For over 40 years, Pittella has stayed true to its artisanal manufacturing roots, creating functional designs that subtly interpret the Australian values of elevated craftsmanship and materiality.
When Pittella’s door handles were first imported into Australia in the 1970s by Simone Pittella’s father, Felice, Italy was considered to be the reigning global leader of luxury, premium design and manufacturing.
As the second generation heading up the Company, Simone Pittella has continued this commitment and further developed the product offering of door and bathroom fittings, carving out an elevated niche in the Australian architecture and design (A&D) market for the past four decades. Some would say its unique position, borne out of two generations of Australian-Italian design heritage, is informed by the interpretation of beauty, sophisticated taste and an appreciation for quality – otherwise known as ‘bellezza’ – that is an intrinsic part of Italian life.
“Italy is a nation that values beauty,” says Simone Pittella. “The overall experience of quality and a culture of design translates to the building materials which inform the product selections for Italian homes. A case in point is the ‘Kea’ handle from one of our new tap-ware collections, by the Florentine designer Marco Pisati. You have a direct connection with the tap handle and there’s a feeling of tangible luxury which, when you operate the mechanism, transfers to the user.”
In spite of its hybrid DNA, Pittella’s design story is unmistakably Australian. Mirroring the global recognition of Australia in the A&D arena today and core to this accomplishment, is the idea of permanence in design and the importance of materiality in architectural projects. “The value placed on artisanal craftsmanship and materiality is a reflection of Australia’s highly multicultural nature and Pittella products are an integral part of that tradition,” he muses.
Pittella typically develops products inspired by the notion of iconic Australian architecture, where locally-sourced raw materials such as hardwood timber cedars and stone, offset by glass, feature prominently, to create a living environment with nature. “And that, I think, is the real Australian architecture, where you’ve got this interaction with your surroundings that’s beautiful,” says Simone Pittella. Today, the pendulum has shifted and it’s the creators of products in Australia who “have fans all over Europe and Italy.”
Director Charlotte Pittella reflects on the firm’s advocacy and reverence for Australia’s emerging designers. “We’ve been part of the Australian A&D market for 40 years, so we are as much a part of this architecture that is revered around the world, as they are. Our products are Italian but we are led by Australian design,” she explains.
Throughout its 40-year evolution, Pittella has stayed true to its quality roots, manufacturing the majority of its products in the region of Lombardi, where the specialist art of brass metallurgy dates back to prehistoric Italy and the Metal Ages. “The regions of Italy and Lombardi, in which our products are produced, where brass products have been worked on and worked with as noble materials, still carries through those various areas,” says Simone Pittella. “The work of these skilled artisans is integral to the production cycle; using artisanal values, materiality and craftsmanship to create beautiful products that make life better.”
It’s a production legacy which, to this day, sees Simone Pittella travel to Italy to develop products and finishes with the engineers and craftsmen he has known since childhood. “With the skill of manufacturing and engineering, you have this perfect combination of a product that is fit-to-purpose in high-end architecture and interior design in Australia. And we make that possible,” he says. It’s a deeply collaborative process that enables Pittella’s engineers and suppliers to produce products especially for the Australian market. “That’s where the skills of generational knowledge married with artistic creativity come into play,” he reveals. “These qualities are uniquely relevant in our local design market.” According to Charlotte Pittella, this “lifelong vocation” of the individuals shaping such a skilled manufacturing process is borne out of a deep sense of pride.
As people yearn to incorporate a sense of permanence into their surroundings, Pittella’s beautifully designed brass accessories are testament to a design process in collaboration with renowned Italian designers, handcrafted by Italy’s leading artisans. For Simone Pittella, the design process is nuanced and multi-layered. “We curate for a market that we feel is right for our clients. And we do that with our partnerships, with our manufacturers, and we’ve done this for so long that people think of Pittella as being a brand that makes their own products and that is what we’ve become.”
Design remains a personal process for Simone Pittella who, inspired by his travels to Italy, to Milan or its outskirts, is influenced by the makers where the manufacturing takes place. “I might see part of a building, a form of concrete; and it will remind me of part of a product that I would imagine being a door handle or a door pull. Then I’ll be able to think more about it and it starts that spark [of an] idea.” Ultimately, the design of each product always starts with a reverence for the form. “And then it goes to the treatment, to the finish, the look,” he adds, citing form as the most important element of their products. “It has a very distinct effect on the owners’ or the users’ feeling, with the transition from one room to another. Or, turning on that shower – there’s a human interaction where you touch that item. The door handle or tap has an emotional connection to the architecture and it’s probably the only item within the building with which you actually have a physical interaction.”
Innovative partnerships which respect Pittella’s philosophy and origins are an important strand to their story. Teaming up with iconic Italian design house dnd and its award-winning designers, a shared history of sophisticated product design has created high-quality brass door handles exclusively for the Australian market. This approach to reinterpreting classics is key to Pittella’s creation of functional designs that are subtly new and relevant. Built on a genuine shared love of the material: brass; and a respect for craftsmanship, such partnerships represent an innate belief in timeless design and quality manufacturing. Pittella is uniquely positioned to exclusively adapt such products for Australian design sensibilities. “We customise the processes to make it suitable for our DNA,” explains Simone Pittella.
Built on a genuine shared love of the material: brass; and a respect for craftsmanship, such partnerships represent an innate belief in timeless design and quality manufacturing. Pittella is uniquely positioned to exclusively adapt such products for Australian design sensibilities. “We customise the processes to make it suitable for our DNA,” explains Simone Pittella.
Influenced by this idea of timelessness, Pittella creates a product that fits an architectural narrative which might be the opposite of what would appeal in Europe. It’s a unique thread that runs through the sophisticated design and life-cycle of every Pittella door pool, door handle or joinery knob. “We have this beautiful treatment called ‘tumble brass,’ which is really quite raw and alive,” says Simone Pittella, who admires the beauty of one of its core collections with a precision-finished, aged look that gives it a sense of permanence. “It’s never going to go out of fashion. It will stay like that forever.”