Innovation is at the heart of good design
“Innovation is at the heart of Salvatori"
“Innovation is at the heart of Salvatori,” proclaims CEO Gabriele Salvatori when asked how the company evolved from a simple stone company to an international design brand, “it’s in our DNA.” Since taking over the family company from his father decades ago, Gabriele Salvatori has overseen enormous growth and considers innovation as the secret to his successful brand. From developing new textures to exploring industry-first sustainable practices, Salvatori is always one step ahead.
“The industry doesn’t necessarily know what it wants,” Gabriele explains of the process of innovation in business, “the challenge for the entrepreneur is to discover the untapped needs people don’t even realise they have.” In the nineties, Gabriele was experimenting with industry-first finishes, like his revolutionary Bamboo texture, which he admits was ahead of its time. But the market eventually caught up. “We were presenting these products at trade shows, but nobody was really interested. Then, the minimalism trend began to grow in popularity: John Pawson designed his first store on Madison Avenue and people started to understand that it was the beginning of a new era in design. That is when the market started to pay attention to what we were producing. We were one step ahead of the game.”
Gabriele saw this success as an opportunity to grow and connect. “At some point I said, you know what? I’d love to enlarge this vision so that it’s not just me designing products. I wanted to collaborate with people who were not already in my industry, so they could look at what I do from another perspective and come up with interesting ideas. I started collaborating with architects like John Pawson, then Piero Lissoni and Rodolfo Dordoni — the list goes on. From there, I started to create a portfolio of designers that were aligned with my views and my values, who agreed with me about what is beautiful. Sure enough, the company began to grow.”
These days, innovation has revolved around the implementation of sustainable practices within the company, which Gabriele has spearheaded for over a decade. “In 2008, I started to think that we were producing beautiful products, but that we were also producing a tremendous amount of waste. We began to develop more sustainable practices within our workshop. I started to develop new ways to reuse the scrap material we would produce. And that’s how we started producing Lithoverde.”
“We took all of the broken pieces that had cast off from the production process and pieces them together like a Mondrian painting,” Gabriele explains of the development of the innovative material, which has been awarded for its commitment to sustainability. “We didn’t want to use epoxy resin because that’s harmful to the environment, so we did our research and found a soy-based resin, which worked perfectly. We launched the product in 2010 with John Pawson at the Salone del Mobile. The project, House of Stone, became a defining event for our brand, introducing us to the world. Now, it’s a trend to be environmentally conscious, but at that time, this was something new within this industry.”
While a focus on sustainability has only captured the imagination of the design industry in the past decade, an innovative attitude, according to Gabriele, is hereditary. “My father’s greatest quality has always been his willingness to challenge every single thing, every single process, every single product. That has always been at the root of our brand.”