Magical atmospheres for any table
A strong bond to the territory, its culture, materials and the ancient work of master artisans are combined with research and aesthetics with essential and refined lines to create products and collections that make the various environments in which they are chosen unique.
Italian design, innovation and new technologies, but also functionality and aesthetics, are among the main features of Zafferano, a Veneto-based company that has been manufacturing tasting glasses, coloured glasses, glass and porcelain table accessories, indoor and outdoor lighting fixtures and the now iconic Poldina portable lamps since 2001, for charming table settings and magical atmospheres dedicated to Italian and international restaurants but also to living spaces.
Our interview with Federico de Majo, Founder and President of Zafferano
The Poldina lamp was a great success, what was the origin of this project and what has changed in the lighting world?
Poldina is a battery-operated, portable and rechargeable lamp that is part of the "Zafferano Lampes-à-porter" catalogue. These are wireless LED lighting fixtures that can light up spaces even in the absence of a power socket, and can be moved around as desired. These functional and versatile lights switch on with a mere tap and, thanks to their IP54/IP65 protection rating, are also suitable for outdoor use.
The collaboration between Zafferano and the catering industry started with the brand, in 2001. We mainly addressed this channel - a demanding sector in terms of quality of raw material and service - by choice; initially only with wine-tasting glasses, then with coloured glassware and accessories, later with ceramic and porcelain tableware, and finally with battery-operated, portable and rechargeable lamps, which are now an important part of our business. For more than 20 years we have been working with restaurateurs and hoteliers, and have designed beautiful and functional products for them that facilitate their daily work and make their premises more beautiful, accompanying the talents for which our country is internationally recognised: design, wine production and fine dining. Poldina was created precisely from listening to the needs of restaurateurs: to have a lamp that could also provide light in tables placed in the garden, on terraces and wherever electricity is not available.
Since 2018, when Poldina (the company's current best-selling product) was launched, 'nomadic' lamps have been widely popular, driven by the variety of the range (in terms of models and colours), their clean and essential design, which fits into any furnishing style; but above all by their practicality, functionality and versatility. At the end of the 2020 lockdown, venues in the catering sector had to quickly adapt to new requirements and directives, to allow for renewed customer enjoyment: to ensure adequate table spacing - to guarantee the safety of staff and diners - many bars and restaurants were allowed to occupy public spaces external to the venue. Since they do not need to be connected to the electricity grid, the Zafferano “wireless” lamps proved to be very useful for lighting all spaces outside the premises.
Once the Covid emergency had subsided, Zafferano's rechargeable lamps also proved their worth in terms of reliability, quality of materials, cutting-edge technology, presence of safety certifications, battery capacity, ease of maintenance (recharging, cleaning) and the possibility of replacing batteries and LED modules. Crucial to the success of the range has also been the possibility of customising the intensity and colour temperature of the lighting output to create a comfortable and evocative atmosphere: the soft, intimate and cosy light of a Zafferano lamp makes a room more welcoming, enhancing the customer experience. What could be nicer than a dinner lit by... Poldina? Finally, these lamps also work in the event of a power failure, for example.
Our lamps now light up the terraces of some of Italy's most prestigious dining venues. To name a few: Gran Caffè Quadri in Piazza San Marco in Venice, Danì Maison in Ischia, Ristorante San Domenico in Imola, Casa Maria Luigia in Modena, but also Cipriani Club 55 and Cipriani Downtown in New York. The extraordinary success of our battery-operated lamps has also been noticed by the media. The New York Times dedicated an article to Pinadescribed as “the lamp that is conquering New York”; and the Bargiornale magazine awarded the “Barawards 2022 Innovation of the Year” prize to Poldina Micro.
A strong bond with the city of Venice and now also with La Biennale, how did it come about and are you planning new partnerships?
I was born in Venice and started my career in the Murano glassworks founded by my father Guido immediately after the war. I developed lighting designs and met famous Venetian designers and artists - such as Music, Vedova and Licata. I grew up in that city, admiring its beauty and charm, and the lights and colours of the lagoon, breathing in the scents and smells: an indelible imprint to which my spirit is still firmly attached. My interest in the artistic and cultural values of my city has led me to want to substantiate this strong bond: since 2017, Zafferano has been a Supporting Partner of the Fondazione Teatro La Fenice di Venezia, one of the major cultural institutions providing music; and this year it is a Sponsor of the 18th. International Architecture Exhibition. Both activities - which are of international significance - add prestige to the company's activities supporting culture and the arts in Venice.
What are your most successful products and which ones represent you the most?
The Zafferano range includes collections of tasting glasses, glasses and table accessories made of coloured glass, plates, bowls and other stoneware objects made and painted by hand in our historic factory in Civita Castellana, and then lamps for indoors and outdoors, including wireless. Zafferano is a universe of objects designed and created to be functional and decorative, and to offer an emotional experience in living spaces. Among these, three products represent each product line: Perle, Poldina, Romeo and Juliet.
What are the fastest growing sectors among the on-trade, retail and private sectors, in what percentages and to which countries do you export most?
Zafferano's experience in the Ho.Re.Ca. sector, a demanding field in terms of quality of raw materials and service, is very significant. Since its creation in 2001, we have mainly addressed this channel: initially only with wine-tasting glasses, then with coloured glassware and accessories, and later with ceramic and porcelain tableware. Synergies, trust, previous contacts, stylistic co-ordination of the offer: being suppliers to thousands of establishments including restaurants, hotels, wine shops and bars made it easy and immediate to incorporate battery-operated, portable and rechargeable lamps, which are now an important part of our business. Our main channel is the restaurant, followed by the premium bar. We address this type of clientele, which particularly appreciates functionality and design, by offering objects that attract attention and stand out.
Retail has become a very important part of our business over the years; in fact, a recent analysis showed that in 65% of cases, the final target of our product is the domestic market.
What new products will you present at the next edition of Milano Home?
We are always looking for new shapes and trends, and at the same time we are expanding the range of products that are most popular. Current trends in the glasses segment primarily involve research into shapes, colours and materials - for example, the use of borosilicate glass is very current: this “neutral” glass is light, transparent and resistant to temperature changes. It lends itself well to the production of delicate glasses that can also be used for hot drinks. It is easy to work and allows for decorations with a particular playful effect.
We have also recently launched three collections of glasses specifically designed for mixology, suitable for both professional and 'home' use: Veneziano Mixology, Margherita and Righe are rich in shapes and sizes to meet all needs and create the 'perfect serve' of classic recipes and imaginative innovations. Made of superior lead-free, hand-blown and hand-crafted sonorous glass, the items in this collection are characterised by the transparency of the containers, in which the colour of the drinks illuminates the brilliant texture of the surface, elegantly enhancing the mixed or layered drinks. They are dishwasher-safe at 60° C!
The big news in portable lamps is fixtures with “smart” functions: for example, we have recently launched the new version of Sister Light with the possibility of being controlled remotely. Launched in 2019 as the most technologically advanced model in Zafferano's catalogue of wireless lamps, the design has been revamped in all versions (table, mini table, peg and wall), which now, thanks to the “Zafferano Lighting” app, can be remotely controlled using a smartphone. Switching on and off, adjusting the intensity (dimmer) and colour temperature (choice of 3 shades), programming the switching on and off of lamps - either individually or in groups - are just some of the operations possible. This is a particularly interesting innovation for hospitality venues, where many elements are almost permanently present. It is also renewed with a magnetic head - which allows recharging through a single contact recharging base - and with the new pearl white, pearl black and ivory finishes, which join the previous green, gold and copper. The lamp must be connected to a Wi-Fi network with a 2.4 GHz frequency in order to work.