The made-to-measure Armadio al Centimetro – Wardrobe by the Centimetre – has been the hallmark of Italian brand Lema for 30 years. We chatted with third-gen owner Angelo Meroni about Lema’s latest innovations and plans for Milan.
29 March, 2018
Angelo Meroni, a third generation owner of Italian furniture brand Lema, was recently in Singapore. He brought with him Lema’s latest creation – a w wardrobe system with technology developed by NASA that eliminates bacteria and smells. We sat down with him at W.Atelier‘s flagship showroom for a chat.
Tell me about the ground-breaking air purifier technology in your wardrobe.
The technology came from NASA, who uses it to purify air for their astronauts. Then some people used it to purify hospital air. We met these people because we’ve got requests from the markets – mainly in Asia – for something to eliminate the smell in the wardrobe, particularly from shoes. You know why they smell? It’s because of the bacteria in them. If we destroy the bacteria, we eliminate the smell. If you have the luxury of airing your things in the sun, it’s great, but if you don’t, then you need something else. So we did some tests, and two years later we have this on the market.
How important is wellness and health to your clients?
Very. I don’t think people would buy this product if they were not worried about this.
What is Lema’s definition of a good life?
It’s not being bored when you enter your home after 20 years. This is very important. We’ve learned from our art director Piero Lissoni that products shouldn’t follow fashion too much. At the moment it is beautiful, but after two years you’ll get bored. It’s true. If your products are simple and beautiful, you’ll never get bored of them because they are timeless. If you see our catalogue from a few years ago, the products are more or less the same, maybe in different colours or a different dimension, but the feeling is always the same. That for us is a good life.
What does Lema offer that other Italian brands don’t?
Service and flexibility. Lema was the first company in the market – we started 30 years ago – that offered a custom-made wardrobe by the centimetre. We call it Armadio al Centimetro, which means Wardrobe by the Centimetre.
When we started, we were the only one who could do it. Now we have developed an ability to deliver it fast; we can deliver in just four weeks after the order is made, worldwide. Week number one we collect the order, we process it in week two and three, and in week four we deliver.
In Asia, our most important market is contract projects. One important project in Shanghai that we did last year involved the making of 1,500 wardrobes, and not all of them were the same because the client wanted them to be flush with the walls and the spaces were differently designed. But we managed to do it with our rigorous organisational skill. All the people in the factory have to know how to manage thousands of parts, each one different than the other.
How do clients’ buying preferences here in Asia differ from other regions?
In Asia, we are mostly selling our luxury products. Leather, glass doors, lights, and all of the accessories. The European market doesn’t spend so much money on them. Asian clients are careful, they want answers immediately; they do not like to wait and they have spending power. Once they decide, there’s no problem, but they’re very careful – and rightfully so. They are buying something 10,000 kilometres away from where they live, so of course they want the best.
What can we look forward to from Lema at this year’s Salone del Mobile in Milan?
We will present a lot of new pieces. We will launch a new round table with a Lazy Susan that we’ve designed for the Asian region. And also a new rectangular table, three new armchairs, one new sofa, one renewed new wardrobe, and a new dining system named Selecta.
Nowadays in the design fair, people expect to see something new every year. Is this a burden for you?
It’s not easy. I think sometimes we maybe do too much because we are under stress to present something new – otherwise, what will people have to talk about? But it’s very important to present pieces that are one-hundred-per-cent perfect in material and mechanism. It’s a big investment in money and time. I think the only strategy to stay in the market when the world is always changing is to look at the market and listen to people with your own eyes and ears. That’s why I’m travelling all around the world personally.
You have to see how the world is changing. You can sit on your desk, feeling “Ah I have the website, I can look at the world from my computer,” but it’s not the same. You have to talk to people, otherwise you only take maybe 50 per cent of the information that is there. And you’d be a follower, not a leader.
In Singapore, Lema is available from W.Atelier.
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