Finding inspiration from the lush Botanical Garden of Palermo to the peaceful Tuscan countryside, and from the crystal blue Mediterranean Sea to the terraces of an ancient abbey overlooking Portofino, ETHIMO’s 2021 collection of outdoor furnishings and décor allows for a complete experience with our natural surroundings.
Its contemporary designs are crafted in rich, eco-conscious materials, with an eye toward elegant lines, color in sync with its environment, and ease of experience. In a season when the outdoors continues to be a place of respite and restoration, ETHIMO’s collections offer comfort and, most importantly, connection.
Unique to ETHIMO this year is the Eivissa pavilion, designed by Ludovica + Robert Palomba. Relating architecture and landscape, they breathe life into a new way of living outdoors. Another debut is Hut by Marco Lavit, who imagined a nest-like structure that evokes a restorative embrace.
Whitewall spoke with Gian Paolo Migliaccio, the CEO of ETHIMO, about creating indulgent opportunities for serenity and enjoyment outside this summer.
WHITEWALL: The Mediterranean is always the inspiration behind ETHIMO. Were there specific places or locations that particularly inspired and brought to life the 2021 collection?
GIAN PAOLO MIGLIACCIO: To present the 2021 collection we have chosen some Italian locations, which make the sea and pristine nature the true protagonists. One of the most evocative landscapes is the Botanical Garden of Palermo, which Goethe called “the most beautiful place in the world.” A few steps from the boundless blue of the Mediterranean Sea, filled with adventurous memories of travels and discoveries, the Botanical Garden features a neoclassical style architecture and houses thousands and thousands of plant species. It is a hymn to the biodiversity of the planet, a living museum that is home to the intense and mysterious emotions of the jungle, the Zen spirituality of bamboo, and the scents of Sicilian citrus. The Botanical Garden fosters a multiplicity of sensations and languages that find an equally eclectic and constantly evolving synthesis in the Ethimo collection.
Alongside this unprecedented and surprising location, we have also selected the Tuscan countryside, with its wonderful rows of cypresses and rolling hills that convey a feeling of peace and a great desire to live unpretentiously surrounded by nature.
And last but not least, our sunny and Mediterranean mood could not leave out what the Romans called mare nostrum (our sea), the Mediterranean Sea—from the terraces of an ancient abbey (La Cervara) overlooking the Portofino headland, with its intense colors and luxuriant nature, to the Sardinian coast, in a house at the water’s edge renovated by Paola Navone, which tells the story of our family’s love and bond with the outdoors. And speaking of inspirations, Paola Navone designed the Rafael collection just for this house, featuring irregular contours, deconstructed shapes, a handcrafted touch, and sea-colored fabrics.
WW: What was the vision behind the Eivissa pavilions designed by Ludovica + Robert Palomba, new to this season?
GPM: The Eivissa pavilions are a unique collection featured in our catalog. They are the result of painstaking research work that has led to the creation of real living modules that fit into the natural landscape like contemporary architecture, giving life to open-air rooms in which to experience pleasant moments of relaxation in contact with nature. Available in three versions, each pavilion is turned into an exclusive space by a wide choice of hues, upholstery, floors and accessories outlining its perimeter. Each element makes the project functional and unique, giving life to a special way of living the outdoors.
WW: And what about the new Hut designed by Marco Lavit?
GPM: Hut is a new 2021 collection, born of the desire to create something unusual, unprecedented. With Marco Lavit, we gave life to a project that goes beyond the aesthetic canons of outdoor furniture. Hut blends the language of furniture and of architecture, creating a unique product: a nest on a human scale, a place to catch a break or to regenerate, which speaks of relaxation, wellness, and outdoor living.
Hut is a collection seamlessly connected to nature, which invites to a lifestyle made of love for the environment, quality, and harmony. Accoya, one of the materials in which this particular piece is available, is a modified wood with extraordinary qualities and 100% eco-sustainable, perfect for outdoor use and to preserve its natural beauty over time.
WW: The 2021 collection focuses on the outdoors as a safe haven, a space of serenity. How is that exemplified in new pieces like Swing by Patrick Norguet?
GPM: The Swing collection, designed for Ethimo by Patrick Norguet, is for sure one of the icons of our production. A complete line that effortlessly becomes the ideal solution for dining and lounging.
What makes it a safe “place” for us is the successful pairing of teak and metal, a material combination that sets apart many of our collections, and that, in the Swing collection, is embodied by the symmetrical alternation of the full and empty spaces of the backrest. The design conveys a balanced rhythm that invites to contact with nature, reaching a perfect harmony among shapes, materials and relaxation.
WW: Ethimo’s collections are designed to live in harmony with their environment—both in aesthetic and in material choice. How do you consider sourcing materials for the collections in relationship to the environment?
GPM: Our collections have been designed to fit into their surrounding environment with discreet elegance, creating a continuum between nature and design, in which shapes and materials convey balance and harmony. One of our main objectives is precisely the harmony between furnishing elements and the environment, in terms of both aesthetics and sustainability. We love tactile materials, textured surfaces, vibrant colors, the imperfection of handcrafted finishes and living materials such as wood. At the same time, we firmly believe in the value of sustainability; all our wood is FSC certified, the paints we use are non-toxic and most of our materials are eco-sustainable.
WW: How would you describe Ethimo’s approach to material choices and unique pairings?
GPM: To be sure, the choice of materials and their combination is an essential element in the creation of our products. We use teak for most of our collection: it is a living, refined and very resistant material. We see braided rope as that element that conveys the idea of craftsmanship and that, combined with wood and metal, makes each piece unique and inimitable. The fabrics are another element that makes up the mosaic of our “material library”. Perfectly resistant to the outdoors, they have soft and welcoming textures that bring to mind typical interior design upholstery. The table tops are new additions to the Rafael collection. They embody a surprising and refined encounter between teak and marble, or enameled lava stone, whose “imperfections” underscore the material’s own natural beauty.
WW: As well as color and shape?
GPM: The shapes of our collections are at once linear and sinuous, welcoming and contemporary. We select hues that bring to mind the refined nuances of earth, vegetation and sea. Our collections are inspired by the natural beauties of the Mediterranean, its traditional architecture and the luxuriant nature that makes every place so perfect and unforgettable.
WW: Given the past year, the outdoors as a safe haven has an entirely new meaning. How has the reconsideration of safely gathering outdoors influence Ethimo’s approach?
GPM: 2020 taught us to give a new meaning to our life experiences; nature reiterated the significance of such meaning, by its very rebirth and by demonstrating how slow-moving and thoughtful times can generate new life. We missed the outdoors; during those long months of lockdown a home garden, a terrace or even a small balcony represented our contact with nature and the safety of life that flows and flourishes. We cannot say that we changed our approach in creating new collections or products, but we have certainly strengthened our will to create furniture elements that are in connection with nature, by using materials that respect nature itself, and by pursuing a continuous balance between aesthetics and function, which is the basis of the natural world.
WW: Have you noticed customers paying greater attention to design choices for outdoor spaces?
GPM: Yes, of course, this trend has been growing for a few years…. Our clients furnish outdoor spaces with great care. For all intents and purposes, the garden is an extension of the interior and attention to detail, design, materials and comfort are certainly the parameters that guide the purchase of our collections. This is true for the Contract and Hospitality sector, but is becoming increasingly evident for the residential sector as well. Having a well-manicured garden or terrace means organizing one’s green space and having an elegant living room to welcome friends, or a beautiful and functional dining area. Designing for the outdoors inherently carries the burden of combining shape with performance, by creating a sophisticated design that knows how to emphasize lines and quality of materials.
WW: We are so looking forward to gathering this summer safely with friends and family. How are you looking forward to spending time outside with the Ethimo collection?
GPM: We are anxiously waiting for summer to arrive… summer will challenge us to a new way of socializing, a safe one to be sure, which, however, will also allow us to finally be able to enjoy the company of family and friends. What are the collections you cannot do without? Hut, to relax in contact with nature; the new Allaperto swing, created with Matteo Thun and Antonio Rodriguez, to experience the outdoors worry-free; and certainly a cozy lounge-like Knit or Swing, designed by Patrick Norguet, or even Venexia, the latest lounge project created with Luca Nichetto.
WW: While the Mediterranean is at the heart of Ethimo, the collections live beautifully internationally — and in all seasons. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind projects like the Park Hyatt Milano, Hotel Le Coucou in LesAllues, and Royal Champagne in Champillon?
GPM: The projects you have listed represent Ethimo’s own essence. Our collections have a look and feel that conveys a contemporary design through the texture of wood, as well as weaves and fabrics, embodying a refined taste that meets, and at times foreshadows, international design trends. For example, Ethimo was the first brand to create a line of furniture dedicated to high-altitude outdoors. With its Mountain mood, the Allaperto collection, created in partnership with Matteo Thun and Antonio Rodriguez, is a not-to-miss selection for those who do not want to give up the beauty of design even on the terrace of a chalet or a resort surrounded by snowy peaks. This year, too, our Rafael collection, designed by Paola Navone, presented three new solutions designed for the mountains. For us, the starting point is always the perfect contextualization of each element within the natural environment. Any setting, whether urban, country, maritime or surrounded by snow-capped peaks, becomes the right place at the right time if all the elements in it achieve the perfect balance and communicate with each other in harmony. I think that this is what we achieved with our projects.