Prominently located on the corner of Chapel Street and Alexandra Avenue, South Yarra, it’s almost impossible not to miss Fanuli. At ground level of an apartment building designed by Elenberg Fraser, the large showroom, with floor-to-ceiling windows on both sides, is a beacon for architects, designers and those simply looking to furnish their home or apartment with fine Italian furniture. Founded by Giuseppe Fanuli (who started as a cabinet maker and is now 90 years of age) and currently run by his three sons Fabio, Sandro and Carlo, the next generation, including Marco, one of Guiseppe’s grandchildren, is now part of the business.

There are images of the family in Italy, spending time with good friends, who manufacture furniture and collaborate with the family decades on. “It’s always a family business with strong relationships at the core,” says Monica Del Rosario, who manages the Melbourne store (there’s a second Fanuli showroom in Sydney). Fanuli is a ‘who’s who’ of some of Italy’s leading designers and manufacturers: Flexform, Kristalia, Riva 1920, MD House, Fiam and Penta Lighting. Other names on the showroom floor include Philippe Starck and Antonio Citterio. There are also the ‘Altone’ collections, including dining and coffee tables designed by the team at Fanuli and produced locally.

What’s apparent when one surveils Fanuli’s South Yarra showroom is the calm and tranquility that emanates from each piece on the floor. Comfortable, beautifully resolved and timeless, there are standout pieces but an aversion to the gimmicky or pretentious. “We’re not driven by trends, some of which can be a flash in the pan. The pieces we include are about craftsmanship, quality and importantly, come with a story,” says Del Rosario, who is keen to share some of the backstories with this writer.

Take a timber side table with a hollowed inset lined with a leather mat by Riva 1920. The tabletop displays a slight crack and the timber has a smooth touch with a worn patina. I’m told that the timber came from old pylons removed from the canals in Venice (once they’re past their use by date and replaced every 10 years) and the barnacles and any other attachments removed. The table, made from one pylon, includes a customised nook for one’s cat or dog so that they can be ‘part of the family conversation’ in a living room, or a place to sleep in a bedroom. Other pieces are as sustainable, with all the components locally sourced in northern Italy, close to the production. “With some designs, there’s one person behind its production, from start to finish, giving a holistic approach to each piece,” says Del Rosario.

Other designs such as the 1085 by Bartoli, a dining or armchair, feature soft leather seats and backrests, with the one piece of leather held together at the back with an industrial marine clip (as leather stretches). Other designs found at Fanuli include the popular ‘Ground Piece’, designed by Antonio Citterio 17 years ago. The generous module sofa, with its broad base, is akin to ‘sitting in a cloud’. “Great design has longevity. It’s not something just for the moment or to respond to a fad,” Del Rosario adds.

Fanuli remains open as normal, with the Sydney & Melbourne showrooms operating under regular trading hours while complying with social distancing protocols and the utmost attention to hygiene practices. They have reduced staff in each of the showrooms, and additional cleaning and sanitising measures have been put in place. If you cannot make it into the showroom, online consultations are available.

Fanuli can be contacted on 03 9826 8777

Images are courtesy of Fanuli

Flexform – Groundpiece

Riva 1920 – Pet Bed

Riva 1920 – Briccole

Kristalia – 1085 Edition

Fanuli family

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