Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, and Madonna...let’s throw in some wine and pasta and we get some of our favorite Italian things (on top of Fergie’s timely lyrics). But there is a lot more to the Italian way of life than devouring gelato and chilling by the piazza. In fact, Italy’s roots in design and architecture are enough to give us Pinterest inspiration for days. Thanks to Alberto Nespoli, co-founder of Eligo and EligoStudio, we can now access Italy’s best kept secret—its craftsmen.
On a trip to Milan earlier this year, we were lucky enough to meet Alberto Nespoli, co-founder of Eligo alongside Domenico Rocca. Growing up in a small town near Milan, Alberto had always loved architecture and modern art. This curiosity later led him to study Interior Design at Politecnico di Milano (where he met Domenico) and spend one year at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan and another year at Queensland University of Technology in Australia.
Today, he is living his passion through Eligo, a platform that links local Italian artisans with global consumers through a series of home decor collections, furniture and accessories. This has also extended into EligoStudio, a studio that brings these collections and an Italian touch to life through curated design projects. Targeted at people that appreciate quality and enjoy art and design, Eligo products, priced anywhere between 50 EUR and 7,000 EUR, are sold via ecommerce, retail and through client websites. Gone are the days when your personal taste in interior design is questioned by your in-laws!
“Italian beauty is timeless. It’s always been about starting with tradition and innovating from there.”
Here’s a short history lesson in the words of Alberto (great for Thanksgiving dinner conversation too): “During the 50s-60s, many Italian brands went to China for production. Later, the industrial production with plastic created a demand for mid-priced products, developing a market full of objects. In the 2000s, following an economic crisis, people became more aware of products, intentionally buying less but of higher quality. We are seeing this trend till this day and know it will continue for many years to come.”
Taking this into account, Eligo aims to embody Italian excellence, recounting the worlds of craftsmen and the elegance of Italian home style, with a mission to recover the original roots of its unique timeless beauty. Thus, each Eligo product is thoughtfully researched, developed and produced hand in hand with production districts, representing designs that only selected artisans can reproduce.
The A-ha Moment
The original idea of Eligo and EligoStudio was born in 2010 while the founders were at a meeting discussing bespoke menswear and leather goods in Berlin. “We were both fascinated by the perception of Italian arts and craft in foreign countries and wanted to promote this high-quality feel through a furniture brand that was driven by "Italian Beauty is Timeless" and an "interior design couture" approach.” So, they built up a network of excellent Italian artisans who would be in charge of the artistic direction and new products that EligoStudio, the interior, retail and scenography department could eventually use in its projects.
Why The Name?
Eligo comes from eligere, symbolizing something that comes from the past. Tradition and nostalgia are everything here!
Considering that Eligo works with both small and large scaled artisans and brands, marketing takes on a whole new meaning. “We like to keep the company name or the partner name on our products. It’s an added value to our design because it symbolizes the collaborative spirit with other artisans.”
Plus, storytelling is key for Eligo. For example, each product, whether it is Monte Isola Hammock (created with a weaving technique inherited from an ancient fishing culture) or beautifully crafted ceramics from Este, will launch with teasers and visuals that mix contemporary with historical motifs. At times, a documentary is also shown to emphasize what goes on behind-the-scenes.
Additionally, in a world of collaborations, Eligo has a track record of partnering with brands and designers such as Van Cleef & Arpels and Antonio Marras. “We create collections taking inspiration from the fashion market timing. That means twice a year for Eligo’s classic collections and varied timelines for capsule collections. They also design special projects and scenographies for luxury companies such as Vacheron Constantin, Premiere Vision Paris, Merci Paris, and Yoox amongst others.
No business, regardless of geo-location, runs like a smooth ship. For Alberto and his team, the biggest challenge was bringing local artisans on board. As he recalls, “Artisans can be close-minded sometimes and don’t care for new markets. But, they get excited by the idea of bringing back products that they have been known for.” Hence, Eligo’s success lies in their ability to build relationships with these artisans and make sure that the cultural understanding of their craftsmanship is held with the highest regard.
Both Eligo and EligoStudio are in the midst of extending their portfolio via a collection of furniture, rugs and lights in addition to launching more collaborations. For now, check out some of their current projects: a renovation of a Brutalist penthouse in Milan and an office building in Florida designed with container structure.
Just in time for the holidays, shop Eligo’s beautiful designs + discover a special offer here. Find yourself in Italy anytime soon? Stop by the EligoStudio, have a caffè with Alberto and let him know we sent you over!
Photo courtesy of Eligo.