Founded in 1934 with a focus on kitchens in its native Italy, Boffi is today recognised as a global design brand for the home and contract markets. Below Boffi CEO Roberto Gavazzi reveals the journey…
When you entered Boffi in 1989, the company was a traditional family business. What key steps did you take to transform it into a contemporary design brand?
It was a multi-phase approach, focused on the offering and international expansion. The starting point was to expand the offering and sell more than just kitchens – when I arrived, kitchens made up 96% of sales. We diversified into bathrooms, wardrobes and now furniture, after our acquisition of De Padova (a prestigious Milan furniture brand acquired by Boffi in 2015). We moved away from a company that was simply selling ‘products’ to one that was offering systems. The idea was to create systems that could be adapted to meet the desires of a high-end clientele.
Our range revolves today around three concepts: standard, modular and customised. Take kitchens, for example. The main offering is a traditional setup with standard cabinets and different kinds of finishes; then there are technical pieces like the Salinas kitchen, where we have a wide offer of materials but a specific number of possibilities since you put your kitchen together with a configurator choosing from a series of modules. Lastly, we have Boffi Code, which is based on a totally customised solution for those who want to stand out from the crowd. The same concept is applied to our entire product offering.
(Above: Aprile kitchen with Corian worksurfaces, design by Piero Lissoniand CRS Boffi; photo Tommaso Sartori, courtesy of Boffi.)
What are the key elements of your brand strategy in terms of marketing and communications?
A key role was and is played by the monobrand showrooms we have in major cities like Milan, London, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, to mention just a few. It’s a vehicle that other successful brands, such as those in fashion, have used. Showrooms played a key role in our successful internationalisation – today, 85% of our business is done abroad. The Boffi brand and style are recognizable here. The interior design is clean but emotional. They are places that attract developers, press and VIPs. It’s where clients meet our network of architects who can work with them. Clients need to feel special and see they are getting the best treatment. A Boffi showroom must be in a strong, charismatic location. It should surprise customers, make them want to come inside and learn more. And the know-how of showroom staff must meet the same high standards as our products: staff are trained and regularly updated at our factory headquarters in Italy.
How would you describe the brand’s personality? What keywords do you want people to associate with Boffi?
We want to be seen as a solution provider not a furniture seller and be associated with sophisticated, contemporary, long-lasting design. It’s the same with De Padova, which has always promoted timeless products. You are certain that our products will still be appreciated 20 years from now. For Boffi and De Padova, it’s about creating something that has a clean look but that is not minimalist: solutions can be combined with different styles and materials that can fit together in harmony.
How has the industry changed?
Apartments are now much more open. Walls are falling in the kitchen and bathroom. Space is an added value. Homes integrate the kitchen with the living room and dining area. People want to show off the kitchen. It’s about creating a pleasurable environment.
What challenges do you see for the brand?
We have to pay more attention to digital technology, web and social media, but we will also need to be careful since too much tends to be accessible online. We try to create mystery and intimacy around our brand and we communicate this via our showrooms. Online things become flat, you don’t experience the products in the same way. We want people to enjoy the atmosphere in our showroom and make them feel secure. It’s not just about showing a nice product but introducing them to our world. It shouldn’t be so attainable or accessible, but it shouldn’t be snobbish either. It’s about sophistication.
Boffi | boffi.com
Corian | corian.uk