In Northern Italy, one witnesses strong and creative economic activity. There are numerous extremely dynamic companies even in highly competitive sectors like furniture. Among some hundred companies in the sector, Bonaldo is not the most important, neither by revenues nor head count. But it punches above its weight and counts as a significant player, even on a global level. For Bonaldo and others must compete both against gigantic American enterprises, and Chinese hegemony on price. The only way to survive is to provide quality, to innovate, and to play the design card to maximum advantage. This is the route chosen by Bonaldo.
Founded by Giovanni Vittorio in the province of Padua in 1936, the company specialized in metal machining with only a few employees and artisanal methods. In 1958, son Albino began to make mattresses, bed frames, and metal beds. From 1965, the emphasis was on tubular steel furniture and later, sofas, through a division called ‘Styling’. The golden age of the company began in the 80s under the leadership of Albino Bonaldo, with the assistance of his wife and, later, his daughter Sabrina and son Alberto. The family aspect, broadly defined, is important to the operations of a manufacturer; for example, the 70-year anniversary album devotes several pages to photos of employees, the people critical to the success of the Bonaldo family. All share the same passion for a job well done. Just as important, the company manufactures all its products in Italy. Its largest plant in Villanova in the suburbs of Padua is home to processes like welding, painting, upholstery, and cast-molding plastics. There is of course a certain amount of outsourcing for chrome treatment, glass manufacturing, tanning leather or cutting wood, but it all occurs in the region (called the Chair Triangle, home to a critical mass of diverse contractors) and respects environmentally-responsible practices. This is far from the modus operandi of certain major brands: off-shoring, exploited labor, and questionable practices. The way business is done at Bonaldo is reflected in the price, but also in the quality of the products. Result: high quality, high-end products. To achieve these goals, Albino Bonaldo doesn’t hesitate to employ automation and robotics in selected parts production, in effect, following a long company tradition in which technology is predominant. Some tables also borrow materials from the aviation industry, like carbon fiber. And the finish is always perfect, even if some parts of the furniture are unseen by the consumer eye. Rather unlike low-end sofas where leatherette gives way to plastic in the less visible areas, such as behind the seat back.
The 1990s marked an important turning point in the history of Bonaldo. Designers began to make their appearance in the catalog and thus became the new genes of the company. Now, in addition to its internal research center, Bonaldo began to collaborate with the heavyweights of the design world. The company invited designers such as Englishman Ron Arad, from Japan Toshiyuki Kita, the Canadian-American, Karim Rashid, the Italian, Massimo Iosa Ghini (creator of the H2O table, a cornerstone shift at Bonaldo), to create furniture comprised of multiple materials: steel, glass, wood, leather, cloth, and plastic. The move to source designers from around the world became a strong trend in Italy that Bonaldo quickly adopted, but tailored to developing products consistent with the manufacturing capacity and expertise of the company. And, of course, to the taste of consumers. In this regard, Albino has always had the good sense to lend an ear to criticism, as is the case for one of his worldwide major retailers, Louis Pauzé. This Montréal designer has operated his store here for 20 years under the name of … Bonaldo, even as he also sells nanimarquina carpets and Artemide lamps. He has never hidden from the one he affectionately refers to as imperatore, his deepest thoughts on the comfort or look of furniture. And the ‘Emperor’ has often taken these into account in his final decisions. Not surprising, since the two men share a passion for design and impeccable work.
Today, Bonaldo showcases its collection in a 6000 m2 showroom in Borgoricco, on the site of the old Styling factory, converted by key collaborator, Mauro Lipparini. Here you will discover well designed, and well built, durable furniture. Since 2000, the manufacturer has won a slew of prestigious awards. Even the Chinese have recognized that success, buying the brand whenever it comes time to put prestige on display! The company best summarizes its DNA with a mathematical formula: Design + Passion + Technique = 100% Bonaldo.
“the company specialized in metal machining with only a few employees and artisanal methods.”
Metal press for fixing chair legs and bed frames: a symbol of the company’s successful beginnings.