Comme à la Maison is a cosy boutique, a container of ideas and proposals for the home. It is located in via Solari, in the Tortona area, a district of old factories, now converted into a permanent exhibition venue. Artists, stylists, designers have made this maze of streets the beating heart of Milan fashion.
From Paris, the birthplace of Delphine, her brother Thomas and mother Graziella, the woman who passed her passion for beauty onto her children, moved to Italy 30 years ago. Small objects, textiles, furnishings ranging from classic to modern, furniture from Italy and well-known British, Danish, French and Swedish brands are displayed with loving care and attention. Delphine is the owner of the business, and Thomas, an established designer, helps her out. They work together to select objects, sometimes unique pieces that meet the demands of a clientele that appreciates fine design, elegance and beauty.
Delphine, many argue that relations between sales outlets and manufacturers/distributors are at a standstill. Several companies went online with the same prices and items. Is this an issue of concern to you, is there room for compromise?
“One element that I consider central is the manufacturer's online shop. This is a key point. I have nothing against it in principle, but this instrument must serve as a shop window and not turn into a sales channel, in many cases almost exclusively, which penalises the shop. It is not only the little shops who are at risk of being suffocated by this, but more and more of them are struggling. The younger generation now bypasses going to the shop, and if they do go it is only to see the article, see the details, appreciate the lines. When they see the price, they then go online and search for anyone who offers the object that they have seen at the lowest cost and often purchase it from the manufacturer's site. This is a short sighted view that cannot hold up in the long run”.
How can shops and manufacturers collaborate to bring customers back into the shop and, if so, how can a new relationship between supplier and retailer be restored?
“Collaboration is the key word, but to establish a fruitful relationship both parties must be willing and have clear guidelines. I am in favour and would like to see a more fruitful and clear relationship between supplier and retailer, but to come to common ground we need to be on the same page. In other words, we need to think in terms of partnership. It is about jointly managing and bringing to fruition a project that starts with the creation of the product and ends with its sale. Attention, care and precision are the three fundamental ingredients not only to enhance the quality of Italian handicraft and manufacturing, but must also be relocated and used in the relationship between those who interpret and convey these values to the end user”.
In your opinion, what role should Milano Home play?
I hope that Milano Home can become the reference point for the Italian market, a sort of guide for those seeking quality and style. Milan is the most dynamic reality in Italy, it has grown and become a cosmopolitan city. Being an attractive hub that arouses interest and generates expectations, I believe there are many expectations gravitating around the trade fair event. We must focus firmly and decisively on a combination that holds everything to be a winner: the potential of the trade fair and that offered by the city of Milan.