Michele di Fonzo

ITALY (1984)
Michele di Fonzo
Since 1921, the di Fonzo family company, founded by grandfather Giovanni, has been using traditional leatherworking techniques to make furniture. Their work is inspired by, among other things, fashion and luggage design, both of which use leather to provide structure as well as beauty. And what is it about leather? Di Fonzo says, “It’s a natural material that I love, both ancient and precious. Each leather hide is unique, firm to the touch but very softly scented. There are few materials that satisfy the senses like leather, and at the same time, it is tough to work with, and it takes decades of experience to understand how it behaves and how it can be used to cover an object. Every object is a new challenge, beginning with conscious planning and availing itself of the mastery of artisan hands that make it a unique product.”

Di Fonzo studied industrial design at Instituto Europeo di Design in Milan. After graduating in 2008, he gained experience by working with Christophe Pillet in Paris, then with Piero Lissoni at Lissoni Associati back in Milan. Afterward came a choice, di Fonzo says: “I could either open my own studio in Milan or return to my hometown to work in the family company. My choice was quite easy, because in the family company my job would be more complete, allowing me to not only dedicate myself to the first planning stages but also follow the product in all its development phases, up to its introduction on the market.”

In 2007, di Fonzo designed his first piece of furniture for the company, where he is now a designer and oversees research and development. His more recent designs include the Bottega Desk (2013) and the Vella Bed (2016), each constructed of a slender yet strong frame wrapped in hand-sewn leather. Both exemplify his overarching aim “to create objects that share a universal language yet are unique in their style.”
Michele di Fonzo
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