MDF Italia is now on the floor and displayed to best advantage at Bachli — and every product is an example of beautiful minimal design at its best. Jan Henderson speaks with MDF Italia’s CEO, Frederik Billau.
May 26th, 2023
With the opening of Bachli in Hawthorn, Victoria there is again the opportunity for MDF Italia to present its range ‘in the flesh’ to Melbourne’s architects and designers. The owners of Bachli, Nathan Bachli and Rebecca Pistilli, have curated a range of furniture, lighting and accessories for their showroom and at the heart of the offering is MDF Italia.
Recently in Melbourne for the launch of the Bachli showroom, Frederik Billiau, CEO of MDF Italia, talked passionately about the products, philosophy of the brand and the strong and continuous relationship with Nathan Bachli that inspired the company to once again place its product within the Australian retail landscape.
MDF Italia was established some 30 years ago in Milan, Italy and quickly gained a reputation for sleek styling and simple pure lines. That’s not to say simple is easy. We all know that designing the essence of a product without flourish is the most challenging of all, but MDF Italia is the master of less is more.
The company portfolio includes a wide range of products with sofas, armchairs and chairs, bookshelves, wall systems, dining and coffee tables, beds, desks and even office cabinets. MDF Italia collaborates with designers and there are products and collections from such luminaries as Piergiorgio and Michele Cazzaniga, Francesco Rota, Jean Maire Massaud, Francesco Bettoni, Neuland Industriedesign, Jean Nouvel Design and Xavier Lust, among many others. However, while each product is unique and exceptional in its design, they all adhere to the MDF Italia philosophy that simplicity is best.
Related: The design world of Ross Gardam
Billiau elaborates on the collaborations with designers: “When we go through the history of the company and see some of the iconic pieces, I would say the characteristic of most of them is that they were innovative, whether it was in function, the material or the terms of the design. For MDF Italia it has to be something very special.”
The MDF Italia philosophy is to find simple solutions to complex problems. For example, the very minimal Tense Table designed by Piergiorgio and Michele Cazzaniga is so slim and fine but can span up to four metres in length with no mid-supports and just two legs at either end. The engineering required for such a design is complex, rather like building a bridge, but the incredible feat of an unsupported table of four metres in length is a reality. Or the Minima shelving range by Neuland Industriedesign, again so very minimal with aluminium shelves that have a thickness of just 1.5 centimetres and can span 120 centimetres in length. It’s all sensational engineering but the form is outstanding and presents as delicate and elegant.
Billiau says that “MDF Italia makes furniture, not art” but each product is a sculptural, artistic form or structure. There is a lightness to the aesthetic and, although there are contributions from many different designers, there is a continuity and flow to all the finished products.
Billiau adds: “MDF Italia products respect simplicity, they have a lightness to them so that if you put, say, the Tense table in a room, it will not interfere with the space and it will not be the centre of attention. At the same time, there is innovation. Our products are always pushing boundaries.”
MDF Italia was first established by Bruno Fattorini in 1992 and it was subsequently sold in 2007 to the Cassina family (who had divested their iconic company, Cassina, to Poltrona Frau in 2005). With dynamic new blood in the business, MDF Italia has evolved to meet the demands of 2023 while staying true to Fattorini’s original values – they are just translated in a different way for the time.
As an Italian company supplying Australia and the world, Billiau sees community and every facet of communication as the heart of MDF Italia. The future is about creating and strengthening relationships with clients and distributors and building a brand that is strong in a globalised environment. As Billiau reflects, “in terms of the product offering, and the product design, people come to us because we’re trusted. We have incredibly long relationships with our partners overseas and we have a very long relationships with the market here [in Australia].”
Relationships might be one part of the equation but the rest is the MDF Italia products that speak of beauty, quality, technology and longevity. The collections reflect timeless design and attention to detail that are in perfect balance. It’s so good to have MDF Italia in Melbourne and available for Australia’s architecture and design community — welcome back.
We think you might also like this story on the launch of Bachli Furniture.
A searchable and comprehensive guide for specifying leading products and their suppliers
Keep up to date with the latest and greatest from our industry BFF's!
Bidding farewell to mundane and uninspired office spaces, colour has transformed our workplaces into layered and engaging environments. So we sit down with Karina Simpson, Hot Black’s Workplace Lead, to talk about the influence colour has on the workspace landscape through the prism of Herman Miller’s progressive colour philosophy.
The Didier Design Studio is expanding its signature table ranges into a fierce exploration of natural phenomena.
Arper creates spaces and solutions which respond to the evolving dynamics of the world we live in. Available exclusively at Stylecraft, Arper’s latest releases have the potential to change the landscape of contemporary design forever.
The three-year design research partnership launched by McGregor Coxall and RMIT’s Yulendj Weelam Lab embarks on a mission to transform Australia’s built environment by weaving in First Nations wisdom, embracing sustainable practices, and fostering a sense of belonging.
The art gallery and consultancy, founded in 2015, is moving to the city arts district on William Street in Woolloomooloo.
The Commons has been providing co-working spaces since 2016 and, following collaboration with DesignOffice, has two fresh sites in prime Sydney locations. We spoke to The Commons founder, Cliff Ho, and DesignOffice co-director, Damien Mulvihill, about using local touches to balance function and connection.
The internet never sleeps! Here's the stuff you might have missed
The second Melbourne Design Fair presented a vibrant tableau of modern Australian design. The fair balanced aesthetic allure and thoughtful discussion by showcasing a dynamic array of contemporary and collectible designs.
With outstanding track records in design, Genevieve Hromas and Juliet Ramsay have been working on the found and the formed with OKO OLO.
Armadillo has just placed second in AFR BOSS Best Places to Work List 2023. We take a peak at the global company’s newly opened Melbourne showroom.