Local yet international: the history, craftsmanship and wood material of Friuli, North East Italy manifests the distinct character of Billiani. The furniture brand is proudly Made in Italy. Its 100-year history has aged and continued to combine the heritage of traditional manufacturing techniques and knowledge with ever-improving attention to design and quality. In 2019, artistic direction was entrusted to Cristina Celestino, a Friulian architect and designer, to strengthen the brand’s unique story and further define its image for the residential as well as contract sectors. The new chapter of Billiani is on show at Salone del Mobile 2022 at Hall 16 Stand B19.
Philippe Bestenheider experiments with wood in the Edelweiss collection (main image also)
All images courtesy of Billiani
Starting life as a small workshop, Luigi Billiani founded the namesake furniture brand in Manzano in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy. Under generations of family members, Billiani continued to build upon its specialized know-how of local production to make a renowned commissioned seating orders, especially for export. Its success brought collaborations with Italian as well as international creatives who, in turn, lent their own expertise to the brand. The results respected the traditions and family identity of Billiani whilst constantly evolving to meet modern design desires.
‘The years 2016-18 were the most successful for Billiani, as we presented several successful models by the architect Emilio Nanni. His projects established ourselves as a brand with the motto ‘design chairs in wood and in color’. We were recognized as a fresh, young, dynamic company with the right balance between quality and price. At the end of 2018, Luigi Billiani and I took time to reflect on what our growth would be in the future to establish the brand as a design company. We had to go from youth to maturity and give a sign of uniqueness while remaining faithful to our origins: the wood and our knowhow,’ explains Veronik Romanutti, Managing Director of Billiani, to designboom. ‘Among different names of professionals who could have helped us in this growth, we chose Cristina Celestino because her style is unique, recognizable, her knowledge of the territory and of the Friulian know-how is the common language with which we immediately understood. She herself showed us the will to express herself with our material and with the ability to work and enhance it.’
Circular holes are punched into the arched form of the large plywood back for a light, airy design
Philippe Bestenheider debuts the Edelweiss collection
The first of Billiani’s new designs for Salone del Mobile 2022 sees Swiss designer Philippe Bestenheider experiment with wood in the Edelweiss collection of chairs, stools and lounge chairs. The concept of the design balances pressure and tension, as if its own micro-work of architecture. Made from thin plywood, the comfortable seating surface punches circular holes into the arched form of the large back. The result is lightweight yet formal and elegant as it references both Alpine traditions and Swiss design.
‘With Cristina’s art direction, we are seeking collaborations with international designers given Billiani’s commercial vocation of supplying furniture all over the world,’ adds Veronic. ‘We wanted to continue to explore the ability to work with precious wood and the choice fell on Constance Guisset who presented us with a chair with soft but well-defined contours, and Philippe Bestheneider who explored and revisited forms that belong to the tradition of the design of mountain regions, giving life to a family of seats in ash wood of unique details with curves and joints.’
Constance Guisset’s Fleuron chair is based on the idea of a buttress to support the back
Constance Guisset sculpts the Fleuron chair
Taking inspiration from infrastructure, Constance Guisset transforms an engineering solution into a sculptured seat with the Fleuron chair. Based on the idea of a buttress that reinforces a wall, an additional back support adds to the softness of the seat’s curved form. Its unique craft characterizes the design, especially as the support element is contrasted in different colors and finishes to the rest of the body. An all-wood version or highly comfortably padded variation are offered.
Soft lines and simply geometry shapes the Veretta chair by Cristina Celestino
Veretta chair designed by Cristina Celestino
Designed in 2021, the soft lines and simple geometry of the Veretta chair by Cristina Celestino warmly welcomes its user. The enveloping contours are defined by a curved solid beechwood ring that surrounds the seat. It also wraps around the backrest that is generously padded at the front for an even more comfortable experience. The natural wood of the design is exposed at the rear, as a highlight of its handcrafted nature.
‘I feel connected to Billiani, while sharing a sense of geographical belonging and a love for details. Through my work I tried to treat the wood through the shape, gathering stories and creating families with different identities, though, characterized by a punctual design and an elevated manufacturing quality,’ expresses Cristina Celestino to designboom.
The structure of the Frisée collection by Cristina Celestino appears as if inspired by the world of cabinet-making
Cristina Celestino creates the Frisée collection
Although created in 2020, the Frisée collection by Cristina Celestino also debuts for Billiani at Salone del Mobile 2022. The collection combines the solidity of wood with an ironic and joyful frivolity. As if inspired by the world of cabinet-making, its structure expresses a sophisticated lightness that enables the design to fit any interior space. The quality of craft as well as the expert material choice of the Italian brand is exemplified for all to see. Even the color options accent technique, highlighting delicate curves and the bulb-end legs.
‘Veretta is characterized by soft lines and a simple geometry, with a feature ring in solid curved beechwood. Instead the soft and enveloping touch of Frisée has corners that turn into delicate curves and bulb-end legs. I wanted to emphasize the solid aspect of the wood, combined with an idea of lightness; these chairs are ironic and colorful so to stand out in space with their precise identity and a vibrant twist,’ Christina concludes.