Continuum culture

30 years in the business, 300 years in the making

December 3, 2014
by Alessandra CanellaPietro Chiera

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It was 1810 when a suburban villa in the outskirts of Milan, built in the beginning of the 18th century, was converted from residential into industrial space, exploiting the waters of the facing waterway, the Naviglio Grande canal, to generate energy to be used for industrial production.

From 1811 to 1830, the first activity of the newborn industrial facility was dedicated to crystal and glass artifacts. Then, in 1830, the Gindrand family acquired the location, which they considered the perfect location for their artisanal porcelain production business.

This luxury approach to porcelain in the long run, though, and around 1840 the production plant fell under the direction and consequently the property of Mr. Giulio Richard.

Richard was a savvy entrepreneur: he knew his company’s technical progress was dependent on hiring skilled workers. To benefit his staff, he founded a school— a kindergarten, which is still serving the local community today—as well as a mutual aid society, housing for workers, and a cafeteria with common cooking facilities.

During Richard’s leadership, he brought his company to an international level, expanding production capabilities and acquiring several different companies.

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The company was then renamed “Richard-Ginori” —a name that still resonates today thanks to the high quality and success of its porcelain products that were since then indissolubly related to design and innovation.

Through the years, extraordinary representatives of Italian design had had inhabited these spaces, including architect Gio Ponti, who was creative director at Richard’s company between 1923 and 1930.
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After a long and intense run, the plant was decommissioned in 1986 due to economic difficulty in the area.

In the years 1996-98, part of the former Richard-Ginori area has undergone preservation and renovation , led by Studio Milano Layout, which converted the area into a series of spaces, with a strong industrial legacy. Fashion and design firms spontaneously settled down in this area and a final structural and architectural remodel followed in 2002.

Today, the plaza is home to Continuum Milan’s studio, which moved there in 2009. Our office is surrounded by dozens of spaces dedicated to fashion and design (GStar, Adidas, LeCoqsportif, Hugo Boss, Canali…) as well as to several creative activities such as advertising and communication agencies, photographers’ studios, and even a tattoo studio.

Continuum Milan is divided into two separate spaces, built around the concept of domestic and familiar living. The living space is where we meet clients for the first time: we welcome them having a coffee together on a couch.

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The core of Continuum life takes place in the kitchen space(below), where a fully equipped kitchen has turned into the main workspace both for Continuumers and guests. The Kitchen space is where all the practitioners work and where we bring clients we are getting to know more, to share lunch together, as it would happen following our traditions.

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From coffee to dinner: that’s how the interaction with our clients changes though time.

Whether we’re working hard on projects or putting together a recipe for today’s lunch, we are happy to consider ourselves the proud heirs of Richard-Ginori’s vision that evolved around people and adopted an holistic approach as the right ingredients for delivering innovation.

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Image sources:

http://www.marcostrina.it/design/ex-richard-ginori/

http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ceramica_richard_pre_1896_naviglio_grande.jpg

http://www.moda24.ilsole24ore.com/art/industria-finanza/2013-04-05/guccirichard-ginori-speranza-made-174045.php?uuid=AbXevdkH

http://www.ilsole24ore.com/art/impresa-e-territori/2013-01-23/richard-ginori-152452.shtml?uuid=Ab8EpNNH

filed in: Continuum culture

About the Author

  • chiera pietro
    Pietro Chiera
    Product Designer

    Pietro brings an inquisitive attitude that, together with his innate empathic-relational nature and his passion for product design, helps him create a strong bond with the diverse people, topics, and insights that every project brings.
    With strong competencies to support the strategic and executional steps of a project, he has supported domestic and global brands facing diverse challenges during his tenure at Continuum.
    Pietro speaks fluent Italian, English, Swedish, and Spanish and believes that meaningful insights can emerge from the intersections of language and culture.
    Pietro holds a degree in industrial design from the Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan.