Meet the Artisan - Berdondini 1926

How did Berdondini 1926 come about?

The furnishing tradition of the Berdondini company began in 1926, when Antonio Berdondini, after graduating in design from the Tommaso Minardi Design School of Faenza, opened his own cabinet-making workshop.

With his creations, he went beyond the world of antiquated manufacturing, and joined the new movement of Italian rationalist design.

It was precisely such illustrious cultural heavyweights as Giovanni Guerrini, Melchiorre Bega, Gaetano Ballardini, Pietro Melandri, Domenico Matteucci, Riccardo Gatti, Francesco Nonni, Ercole Drei, Giuseppe Ugonia, Domenico Rambelli, Franco Gentilini and others who stimulated the young Berdondini attending their meetings, debates and discussions about ideals, art, and the future.

Thanks to many awards and honourable mentions at various exhibitions of the time in Bologna, Florence, Rome and Milan, Antonio Berdondini cabinet-making became a leading national style reference.

How does your provenance influence your work?

Our city is Faenza, famous since the 13th century not only for its refined ceramics, but also for its wrought iron (see the works coming from the Matteucci workshop, for example), as well as its cabinet-making. This meant that the various artisan workshops have conversed with each other, transmitting their experiences and secrets to each other. Therefore, it is no coincidence that, in some Berdondini furniture produced in the 1930s to 1950s, we find panels by ceramic artists such as Giorgio Melandri, Angelo Biancini, and Domenico Matteucci. 

The past is a constant inspiration in your works. Tell us why.

The idea of drawing on the historical period from 1930 to 1950, for the definition of a furniture collection, comes from the season in which Antonio Berdondini most developed his design and production activities.

It is a historical period that has been understudied and undervalued in aspects relating to the applied arts as it has often been linked to the “regime” of that era, which, however, by now, we can think of as “classic”, thanks also to its rediscovery by authors such as Giò Ponti, Guglielmo Ulrich, and Ico Parisi.

It represents a style, therefore, that an increasingly wider public is approaching, and that reasonably stimulates manufacturers to bring items more or less directly inspired by this trend to market.

Today, the Berdondini firm, with my design contribution, proposes to meet the growing interest in furniture from the 1930s and 1940s, with a first nucleus of items representing a production line for the firm.

The stylistic references to which I referred include, on the one hand, suggestions from my grandfather’s archive, and, on the other, what the historian Rossana Bossaglia calls the “courtly nineteen hundreds”, that is a “way of doing” that interprets the rationalist idea but re-proposes symbolic models from the past.

The collection proposes several types of items that retrace a path of development, which, in those years, sought to “modernize” tastes in bourgeois homes, through sideboards, wardrobes, desks, tables and armchairs, types which, in the “Italian house”, Giò Ponti elaborated with taste and with that artisan component that distinguished all his works of those years.

What are the materials you most use and look for?

The furniture of the historic Berdondini collection is built with precise and rigorous artisan techniques, following a method that has distinguished the brand for years.

In terms of structures, constructive techniques are used that make use of blockboards, solid wood, and honeycomb panels.

The production process has always excluded materials such as pre-composed wood, chipboard, etc.

Only first-choice, precious, natural wood materials are used for veneers, such as bois de rose, makassar ebony, maple root, ebony, amaranth wood, zebrawood, and thuja root.

Industrial recomposed wood veneers, or multi-laminar wood veneers, are absolutely not used.

In addition to these precious wood sources, precious leathers are also used, such as stingray skin, processed by the laborious and age-old “galosciat" technique, eel skin, and very fine parchment obtained from precious kid goat skin. Berdondini has never contemplated the use of imitation printed leathers.

Other precious materials used are honey onyx and bronze, which is worked with the ancient technique of lost wax casting, and finished with patinas of oxidized silver and copper.

Furthermore, on large surfaces, double veneers are realized by counter-plating, a technique used for some time and still in use by the best cabinet-makers. This guarantees a better resistance of the material over time to sudden changes in temperature and humidity.

Each piece of furniture is handcrafted according to the most rigorous and age-old cabinet-making techniques. The use of numerical control tools is limited only to small parts, due to limitations in the type and conformation of the product.

Watching their production is like participating in the creation of a work of the highest artistic craftsmanship. Breathing in the scent of cut wood, witnessing the work of the skilled hands of the master cabinetmaker balancing the grain of the wood, and seeing to everything down to the finest detail ... I have to say that, even though I have been doing this job for years, every time I enter the carpentry workshop and watch the production of a piece of my furniture, I always get as excited as if it were the very first time.

What makes your creations unique?

Design, craftsmanship, natural materials, historicity, these are the values with which Berdondini products are made.

Berdondini creations have always been distinguished by their timelessness. With an exclusive design, conceived and developed by interpreting Italian excellence and creativity.

Handcrafted in Italy, since 1926, the furniture, in every piece, is the result of a long succession of different delicate operations, each of which contributes to the creation of unique and unmistakable furniture.

It can take as much as 160 hours of work for each product, excluding the time the parts have to be left to rest, for the glues and the various layers of shellac to set.

Every Berdondini piece of furniture becomes a real jewel of craftsmanship, in which creative ability and aesthetics blend naturally.

Every Berdondini piece of furniture is a unique and unrepeatable work, a symbol of the “Made in Italy” style.

Berdondini signs its AB1926 products by hot-branding every single piece of the collection. Each product is thus progressively numbered, in order to identify its exact position in the production history.

Antonio Berdondini
firma Antonio Berdondini