DESIGN AND SUSTAINABILITY ARE CREATED IN THE TAILORING OF COLOR
MARIA GRAZIA GISPI
In Cantù they are looking for the perfect color: Molteni Vernici creates tailor-made finishes for architects and designers, the market is international, the materials infinite. Roberto Molteni, CEO, has received this year the Compasso d'Oro ADI "Honorable Mention".
Why were you awarded the prize?
We won with Wakeup, a finish that uses processing waste from the coffee industry, an environmentally friendly and renewable raw material. It has been an opportunity to launch a message, to meet the creativity of architects, designers and companies by formulating solutions that are able to preserve the environment.
The finish features a totally materic texture, with a three-dimensional tactile effect, suitable for indoor supports in metals, plastic and wood, marked by the historical resistance of our paints.
Thanks to the use of a new technology patented by CRS Molteni Vernici, the treated surface is solid and completely insulated from hot or cold liquids.
It is a very prestigious recognition that spurs us to continue our path of innovation and research.
In this moment of contiguous difficulties: what kind of consequences have you had from the increase of the cost of raw materials?
Much of the impact of costs on raw materials is due to speculation, and chemicals are always involved in these processes. Like everyone else, we revised the prices list with three revisions in a year and also had to contain the increases. But as much as there has been a contraction in demand, we have been partially affected thanks to the work on many markets. Above all, we focus a lot on the quality of the product that guarantees a long-term investment. For example, fashion companies have now engaged in retail renewal and have chosen us for the finishes. So this year we have grown by 10%, but we have been growing steadily since 2018 with percentages between 10 and 15%. The crises, in 2020 but also in 2009, have made a great harvest of low-priced products, so the companies that have taken less care of quality have left room on the market.
You work in particular in the world of design and architecture, how has the evolution in this area taken place?
Molteni Vernici dealt with coatings, with an industrial production that at the time was not addressed in a specific way.
At first the coating was simple paint, for design there was a void.
Over the years we have improved the performance and we have brought the products that were suitable for trampling for outdoor commercial use into the interior design, maintaining the characteristics of resistance, but also applied to furnishing objects. Customers are now looking not only for the aesthetic solution but also for high technical quality. Over the years we have developed finishes with good aesthetic performance but designed to facilitate engineering choices.
For this it was useful the galvanic background. In the '70s and '80s bronzed brass was made and Cantù was also famous for its vintage brushed brass beds.
Counting on the base of that experience we developed a bronzed brass finish for all kind of materials: from aluminum to mdf that are cheaper but also are suitable for flexible solution for architecture.
So if a designer wants a burnished brass false ceiling, we can achieve the same aesthetic result with the right finish on a light 6mm mdf support, more practical to install than a 70 by 70 cm brass plate.
The only difference with the original material is given from the different thermic transmission of the metal that is perceived with the touch, but if it is a ceiling finish indeed, the aesthetic yield is respected and the technical solutions easier.
The brand Never is reserved to a series of product that reproduce the metal effects of galvanic processing without using a system that has dimension and sustainability limits. These paints are applicable on every type of materials. It is a patented product registered in Europe, and it is very famous in the world of paints and also very copied.
From the galvanic to the metallic polish effect with more versatile materials
The Never Flat Collection imitates galvanic finishes: a complete range of smooth metal enamels made for design and architecture suitable for the contemporary way of living that extends life from inside the house, retail or hotel to its exterior with the same requirements of refinement. With the use of these finishes, references between indoor and outdoor environments in continuity are possible.
The one-component smooth metal enamel is a product with matt metallic yield, very bright, which is applied in direct adhesion and has anti-scratch characteristics. It is resistant to the main cleaning products and food, using the appropriate painting cycles.
A rhinoceros in Milan was instead Molteni Vernici's solution to represent at the Salone del Mobile in Milan its novelty Wakeup, paint obtained from the waste of industrial coffee processing. But a paint is represented only through the object it covers, hence the choice to depict an endangered animal, but strong and of great impact.
Rhino Superhero, as the installation was called, was on display during The Design Week at Officine Milano.
Why is galvanic in your past and what did it entail?
My grandfather Vittorio Molteni, founded the company in 1948 as a galvanic company in Renate and began, as integration, to make resins as complement as its work. It was an artisan.
In 1985 the second generation with my father Giacomo took over the customer portfolio and abandoned the galvanic side.
As good as it was, it was obvious that the theme of ecology would become increasingly important. Starting from the treatment of metals, moving to wood was a simpler path than the other way around and this legacy of skills has remained in our dna.
How did the company change since then?
The first person that brought innovation in the company was my father: he computerized the company and made sure that the product was completely trackable, from raw materials to the delivery at the client. In those years the company went from artisanal to industrial and moved to Cantù, where all the architects for the furniture companies converged.
We moved the headquarter and the Center of Research and Development in 2009, it was 1000 sqm, now it is 3000 sqm and, starting from this year, there is a new building of Art and Division, Open House where we can meet our clients.
During the 80s it was important to have a good product and we were able to sell it, nowadays the market is more competitive and differentiated: in addition to the quality of the product, durability, technical resistance and aesthetic yield are required and the service in essential.
What does it mean?
We invite architects and companies in our Open House to prototype their materials with our colors. The designer comes to us with his project and together we think about the finish, we work on it for as long as necessary, with any changes required, up to the definition of the color on materials and fabrics. We develop four finishes that are owned by Molteni Vernici but reserved exclusively for that specific architecture studio.
You have been CEO only since 2021, what is your specific contribution to the company?
I represent the third generation and, as it is customary for Brianza families, before taking over the leadership I started from production. After graduating in chemistry, I went to make resins and paints. At the beginning I did not understand the value of that task, only now I realize the importance of having experienced the skills and knowledge of those who produce. It was a fundamental step because today I am the father of many products invented in this company, sometimes it is still me who goes to the laboratory together with the team that is involved in the project.
In this regard, how do you find and train your staff?
We use agencies to ensure we have a trial period and after that if there is a willing to learn and commitment to the company, we offer a permanent contract. Not without difficulties, this year we hired two female workers. The personnel, with the exclusion of a few operative figure, it is mostly female. From a professional point of view and for my experience, female workers in their different tasks, graduated in chemistry or in the administration field, show high precision and determination in the resolution of problems also compared to competitors’ technicians with more experience.