The history of Italian design is, in part, also the history of the Boffi family, who were able to establish connections with what would later become iconic names in the international landscape of interior systems. But one must proceed in order; there’s a narrative thread leading back to a small artisan workshop in the province of Monza Brianza. It’s here that, in 1934, every night after working as a craftsman at the Caproni factory, Piero Boffi switched on the light to experiment, dabble and create new ideas, which in the years to come would revolutionise the concepts of cooking and living.
A family story
Piero was joined by his sons Dino, Pier Ugo and Paolo, each with a personal approach to innovation, technology and insight; they launched the first collaborations that resulted in visionary and functional components.However, it’s not just about the products, the series and system components: an artistic direction, from Luigi Massoni to Antonio Citterio and Piero Lissoni to date, and a pioneering managerial attitude, were some of the foundational principles in the building of an image and communication strategy that have invariably accompanied Boffi’s products.
In almost ninety years there have been strategic openings in the capitals of design, proven integrations of manual skill and technology, tailor-made projects, tireless research on the best materials, collaborations and sought-after partnerships. Many insights such as offering brand-extensions have ensured a cohesive look: to kitchens that have become iconic Boffi adds bathrooms, followed by systems, all the way to integrating new companies. Starting with De Padova in 2015, a venture that would lead the two Made in Italy brands to closely collaborate on developing a path to strong internationalisation, already underway in both companies, with the aim of promoting ‘Italian know-how’ globally, by establishing a group capable of penetrating the domestic and turnkey contract markets in a far-reaching way.
MA/U Studio and ADL join the Boffi|DePadova group.
MA/U Studio’s Nordic design in 2017, and ADL’s architectural connecting systems in 2019, follow the leitmotif set in motion by CEO Roberto Gavazzi. Since taking over as Managing Director in 1988, he’s believed in pursuing a corporate strategy; today Boffi|DePadova comprises integrated systems and items diverging from its own style that, if combined, retain the same language with total synergy. A comprehensive perspective capable of enhancing every aspect of the business through transformation, considered changes, and the ongoing desire to improve from one year to the next.
Boffi’s is a journey in search of a complete single entity, of refined taste and in continuous evolution. A way of living that’s recognisable.
A small, improvised workshop and a great desire to experiment. Every evening, upon returning from work at Caproni S.p.a., Piero Boffi takes refuge in the workshop next to home to explore embryonic design projects in his own way. It's the start of Boffi.
The industrial enterprise takes shape. In Cesano Maderno, in the province of Monza Brianza, the first Boffi factory is established, which on multiple fronts will see the collaborations of Piero's sons: Pier Ugo, Dino and Paolo. Each contributing their own approach.
Sergio Asti and Sergio Favre create Serie C, the first integrated kitchen system using standardised components, and defined by a distinctive aesthetic theme that is the total antithesis of the dictates of the time.
With his high-impact graphic style, Giulio Confalonieri manages the Boffi brand's image in the first emerging advertising campaigns.
Pier Ugo and Gian Casé design a model that will become foundational for modern, equipped kitchens: T12. The same year, Luigi Massoni joins as Boffi's Creative Director, which leads to the creation of icons such as the handless Xila system and the E15 kitchen, the first modular concept.
The visionary imprint of the Boffi brothers merges with that of Joe Colombo: the Minikitchen turns into an avant-garde symbol of Kitchen System design: a fluid cubic metre incorporating all preparatory, storage and washing functions.
With the opening of the first warehouse in Via Oberdan 70, Lentate sul Seveso becomes Boffi's new home.
– Antonio Citterio and Paolo Nava design the Factory model, a high-tech version that combines the modernist classicism inherent in the kitchens, with the novelty of an 'open-plan kitchen'.
– It's the end of the decade and Roberto Gavazzi, a young entrepreneur at the time, takes on the role of Managing Director, creating the change and openness needed for corporate internationalisation.
The artistic direction is in the hands of Piero Lissoni, whose contribution determines a series of strategies for creating customised products alongside an understated glamour that permeates the product lines and the communication strategy. This is also the historic moment when the Esprit system, with its low-key elegance, is launched.
This is the year of Latina and Food Center, inaugurated with an installation designed by Lissoni right in the Boffi factory. Two models that enhance the kitchen's macro functions.
The design history and the development strategies introduced by the trio Boffi-Gavazzi-Lissoni lead the brand to be awarded the Compasso d 'Oro alla Carriera, and to embark on the long-contemplated journey of internationalisation by opening Boffi Paris in Boulevard Saint-Germain.
– Boffi asserts its individual market policy with a strategic decision: leaving the Salone del Mobile to introduce the WK6 system inside the deconsecrated church of San Paolo Converso, in Milan.
The directly operated monobrand store, Bagno-Boffi Solferino opens in Via Solferino, Milan, which due to its architecture, is still considered an icon of Milan's Brera district. This is the first in a long series of monobrand stores in Italy and globally, which are the cornerstone of the company's expansion policy.
Corporate internationalization reaches the US shores: Boffi Soho opens the first in a series of Boffi showrooms in the United States.
Boffi joins the Fondazione Altagamma, an association that brings together Italy's most important high-end companies with the aim of upholding Italian culture and Made in Italy's excellence in the world.
Piero Lissoni's Case 5.0 embodies the symbol of the architectural kitchen, thus becoming performance art, with exceptional proportions, materials and avant-garde functions.
German high-end kitchen brand, Norbert Wangen, officially enters the Boffi universe with the K-series' cutting-edge style.
Cut, the tapware designed by Mario Tessarollo and Tiberio Cerato, is selected for the Compasso d'Oro and, in 2004, is awarded the 'Red Dot' for best product design.
The second decade of the 2000s is defined by years of change that first see the brand broadening into wardrobe ranges with the project 'Solferino' in 2010, and the start of the collaboration with Fantini on a catalogue of modern and refined tapware designs, a perfect fit for Boffi.
Internationally, directly operated monobrand stores reach 21, indirectly operated ones 48. Simultaneously, the Aboutwater project is born in collaboration with Fantini.
The expansion also affects the factory and offices: at the headquarters in Lentate sul Seveso, a new Training Center is opened, with a large area for customer service and exhibiting the bathroom, kitchen and systems collections.
– The year marking the start of the corporate strategy: Boffi and the historic company of contemporary furniture, De Padova, agree to merge. The De Padova Santa Cecilia showroom opens in Via Santa Cecilia 7, in Milan.
Boffi Code: introduces a new line-up of totally bespoke furniture in the selection of materials, finishes and storage types.
– De Padova finalises a partnership with MA/U Studio, a Danish start-up operating in high-end interior and office shelving systems, who in 2022, becomes an integral part of De Padova's catalogue.
Boffi is awarded the Compasso d'Oro ADI 2018 for the project, Eclipse, created with Studiocharlie.
With an initial capital acquisition of 50%, Boffi incorporates ADL into its portfolio, the company specialises in designing and producing opening and closing systems that connect spaces, and thus contributes a further increase in growth to the industrial project launched in recent years.
Boffi|DePadova's corporate strategy increasingly communicates its aim of supplying 360° interior solutions, through the presentation of its spaces: Boffi Chelsea becomes Boffi|DePadova Chelsea, occupying a new 900m² space containing all the brands' collections
Milan Design Week sees the presentation of CASE 5.0 – BECOMING, a reproduction twenty-years from Piero Lissoni's original launch.
To date, Boffi|DePadova has 26 directly managed showrooms and over 50 Boffi|DePadova Studios globally, which speak to a lifestyle philosophy that incorporates different entities and influences that coexist synergistically in a single proposal.