Founded in 1959 by Pasquale Natuzzi, leather upholstery pioneer Natuzzi is Italy’s largest furniture brand and one of the furniture industry’s biggest players, with an extensive manufacturing footprint and a global retail network. Furniture News speaks to Pasquale Junior, the son of the company’s founder, who is bringing a fresh outlook to this global brand.
How did you enter the trade?
I was already taking my first steps in the company at the age of four. I spent my summers with my father in the style centre or the prototyping room, as well as in the advertising department, nurturing my interest in the creative side of the business.
Who was your inspiration?
My work is my greatest passion, and I owe that to my father, who has instilled in me the idea of seeing the company as my third ‘big sister’ (I have two fantastic big sisters, as well as a little one). The best thing my father has taught me is: “Pursue your passion and respect the people who help you achieve your success.”
What was your career high point?
The collaborations with world-renowned starchitects and designers like Marcel Wanders and Ross Lovegrove. And the Natuzzi Augmented store, our new store concept featuring mixed reality technologies, created in collaboration with Microsoft. We have designed an innovative customer journey that can make the shopping experience truly engaging and exciting.
… and low point?
I would say that my lowest point was at the beginning of my career. I was frustrated with the very unclear options I had as part of my growth path into the company. It was a period of uncertainty.
… and the turning point?
Two years ago, when I started being in charge of marketing and communications. For the first time, I had my own team, with budgets and activities to carry out on a global level. From that moment I started to show my value, achieving important goals.
Describe a typical working day
I wake up at 6am. I work out for one-and-a-half hours and then I head to the office. I start with my meetings, catch up with my executive team to plan the activities for the day or the week and discuss deadlines. Then I have more meetings and go through my to-do list.
If you had to start over, which career would you pursue?
Architect. I think it gives you a new perspective on how you can use your creativity for something practical and concrete. I believe it would be a good education for me, since my inclination is towards product and creativity within interior spaces.
What date on the business calendar do you most look forward to?
The last day prior to my summer holiday.
What is the most important issue affecting your business right now?
Environmental issues are a growing concern among the industry, and the furniture world must align itself with the eco-conscious mindset of modern-day consumers. Natuzzi’s dedication to keep its environmental impact to a minimum, in terms of both choice of materials and energy consumption, reflects the brand’s long-established commitment to sustainability and its strong connection with nature.
Which company do you look up to?
Ikea, for its dynamism and excellence in understanding the needs of today’s consumers, together with its vision of sustainability. Restoration Hardware, for its visionary path into retail and lifestyle.
What would you most like to change about yourself?
Sometimes I wish I didn’t overthink things so much, and dealt with them in a more relaxed way.
What do you enjoy most about working in the trade?
The dynamism and the continuous stimulus. The situations I deal with on a daily basis are constant challenges.
Can you leave us with an industry anecdote?
Last May I participated in a panel discussion at the Consulate General of Italy in New York with five other representatives from the design world, where I talked about our vision regarding sustainable design.
Among the audience there was a distinguished guest, Gaetano Pesce, one of the greatest designers of the last century. At the end of our speeches on how to make a positive impact in the world, he expressed his opinion on the uselessness of being too keen on sustainability – in his view, the biggest concern should be the lack of awareness among today’s consumers.
It surprised me that a talented designer like him was minimising such an important topic. Moreover, I found it quite curious that he was attacking me over a key topic such as sustainability, and in such a formal environment!