Brand Story – Paola Lenti
Built on the commitment to a solid design vision involving extensive material research, reserved aesthetics, and a strong sustainable ethos, we explore the story of Paola Lenti and its production of design furniture for indoor and outdoor spaces.
Before Paola Lenti as we know it today, a globally renowned design brand with a vast collection of elegant furniture pieces for outdoor and indoor spaces, there is Paola Lenti as we knew her in 1994, studying graphic design and working in the same field, with the urge of gaining further control of her professional life and creating something of her own.
Little she knew that in 25 years her very own name would represent a design company employing 100 people and grossing €30mn per year.
In the mid-’90s, Paola was freelancing, working also with fashion clients to design their sets: it’s on this occasion that she gets the chance to work with felt rugs, a rare material, already out of production at the time. This is when she starts a phase of experimentation and research that will last a couple of years, studying and working on different materials and techniques while defining her own design language and forms of expression.
Between 1994 and 2000, Paola’s efforts are focused on designing and producing handmade rugs and porcelain pieces that will exhibit at MACEF and Salone del Mobile, with the support and involvement of her whole family.
It will be in the year 2000 that Paola is joined by her sister Anna: a nuclear engineer by education, ready to get on board and manage the business side of the company, outlining and executing a solid commercial plan to transform Paola Lenti from a handicraft project into a company designing and manufacturing furniture.
Behind the staggering growth of Paola Lenti and an initial team of fewer than 5 people, there is a great commitment to follow strict management guidelines and aiming for clear objectives. Throughout the years, profits have always been reinvested in the company for research & development, and on the side of the distribution, there was no holding back in tapping on unexplored international markets; this led to a geographically differentiated group of clients, ensuring a softer impact of harsh times like the ones of the financial crisis of 2008.
Curious to know more about Paola Lenti’s sustainable approach? Don’t miss The sustainable journey of Paola Lenti in furniture production.
The outdoor collection
On the product side, the first great intuition comes with outdoor furniture: at the time, the offering was limited and the unexplored niche represented a great opportunity to develop. The combination of extensive research and experimentation on materials, production techniques and aesthetic expression, Paola Lenti establishes itself as a design brand of outdoor furniture.
By defining original processing of fibers, which become the basic material on which all the collections are built, and combining a silent, non-intrusive design throughout all its pieces, Paola Lenti uses the attention and approach traditionally found in interior design, towards the outdoor furniture collections. On these premises, the first rugs for outdoor are created contributing to transforming outdoor areas into spaces to be designed, furnished, and lived with the same enthusiasm and care that is generally conveyed to interior spaces.
The result is well received by the market, which recognizes a brand with an original and clear soul, seeking elegant details in all of its pieces.
Nurturing the contamination with external creatives, Francesco Rota is involved in the design process to realize the vision of Paola Lenti: following its own path without compromising with trends and fashion.
Inspired by the prominent icons of architecture, which used to take the design commitment entirely and create a connection between the grand exterior shapes and the tiny interior details, in 2014 Paola Lenti decides to launch its first indoor collection to pursuing continuity with the exteriors areas that the company had been defining for circa 15 years.
This time there is no unexplored niche, quite the opposite: a dense market and fierce competition by great design companies. The key is staying loyal to the design language used until now, with complete control of all phases, from ideation to the definition of materials and techniques, until the actual production phases. Once again, the thread developed by Paola Lenti represents the unit of construction, the basis to start building and defining the final piece.
The uninterrupted dialogue between outdoor and indoor, secured by the continuity of simple aesthetics and textile materials, ensures the success of the indoor collection and sets the way for its further development and enlargement through the upcoming years.
A reserved and elegant style
The prolific production of Paola Lenti is kept together with a stylistic approach that defines all of its products regardless of where they belong – indoors or outdoors – and what their furnishing purpose is: they let people be the protagonists of a space, taking a step back without stealing the spotlight from the dwellers. This mature choice guides the collections through a consistent appearance, away from the showy attitude of numerous design products that, on the contrary, simply aim at becoming the center of attention of the room.
Paola Lenti’s products are solid and durable, thoughtfully designed with the best possible ergonomics: their ultimate purpose is to serve people and embody their function, silently becoming timeless furniture icons.
Given that the design of each piece starts from the in-house produced threads, color customization is a regular process for Paola Lenti: different color combinations can be selected among 400 different ones resulting in unique and personal creations, to express clients’ characters individually.
Sustainability in the company DNA
With a genuine commitment to sustainability since its establishment, Paola Lenti takes the matter very seriously applying a conscious work ethic across multiple layers. Starting from the company life, sustainable responsible thinking affects its own employees directly, with single-use plastics removed from the office, heating and cooling systems carefully designed to limit the environmental impact and the new technical office designed to imply the minimal amount of materials.
Considering Paola Lenti’s large volumes of production, the greatest efforts in sustainability concern the manufacturing process, choice of materials, and waste management policies. All the products from Paola Lenti aim at using the fewer possible amount of materials to facilitate separation and recycling.
Firstly, sourcing and manufacturing activities take place entirely in Italy, guaranteeing a lower carbon footprint related to transportation and logistics. Over 3 years of research Paola Lenti developed Twiggy as an alternative to the threads it has been using since now, representing a 100% recyclable and eco-compatible thread. Waterproof and durable, the yarn is transformed in textiles, ropes, or braiding to be implied in the manufacture of finished products such as sofas, armchairs, rugs, and poufs.
Moreover, not a single animal-based material is implied in the final products and the smallest amount of materials is involved to guarantee easier disposal and recycling, aiming, when possible, at assembling furniture pieces with one single material. The tight collaboration with a Cambodian non-profit organization puts to use the industrial waste of Paola Lenti manufacturing process nurturing a circular use of resources.
For Paola Lenti technological research means blending traditional Italian handicraft techniques with automated manufacturing to achieve simplicity by using both prestigious and humble materials. Research is carried out by a heterogeneous group of people in the company that contribute to the shared effort providing a mixture of knowledge, backgrounds and skills.
It’s through the support of university laboratories and academic experts that the company moves its first steps in defining its very own materials and production techniques. Later on, it will be thanks to a very close relationship with its suppliers that the research team at Paola Lenti will modify and define custom machinery to achieve the pursued quality of production of threads to be used in rugs, seatings and throughout the whole collections of furniture.
Immersing customers in the collections
In order to represent its spirit at its best, Paola Lenti is opening a number of mono-brand stores that will enable clients to fully immerse themselves into the company’s collections. The first retail spaces were opened throughout 2020 literally around the different corners of the globe, in Los Angeles, Johannesburg, Sao Paulo, and Tokyo, with the next one coming up to be opening its doors closer to home, right in the city of Milan.
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