Barker Street: Lapalma – The Story of An Italian Garage
Balancing craftsmanship with industrial techniques, efficient production and a focus on details, Lapalma produces and sells its quality design worldwide. Chairs, armchairs, stools and tables are the result of ongoing research, aimed at creating truly innovative solutions that interact with each other. More than separate furnishing items, they are furniture systems that connect people. Now available from Barker Street.
The story of an Italian garage
“We work where we were born. We could say that we have been “locally sourced” for forty years because we made our first furniture in a garage, a few metres from home, in Cadoneghe, at the weekends. It took us hours to make a small table. Today, it takes us fifty seconds to shape the continuous sinuous line of the LEM stool. We have changed because we have remained faithful to ourselves and to what we love the most, technology, a knowledge of materials, research and determination. Before becoming the company Lapalma, we worked for NASA, making transistor capsules, a few millimetres of total precision, using a gauge instead of a tape measure. Some of our products must have arrived on the moon, whereas we stayed with our feet firmly on the ground, which means concreteness and courage. We have always been farsighted, however, looking for innovative ideas, new markets and fresh strategies, even when, in the early 1990s, we decided to focus on seating and then, ten years later and after achieving many international awards, we transformed our collections into a system of versatile minimalist products, ideal for all environments.”
In the early 1980s, when the company moved from the garage to a disused distillery, the team took part in its first trade fair, in Padua. The agent at the time presented three small tables, which were a great success, and orders began to arrive from the most prestigious shops in the north of Italy.
“And now, what are we going to do?”, we asked ourselves. “Now, you will make them”, replied the agent. And we did precisely that.”
To make products and continuously improve, the team chose state-of-the-art machinery and customised it based on their experience. To make furniture and implement projects, even the most difficult ones created by amazing designers, they focused on automation.
Nevertheless, the team wanted manual craftsmanship to go hand-in-hand with technology: a complex assembly phase, a step, or rather two, of sandpapering with different grain sizes to ensure perfect details, and the smoothing of fabrics.
In 2010, they inaugurated the current headquarters, 14,500 sq.m of fluid, bright and “green” spaces, because Lapalma chose solar energy. Each product, with its intricate complexity, is created here and then distributed to 81 countries.
“We work hard. Then the weekend arrives. As children, we would go and watch car races and we imagined that the speed of those cars and the beauty of those lines in the wind were ours. We still like sports cars today. Just as we like tending to our vegetable garden and spending time with the family. We grew up in this way, together and free, in the local area.”
Craftsmanship and industry
Lapalma has always championed traditional wood and metalworking methods and techniques. Its quality designs of chairs, lounge chairs, stools and tables produced in series are sold all over the world and combine the advantages of industrial production with an attention to detail.
At Lapalma, craftsmanship is married to the speed, precision and efficiency offered by the latest industrial technology in a typically Italian blend of passion for quality and business culture. So while machine tools are employed to produce the framework of individual elements, the finishing, assembly and packing are all done by hand.
Subsequently, every single piece is subjected to visual and manual inspections to ensure total quality control. At Lapalma, seriality and uniqueness – two concepts that appear to be diametrically opposed – are both defining characteristics of a strong company identity
Research and technology
Lapalma invests a great deal of resources in improving the efficiency and the quality of its production methods. The team invests in cutting-edge equipment and machinery, which is harnessed in a continuous effort to find innovative solutions, and consider even the most challenging and complex of products as an opportunity to take the state of the art forward.
Lapalma is a brand, but first and foremost it is a place of work and a laboratory, whose strengths are the skills and know-how of expert craftsmen who share with the company’s founders a commitment and a passion for their work that is transmitted to all who work at here.
From selecting materials to manufacturing, Lapalma is environmentally conscious. Sustainability is a fundamental shared value: all products can be dismantled and recycled, the use of plastics is minimised and the company’s energy requirements are substantially met with photovoltaic panels and a geothermal system.
“Here at Lapalma, we have always shown a commitment to the environment, from the way we run our factory through to the materials that we use in it. We select only FSC-certified timber from sustainable sources, employ 100% recyclable raw materials – wood, steel, plywood panels and fabrics – and make minimum use of plastics. Our suppliers are preferably chosen in the neighborhood, to avoid long distances.Concern for the environment is an intrinsic part of Lapalma’s operations and is a value that is embraced by the whole company. As a result of our efforts, German certification body Tüv has certified our production system to EN ISO 9001 standard for efficiency and quality and to EN ISO 14001 standard for environmental compatibility.”
Find the latest from Lapalma now available at Barker Street.