Salvatori meets Cassina: Gabriele Salvatori talks history, innovation and the evolution of natural stone
A meeting between two leading Italian design brands took place in Milan recently to exchange thoughts on design innovation and history. Salvatori, widely regarded as the benchmark in innovation in natural stone shared the stage with Cassina, a renowned force in the evolution of contemporary design. CEO Gabriele Salvatori was there to represent his brand, while Barbara Lehmann, Historical Archives Curator, was on hand for Cassina. “Cassina and Salvatori combine high craftsmanship and industry,” Barbara told the crowd of attendees, “and above all, they both have an experimental approach.”
The primary topic of conversation for the evening was innovation, a pivotal notion that Gabriele has consistently returned to throughout his 25 years as CEO of Salvatori. “We have never been a ‘normal’ or standard stone company,” he told the group, referring to the novel developments in natural stone Salvatori has authored, including new textures and sustainable projects like Lithoverde®, the first material to be completely composed of natural stone. “We have never done things the way other companies have.”
Innovation is also a value built into Salvatori’s DNA, starting with Gabriele’s father in the 1950s. “When everyone was producing shiny stone and flat surfaces,” Gabriele recounted, “my father invented a system with a type of guillotine which came down upon the stone so hard that the stone split in two in a natural way and you had natural cracks inside.” It was an invention that was very much ahead of its time, but soon came to define major architectural projects across the globe. “And then, one day it was specified for the Museum of Modern Art in Los Angeles,” he added.
Collaboration, too, was discussed as an important element of Salvatori’s world. Each year Gabriele chooses a number of collaborators to interpret the brand and natural stone in their own vision. “We never chase ‘names’ as such,” explained Gabriele of the creative process, “but we seek out people where we see that their style is close to ours, or if we see that someone has a certain feel for materials, like ours.” Discussing recent partnerships he remarked: “We’ve worked with some brilliant architectural minds, from Kengo Kuma to John Pawson and currently Piero Lissoni and David Adjaye, with whom we are currently working on a fantastic project in Manhattan.”
The conversation then turned to Gabriele’s vision for the future. Sustainability is a major issue for the brand and many company-wide initiatives have been put in place to ensure Salvatori products do the most they can for the earth. “We are committed to trying to find ways to work using waste, whether that be offcuts or dust,” he told the attendees. “We’ve been working for many years with the nanotechnology lab at Pisa University and on finding ways to reuse material without having to utilise epoxy adhesives.”
“We make clear from the beginning with all our products that we do not want to do anything which could harm the environment,” explained Gabriele of Salvatori’s mission for the future, a sentiment that was shared by both Cassina and all who attended that evening.