Journalist Anna Lagorio and photographer Alex Carnevali founded Fattobene (which means “well-made” in Italian) in 2015 as an antidote to e-commerce culture. They travel throughout Italy in search of beautifully crafted objects—most of which have been made the same way for hundreds of years. “They are minute, silent objects with an irresistible charm,” the duo explain. “Over the years, their role has changed and these simple industrial products have transformed into true icons of everyday life.”
Their curated offerings make the hard-to-find yet timeless items more accessible while creating an “atlas of Italian material culture.” A selection of Fattobene’s findings is now available outside of Italy for the first time, through a temporary pop-up at the MoMA Design Store, either in person at their Soho location or online.
These handpainted ceramic tiles designed by legendary architect Gio Ponti in 1960 for an Italian hotel project he was working on are being sold as single pieces for the first time.
Premana Egg Scissors
This mushroom knife is made in Premana—the Italian village known for producing premium cutting tools—and features a curved cutting blade, a brush, and a scale.
The Zenith 590 Mix Stapler is a colorful version of the original Zenith Stapler that was invented in Italy in 1948.
Dell’Era Astra Bulletin Board Pins
The collection includes a range of home accessories made in Italy from the 1800s through the 1970s. You’ll find blue ceramic tiles designed by Gio Ponti, traditional student notebooks and other office supplies, hangers designed by Giuseppe Toscanini (who was commissioned by major fashion houses like Valentino and Chanel to make custom hangers for their collections), and even personal care products in charming art déco packaging.
There’s one piece of furniture in the mix, the foldable Spaghetti Outdoor Lounge Chair designed by FIAM in the 1980s. Its made of a lightweight aluminum frame and flexible, handwoven PVC bands that whimsically nod to Italy’s staple dish.
An important element of Lagorio and Carnevali’s mission is to bring attention to companies that have been around for decades and expand their customer base by making their products more accessible. “Some of these companies really had no online presence, and this really astonished me when I started researching because you couldn’t find them even through Google,” Lagorio said to Fast Company.
Many of the products haven’t changed since they first debuted. Coccoina Almond Glue, for example, is an icon in Italy, first invented by Aldo Balma in 1927. Nowadays it’s still produced using the original, solvent-free recipe and features the same aluminum tin and retro label from the 1920s.
Fattobene’s founders take a hands-on approach to sourcing which sometimes results in fortunate finds and special reissues. When they visited the Pigma notebook factory in Bergamo last year, they found an extensive archive of more than 1,000 out of print styles and brought back a limited run of the Bella Copia A5 Unlined—a colorful, striped style that was designed in 1951.
The Fattobene pop-up will be available at the MoMA Design Store in Soho and online through September 29.