At the beginning of the 60s, Mario Pedrali created a workshop with which he produced wrought iron garden furniture: outdoor furniture was the foundation of Pedrali, which has since expanded to residential, office and hospitality furniture. Today at the forefront of technology, the great Italian company will celebrate this year its 60th anniversary, without forgetting its roots. Its current president, Monica Pedrali, daughter of the founder, and her brother share their vision of the outdoor sector.
What developments have you seen in the outdoor sector ?
In recent years we have seen the emergence of a new way of living, experiencing and sharing spaces, with more and more importance being given to the furnishings of our homes, the outdoor spaces of restaurants and cafes, and the common spaces of workplaces. They are increasingly designed to ensure well-being, and the goal is to provide the same quality and care to the exterior as to the interior furniture. For the residential market, in recent years, our homes have been redesigned to accommodate us longer. Outdoor spaces, such as terraces, gardens and verandas, have made their mark, contributing significantly to our serenity and mood. Welcoming, intimate, they possess the same qualities as those found indoors. Around the world, our collections furnish many outdoor spaces in private homes: CMP Design’s Panarea collection and Patrick Jouin’s Reva Twist are found on the terrace of a private residence overlooking Lake Iseo, CMP Design’s Tribeca chairs define the outdoor spaces of private villas in Greece, Eugeni Quitllet’s Remind collection was chosen for the Casa Lo Alto in Spain…
In the contract sector, recent projects using our outdoor collections include Khufu’s Restaurant in Giza, where CMP Design’s Panarea chairs furnish the outdoor terrace with a magnificent view of the pyramids. The Panarea collection also decorates the exteriors of Alain Ducasse’s Osteria BBR at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, the terrace of the DAV Milano by Da Vittorio restaurant in the modern heart of Milan, and the Amandus restaurant at the five-star Villa Lario Resort, which overlooks Lake Como.
Have new market segments emerged ?
There is a growing need for outdoor spaces in the workplace because of the many benefits that greenery brings to the office: when there are outdoor spaces to relax or when natural elements are introduced to the workplace, satisfaction and productivity increase, keeping concentration levels high.
What are the sectors you work with ?
We mainly address architects and interior designers who want to include products with finishes that ennoble the materials used. The use of color is also very important for Pedrali, it is a distinctive element of our brand, our collections are presented in warm and bright tones. When designing outdoor products, the focus is on well-being. For example, the name of the Reva collection by Patrick Jouin evokes relaxing and dreamy atmospheres.
How do you deal with the constraints of outdoor design ?
We pay particular attention to the growing quality of materials, which are increasingly innovative, and to the excellence of their technical and aesthetic performance. I’m thinking of polypropylene ropes, resistant to weathering, for a truly natural look, or concrete, a highly resistant material which, thanks to the addition of carefully selected additives, guarantees excellent technical performance, including ease of cleaning, greater resistance to mechanical stress and weathering, and low permeability to liquids and stains.
What is your main request?
We are especially asked for versatile products that meet the needs of reconfiguration and evolution of the layout of spaces. Spaces can change considerably according to needs. In addition, architects and interior designers are mainly looking for quality and durability in the materials used in our furniture. Functionality also goes hand in hand with design: furniture is in demand and appreciated when it is both functional and beautiful. We do a lot of research in choosing trends, colors and lines, and we offer a wide range of custom finishes. We study furniture that adapts to environments of different styles, where the dialogue between the exterior and interior is continuous and effective.
Have these expectations had an impact on your market positioning, your strategy, your business or even your product ?
Our company can be defined by the concepts of aesthetics, tradition and innovation. Regarding the latter, innovation is linked to a deep and long-standing knowledge of raw materials, processes and technological solutions, transforming design into a high value industrial production. Pedrali produces “just in time”, “what you need when you need it”, and thanks to the lean production, it reduces the waste of raw materials. The company not only has more space to store products, but also gains efficiency in the production of “custom” products. The goal is to provide better service to customers and meet the increasingly strict deadlines for furniture projects.
Do you have an in-house design team ?
Yes, we have a research and development department that deals with the design and industrialization of products. Professional designers, in a team led by my brother Giuseppe, develop their design concepts based on a mix of heritage, technical know-how and creativity. Working closely with the production and quality departments, products are developed based on rigorous research. The result is a line of functional and versatile industrial products in metal, plastic, wood and upholstery, but also in combination with each other. The process combines tradition and innovation, technical excellence and creative ingenuity.
What do you gain from working with independent design studios ? How does it fit in with your own teams ?
Pedrali has been present on the French market for many years and we are proud to collaborate with French designers such as Patrick Jouin and Patrick Norguet. Moreover, the combination of our know-how and the historicity of French terraces and exteriors, from cafés to restaurants, results in prestigious projects. For example, our furniture was chosen for the outdoor space of Alain Ducasse’s Café Jacques at the Musée du quai Branly, where CMP Design’s Tribeca chairs were used. For the terrace of the restaurant Les Ombres, with a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower, Nolita chairs, also by CMP Design, were used.
The Pedrali collections are born from the synergic collaboration of the company with Italian and international designers who adhere to its philosophy and enrich it with their valuable contributions. The external designers work with our team of technicians: engineers, prototypists, draftsmen, graphic designers and exhibition designers. The challenge is not only to create new products, but also to complete the ranges with new materials and technologies, with the precious support of technical specialists from our territory.
These collaborations have led to important awards such as the 2011 Compasso d’Oro adi for the Frida chair designed by Odo Fioravanti, the same man who designed the Babila Twist armchair, an outdoor seat characterized by a shell woven with a flat polypropylene rope that is resistant to the weather. I believe that design, to be effective, must follow the needs of the consumer, be able to adapt and characterize the spaces in which the products are placed, with the aim of ensuring the well-being of individuals, their serenity, facilitate their activities and operations, and be the promoter of a lifestyle that respects the environment and resources.
Who do you collaborate with for the outdoor spaces ?
Our company collaborates with architects and interior designers in Italy and abroad. My father Mario, the founder of the company, began collaborating with architects in the 1970s, producing furniture for their hotel and restaurant projects. The collaboration with the architect Luigi Vietti dates back to that time. Mario created the furniture for some of his most famous projects on the Costa Smeralda. The project for the Hotel Santa Tecla in Acireale also dates from this period, for which he provided the furniture: from seats to tables, from headboards to mirror frames. A complete project. Architects are also sensitive to the issue of environmental sustainability and our products perfectly reflect this philosophy.
Which major technological evolutions characterize Pedrali ?
Pedrali is an Industry 4.0 company with factories equipped with interconnected machines. Every year, a significant part of the turnover is invested in innovation, technology, as well as digitalized production. Technologically advanced machines and process automation guarantee faster production, internal handling and delivery, as well as on-time delivery. The result is greater flexibility to meet customer requirements, while maintaining the focus on product quality.
Innovation is linked to a deep and long-standing knowledge of raw materials, processes and technological solutions, turning design into high-value industrial production. In addition, in 2020, the company produced its first “recycled gray” products, made from recycled polypropylene: 50% post-consumer plastic waste and 50% industrial plastic waste. Post-consumer plastic waste comes from products that have been used and then properly recycled by consumers, such as plastic bottles or food packaging. Industrial plastic waste comes from plastic containers and films. All products made from this new sustainable material share a characteristic gray hue, a neutral color chosen to even out and hide the imperfections typical of recycled materials. Under the name “recycled gray,” the products are stamped with “100% recycled” to emphasize their environmentally friendly nature.
How do you organize your approach to sustainability?
Pedrali continues its commitment to environmental sustainability by implementing better strategies. To cite some concrete examples of recent operations to improve its environmental impact, we have installed more than 3,000 photovoltaic panels on its plants, producing a total amount of 1.2 MW of energy, capable of covering the energy needs of the company. To reduce energy consumption, during the cold season, the hot water produced in the plastic molding processes is recovered and sent to the other production departments to heat them. Similarly, during the hot season, a system of five cooling towers helps the chillers lower the temperature of the water in the molds. Our commitment to the preservation of the planet is demonstrated by the important investments made to certify its products and systems, as well as by concrete actions related to the quality of raw materials and production plants.
Do you advocate a global strategy to evaluate the impact of your production ?
The company’s system certifications include UNI EN ISO 9001:2015 for its quality management system and UNI EN ISO 14001:2015 for its sustainable environmental management, which extends to all phases of the production process. We also completed the company’s carbon footprint study and obtained certification according to UNI EN ISO 14064-1:2019. The assessment measured the total greenhouse gas emissions produced, directly and indirectly, by the organization’s business activities over a given period.
By analyzing the amount of CO₂ we produce, we can determine the impact of our entire production cycle on the environment. With hard data at our fingertips, we can set continuous, monitorable and therefore achievable improvement goals. As I mentioned, in 2020, the company launched its first collections made from recycled polypropylene. Every product made from wood is FSC C114358 certified, certifying the use of wood from responsibly and adequately managed forests in accordance with strict environmental, social and economic standards. In addition, as of 2018, the company uses water-based coatings composed primarily of plant-based resins for its wood collections.
In the next 10 years, how do you see the future of the outdoor furniture market ?
Outdoor furniture should be welcoming for the home, but also for the hotel industry, it should fulfill different functions, be versatile and easy to maintain and clean, high quality furniture that can last. In an age where the exploitation of resources and territory is commonplace, it is important that these products are also ethically sound, produced in a responsible and correct manner, and conscious of sustainability. The production of our collections follows the optimization of resources and the minimization of waste.
In terms of sustainability, we are a company that has developed, over the years, a “green” philosophy with choices that become the expression of how respect for the environment is an established practice for years. Starting from the awareness that, in a historical moment characterized by a disruptive and excessive maximization of available environmental resources, committing to social responsibility is not about making “green” choices regarding the production and ethics of a company’s products, but about making environmental sustainability a central element of the company’s culture, and a key medium- and long-term business objective. With objectively measurable data, the company can set continuous improvement targets indicative of its full commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development promoted by the United Nations.