Giulio Cappellini is arguably the world’s foremost entrepreneur of interior design. His father started the Cappellini furniture manufacturing company in Italy in 1946, but it was Giulio who, from the 1980s, transformed it into both a global, design-centred business. It is also a champion for a number of young designers, many of whom would go on to be the superstars of their discipline. Many of its products feature in the permanent collections of design and art museums around the world.
Emerging during a time of postmodern design during the 1980s, Cappellini has created an intriguing space integrating products and global connections. We spoke to Cappellini about the design market, cultivating young designers and talent, and the difference between lifestyle and longevity in design.
ACM: The Cappellini company has been in business since 1946, but you led it through a major transformation. How did that come about?
GCI: Until the 1980s, Cappellini was a small company just selling in Italy. I was coming out of university and got to work for a year with Gio Ponti, which was a great experience. I was thinking of becoming an architect, but started to help with the family business. I said one day – I always say that I must have been drunk – that I wanted to get more involved. I was lucky because my father said about my ideas, “OK, just go ahead,” and I started to move Cappellini on from being a small furniture maker, like thousands of other companies in Italy, towards something that was more about design. In a few years we totally changed what Cappellini was about.