Article by Gillian Serisier. Above image: Schiavello’s Climate furniture platform with accessories designed by Akira Isogawa, Chris Bosse (L.A.V.A) and S!X
Founded in 1966 as a partnership between brothers Tony and Joe Schiavello, the company we now know as Schiavello was deeply concerned with office solutions from the start. Indeed, an initial contract to install demountable partitions was quickly followed by the company developing a partitioning system of its own, which answered many of the needs that were previously unaddressed. By 1968 Schiavello had secured its first government project and a major commercial fitout. Not bad for a two-year-old!
Never a company to rest on its laurels, Schiavello started thinking outside the box. Importantly, it was thinking about the shift technology was bringing to the workplace and by 1982 had designed and manufactured its first ergonomic, height adjustable desk, suitable for computer work, the Primatic. Interstat and Logico soon followed as computer led offices evolved. “Australian interior and product design has evolved to embrace human needs as a key influencer in design decisions,” explains Anton Schiavello, director of Schiavello International.
“Fifty years ago companies were focused on creating stand-alone furniture that fit nicely into a catalogue, and over time [they have] progressed towards the creation of concepts that embrace diversity in working styles, ergonomics and mental well-being. Today, we strive to create flexible spaces that support a diverse work force, designing for human needs.”
This has been a significant aspect of Schiavello’s success, in fact. Rather than only responding to demand, Schiavello has actively engaged with its end users to pre-empt trends and create solutions for future problems. For example, Climate, developed in 2010, answers many of the issues workplaces are facing now, while Krossi, developed in 2013, delves deeper still, with health a primary objective. The agility of each of these systems is borne from Schiavello’s 50 years of home-grown, and Australian workplace specific, research and development. “At Schiavello we are proud that over the past 50 years, through our focus and investment in manufacturing in Australia, we have enabled interior and industrial designers to utilise our capabilities and partner with a team of product specialists to realise their designs,” says Schiavello.
The quality of solution inherent to the Schiavello name, while the result of 50 years of learnings, is underscored by an ingrained premise of ensuring the knowledge behind the design remains a core objective. In doing so, the company has steadfastly supported, promoted and taken a chance on Australian designers as part of the extended Schiavello family. “Being a part of a 100 percent Australian owned business, we understand the importance of supporting Australian designers and promoting their work locally and internationally,” says Schiavello.
Indeed, supporting Australian designers has been and continues to be a key objective with Helen Kontouris, Akira Isogawa, L.A.V.A, Chris Connell, Joost Bakker, Korban/Flaubert, S!X, Thomas Coward and Sue Carr among the many Australian designers to have worked with Schiavello over the past 50 years. “In supporting local designers, we ensure our rich, vibrant design culture stays alive in Australia,” says Schiavello.
‘Looking forward’ is a hackneyed expression, but decidedly true of this company, as he explains. “In the past and looking into the future, the question that we ask ourselves is: what makes a workplace effective? Is it the physical space, the culture, the people? Through our understanding of culture, technology and trends in human behaviour, we have been able to generate a robust collection of knowledge that helps to influence our furniture design that will support an organisation’s needs now, and continue to contribute to greater productivity and organisational effectiveness far into the future.”
Never resting, Schiavello has shifted from generation to generation with young minds, such as Anton Schiavello, ensuring the company remains in perpetual motion, while never forgetting the strength of its history, lessons and drive for innovation.