ALPI, one of our 2016 Conversation Series sponsors, participated in WantedDesign for the third year in a row. Constant technological innovation, fine craftsmanship, a wide range of products, maximum customization, environmental and social responsibility and transparency are the company’s strong points. Together with outstanding quality of raw materials: the wood selected by ALPI is rigorously sourced of certified origin, and always processed in-house.
We interviewed Vittorio Alpi to discuss the company’s big changes since the announcement at the FuoriSalone 2016 of new art director Piero Lissoni. The main developments of the company’s next phase include a new coordinated image, along with original collections designed by the Campana brothers, Front and Lissoni himself, all within a new showroom in Milano.
WantedDesign: Can you give us a little background on the major steps that mark the evolution of the company since its debut ?
VA: ALPI was the first company in the world to industrialize the manufacturing process for reconstituted wood. Our history comes from a great tradition that has made excellence its main asset: on the one hand, ALPI is pure innovation, ahead of the demands of the market; on the other, painstaking craftsmanship.
Nowadays a multinational with a leading position in the production of decorative surfaces in reconstituted wood veneer, ALPI was founded by my grand-father Pietro Alpi in 1919 at Modigliana, in the province of Forlì. From a small workshop of fine cabinetmaking, it soon evolved into an avant-garde enterprise, immediately making an important contribution to the growth of the local territory.
The change from furniture manufacturing to industrial production specializing in prefabricated panels and reconstituted wood veneer for the nascent furniture industry was already beginning back in the 1950s, when my father Valerio entered the company, leading to the organization of widespread distribution across the entire nation. In 1961 we introduced “ALPIlignum”, the first reconstituted wood veneer sliced veneer, and still the most representative product of our company. At the time this was a true revolution, made possible by intense technological efforts and an illustrious background in fine woodworking, leading to rapid success on international markets, from Europe to the USA, and then Asia at the start of the 1970s. This incessant growth feeds and is fed by ongoing R&D activities. In fact, innovation has always been the driving force behind our business.
What sets us apart on the worldwide scene is its direct control of the entire process, from the log to the finished product, through the forest management using chain-of-custody certification to guarantee the legal and sustainable sourcing of the wood and total product traceability. As early as 1975, in fact, we opened our first plant in Cameroon in order to have a constant supply of raw materials. The success of this initiative was the result of the intuition of my father, leading to the construction of a barge that was towed to Africa in 1975 from the port of Ravenna. Over time, the direct forest management activities have grown: today we hold licenses for the management of 500,000 hectares of forest, also contributing to the growth of local communities in economic and infrastructural terms, and thus rounding out the core business with activities of social and environmental sustainability.