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An interview with Lapo Ciatti, CEO of Opinion Ciatti

'We want to add a unique flair to spaces, just as the right mix of spices and sauces can flavour a dish'

Opinion Ciatti, founded in 1950 in Florence, is specialised in the production of design furniture and accessories. Their aim is to create a catalogue of "spices and sauces" that add a unique flair to spaces, just as the right mix of spices and sauces can flavour a dish. We interview CEO and Art Director Lapo Ciatti.

'A design object must be able to tell a story...evoke positive emotions, and bring joy to its users, all while maintaining its practical functionality. It must be new, yet deeply rooted in tradition, to stand the test of time and leave a lasting impact.'

On the left: Lapo Ciatto. On the right: bookshelf Ptolomeo, chair Pepe and desk Macis.

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.

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.

The Pacifico book case.

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 customisation, personalisation, creativity, and visual allure, just like the spices and sauces that add taste and complexity to a dish.

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 breathe 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.

The carpet Firenze.

Opinion Ciatti was recently at Salone del Mobile 2024. What did you show at the fair?
This year we showed new products and finishes, which should help us to slow down. In fact, our claim of the Salone del Mobile is "Take your time".

It should be a reflection on how spaces and furniture can help us experience time as we live in an age where everything moves at an accelerated pace, with agendas overflowing with commitments and high levels of performance to meet, where time always seems to slip through our hands like sand between our fingers.

The new products - a console table, a shelf, tables and coffee tables, a bookcase – reflects this philosophy, since to release all their functionality, they oblige us to live them fully, savouring every moment we spend in their company.

What did you think of the fair?
We are very happy about the fair. A lot of people, good meetings and great feedback. Very interesting seemed to be our new finish Corkcrete. We are very happy about that, as we pay a lot of attention to the use of sustainable materials.

Our journey into the world of design is driven by a constant search for beauty, functionality and innovation. Indeed, we firmly believe that what we do is not just about aesthetics, but also about experience. This is why "Take your time" represents us so much, because each piece is designed to ensure usability that goes beyond mere utility but is charged with deep meanings of care and reflection. We are also proud to showcase not only our products, but also our dedication to sustainable design: in fact, we continue our commitment to reducing the environmental impact of our production, using recycled materials and eco-sustainable processes. But our work does not stop there. We are constantly looking for ways to improve and innovate, to keep up with industry trends and to listen to our customers' needs. So what better occasion than the Salone del Mobile? We will be returning in 2025 as well.

On the left: the mirror Oodh. On the right: products with the new material Corkcrete, presented at Salone del Mobile 2024.

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.

More information:
Opinion Ciatti
Via di Prato, 80
50041 Calenzano Firenze, Italy
+39 055 887091
[email protected]