concia senza additivi chimici o metallici, realizzata con coloranti vegetali. Mantenendo il proprio impegno nell’attuazione dello sviluppo sostenibile e della gestione responsabile del patrimonio forestale, nel 2018 l’azienda ha ottenuto le certificazioni FSC® e PeFC. Benessere e sostenibilità si traducono nella scelta di tessuti e pelli innovativi e performanti, attraverso logiche di riciclo e un processo produttivo a basso impatto. Il tessuto Iris, composto da fili di poliestere, è ottenuto dal recupero delle bottiglie di plastica disperse negli oceani; garantisce un’importante riduzione delle emissioni di CO2 e degli sprechi idrici. Il tessuto Assam, lavorato senza sostanze chimiche tossiche, è ottenuto dalla combinazione di fibre sintetiche e naturali. Assam è in grado di abbassare il calore corporeo e la frequenza cardiaca di una persona seduta e di assorbire l’umidità nell’ambiente. La concia della pelle è una delle più antiche forme di riciclo: la pelle che altrimenti verrebbe scartata, entra in un ciclo in cui diventa indispensabile per ulteriori applicazioni produttive.