Top European furniture brands find home in Makati showroom

From classic elegance to technology-driven design, from leather to linens

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For sisters Filaine Tan and Jeanne Wee, it was their passion for contemporary design that led them to start a business selling luxury European furniture in the country.

Abitare Internazionale, the family-owned corporation run by the sisters which has been exclusive distributor of top Italian furniture brand B&B Italia in the Philippines for 14 years now, has acquired distribution rights to three more labels—Maxalto, a line from the B&B Italia collection; German brand Walter Knoll; and Italian bedroom furniture specialist Flou.

From a 188-sq m space, Abitare is now a two-story 688-sq m showroom. Housed in its first level is the Maxalto line, while B&B Italia, Walter Knoll and Flou are on the second floor.

“We are very happy that they decided to enlarge their space,” says Samantha Cunselmo, area manager for Asia of B&B Italia and Maxalto. “It shows the collections in a better way.”

The best words to describe the B&B Italia collection, says Cunselmo, are “pure design, technology and innovation.” Using only high-quality materials and precious fabrics, B&B Italia has become an industry leader in contemporary furnishings since it was founded in 1966.

Classic look

The Maxalto collection is marked by a warm and classic look. “It is neoclassical, inspired by the early ’30s period in France,” says Cunselmo. Maxalto’s excellent wood craftsmanship made it the Bulgari line of hotels’ choice of furnishings, according to Arturo Go, Abitare Internazionale’s director of communications.

Flou, also from Italy, is a leading brand in the designer bedroom furniture industry. It specializes in modern and functional beds, pillows, linens and mattresses. In 2009, Flou introduced walk-in closets to its collection.

The German furniture brand Walter Knoll, according to its website, is a leading maker of fine upholstered furniture and office facilities. It is known for its use of the highest quality leather, says its area manager for Asia Giuseppe Peditto. It employs a minimalist yet highly functional and technology-driven design to suit the needs of its clientele.

Aspirational

While Abitare is a “shop in shop,” meaning it is a store that sells different product brands in one area, Tan clarifies that these labels are not competing with each other. “They complement each other,” she says.

“For instance, Flou specializes in beds and mattresses. Between Maxalto and B&B Italia, the difference would be the look. Maxalto is more classic elegance while B&B Italia is about technology-driven design. Walter Knoll emphasizes innovation and its use of leather.”

Cunselmo agrees: “Of course Maxalto and B&B Italia are totally different. They speak a different language and have a different approach to the end users.”

Cultivating good relationships with clients is a priority, says Tan, as they “don’t just sell furniture.” The store also helps clients execute the best design for them. “Here is where our expertise comes in. We either collaborate with the interior designer or we advise clients which size and configuration is best for their layout,” says Wee.

Tan believes introducing these “aspirational” brands to the country is ideal, as they’ve built a loyal following since the company began 14 years ago. “It’s either they upgrade their furniture at home or buy furniture for their new properties,” she says.

“With this expanded showroom, our enthusiasm is all the more fired up to bring the best designs from around the world.”

Abitare Internazionale’s showroom for B&B Italia, Maxalto, Walter Knoll and Flou is at G/F, Crown Tower, 107 H.V. de la Costa St., Salcedo Village, Makati; tel. 8921887.

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