Digby Summerhill, Managing Director of Minotti London, talks to Boutique Hotel News about the company’s history and its plans for the hospitality market.
Digby is keen to give back to the architectural and design industry he operates in and he’s always excited to collaborate with London design and architectural institutions.
Hit the play button below to watch the full conversation, or read the full transcript below:
Digby Summerhill: Minotti was founded in 1948, by Alberto Minotti, who unfortunately died prematurely in 1991. And so his young sons, Roberto and Renato, trained architects, took the reins of the company.
They’d already been working with their father. And now it’s a global brand, 32 showrooms around the world and over a hundred dealers and we’re represented on every continent. I first went to the factory when I was about 11 years old with my father. My parents have been working as distributors on commercial projects for some 25 years, and now we’ve grown into their largest distributor and here in London, working on a lot of international projects.
Authenticity, quality, a hundred percent made in Italy and a family business, very much. It’s very important because their name is on it, and because we represent family business as well, that the attention to detail that we get it right. I think that’s … Authenticity, I think, would be the key word that sticks in my mind.
I think all of the products that we supply really have a home or belong to the home collection, but it’s more that they can be adapted or developed in a certain way to also fit in hospitality. The way that the hospitality market has evolved and the desires and the way people expect to use those spaces in a home away from home or in this more relaxed environment is perhaps, yeah, more akin the style of the design that we do.
We’ve been working, for example, on Jumeirah Towers, with the design team there, the W Hotel in Sydney, and a number of others, which we can’t disclose. And most of those projects are for public spaces in this sort of, yeah, collaborative use of a co-working, meeting, breakout space that would’ve traditionally been a lobby.
Durability’s a really big thing and so is sustainability. And what’s interesting, one of the most sustainable things that we can do is to consume less products. And by definition, the more durable we make a product, the more sustainable, particularly in a high traffic area. I just mentioned, for example, in a lobby, used to be not a hugely functional area of a hotel where people go up to their room and then meet in the lobby to go out, whereas now those are meeting areas, co-working and are much more functional.
So, the Martindale test, the rub test, needs to be very high of the materials. Some countries have very specific fire ratings. So you might need crib five interliners, special foams, special coating.
We actually have a range of fabrics that we develop in-house specifically for hospitality use, to meet those standards, as well as a number of foam options, depending on what people are specifying. Obviously, a sofa like the one behind me for a hotel room would need a slightly different specification as to one in a public space, which is much more high use. And we’re able to meet all of those standards.
I think the blurring of indoor and outdoor spaces already started to happen as early as four, five years ago, indoor/outdoor, bringing the outdoor in. Yeah, we’ve been making outdoor furniture since 2006, so 13 years. We’re a very well-established company, many of the products can stay outside 365.
But also for spa areas, pools, wellness areas, in hospitality, we found actually a huge reaction that we didn’t expect initially from the market for those pieces. But yeah, about bringing the outdoor in, the way light is used, people are really craving outdoor light spaces. They’re working in offices. Roof terraces were not commonplace 20 years ago in London. Now every member’s club and hotel has some sort of a roof terrace in London.
Today, with materials and with design, we are able to, yeah, create a certain feel, a certain experience. And a lot of hotel owners are looking for a unique experience and almost challenging expectations a little bit. And by putting these beautiful pieces outdoor that we might not immediately assume are outdoor pieces.
We are doing that a little bit. But, why should we have to change our comfort or our experience? Every year we create a selection of materials specifically for the collection. We spend a huge amount of time on research and development to make these materials suitable for outdoors so that we can deliver the same sort of experiences we do indoors.
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