The first time I met Vittorio Livi he seemed to come straight out of a story by Fellini: his long curly hair, his accent and his good humour are what you would expect to find in Romagna.
When I was growing up we were all enchanted by people from this area, between Pesaro and Cesena, where it looked like their smiles never set and that life was all a continuous flow of “ballroom dancing”.
Vittorio comes from Pesaro and his love for his roots allowed him to innovate and be an international pioneer as well as bringing wealth to his community. He was born in Tavullia where he has still the headquarters of his business, FIAM, while his house is a few kilometers away in a beautiful villa and glass museum in Pesaro.
We have a close friend in common, Count Alessandro (Nani) Marcucci Pinoli, and when we wanted to do something for small businesses in the Pesaro area (but we did not know what), Vittorio managed to find the time to attend one of our meetings and share his human and entrepreneurial experience. A raging river! At that time we concluded nothing but everyone came out with positive emotions and with the idea to “not surrender to mediocrity, point to the good.”
When child Vittorio Livi had decided to do something splendid, he had said to his father, and still he is not completely satisfied with what he has achieved. Vittorio brings to my mind the poem by Hikmet:
The most beautiful sea:
hasn’t been crossed yet.
The most beautiful child:
hasn’t grown up yet.
Our most beautiful days:
we haven’t seen yet.
And the most beautiful words I wanted to tell you
I haven’t said yet…
Every year I go to see the FIAM stand at the Salone del Mobile in Milan. This time I recognized his space from afar: two large sculptures of Helidon Xhixha marked the entrance. The new collection of glass furniture is made in collaboration with this great Albanian artist. Its beauty and simple refinement left me speechless.
I recognized Vittorio’s hairdo and I moved close to greet him. Always smiling and willing to offer me a coffee and to devote part of his time. I’m not a buyer, not a designer but he can find time to tell about how he met Helidon Xhixha and started this collaboration, which has already established a friendship. Then he introduced his agent for an interview.
Vittorio surprises and “goes beyond” always ahead of the times but always in the right place to realize his visions. His first venture into glass was at 17 (in those years the age of majority was 21) and he needed the signatures of others to start his business. But soon he began to ‘walk alone’ and to experience something unique: furniture made by totally curved glass.
It all began with a stool and a journalist photographing him as he was trying to prove the durability of the curved glass by standing on it and doing a “load test”. The picture became viral and Vittorio understood the power of what he was creating. Since then he has not ceased to amaze public and journalists.
The years were good and the market was ready. Many have become entrepreneurs, but many have also burned out early. When you are able to “sell easily”, you are likely to stop innovating and lose the desire to constantly improve quality. The intoxication of mass production has ruined several entrepreneurs.
But the case of FIAM is different and almost 50 years of cooperation with major international designers and artists proves it.
In the case of Vittorio, his innovations expanded beyond the boundaries of his company and into his community. In the 70s he founded a company in the US to raise awareness of the Italian industrial brands and open these businesses to international markets. New markets, new challenges and new opportunities. At the same time he understood the importance of creating a showcase of high value in Italy and with Fla Events he engaged in the most important exhibition of international design: the Salone del Mobile in Milan.
If Made in Italy has managed to establish itself outside design and in lifestyle it is thanks to personalities such as Vittorio, a relentless optimist who leads his business and his life under the banner of creativity, love for beauty, family and the community in which he was born.