In Conversation With—EMU Outdoor Living
Italian brand EMU combines tradition with innovation and contemporary design practices to produce high-quality, practical furniture. From a factory specialising in the production of military equipment to a pioneer in technical know-how for processing and protecting metal, we navigate the company's storied history as it establishes itself as a leading manufacturer of luxury outdoor furniture.
Q—Thanks for joining us. Tell us more about EMU, how did it all begin?
A—EMU began its long journey more than 70 years ago, in 1951, when brothers Aldo and Angelo Biscarini and Dante Menconi decided to found a factory specialising in the production of transmission equipment for military use. In order to meet the particular demands of that sector, EMU patents a process that ensures maximum resistance to atmospheric agents, thus becoming the pioneer company in technical know-how for processing and protecting metal. The company's transition into the furniture sector took place towards the end of the 1950s, as EMU Group S.p.A establishes itself as a manufacturer for outdoor furniture.
Q—What is your underlying design philosophy?
A—In the 1980s the company was one of the first to establish a series of collaborations with the most famous Italian and international designers and architects, thus introducing 'design' to the outdoor sector. Since then, EMU has taken great strides forward every day in continuous technological and stylistic research. Tradition and evolution come together towards a new sense of living: an ambitious vision, which is revealed within the Design & Simulation Center, a research centre that aims to boost the development activities of the current design department, in a space where technicians and designers can find inspiration for the continuous evolution of processes and products.
Q—Can you provide insight into your design process?
A—When developing a design process, firstly we follow the instructions of the marketing department and study the market demands. Based on these results, briefings are subsequently drawn up, which will then lead to various collaborations with the designers. The projects finally arrive in the company where they are prototyped and industrialised in our R&D department.
Q—The Re-Trouvé collection, designed by Patricia Urquiola, features prominently in our Boulder House project. How do you select the collaborative partners you work with?
A—We select our partners based on their creativity and their experience in the outdoor sector. Sometimes the collaboration arises from spontaneous proposals that prove to have particular aesthetic and functional characteristics.
Q—Rather than trends we prefer to focus on materials, craftsmanship and technique—how are you innovating within these qualities?
A—Expect the highest quality, seek detailed perfection and keep an innovative mentality; these have always been EMU's guidelines. Our company designs, implements and controls all the production phases in our Marsciano plant in the heart of Umbria and closely monitors all the processing steps on our various suppliers' premises. We work together in a close-knit network according to the latest models of production organisation. Strict monitoring, from tests during the product design stages and work on cataphoresis and painting processes, to the approval of the end product. The unquestionable quality of our products is the result of a perfect blend between technology and human resources, a truly priceless heritage founded on the passion and knowledge of our people. EMU manufactures desirable furnitures, both from an aesthetic and resistance point of view, and this allows us to guarantee sustainable products.
Q—What's next for EMU—what are you looking forward to?
A—The long period of lockdown caused by the pandemic has made many people reflect on the quality of time spent in their homes and with their loved ones, leading to focus more attention on the quality of lifestyle. This new awareness has led to focus more on the products used on the daily routine and on their quality. We hope to return to a normal lifestyle soon, with a renewed will and greater awareness of beauty and quality.