AN ITALIAN AND HER SUITCASE
NOTE: The interview below was originally conducted in Italian and appeared in GD'AMILANO. It has been translated to English for your reading pleasure:
During our travels around the world we had previously met Julia de Zorzi, a young Italian designer who found her place far from home, at a Canadian furniture company. We met her again recently in Milan, during the 'Salone del Mobile', and we took the opportunity to interview her.
Question: We've described you as "An Italian and her suitcase"; please tell us something about yourself.
I studied in France until the age of 16, then went to Milan where I attended the Tourism School, after that I went to a Visual merchandising school. However, not satisfied, I subsequently enrolled in a Design Academy in Milan for 3 years. Prior to finishing my studies at the Academy, I went on vacation to Canada and a whole new world opened before me!
Even before going back to complete my studies, I had already made contacts of people who wanted their homes redecorated. In Canada, age is not a restriction and if you want to work and prove you have the ability, you get the opportunity to do so.
Montreal views young people very differently to the way they are seen in Italy, where I felt constrained and limited. I therefore applied for a job interview at CDI FURNITURE, where I have now been working for the last two years.
Working in this firm is exactly what I had been looking for: creating furniture, with the opportunity to travel, discover new things and get inspiration from everything and everywhere, without neglecting the production aspect.
For me it was like opening a window onto the world; after a month's trial I was employed, and my motivation to work has lead to me obtaining a number of new responsibilities.
Question: Where does this passion for creativity come from?
It must be because I come from a family of artists: my father is an architect and there are several other architects in my family, too. Something I have always liked is recycling materials in order to give them a new life by creating furniture for myself and my friends. I have a great passion for tools, any kind and all sorts, as they represent the chance to create, repair and build, which is the beginning of a new project.
To me all this is pure happiness! The things I do, I don't even consider as work. Even when on holiday! I am always searching for something else, everywhere I go, I am fishing for inspiration and ideas. I actually can't wait to get back to Canada to create my collections: Creativity is my language.
When buying accessories for our furniture, I always bring my personal input, there is always a small creative element - obviously always respecting the brand image and considering the market. For me it is a question of harmonising the more 'eclectic' elements with the rest of the composition more simple.
Question: How is work organised in your company?
At CDI FURNITURE we are a team of designers, each of us different from each other due to our origin, schooling and culture. We all travel a lot so as to discover what is 'out there', to understand what works and what doesn't and to collect ideas to develop a particular trend. Once the theme has been identified, it is fully explored with market studies, research on the style, on the period, on materials and forms, and by creating a mood board which is the starting point from which to draw up and develop the products, all under the supervision of our Art Director.
The Collection is presented to the team with 3D renders, and all are invited to contribute with suggestions and personal impressions.
Once this step is done, the boss gives his approval also regarding to the manufacturing company to which it is destined.
Question: How do you manage to balance your own personal style with the more 'institutional' one of the firm?
I am very creative and at times the team have to bring me back on track. The more complex the product and the more elements are present, the higher the cost will be and the less popular it will be with the public.
As an Interior Designer you have to understand what people will like, always giving your personal touch but doing something simple and easily understood by the public, in order to contain the production cost. The goal is to sell the product, which therefore has to be financially accessible.
Question: Talk to us about CDI FURNITURE
Our target is mainly the young generation, to whom we want to offer something beautiful and natural at an accessible cost, while offering a durable product. Wood for instance, is one of the materials we use most. I am truly convinced that living in a beautiful environment, furnished harmoniously, instills serenity, relaxation and balance in our life.
Home is a nest where one feels protected and beauty surely instills happiness.
Being able to make all this accessible is our aim.
Our firm has two production locations: one in India and the other in Vietnam. Our quality control team often travels to these locations in order to help them grow and evolve as much as possible. The raw materials we use are imported or come directly from these countries.
When we design a collection, we must always bear in mind which location will produce it, its production capacity, the type of wood which will be used and how all these factors will impact on the finished product. The markets in which our firm is present are the United States, South America and Canada but we do intend to expand to the European market and this is one of the reasons why we have come to the 'Salone del Mobile' in Milan. As for distribution, we rely on Fairs such as High Point Market, Las Vegas, Singapore, the Toronto Furniture Show and, in Montreal, were we have our permanent showroom and team of sell agents.
Question: What brought you from Montreal to Milan?
I came to Milan with our CEO, a very ambitious young man who knows exactly what he wants and is driven by a strong curiosity and passion - values which inspire CDI's constant innovation and eye on the future. We came to 'Salone del Mobile' mainly to search for inspiration: it is THE place for new ideas and public relations.
I firmly believe in face to face relationships and going around to see what's going on and what the current trends are.
Milan offers something different to other Fairs. Visiting the Fair and Fuorisalone has given me an injection of creativity. During these few days everything in town looks spectacular and nearly magical. So I want to take some of this 'magic' back to CDI FURNITURE.