Creative director of Visionnaire, Eleonore talks about product and thought revolution: “Because you can do business by getting good turnover, but also doing good”
There is a lot of talk about sustainability and all companies are almost forced to deal with this new general eco-sensitivity. Then there are those who have dared a step further, making responsible manufacturing a true guideline, a path to go, without ifs and buts, even at the cost of putting their hand back to all their products. An example is Visionnaire, a great design brand, which has changed its proposals in the name of new values: “Now there is a different awareness, a greater awareness for which, for example, we have eliminated all animal skins from production whose meat is not eaten.
In luxury, nothing is taken for granted and nothing is impossible, so if before there were reindeer, ermine and mink furs, now we certainly don’t offer them anymore “.
Eleonore Cavalli of Visionnaire has not only been Head of Global Marketing & Communication for twenty years but has also been Creative Director for five years. It is her who wanted to make a decisive change: the FSC Forest Stewardship council and PEFC ™ Program for Endorsement of Forest Certification certifications are just a first testimony: “We wanted to be sure we are working with wood from legal cuts and controlled supply chains” as she explains.
How significant are these certifications?
“They are important, but they are certainly not enough. They need to be included in a more composite and complex strategic project. For us, wood is a central material: 99% of our products are made of wood and this certification we have obtained is a sign that we are willing to carefully manage the materials we work with. We are committed to rebalancing our environmental impact: knowing that you contribute by replanting trees, knowing that everything you do is traceable and transparent, is now necessary. And we like to think that even customers, by buying our products, can become ambassadors of the values we believe in ».
This said, you work with many other materials: did you also have the attention you paid to wood for the rest?
“Absolutely yes. Even for skins, for example. We are well aware that skins are a very controversial issue: so we wanted to go to the origin, to understand, for example, what breeds the skins we then work come from, how those animals are treated during their life. We went to the bottom, with a thousand questions, which made us start projects together, developing ideas that involve the use of regenerated leathers, recovered from waste, treated in such way to be more resistant to use and sunrays, so as not to be dismissed in a short time. We did the same thought for fabrics: recently we launched Iris, a new textile product made from polyester threads obtained from the reuse of plastic bottles dispersed in the environment, a 100% recycled and 100% recyclable material. Entirely produced in Italy, Iris guarantees a very important reduction in CO2 emissions and less water waste for energy savings of over 60% compared to normal production processes “.
How much does all this environmental research, this reconversion cost?
«It costs, but it is a cultural transformation necessary to move forward, an investment. Also because it is a transformation of thought, which involves the whole company, all departments. But at a certain point we have to make some field choices, to give a clear signal to our customers. Of course, you need to allocate some budgets, but every year you decide on which area to invest: first it was wood, then leather and fabrics and then the production rethink. We set ourselves goals to reach and we put together the puzzle, piece by piece. Sometimes rethinks are enough on products that we already produce, without major revolutions: for example, we have revised one of our historic kitchens, simply by lightening the materials, which then went on to affect transport, ease of assembly, possible disposal, which also impact on the environment. Large companies must be bearers of positive values, going beyond their immediate profit. We are now seeing the fruits of choices made three years ago, when for example we proposed a collection composed of vegetable and natural raw materials, eliminating foam rubber and oil-based polyurethane: we have sought increasingly responsible solutions and our customers seem to be even more convinced of their purchases. A more visceral bond has been created, linked to shared values, rather than to portfolio capacity ».
How has the concept of luxury changed in recent years?
“A lot. Luxury has always been there, it is an element of distinction, uniqueness and often associated with Made in Italy. But today luxury no longer belongs only to the sphere of exclusivity for the type of material or for the economic value of the object, it is increasingly linked to the values it is capable of transmitting, it becomes a distinctive element, that choice of field of which we talked before. This is why, for example, we no longer speak of luxury, but of meta-luxury: I no longer buy a chair because it is a beautiful silk velvet chair with lacquered legs, but I buy it because this chair was produced in Italy, because I know that the workers who assembled it have regular employment contracts, because I know that the materials are not toxic, because everything is controlled, everything verified. This is the new luxury, sustainable luxury, with a responsibility. Last year, for the 60th anniversary of the company, we presented a decalogue, a true manifesto of intentions, with which to shed light on our range of action and define the course: if you are a sustainable company you will create a sort of ecosystem virtuous: if you get a certification, the craftsman who works with you will also get it. It is a cultural pact, a seed that germinates and bears fruit, it is a way of doing business by obtaining a good turnover, but also doing something good ».