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Whoever is passionate about books is generally passionate about bookcases too. He enjoys seeing his books carefully arranged on a shelf, and changes and perfects his display over time.
If he really loves books he must know about the bookcase par excellence that isn’t for storing books but for putting them on display: Ptolomeo by Opinion Ciatti.
Opinion Ciatti’s background is similar to that of many other Italian firms: it’s a family-run business that began to make a name for itself in the ‘50s, and slowly rose to become the leader of its field. The business is still being run by the Ciatti family, just as it always has been.
Rolando Ciatti is the head of the family and the first products he manufactured were a real stroke of genius: TV cabinets and record-players, objects that during that period were making their way into people’s homes for the first time. Undeniably forward-looking, Rolando Ciatti opened the company’s first factory south of the river Arno in Florence, and in 1985 he embarked on a new adventure: computer furniture.
At the same time, Flavia and Massimo Ciatti decided to extend the company’s scope even further, introducing Ciatti a Tavola, a line of kitchen accessories, at the Salone del Mobile in Milan. With Axis, the first deconstructed kitchen, Opinion Ciatti was once again ahead of the curve in spotting the industrial-style trend that’s still extremely current.
The mid eighties were extremely fruitful for the Ciatti family, and their success was enhanced after they met the designer Bruno Rainaldi. With Bruno Rainaldi as the brand’s artistic director, Flavia Ciatti started CCR, a firm that manufactures furniture only – the Ptolomeo bookcase is the stand-out piece of the collection.
Designed by Rinaldi, in a short space of time the Ptolomeo bookcase became the brand’s flagship product, rightly deserving the 2004 Compasso d’Oro award. But what’s so special about this bookcase?
First of all, forget about shelves as you know them: Ptolomeo is a column. Thin metal shelves are mounted on its spine, and the shelves disappear from sight as you fill the column up with your favourite volumes. The end result is an extremely tall pile of books – high too in design value.
And its name? It pays tribute to Ptolemy, Alexander the Great’s friend and private guard, who subsequently became the king of Egypt, and is known for building the Lighthouse of Alexandria and the biggest and the best-stocked library of all antiquity. Ptolemy had a great passion for books, just as you do.
In 2006, the firm passed to the third generation of the Ciatti family. Lapo Ciatti started Opinion Ciatti OC and nominated the by then famous Bruno Rainaldi as the brand’s artistic director, who translated Lapo’s vision into experimental and expressive designs.
The many award-winning projects include 5blocks, a modular storage system designed by Lapo Ciatti himself which earned a place in the ADI Design Index of 2009 thanks to a...trapezoid. Five trapezoids to be more precise: the different units can be used in many different ways, as stand-alone pieces or assembled together.
2015 was the time for a new idea: the screen is a flirtatious piece which is difficult to pin down, becoming almost see-through. It divides but doesn’t protect, it separates but doesn’t hide: it’s Apparel, a lacquered metal grid designed by the Norwegian duo Vera&Kyte.
As in the case of Ptolomeo, Opinion Ciatti's Apparel defies the notion that an object’s physical presence determines its success. As a matter of fact, Lapo (who’s been the brand’s artistic director since 2011) appears to be saying that the more an object resembles its original concept, the more brilliant it’ll be, as when you turn on a light. Or a bookcase that vanishes hidden by books.
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