What are the opportunities in an industry that is indeed growing but faces various challenges, especially in the world of e-commerce?
We discussed this with Roberto Ferrari, the "Father" of the CheBanca! project and founder of Designitaly.com.
Design is one of the absolute pillars of "Made in Italy," an ambassador of Italian creativity and know-how worldwide. But not everything that glitters is gold, especially in a period of "disruption" like the one we are experiencing. New and more advanced systems of marketing and promotion are emerging, and certain issues for our country are coming to light. In the online design market, which has developed less compared to e-commerce in other sectors like fashion and food, it is also making significant progress.
We discussed the opportunities and challenges of the sector with Roberto Ferrari, who led IT at Mediobanca for a long time and is the "father" of the CheBanca! project. Later, he ventured out on his own, launching an intriguing, strictly Italian-made design e-commerce portal in 2019, Designitaly.com. He is the founder and CEO of this venture, which currently employs about fifteen people, including direct employees and collaborators.
- Let's start from the beginning: when and why was Design Italy born?
- It was incubated between 2019 and 2020, following the dream of creating a platform capable of bringing small Italian manufacturing companies to new markets, providing them with technological, logistical, and marketing support, and promoting Italian excellence on a global scale. To bring this project to life, I launched a crowdfunding campaign that was very successful. 2020 was an important year for us. It allowed us to refine our systems, strengthen and scale the platform in foreign markets, a goal that we pursued more decisively in 2021.
- Why did you decide to invest in this sector?
- Design is a strong asset of Made in Italy; we are global leaders. Italy's market share in High-End Furniture Design is 25%, a greater value compared to other luxury sectors, such as fashion (20%) or food. Our goal is to represent the best of Italian design and promote its sales abroad.
- So, we can expect to remain at the top?
- The demand for Italian-made design is robust, and the sector continues to grow at an annual rate of over 20%. We can only anticipate development, increased revenues, and if we're smart at capturing this demand and further increasing market share while defending margins and retaining added value in Italy.
- What are the main critical areas in the sector?
- The world of furniture design is still fragmented in terms of company size, with few companies exceeding €200-300 million in revenue. There is a size-related challenge/opportunity. The recent listing of Italian Design Brands has brought this aspect to everyone's attention, or rather, this opportunity. The limiting factor is logistics, which is more complex than in the fashion sector, but still manageable. Another challenge is the lag in capturing demand in e-commerce. Online sales are projected to represent 10% of global sales, which is relatively low compared to fashion but still significant – we're talking about a minimum of €6-8 billion. The digital world can also accelerate other B2B activities, usually conducted offline, where the reference market exceeds €20-25 billion. In short, Italy has a lot of room to grow in this segment, and we, as Design Italy, aim to play a primary role in this transformation.
Read the full interview on Economy Magazine.it