Composit furniture brings Italian design, quality to North America

 

Not surprisingly, the emphasis is on design at Italian furniture maker Composit. But it’s not all about design at the family-owned, Pesaro-based company.

In its company profile, Composit stresses that its products—and others historically made in Italy—are “a perfect union between beautiful and functional.”

Composit first began selling its stylistic kitchens and other furniture in North America 20 years ago. When Andrea Sorgente joined the company in 2013, he was confident that dealers and consumers here would appreciate the company’s innovative, European-style designs. It was the core material in the panels that concerned him. Sorgente manages Composit’s North American sales.

In the end, though, the performance of the IDROLEB panels—their functionality, in other words—won over North America, and Composit has been enjoying success here ever since.

“Eventually, I found that all of the most advanced and open-minded dealers and customers in the States were happy to use this product,” Sorgente said of IDROLEB, which is 100 percent recycled wood, almost formaldehyde free and water resistant.

That acceptance cleared the way for Composit’s designs and styles to impress dealers and customers and find their way into more houses in the U.S. and Canada. The company now has 10 dealers in the U.S. and one in Canada. All are multi-brand dealers, and most carry Composit as their only European line.

Composit is about to open its first “flagship” store in Austin, Texas, in partnership with its local dealer, Brown & Beaux.

“I’m very excited to be partnering with Composit to build a flagship store with them,” said Nathan Brown, owner of Brown & Beaux. “The store will allow customers from Dallas and Houston to stay at the showroom to experience Composit and all that Austin has to offer as the property is part of a loft community that enjoys full amenities, as well as easy access to SOCO (South Congress district) and downtown.”

Composit’s roots go back to 1960, when three Belligotti brothers opened a 97,000-square-foot furniture production facility in the district of Pesaro on the Adriatic coast in northeastern Italy. In 1974, the Belligottis founded the Composit brand, and they since have expanded their footprint to 183,000 square feet to house the entire production cycle of their kitchens and Belligotti-branded wardrobes. About 50 people are employed at Composit’s facility.

Three generations of Belligottis have provided vision and direction for the company as it has grown to international status.

A section on the family in the company profile further explains: “It is a typical Italian family history where commitment to the development of industrial products with an ‘artisanal heart’ is the fil rouge (common thread) between the various developing moments of the company.”

Within its extensive kitchen lineup, Composit offers three lines—Luxury, Contemporary and Basic--that all are characterized by contemporary design. Luxury identifies aesthetic values and performance for clients for which luxury is a lifestyle. Contemporary offers designs and performance “based on innovation and research.” Basic includes a range of models that offer high performance and a “young design with great value.”

Each line has a series of collections that further define the design, style and intended settings for the kitchens. For example, within the Luxury line is the Lounge Collection, which Composit defines this way: “From the aesthetic point of view, Lounge features a vertical handle, a strong graphic sign that characterizes the kitchen. Lounge combines and connects with the rest of the house creating a continuous environment between kitchen and living room, ideal for urban spaces.”

With its continual emphasis on design, Composit collaborates with prestigious designers who come together with the company’s key people at its Research and Development Center in Pesaro.

“The result of this is a range of products of international reach, designed both for the residential market and for the contract market. Piergiorgio Cazzaniga, Roberto Lazzeroni, Enrico Cesana, Leone & Mazzarri are some of the world-class designers that contributed to Composit’s designs,” the company says in its profile.

Design is not an end in itself, though. Performance also is critical at Composit, the company says, and it works to guarantee the reliability and safety of its materials and products.

“Composit philosophy is geared toward the creation of kitchens that endure over time and that for this reason we have called ‘the kitchens of life.’”

Innovation obviously plays a central role at Composit—from its pursuit and use of non-toxic paints to the durability of its worktops in terms of resistance to scratches, heat, water and more. The company also stresses constant innovation in processes and production, Sorgente said.

The production model in Italy and at Composit is considerably different than in the U.S. Many American factories produce all of their parts in-house. That’s not the case in Italy, Sorgente said.

“In Italy, we work within our ‘districts,’ a key word in Italian industries. Cabinet manufacturers are in charge of design, quality control and final assembly. Most of the components, including cabinet doors, are outsourced to local, trustworthy suppliers, many of whom are literally next door,” he said.

“With this system, we can handle thousands of door finishes, for instance, and the quality will always be very high because each supplier specializes only in that particular process or that particular finishing, so it will always be up to date and can provide the best quality and service.”

Besides TFL and HPL, Composit’s popular finishes include wood veneers, lacquered finishes and more exclusive options, including laminam ceramic surface.

In its company profile, Composit details the importance of its “strategic partners” and stresses that it works with “world leaders” in mechanical components, hardware and materials to achieve excellence and meet its goals for quality. Its top suppliers include Cleaf, Kaindl, Arpa Industriale, Blum, Salice and Bortoluzzi. It uses machinery from Biesse and SCM.

Sustainability is also central to Composit’s business philosophy, and it recognizes the need “to do something right now to preserve our compromised ecosystem.” In its profile, the company identifies areas where it acts every day to employ production strategies and make decisions that minimize its impact on the environment.

Composit exports more than 70 percent of its products, and they now are available in 53 cities on four continents. Composit’s sales network includes flagship stores and multi-brand authorized dealers, and the company backs its network with sales and post-sales support, customer service, continuous training and other services.

In Austin, Brown decided to open his own kitchen and bath showroom in summer 2018 after the store where he had worked as director of its design studio closed to focus on Dallas-Fort Worth. One of his passions at the previous store was bringing Composit kitchens to Austin to provide “a great higher-end offering.”

“I brought this line in as it has such a wide range of not only styles through the various collections—minimal, light industrial, modern craftsman, etc.—but the price range is also pretty wide, which allows it to be more accessible than you would think for a line of this quality level,” Brown said. “They are certainly a higher line, but there are lot of different options that you can use to value-engineer designs as needed.”

As for specific trends, Brown said: “Frameless cabinets with simple doors are becoming more popular as people continue to reach for modern high design. Often, the limitation is the current architectural style of that home that they are in … New custom construction is full of those styles, though.”

Brown said he’s seeing more use of black metal shelving support systems for a light industrial feel and interesting uses of various material thicknesses in the design elements of shelving units.

In terms of surface materials, the Fenix products are getting a good response for the way they feel, as well as their durability, while other laminates are popular on more budget-conscious projects, he said.  Fenix is a material from Arpa Industriale that features next-generation acrylic resins.

“Composit also offers Ligna laminates or manmade veneers that are great as they are very authentic feeling,” Brown said.

Brown & Beaux sells Composit products exclusively because they meet the needs of the modern, high-end projects with high design demands in both form and function that are the store’s specialty, Brown said.

“A lot of our projects need solutions throughout the house, so we are involved everywhere, including the closets using the Belligotti closet system,” he said.