Luxury bed brand Letti & Co. is the brainchild of iconic Italian design house Gervasoni SPA and Italian designer Paola Navone. The label launched this year to great acclaim, presenting a capsule collection of fabric-covered beds in Navone's signature style. Our content partner Stylus speaks to Gervasoni SPA’s third-generation co-owner Giovanni Gervasoni about the motivation behind the brand, and the challenges of expansion in a difficult economic climate.
A Flash of Brilliance in a Crowded Market
Letti and Co. burst refreshingly onto the scene at Maison et Objet in Paris this January, following with bedroom accessories in Milan in April – forcing the contemporary design industry to take notice of the previously untapped market of beds.
'The furniture market all over Europe is very crowded with too many companies and not enough customers – so it’s very hard to think of anything that can be more interesting than other things,' Giovanni Gervasoni.
The brand is a collaboration between prolific Italian designer Paola Navone and iconic Italian furniture house Gervasoni. They already had a longstanding relationship, creating poetic collections together with Navone handling distinctive art direction at the company since 1998, so the project is a natural evolution. “We met by chance in 1996 when we were working with a company we’d both collaborated with,” says Gervasoni. “This project has sat in the back of our minds since 2003-04. We began July and made our first products in September.”
The collection comprises 10 directional and distinctive fabric beds in Navone’s signature poetic style. Manufactured in Italy in luxurious fabrics, natural linen and velvets are layered in harmonious patterns, with contrast piping details, quilted headboards and painted frames in soft, subtle colours.
“Paola strongly believed in the project, and when she believes in something she’s very dynamic and energetic,” says Gervasoni. “She has a very free hand regarding creativity – colours, fabric and textures is something that is 80% proposed and suggested by Paola Navone. She gets her inspiration from her culture and her travels... And we do not interfere very much in her choices. As long as they are feasible and saleable.”
The Culture of Good Sleep
Introducing the poetic concept of ‘The Culture of Good Sleep’ into their branding, Letti and Co. combines relaxed Italian styling with contemporary ideals – primarily in a bid to change Italian consumers’ attitudes towards sleep and bedroom furniture.
“The Italian market doesn’t have the same information on how to sleep healthily as most northern European markets,” explains Gervasoni. “Mattress and frame choice in Italy is more limited than for example in Germany. The average Italian sleeps with a very simple frame and a spring mattress, while Germans have big surfaces that only serve specialised mattresses and frames.”
With an enthusiastic response from international markets, the brand is fast developing models for other countries, and has already started working on beds for the Scandinavian and American markets. “We know there are different ways of sleeping in the world,” says Gervasoni. “Some like to sleep on a hard mattress and some people like to sleep soft. For example, the Germans want a mattress to be inside the bed, and the Italians want the mattress to be outside the bed – so we made flexible solutions which make both Germans and Italians happy.”
Innovation in a Difficult Climate
Letti and Co. faced two challenges that drew the attention of the international press: tackling a new market, and launching in a difficult economic climate. But neither appears to have been much of an obstacle. “We think you probably have more chance to invest and achieve something when times are tougher, when your competitors are on the defence – that is the time to attack!” says Gervasoni. “I also think the pleasure of making something is the instinct that moves new investment and new ideas.”
With only one specialised player in Italy’s bedroom market, Gervasoni envisaged a niche for the brand, having studied the art of bed making with two of Italy’s leading bed manufacturers. “At the beginning we thought we would only specialise in Italy because beds are a difficult item to export, but the indication is that we are also selling a lot worldwide.”
With good responses from Europe, the US, South America and Asia, there are plans for the brand to branch into other bedroom furniture. This was hinted at during the Milan furniture fair, where a series of end-of-bed ottomans, side tables and small armchairs were revealed – all upholstered in Navone’s signature style.
'We think you probably have more chance to invest and achieve something when times are tougher, when your competitors are on the defence – that is the time to attack!' says Giovanni Gervasoni.
This story was produced by Interiors Content Partner Stylus.com.