Montbel @MetroQuality in Milan, the city of design

Interview with Riccardo Biffi, CEO of MetroQuality in Milan

Some stories are meant to be, they just feel right. The partnership between MetroQuality and Montbel is one of those: a design showroom in the heart of the Brera district in Milan offering a new way of connecting with architects and design professionals, and an Italian company which, for over sixty years, has promoted a tradition of excellence.
Riccardo Biffi, CEO of MetroQuality, tells us how this solid and long-lasting partnership came about.

MetroQuality, a container for collections but also a place that was created to be contained: it is the go-to space for cultural and commercial exchanges, in line with the design culture. Where did the idea of a “design showroom” come from?
The idea came to us a while ago, thanks to the experience we had gained with manufacturers of design objects who deal mainly with architects.
Over the years, we realised the architect-company relationship needed to evolve and this prompted us to create a place where designers could connect with businesses in the sector. Our idea was to turn passive promotion into active promotion: we wanted to move away from the days when companies used to visit architects in their studios (a practice which had grown so much over the years that it had almost become a nuisance for the architects) and encourage architectural studios to go looking for what they need in one place with a sound reputation for its products and services.
This process is similar to the one that occurred in marketing with the shift from outbound marketing to inbound marketing: nowadays companies no longer connect with a multitude of users through one-to-many communication and sales strategies but use one-to-one communication to engage with individual users.
That was what we set out to do: be in the right place (the Brera district) at the right time (always, not only during the Salone del Mobile).
That is how the idea of setting up our design showroom, MetroQuality, came about.

MetroQuality offers a broad spectrum of products. What criteria do you adopt when choosing companies to exhibit in your space?
There are two criteria that companies must meet to be selected. First, they have to be Italian. It’s an absolute must for us: the word ‘design’ may be English, but design is Italian.
The second thing we insist on is the company’s efforts to meet the needs of a highly demanding public, namely architects and interior designers.
Lastly, when carrying out our internal appraisal, we make sure the company’s products are not similar or the same as those of the partners already on display in our space.
Obviously, we are well aware that every product is a potential competitor, if only because it eats into part of the available budget. However, if we decide to feature a company at MetroQuality, there must be something “unique” about it, something that makes it stand out from the crowd, offering architects something new and different.

How did you start working with Montbel?
Montbel has been with us since we first embarked on this adventure, proving that MetroQuality and Montbel are very much on the same page.
We first met Montbel through a company related to the world of furnishing; we checked it met our selection criteria, verified the quality of its products (the seats in the showroom used by our visiting architects are all Montbel) and our partnership took off.

What are clients looking for when they choose Montbel seating?
Montbel seating is of the highest quality and design, with a vast selection of personalisation options. All elements that Montbel’s target market are looking for. With Montbel you can be sure of exclusivity, service and quality.

What’s the most popular Montbel product?
Well, that’s very subjective but I can tell you what my favourite product is. I’ve got Rose chairs at home and when my friends come over, they always say how beautiful and comfortable they are. That doesn’t always work out for me though, because when it gets late and I just want to go to bed, I can’t get rid of them… :) But seriously, I’m very happy with the choice I made five years ago. Montbel has an extensive range so, whatever style architects are looking for or proposing, they will always find something that meets the brief.

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