Made in Italy – an Interview with EMU’s Roberto Ambroso
We talk with Roberto Ambroso, Head of Marketing and Sales at EMU, Italian manufacturer of more than appealing metal outdoor furniture
garden unique: As Europe’s largest manufacturer of outdoor furniture made of metal emu insists on its products being “Made in Italy”. What kind of entrepreneurial mindset and processing culture are behind this?
Roberto Ambroso: The company was founded 61 years ago in the centre of Italy and has always, since then, worked on steel furniture and accessories. We’ve had a lot of time to develop a very strong know-how and strong innovation skills. Design, quality and innovation still allow EMU to be competitive in the international markets. We provide not only Italian style and design but also care for details and proximity to the largest consumption market, which is Europe. This proximity means better service, products availability but also respect for labour conditions, ethical work aspects, environment and sustainability: European consumers start to really appreciate these facts.
How important are outdoor spaces in living contexts today? How have expectations and demands changed?
I remember when I went to my first Salone del Mobile di Milano, in 1996, my boss said to me: „We – the garden furniture manufacturers – are the poor cousins of the rich indoor furniture brands.“ In the last few years outdoor spaces have changed their image and are now seen as the nicest part of the house, the one you have to furnish and decorate with the same attention that used to be paid to indoor rooms. EMU was the first brand to introduce design stars such as Patricia Urquiola, Jean Marie Massaud, Paola Navone and now Jean Nouvel to outdoor furniture and this started the process to bring more quality and innovation to outdoor furniture.
In 2005, EMU was bought by luxury good group Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy. Which developments and changes has your company gone through since then? How important are glamour and luxury for EMU as a company?
Glamour has no meaning for us today. From 2005 to 2007 the LVMH managers were tempted to bring real luxury to outdoor furniture but this is not coherent with our brand positioning and with the market’s real expectations. We want to provide innovation with our products but also functionality and ease-of-use. Design is important but not only as provocation: good design must work!
You mentioned that EMU works with internationally renowned designers. How do you chose whom to work with? And how do you bring consistency to your products despite of such diverse cooperations?
There is no fixed rule: sometimes we start a conversation with a designer, we find a common vision and then comes the product; sometimes we write a clear product brief and then think about the right designer to develop such a new idea. The cultural content of a new product comes also from the geographic origin of the designer itself. We recently started working with Stefan Diez from Munich and we found his approach to a new project very different from the one we knew from French designers: more technicality and functionality, aspects that were missing from our products.
EMU is a strong supporter of various cultural events and institutions. Which entrepreneurial strategy do you pursue with this commitment?
We strongly believe that a company and a brand like EMU should always share its experiences with the society that guests it. Sport, cultural events, arts and music are essential part oft he Italian lifestyle, we aim to support them as much as possible.
Find out more about EMU at me.emu.it