In 1959, Pasquale Natuzzi, the 19-year-old son of a cabinetmaker, decided to start up on his own and, with the help of three colleagues, opened a workshop in the southern Italian city of Taranto, where he began producing hand-made leather armchairs and sofas. This was the birth of the Natuzzi Group, now a leading company in the leather furniture and interior design sectors.
With all the impetuousness and confidence of youth, Pasquale Natuzzi rapidly expanded his business, moving the production of Natuzzi leather furniture to Matera. But the new factory – Natuzzi Salotti Srl (founded in 1972) – was hit by misfortune when a fire destroyed the plant. However Pasquale Natuzzi was not to be defeated: the new corporate headquarters were moved to Bari, where they remain to this day.
The Natuzzi Group
The Natuzzi group expanded and their leather furniture became world famous, thanks to their participation in the late 1970’s in a furnishings fair in Bari. The contacts they made with the Middle East and Eastern Europe allowed the Natuzzi Group to increase its export market. But the turning point came in the 1980’s, when the Natuzzi leather sofa makes its triumphal entry into the American market.
While on a trip to the USA, Pasquale Natuzzi signed an agreement with American department store Macy’s to begin distributing Natuzzi leather sofas across America. It was a revolution in the US home furnishings market. A Natuzzi leather sofa sold for $999, one-third of the usual price for a sofa of the same quality and materials. This meant the “democratization” of the leather sofa: every American citizen could buy a piece of Italian-designed furniture, with its distinctive quality, fine materials and its innovative, modern shape.
The Relationship between the Italian Brand and the American Market
The relationship between the Italian brand and the American market continued to grow and led to the opening of Natuzzi Upholstery Inc., in New York, in 1985. The company was created to distribute and sell Natuzzi products in North America. In 1998 it was followed by High Point, an innovative building designed by Mario Bellini (also responsible for several collections of Natuzzi leather sofas) which hosts Natuzzi America’s headquarters and showroom. Besides the US market, Natuzzi leather furniture became famous in the whole Europe, in Asia and even Australia.
Natuzzi’s philosophy is that of comfortable living. Their chairs and sofas are studied to fit into the home and lifestyle of every type of customer, to help them enjoy their leisure-time and to make their house a comfortable place to be. The use of new materials, combined with traditional style and the use of advanced technologies, have enabled the group to launch innovative products like the ‘sectional recliner’ concept applied to leather armchairs and sofas. Another icon of the Italian brand is the “sound” chair, a leather armchair equipped with a sound system that can be connected to your portable music player, so you can listen to your music in total relaxation. A special version has recently been re-launched to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Italian republic.
Natuzzi offers “total-living” solutions for home furnishing through a franchise chain called Divani & Divani by Natuzzi, created in 1990 and which now has almost 300 flagship stores all around the world including Italy, Greece, Portugal, France, Switzerland and China. Alongside the Natuzzi brand is Italsofa, introduced in 2000 to produce a more affordable line of sofas and armchairs, while Natuzzi Editions is dedicated to the distribution of the Italian-designed furniture and furnishing accessories on a global scale.
Natuzzi is now the biggest Italian company in the home furnishings market and the global leader in the leather sofa sector. With an annual turnover of about 520 million Euros, the Natuzzi Group is still under the control of its founder, Pasquale Natuzzi, who has never lost his passion for his work. The holding company Natuzzi Spa is the only non-American furnishing company quoted on the Wall St Stock Exchange since 1993. This reflects just what this simple furnishings business has evolved into in its 50 years of activity.