Italy's design brands "hopeful" as coronavirus lockdown end nears


Design brands in Italy are hoping to reopen factories and restart production lines next week, when coronavirus restrictions are due to be eased.

Emergency restrictions are set to lift on 13 April 2020, although Italian health minister Roberto Speranza could still announce an extension.

“We hope to open soon,” said a spokesperson for family-run furniture brand Molteni&C, which is based in Lombardy in northern Italy.

“Of course [we will be] in compliance with measures on healthcare to safeguard the safety of our workers and following the experts’ instructions in terms of space sanitisation, protections and alternate work shifts.”

“Now we wait for the good news”

Italy was the first European country to experience a significant outbreak of coronavirus, becoming the global epicentre in February. The country’s vital design sector was brought to a standstill, and Milan’s Salone del Mobile was postponed and later cancelled.

Northern Italy, where most of the country’s factories are based, has been the worst affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A spokesperson for Zanotta, a furniture brand based in Lombardy, told Dezeen they were now “anxiously” awaiting the all-clear from the Italian government.

Coronavirus news Italian brands respond Italy factory closures
Molteni & C said they would reopen their factory, pictured, in compliance with coronavirus safety rules

“We are more than a little hopeful that we will soon, albeit gradually, be able to start up again,” said Gianni Fortuna, general manager at Arclinea, which makes high-end kitchens in the Veneto region of northern Italy.

“[The crisis] caught us unawares and has left us speechless in the face of events that are greater and more complex than even the saddest of our imaginings,” Fortuna added.

“Now we wait for the good news to arrive.”

Hope that all-clear will come by Sunday

Northern Italy, where many factories are based, went into lockdown on 8 March. The rest of the country followed two days later.

All but essential factories were closed by Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte on 21 March. Restrictions were originally due to end on 3 April, but were extended by the government.

“We are waiting to hear from the Italian government as to whether we can open the production plants next week after Easter holidays,” said a spokesperson for Poltrona Frau, furniture makers based in Le Marche

“I am confident they will release a statement in a few days.”

Furniture brand Pedrali, headquartered in Bergamo with a factory in Udine, told Dezeen it were hoping to hear at the end of this week if it could reopen on 13 April.

Moroso, which also makes furniture in Udine, said it thought they would hear on Sunday. Mutina, who make ceramics, reopened its warehouse and logistics departments in the Emilia Romagna region of northern Italy on 6 April in preparation for the end of the lockdown.

Over 17,600 people have died of Covid-19 in Italy, currently the highest death toll of any country. America, with more than 435,000 cases and almost 15,000 deaths, is now the global epicentre.

Last week Italian companies told Dezeen that while coronavirus had been challenging, they hope the crisis would bring about more innovation and help the country “to re-evaluate what truly matters”.

Designers including Formafantasma and Fernando and Humberto Campana have donated objects to an auction to raise money for a hospital in Milan. Auction house Cambi is organising Design Loves Milano to fundraise for Ospedale Luigi Sacco.

The main image of Milan in the spring is by Andrzej Otrębski.



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