Anyone who grew up with an appreciation of the painstaking skill of furniture craftsmen and instrument makers, acknowledging the infinite care with which they handled rare woods like teak, rosewood, mahogany or ebony, knows how important it is to protect these precious materials. And also, how difficult it is to imagine a design future without them. Today therefore we must learn to replicate – and reinterpret – them. This is exactly what Alpi’s new Legacy series has done. Presented during the 2022 Milan Design Week, and developed by Piero Lissoni, the company’s art director, the collection demonstrates the brand’s ability to take products that are part of a long tradition and – in the words of the designer – move them “into what may become modernity in the future”. The creations also aptly sum up the essence of Alpi, the company founded near the Italian town of Forlì a century ago, in 1919, by Pietro Alpi.
Today headed by the founder’s grandson, Vittorio Alpi, the firm is internationally renowned for its decorative composite wood veneers. The company also leads the field in product industrialization, achieved by expertly integrating increasingly sophisticated machine production and craftsmanship. In addition, alongside its standard collections, Alpi continues to produce made-to-measure items, crafted by artisans using tailor’s chalk to outline the patterns as if fashioning a bespoke suit.
One of the company’s most renowned products was introduced in 1961: ALPIlignum, a composite wood veneer obtained from a process that entails peeling the trunk, dyeing, putting together the different elements, gluing them together, pressing, squaring, shearing and final testing. The result is a waste- and defect-free product, easily manufactured in the requisite sizes and colors. Alpi uses a base of poplar, linden and ayous harvested from sustainably managed forests subject to direct environmental biodiversity monitoring.
This was also the starting point of the new Legacy series, which demonstrates that all stages of the supply chain – from forest to factory – can be controlled, but also that research is able to reinvent different types of wood.
Curated by Piero Lissoni, Legacy was inspired by a selection of “lost” wood species like ebony, Honduran mahogany and rosewood, which today are exceptionally rare or even banned. The solution is therefore to reproduce these species using other woods and so breathe contemporary expression into materials that from the 18th century were turned into quality European furniture and later became major players in the Art Déco style.
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