In 1870, Benvenuto Acerbis opened his carpenter’s workshop in Albino, Bergamo. “Benvenuto Acerbis Tappezzerie, Falegname e Carpentiere. Fabbrica Mobiglia a Motore Elettrico. Impianti Completi” [Benvenuto Acerbis Upholsterer, Joiner and Carpenter. Electric Motor Furniture Factory. Complete Systems], so said the sign, already hinting at one of the pillars of the Acerbis philosophy: the dialogue between technology, artisan skills and a profound knowledge of materials.
Marino Acerbis, Benvenuto’s son, continued in his father’s footsteps and gave traditional carpentry a new impetus by introducing synthetic paint and red lacquer. His work with Pino Pizzigoni, one of the most important Lombard architects of the period, marked a first step towards a production that went beyond natural woods, marquetry and oil finishes to experiment tailor-made, fitting solutions that blended architecture and interior decorating.
In 1963, the company moved to Seriate and Lodovico Acerbis took over the leadership of the company. It was he who created the trademark, Acerbis International: a brand that took its artisan inheritance and reinterpreted it in the new collections of finely designed objects. With the collaboration of the greatest architects and designers of the time he set off to conquer the international market.
His work with the three great men, De Pas, D’Urbino and Lomazzi, investigated new perspectives of the use of space and practicality, giving life to a concept of personalisation and module units. Their intuition led to the design of Addition System, a product that hit the international market and appeared on the front page of the magazine, Domus.
Roberto Monsani was the spokesman for a new way to interpret the living zone, consisting of full and empty volumes, light, functional spaces that gave a modern, aesthetic feel to the home environment.
Life Collection is a versatile collection of backlit, wall-mounted systems, tables and sofas that summed up the historic culture behind the brand name and its ability to innovate living spaces. In his long collaboration with Acerbis, Monsani designed interior design projects for the corporate offices in Seriate and the Acerbis store in piazza Duomo in Milan.
The meeting between Lodovico Acerbis and Giotto Stoppino was one of the major historic moments for the company and for design: their affinity and creative harmony created products such as the Sheraton, Compasso d’Oro 1979, Hilton, Brooklyn and Quartetto. With them, the polyester lacquers and the study of new materials and technologies became the fulcrum of the company’s philosophy.
The work of Acerbis caught the attention of the world of art and became an integral part of it. The company worked with numerous exceptional photographers, including the photographic studio Ballo+Ballo, which produced a series of shots for Acerbis with its particular surrealist stance that gave a De Chirico-style light and life to the cornerstone pieces in the collection.
Claudio Platania handled the coordinated image and designed the new company logo, which concisely encapsulated the design lines and identity of the brand.
A colour that recalled the red lacquer made famous by the company, and the letter A, the symbol of a name that has made history in Italian and international design.
Serenissimo, Lago Dorato, Creso: products that were winners of awards, such as the IBD Golden Award and an Honourable Mention in the Compasso d’Oro, were created in collaboration with Lella and Massimo Vignelli, who became part of the company’s history, thanks to their unmistakeable approach to their projects. Their austere lines and volumes inspired by graphic design blended with the material processes and artisan decorations, according to the ancient techniques of encausto, and gold and silver leaf.
The reputation of the Acerbis trademark and the success achieved on the international scene was at the basis of the collaboration with the Foster & Partners studio, designers of the library for the University Of Cambridge Faculty Of Law. They found the ideal partner in Acerbis to create an elegant, functional system of extremely modular bookshelves to suit the space. From contract to mass production there was but a short step and Cambridge conquered the market, thanks to the combination of the materials, the innovative fixing system and the ability to create flexible layouts for the home, office and public spaces.
Marco, son of Lodovico and brother of Enrico Acerbis, trained professionally by working abroad with some of the major design and architecture studios. On his return to Italy in the year 2000, his Standing won third prize for the Young & Design award. In 2006, his Superego sideboard began a new stylistic trend in the Acerbis production line, which earned it an Honourable Mention at the Compasso d’Oro.
Acerbis chose Gabriele and Oscar Buratti for their ability to influence the process of product design with contaminations and suggestions from the world of architecture, interior design and fashion. They designed products for Acerbis with clean, essential lines and a combination of amazing materials and finishes. Their best works include Judd, selected for the ADI Design Index, Tuttuno, which obtained an Honourable Mention at the 22nd Compasso d’Oro Award in 2011, and the tables Axis and Litt.
From his very first works for Acerbis, Massimo Castagna created a new way of looking at space and the relationship man has with the design that surrounds him. Castagna designed NC Media Case, a wall-mounted unit that combines the most advanced audio-video and multi-media technologies with a linear look. Castagna has been the Artistic Director for Acerbis since 2014, and has launched a new approach to materials and to the sensations design can express.
In 2013, Enrico Acerbis took over the leadership of the company to begin a process of evolution which, on the one hand, enhances the great historic inheritance of the brand and, on the other, interprets and anticipates the increasingly sophisticated needs of its up-market, international clientele. Work on the new collections is now moving in this direction, to discover a new materialistic mood that provides the Acerbis brand with an original sensorial experience.
Lodovico Acerbis broke the mould and experimented the path of modular units with a product encapsulating his experience and profound knowledge of materials: Parioli System. A product destined to become an icon of Acerbis design culture, with the first series in wood and steel, followed subsequently by lacquered polyester and anti-scratch finishes.
Full and empty spaces to be filled with life, alternating contrasting light and shade, in a modern concept of a living zone and a container: this is the idea of suspended volumes behind Roberto Monsani’s work. Designed in 1974, Life is still part of the collection and remains astonishingly relevant today.
A product that is part of the history of Acerbis and of international design. Winner of the ADI Compasso D’Oro in 1979, Sheraton was created when the vision of Lodovico Acerbis met and combined with that of Giotto Stoppino. An icon of aesthetics and functionality that combined a sliding opening with a hinge for its wide, slide and pivot doors. The success of the Sheraton sideboard merited its inclusion in the Permanent Design Collection of the London Victoria and Albert Museum.
The design partnership between Lodovico Acerbis and Giotto Stoppino, featuring a continual blend of project and industrial culture, created Brooklyn: a bookcase inspired by and designed to recreate the architectural intuitions of the homonymous bridge. The steel, reticular beam stretching between two masts and the system of hanging shelves with fine stay rods hooked on to the beam were the tangible expression of their continual experiments with materials and technologies to create new visual effects.
At the beginning of the eighties, Lodovico Acerbis and Giotto Stoppino designed a system of elegant wall-mounted units with a contemporary design, particularly innovative for its system of construction, assembly and smart details. The structural elements of Madison were actually linked together by cogs made of extruded aluminium, which enabled drilling of the partition walls to be eliminated and a sophisticated fabric covering to be used inside the unit.
The desire to create and innovate, to break the mould and experiment life with Morphos, an Acerbis collection and trademark, containing diverse elements to complement the main line. In this contemporary temple, fashion and time took on a new significance with exceptional products and partnerships, such as Klok, a collection of clocks by Kurt Delbanco.
Lella and Massimo Vignelli created a line that reinterpreted past processes with new shapes: Serenissimo, a table that reclaimed the ancient skills of the artisan technique of encausto, also known as “Venetian plaster”, which entails the application of plaster made of very fine sand and natural earth colours. The colour palette was inspired by the shades of the paintings by the most famous eighteenth-century Venetian landscape artist, Francesco Guardi.
In the early nineties, Acerbis once again revolutionised its container furniture with the Quartetto sideboard, designed by Lodovico Acerbis and Giotto Stoppino. To open the large front door they applied an original “sliding pivotal” opening system which opened with a single, smooth, light gesture. Quartetto was celebrated in the year 2000 in a postage stamp belonging to the series on the theme of “Italian design”, brought out by the Italian Post office.
At the end of the nineties, technology conquered the domestic scene and became the centre of a new way of home living: technologies that had once been separate converged in digital platforms to integrate communication and entertainment systems. New Concepts by Lodovico Acerbis was the answer to the need to create free compositions without any preconceived plans, and guided by the interests, taste, passions and customs of the person choosing them. The harmonious integration of the various volumes created individual, ever-changing prospects, enriched by the magic of the light according to the time of day.
The first creation designed for Acerbis by Oscar and Gabriele Buratti in an artistic collaboration that continues today, was a system of tables that combined essential shapes with rich materials. A monolithic structure with extremely light, essential lines and volumes, with a mirror polished steel exterior and a multitude of various amazing materials inside.
Ludwig, designed by Lodovico Acerbis, is a piece of furniture that amazes when open and surprises when closed, a blend of Acerbis experience and design philosophy. A simple shape and a pure volume, characterised by the unusual, slightly recessed, shiny, steel sides, in contrast with the finish of the door and top, and with a lighting system that gives it an ethereal appearance, as though it were floating in space. A simple gesture allows the door to tilt down and retract beneath the frame, while a part of the top rises to reveal a brightly lit, transparent, interior space.
Thanks to the intuition of Massimo Castagna, the New Concepts line evolved according to the needs and latest technological developments: NC Media Case was the first wall-mounted unit, designed to integrate audio-video entertainment components discreetly and elegantly and to reveal technology only when required. Units that came to life to transmit images, concealing the screens behind a glass front with an amazing audio quality, thanks to the dedicated speakers, specifically designed for Acerbis to be integrated within the unit.
More architecture than a table. Axis, designed by Gabriele and Oscar Buratti astounds for the unusual position of its very slender legs supporting the top on staggered, perpendicular axes. The result is a structure that cannot be encapsulated and understood from a single viewpoint, as it continually reveals and hides reflections and volumes, depending on the position of the observer.
Massimo Castagna reinterprets the traditional sideboard with a contemporary design, featuring an unusual, horizontal partition of the asymmetric doors. The opening system has evolved from the Dual Flap created by Lodovico Acerbis and theatrically opens the upper compartment to reveal the backlit interior. A sideboard in which the material takes centre stage, with intriguing combinations of materials, such as wood veneers, lacquers, methacrylate and burnished metal.
In 1979, the conceptual fusion achieved by the collaboration of Lodovico Acerbis and Giotto Stoppino with their Sheraton sideboard earned the latter one of the highest awards in the world of design: the ADI Compasso d’Oro.
In 1981, its importance led the Sheraton to become a permanent work in the London Victoria & Albert Museum and it obtained the Gold Medal Award at BIO 9, the Biennial of Industrial Design in Ljubljana in 1981.
The Hilton, designed by Lodovico Acerbis and Giotto Stoppino, won the Silver Award at the IBD Product Design Award in New York in 1981 and the Italienishen Mobel Design 1950-1980 in Cologne thanks to the unique beauty of its modular system .
Gianfranco Frattini designed the Proust collection: in 1987, the table was awarded the highly sought after Honourable Mention at the 14th ADI Compasso d’Oro and won the SIDI Seleccion Producto award in Valencia. In 1988, it was awarded an Honourable Mention at the BIO 12 exhibition, the Ljubljana Biennial of Industrial Design and it also won the ID Annual Design Review, Best of Category award.
Soffio di Vento was a creation penned by Lodovico Acerbis and Giotto Stoppino that went beyond the simple need to contain, with free sliding doors to avoid any pre-defined open or closed parts.
Soffio di Vento won an Honourable Mention at the 14th ADI Compasso d’Oro
Vico Magistretti wrote a piece of history with Spiros, the coat rack made for the Morphos collection, a much imitated icon of international design that, in 1988, won an Honourable Mention for the ID Annual Design Review in New York and was included in the Permanent Design Collection at the Southwest Museum of Science and Technology in Dallas.
The winning interpretation of ancient techniques and modern combinations by Lella and Massimo Vignelli won the acknowledgement of an Honourable Mention at the 1989 ADI Compasso d’Oro for their Creso table.
The historic creation by Foster and Partners for Acerbis, designed for the Cambridge University library and subsequently industrialised for mass production, obtained an Honourable Mention at the 1998 ADI Compasso d’Oro in Milan, thanks to its ability to create flexible layouts for the home, the office and public spaces, with smart details and a knowledgeable use of materials.
Young & Design awarded third place to Standing, designed by Marco Acerbis, a promising young designer from the Acerbis family: a transparent bookcase consisting of cubes inserted in a central, methacrylate panel according to a rigid, invisible, dovetailed system.
The versatility of Mr Handy, designed by Mario Mazzer, is amazing: a simple gesture can slide out each section of the top so that it is at a suitable height for serving, writing or working on the computer. In the year 2000, it was selected for the ADI Design Index, together with the living system, New Concepts, by Lodovico Acerbis.
Matrix, by Roberto Monsani, the shelving that becomes an artistic installation, won an Honourable Mention at the 20th ADI Compasso d’Oro with its transparent, methacrylate structure, continually lit by an optic fibre system: a blend of technology and fantasy taken to the highest level to give a luminescent, contemporary effect.
The design of Superego by Marco Acerbis combined soft, supple shapes of the outer shell with an innovative opening technology of superimposed doors to win the Honourable Mention at the 21st Edition of the ADI Compasso d’Oro.
In 2011, Blitz, by Lodovico Acerbis, was added to the company’s list of Honourable Mentions at the Compasso d’Oro. This unit has a single, large sliding door, the surface of which is broken by wide squares placed in an apparently casual sequence.
Tuttuno by the Buratti brothers, the multi-function living-room cabinet, with a dynamic, flexible design, thanks to its large, freely sliding doors and central TV unit, won Acerbis an Honourable Mention at the 22nd ADI Compasso d’Oro.
In 1965, Acerbis took part for the first time in the Milan Furniture Fair, the fifth edition of an up-and-coming trade fair. Today, Acerbis is one of the few companies in the sector to be able to boast of fifty years’ participation in what has become the major event in world design.
Addition System was created by Lomazzi, D’Urbino and De Pas and featured on the front cover of number 468 of the prestigious magazine for architecture and design, Domus. Addition System, based on modules and on colour, marked the beginning of the Acerbis adventure in designer collections.
Under the management of the new corporate policy of Lodovico Acerbis aiming to internationalise company products and brand, Acerbis took part for the first time in the 1969 Paris Furniture Fair.
The MoMA, New York’s prestigious museum of modern art, hosted the exhibition “Italy: The New Domestic Landscapes”. Among the objects selected was Central Block, the multi-function cube, designed by Alberto Seassaro for Acerbis.
The Acerbis headquarters in Seriate has doubled its production surface, immersed in an authentic green oasis. The architect, Roberto Monsani, designed the interior of the new management offices.
“Acerbis furniture decorates Piazza Duomo”. This was the title of the press release in 1976, when Acerbis entered the heart of Milan. The monobrand showroom was designed by Roberto Monsani to house all the major products in the Acerbis collection created by the company’s collaboration with some internationally famous architects and designers.
Acerbis International, already present on many foreign markets, has reached across the Atlantic to strike agreements with some of the major furniture and top-range accessory distributors. Atelier International, a distributor of the most important names in Italian design (Cassina, Flos), represents Acerbis in the United States, whereas the Sheraton sideboard by Lodovico Acerbis and Giotto Stoppino is distributed exclusively by Roche Bobois.
In the eighties, Acerbis was a brand that exported Italian design culture and industrial excellence throughout the world using an approach to projects involving research and experiments into materials and finishes. In 1983, it was among the ambassador brands of Italian design, selected by ADI to exhibit at the first historic exhibition of Italian Industrial Design in China.
Experiments and creativity at Acerbis find a name and a way to stand out from the crowd: Morphos is born, an eclectic collection of accessories and designer items, the result of some of the most avant-garde collaborations and a training ground for young ideas. Morphos boasts objects designed by the famous designers such as Vico Magistretti, Gianfranco Frattini, Richard Meier, Sigheru Uchida, Michele de Lucchi and Nanda Vigo, and artists such as Piero Dorazio, Eugenio Carmi, Toni Cordero and Kengiro Azuma.
A journey through the life of a great designer who entered into the history of twentieth century Italian design: the Galleria Borgogna in Milan houses the projects and works signed by Giotto Stoppino, including without fail the projects he designed for Acerbis, such as the Sheraton, Hilton and Brooklyn.
In 1985, Acerbis International was the leading organisation for “IT’S POLYESTER”, the consortium founded with seven other names of international calibre for Made in Italy to certify the quality and authenticity of polyester painting. Only true polyester can reach a minimum grade of gloss of 97 compared to the glass scale with a 100 grade of gloss.
Lodovico Acerbis and Forma, Brazilian manufacturer and distributor of major designer brands, set up a joint venture to transfer technological know-how to manufacture exclusively some of the models in the Acerbis International collection. The temple of Acerbis design in Brazil is the Forma store in São Paulo, designed by the leading architect of the “Paulist School”, Paulo Mendes da Rocha.
The studio of Foster & Partners, appointed to carry out the project for the Law Faculty Library for the University of Cambridge, chose Acerbis to create a system of shelving as it had not found any solutions on the market with adequate technical requisites. The Cambridge library was built with an initial supply of 8,000 linear metres, which then became a mass produced product for the home, the office and for public spaces, and was awarded the Honourable Mention at the 1998 Compasso d’Oro.
The Sheraton sideboard was selected for the Exhibition “Unicità d’Italia. Made in Italy e identità nazionale” [The Uniqueness of Italy. Made in Italy and national identity] organised by the Fondazione Valore Italia together with ADI –the Association for Industrial Design and Fondazione ADI, and under the patronage of the President of the Republic. The exhibition was part of the official programme of the Prime Minister’s Office for the celebrations of the 150-year anniversary of the Unity of Italy. It gave an unusual, original viewpoint of Made in Italy, one of the major, most significant factors that have contributed to strengthen the feeling of national identity and to describe Italy and its ability to produce excellence.