Michele Bontempi, the pursuit of beauty

Michele Bontempi, CEO of Bontempi Casa, is the interpreter of a very specific business philosophy, the result of more than 60 years of history

by Francesco Michienzi

Michele Bontempi is an entrepreneur with a clear vision. He strives for beauty, comfort and absolute quality, always looking to the future. The brand has always been driven by a passion for transforming raw materials into design objects. Bontempi Casa products are entirely made in Italy.

How did your entrepreneurial story begin? Our story is one of perseverance, determination, flexibility and passion, all of which have remained constant over time, as if they were the DNA of the company. Our tradition is to be innovative, to relate to the present, to look to the future and to bring our history up to date. 2023 was an important milestone in Bontempi Casa’s evolution, a point in time that testifies to the company’s strong commitment to becoming a leading player in the furniture industry and an expression of Made in Italy design all over the world. Bontempi Casa perfectly represents the values of Made in Italy: a family of entrepreneurs and a strong bond with the territory for over 60 years, two generations, a consolidated team.

What is the added value of being part of a large group like Colombini? The history of Gruppo Colombini is also a family history and we both share the same vision. This merger is the strategy for continued growth and will allow us to carry out our projects with even more vigour and efficiency, while consolidating our current position. Thanks to the ideal reciprocity in our visions, ideals, markets, and products, with the shared intent of investing in technologies and innovation, we will face future opportunities even more positively and with more enthusiasm. The journey we have embarked on together allows us to fully exploit our potential and gives us more operational independence to continue our trajectory of creativity by researching new products and enhancing our collections.

We decided to renew the entire sofa collection, with a strong focus on aesthetics and comfort, as well as the use of state-of-the-art materials for the upholster.

What is your corporate philosophy? Surprising with beauty and satisfying the customer has been the foundation of Bontempi Casa’s strategy since its foundation. Our philosophy is driven by the desire to create products that enhance the quality of Made in Italy and project its heritage into the future. We also strive to maintain the solid relationships we have built up over time with our suppliers and customers. We have made the constant search for quality our mission. We have renewed our offer with interior design solutions that are in perfect harmony with the lifestyles, desires and needs of an ever-changing world, combining refinement and functionality. When we design a product, we imagine its use, placement and mood. Intuition and passion fuel our creative thinking every day.

What elements do you target to conquer the market? The winners in this game are those who innovate not just the product, but also the sales process. Quality is a minimum requirement to stay on the market, but even the best product doesn’t sell itself. Sales are the engine of a company so it is key to have a strong sales strategy. Marketing and sales are two sides of the same coin. “Tailor made” and emotional marketing actions that effectively communicate the company’s and the product’s values lay the ground for sales. It is just as crucial to invest on the promotion of the brand and its products on global markets. Today, Bontempi Casa is an authoritative harbinger of Made in Italy all over the world. Our ability to listen to the market and read and predict trends is also reflected on the strategy we adopt to select the locations that are most suited to place a new store. We have opened several Bontempi Spaces in strategic locations.

I LIKE TO GIVE CREATIVE PEOPLE THEIR SPACE AND ENHANCE THEIR WORK.
I LIKE THE FACT THAT OUR PRODUCTS ADD VALUE TO THE BRAND, BUT ALSO EXPRESS THEIR AESTHETIC VISION.

What is your vision of life? How has technology changed and integrated with your brand choices? In different languages, living is synonymous with inhabiting. The home is the place of living by excellence and it is a microcosmos. It represents our being and there are infinite ways of experiencing it, various needs mix and overlap. Today, spaces are multi-faceted and multi-functional. In our view, furniture needs to be integrated with the architecture of the home to establish a fluid dialogue with the surrounding environment. Concerning technology, a few months ago we presented the new website and product configurator, the first steps in a roadmap towards the digital transformation we have embarked on. The tool is available to architects, designers, and end customers to show every product in all its variants in terms of shape, size, and material. Furthermore, when we study a new product we use 3D printing techniques to test its shape and adapt its components. Our industry is going through an important evolution also in terms of technology for sustainability; this eco-friendly path we have set out on has allowed us to create the chair Rocket green, which is one first great achievement to us. Thanks to technology, we have sophisticated designs and new materials, fibres, and finishes that allow our surfaces to guarantee an extremely high technical performance while enhancing the aesthetical value of every single detail.

WE OFFER A RANGE OF HIGH PERFORMANCE FABRICS, MATERIALS AND FINISHES FOR THE OUTDOOR LIVING SPACE, ALL OF WHICH ARE PERFECTLY SUITED TO THE YACHTING ENVIRONMENT.

Is our commitment towards sustainability changing our style of living and of producing? The goal is to create a process of change, and adapting to the change or anticipating it – as is our style – means producing sustainably by means of advanced solutions and lower-impact manufacturing processes, without sacrificing quality and comfort. Sustainability is a necessary guideline for growth to respond to the demands of an increasingly aware consumer and an increasingly strict regulatory framework.

Do you personally take part in the choice of new products? I deal with both the entrepreneurial aspect and creative choices, my role as CEO and Art Director allows me to have that double vision. As CEO I consider it a priority to communicate and convey the value of our product. My role as Art Director concerns the choice and management of stakeholders involved at every level of the process: from designers, to producers, to management.

How do you relate to the designers who work for you? I like to give creative people their space and enhance their work. I like the fact that our products add value to the brand, but also express their aesthetic vision. Together, we create collections that represent the soul of Bontempi Casa. Confronting yourself with diverse realities, nationalities, sensitivities, and cultures is the best way to find new creative paths. Design does not identify any specific furnishing style; to the contrary, it is the harmony of all elements that make up an environment and enrich the atmosphere for those who inhabit it. That is what we have in common.

THE DESIGNERS WHO HAVE JOINED OUR CREATIVE TEAM SHARE OUR VALUES. BUT THEY ALWAYS INTERPRET THEM IN A PERSONAL WAY.

Which products are you particularly proud of? We are proud of every collection we have created because each one characterises a different period in our history and has helped strengthen our identity.

What are your goals in terms of market penetration and revenues? We opened our first flagship store in Milan on the occasion of the last Design Week. The opening in Miami is planned for Q1 of 2024 and we will continue with this retail strategy aimed at strengthening our presence in strategic regions with the collaboration of consolidated partners in the region of reference. We wish to create a network of flagship stores and particular Bontempi Casa spaces within other important retail venues. We are currently present in 39 countries worldwide and the goal over the next five years is to cover more than 50.

OUR TRADITION IS TO INNOVATE, TO RELATE TO THE PRESENT AND TO LOOK TO THE FUTURE TO ENSURE THAT OUR HISTORY IS KEPT UPDATED.

Are there any products in your catalogue that are particularly suitable for superyachts? Our business is rather transversal. Lifestyles of contemporary living are increasingly also being proposed in the field of yachting, and often the design choices of shipyards apply typical concepts of the contemporary home to the world of interior yacht design, such as the principles of linearity and elegance. We offer highly performing fabrics, materials, and finishes for residential outdoor spaces which are all certainly suitable for yachting. Being able to collaborate with designers who design and decorate the spaces of these types of boats is a project we find particularly stimulating.

The Bontempi Casa team has always been driven by a passion for transforming
raw materials into design objects.

What kind of entrepreneur would you say you are? Perhaps the most accurate definition would be an entrepreneur with ancient visions, but with feet firmly planted in the present and two eyes always on the future. I am a firm believer in team spirit and in allowing room for the vision of each player in your team. I am convinced that the new generations can make a significant contribution to an ancient craft such as furniture making, because living spaces are constantly changing and we need to change with them, without ever losing sight of our origins, and by conveying the pleasure of spending time in your home through our creations.

What is your main strength? Probably the ability to make complex systems simple. Companies are complex by definition, especially when they are growing as fast as Bontempi.

(Michele Bontempi, the pursuit of beauty – Barchemagazine.com – September 2023)