BILLIANI: HISTORY AND CULTURE OF THE CHAIR
Billiani has been making chairs in Italy for well over a hundred years together with the most brilliant minds of Italian and international design.
Billiani started up in 1911 when Luigi, a carpenter, and his wife Delina, daughter of a chair maker from Mariano, opened a small factory in Manzano. At that time, although Manzano and Mariano were just ten kilometers apart, they were separated by the border between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Kingdom of Italy.
This is what characterized and still characterizes Billiani: a border crossing that was to become so very influential, a key to design, straddling tradition and experimentation; for production, whether on a small or industrial scale; for the products themselves, the applications of which overlap in contract and residential settings.
A FAMILY HISTORY, SINCE 1911
The company was founded in 1911 to produce curved and wicker wooden chairs. The small family-run factory is located in the heart of a district that, after the Second World War, was to become the chair district: Luigi’s children – the brothers Ottone, Orlando, Lino and Bruno – would experience the boom years as major players.
In 1986 the third generation joined the company and Billiani became synonymous with seating for large or-ders, destined especially abroad.
At the end of the nineties Luigi Billiani, who has the same name as his grandfather and had trained as an architect, decided to go down the design path and, together with his wife Veronik Romanutti, created the Billia-ni of today.
BILLIANI, DESIGN AND DESIGNERS
Good design and woodworking ability have always been the hallmark of Billiani products, but it is only since 1997 that we have started to talk about design in concreete terms.
The debut was at the 2002 Milan Furniture Fair, with a provocative stand on which flew the flag of design: Marco Ferreri designed it, also the author of a chair that was awarded the Compasso d’Oro.
While the link with tradition was ensured by the projects of master Werther Toffoloni, the partnership with Emilio Nanni opened up a new era: colourful, trendy, carefree. The list of designers grew – Francesco Faccin, Harri Koskinen, Michael Geldmacher… – as did the list of projects, some of which were exhibited in museums, from the MoMA in New York to the Milan Triennale.
In 2019 artistic direction was entrusted to Cristina Celestino: the image has become warmer and more sophisticated, with new colours and fabrics. The chair remained central as well as wood, the leitmotif of the collection.
THE EXCELLENCE OF MADE IN ITALY
Billiani produces 100% within the chair triangle, an area of small specialized workshops, each with a deep-rooted woodworking culture.
A hub of excellence made up of companies with a centuries-old history of craftsmanship, each specializing in a particular phase of the work. Billiani’s activity continuously intertwines with the local production sector: a guarantee of quality but also an investment in the overall supply chain, because each innovation enriches the know-how of the whole district.
This is how Billiani’s Made in Italy has taken on a value that goes beyond the product itself to become an expression of a shared cultural and manufacturing heritage, as well as a family business.