17 Jan 50 years of Mariani Affreschi, the history of a forward-thinking family company
Posted at 12:04h
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2013 is an important year for Mariani Affreschi. The company celebrates its 50th birthday. Since the post-war era, Mariani Affreschi has known how to continuously innovate, starting from the experience of its founder, Carlo, passing to the hands of his children, and establishing itself as one of the most important producers and creators of frescoes in Italy.
Carlo Mariani in 1963, when Bronz'Art was founded, which later became today’s Mariani Affreschi
The Mariani collections adorn public and private buildings all over the world. In recent years the company, while maintaining its family and artisanal nature, entered into the market of contemporary artistic decorations and furnishing accessories with new visions. Alberto, who together with Laura and Alessandro, is owner of Mariani Affreschi, tells us about the history and evolution of the company.
1) How has Mariani Affreschi evolved since 1963 and what are the company’s future projects?
First, we must remember that the company was founded under the name of Bronz’Art, at a time when our core business was artistic castings for furniture items. Our company has witnessed important moments in the Italian economy from the sixties to today, riding the phases of economic growth and overcoming with sacrifice the times of crisis. The company continued to transform, going from producing decorative items in zinc alloy, pewter and brass to frescoes and artistic interior decorations. Throughout it all, we have been able to maintain the family and artisanal aspect of our company, without sacrificing the opportunities offered by technology, globalisation and new markets.
Alberto, Alessandro and Laura Mariani, owners of the company
2) What legacy did your father leave you?
Our father passed on his creative and dynamic spirit to us and his collaborators, who since his death in 2003 until today have allowed us to successfully overcome the ultimate challenge: the generational shift, a factor that today is more and more crucial for the survival of thousands of small-medium sized enterprises in Italy. In this regard, I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to Patrizia, the company’s accountant, who from 1974 to 2011 gave so much to our company, especially during the succession of management. Patrizia was more than a collaborator for us, she was a member of the family, and we wish her all the very best on her well-deserved retirement.
3) The future?
The future has become more and more unfathomable in today’s economy. From our point of view, we must think in terms of “adapting” to the current circumstances, focusing more on defining our mission rather than our strategy, since the former should reflect the nature and spirit of the company (its “uniqueness” which is essential in any context), while the second must be more flexible in order to respond effectively to the extremely rapid market changes. Today everything changes so fast and only those who are able to take risks and try new things can win.
'The Prince, one of the works that symbolises the new ArteMariani collection, presented to the public in September 2010
2) The new ArteMariani brand has opened the door to a new clientele, a younger one. How did this come about?
ArteMariani is literally a spin-off of our production. We could not ignore the power and persistence of the contemporary style, which many believed – wrongly – to be a downward spiral. It was necessary to give a clear signal of discontinuity with a new image and brand, and more “revolutionary” proposals. After the success of the first models, we are now developing new designs that will soon be presented to our customers. In order to be successful with retail customers we not only focused on the design, but also on trying to create high-quality products at competitive prices.
3) Among the projects tackled by your company in recent years, both in Italy and worldwide, what were the most important and significant?
Certainly the most important project was the 1.700 square meters of frescoes, all in Italian style, commissioned for the “Porta” shopping centre in Yokohama (Japan). The project was completed in 2000 in only 8 months, under the most optimistic predictions. The Italian newspaper “Il Giorno” called it “a much larger project than the Sistine Chapel.” It is still possible to admire the work of 40 artists on the ceilings of the shopping centre, which through the representation of piazzas, cathedrals and sea views recounts the history of a wonderful country: Italy.
We have also produced many works of great prestige for many important people worldwide. Due to the privacy of these customers, we prefer not to publish the images and/or information of these works.
An article published in the Italian newspaper “Il Giorno” on Mariani Affreschi’s impressive project in Yokohama, Japan
4) How would you compare the work method of fifty years ago with that of today?
At that time, the market needed any type of good and success went to those who knew how to create an effective organisation quickly that focused on quick supply and financial equilibrium, since everyone was buying, but the money circulating was perhaps more virtual than now. Today the challenge is always speed, however it is focused more on other factors, such as supply versatility and product customisation. Fifty years ago, fashions changed slowly and production was aimed at reducing costs and increasing production. Today all our works must be “tailored” because each customer has unique needs and desires. The artistic and artisanal soul left by our father is the most extraordinary tool that we can use to overcome this difficult global economic situation and “outline” new horizons for those who follow us.
The artists of Mariani at work, passing on the traditional frescotechnique
5) Where can we meet you?
We will be participating in two upcoming fairs which will be held only a few days apart: in April we will be present in Moscow at MosBuild, and then in Milan at Salone Internazionale del Mobile fair. We look forward to meeting all our customers to celebrate this great achievement.