Bartoli and Colombo Design: 30 years together
«Looking back at the sketches and the hand-made models of the first handles, I recall many memories linked to the ten-year collaboration with Colombo Design – smiling – But I also think I was really good ».
Having always a snappy comeback, lots of anecdotes from his memory, Carlo Bartoli, 88 years old on June 28th 2019, is an architect and designer who has made the history of Made in Italy furniture. Twice Compasso d’Oro prize, one of which is for the career, he has created products that are now on display in the permanent design collection of the MoMA in New York and the Triennale Design Museum of Milan. The story of the Bartoli studio, now in the hands of the sons Anna and Paolo, crossed the story of Colombo Design. From the beginnings to the present day, with products signed by the architects of Monza still present in the catalogue and still best sellers.
Facing the sketches of the TACTA and MOON handles, the architect went back to the early Nineties, when Colombo Design was preparing to conquer its place in the market for handles and bathroom furniture.
«I remember that the Colombo family company was just starting out, when the new production site – designed by the Bartoli studio – was not existing yet. Thanks to mutual acquaintances, Michele Colombo (President & CEO of the company) contacted me and told me about the projects they intended to launch».
It was from that meeting that the first ideas were born that gave rise to a long and important collaboration, a relationship that generated, for example, the ISOLE, PLANETS and FORMAE collections, milestones in the Colombo catalogue.
«Initially the management asked me to project some handles that would have given life to their first catalogue. I believe the sketches I did at the time are still interesting today. Then we started working on bathroom furniture. I am still linked, for example, to the LUNA series: a collection that had been the outcome of the dialogue between Colombo company and us, a very strong project that had great success on the market. At that time there was an important retailer’s showroom next to our studio. Browsing through the products and chatting with the owners, they showed me their favorite collection of accessories, which was also one of the most appreciated by customers. It was the LUNA, they didn’t even know I had designed it.
The sons add: «It is perhaps the company with which we have produced the biggest quantity of products. We did research, we tested new materials, we involved design engineers, it was a 360-degree work and it helped to define the identity of the company».
After 30 years from the beginning of this collaboration, the Colombo Design catalogue, as mentioned, still includes important products designed by the Bartoli family studio. «Everything has changed over the decades, the market has changed, the world of architecture and design has changed, so many companies we collaborated with are no longer existing. Foreign competition has increased. Those companies that have had the strength to go ahead with logic and confidence in quality have kept the name of Made in Italy high. I have always appreciated from Colombo Design the research on the characteristics of the materials and products finishes. And this attitude has never changed ».