The Fifties: The Beginning
The story of Emu begins June 8, 1951, when the brothers Aldo and Angelo Biscarini and Dante Menconi decide to capitalize on their experience accrued as radio engineers in the army during World War II, founding a machine shop specialising in the production of military equipment.
In order to meet the precise technical specifications for these devices which call for high resistance to atmospheric agents, Emu is one of the first companies in the world to develop and patent a plasticisation process for metal components. Thus, from the very beginning, the company is a pioneer in the technical know-how for processing and protecting metal.
The company’s transition into the furniture industry takes place in the late ‘50s. The metal plasticisation process that they have developed so far is now applied to school equipment, office fittings, and Swedish-style furniture for the home. In addition, Emu’s successful test of PVC as a less costly substitution for propylene allows the company to begin manufacturing outdoor furniture as this technique eliminates the problems commonly associated with exposure to the elements.
The Sixties: The First Successful Models
The first outdoor armchair model is the Cattolica, designed by founder Aldo Biscarini and making its production debut in 1961. Greater success is achieved in the year 1966 with the Rio, Emu’s best-selling chair by far that goes on to furnish the interiors of homes and businesses all throughout Italy
The Seventies: Emu as a Leader in the Plasticization of Iron.
The ‘70s open with the manufacture of the Bahama lounge chair which becomes a classic, still in production today. During these years, Emu also patents the plasticisation of iron and bolsters its position as a leader in the metal furniture industry.
The Eighties: The Challenge of Plastic Furniture
Emu’s product lines begin to branch out, and the Ambassador, an elegant aluminium chair, makes its appearance in 1983. The ‘80s see an influx of plastic products into the market, and Emu rises to the challenge in 1984, creating a series of synthetic resin chairs called Lotus. This collection, with an attention to details and craftsmanship unseen among rival brands, makes a good impression on high-end markets but is not able to compete against the flood of inexpensive one-piece plastic chairs.
The Nineties: The Birth of Emu Group S.p.A.
This brief period of difficulty is followed by a change in management in 1993 when Riccardo Biscarini, Aldo and Piero Ciabatti, and Jan Triska launch a new entrepreneurial project: Emu Group S.p.A. The company takes on the market with new creative instincts and completely renovates its iron collections. This stylistic overhaul, thanks in large part to designer and partner Aldo Ciabatti, makes the company design recognisable on an international level and associates it with an exceptional wealth of knowledge in materials manufacturing. This success is evident in products like the Ronda chair, still in demand today for its form and versatility. Also during these years, a collaboration begins with the architectural firm of Alfredo Chiaramonte and Marco Marin, an association leading to many creative ideas and just as many well-received products such as the Luxor and Jerra collections, the Axa and Sporty chairs, and the Floora lamp.
The New Millennium and the “Advanced” Experience
In 2005, Emu’s majority stake is acquired by the L Capital fund of the French luxury-brand group LVMH and sees Riccardo Biscarini tenured as partner and executive manager. This opens up the company to new opportunities in the “accessible luxury” market, the reinterpretation of strong materials like metal through the inspiration of great names in international design. Hence, the Advanced line is born, an avant garde family of collections dedicated to new emotional interpretations of metal, weaving a harmonious synthesis between comfort, aesthetic appeal, and high technological know-how.
The creations birthed from this concept are not bound exclusively to the outdoors but fit in as well inside the home as they do in the garden. They embody the essence of the line’s distinctive style and the sophistication of its craftsmanship. The design is tailored to serve the individual, its quality directly corresponding with the owner’s quality of life.
“Round” by Christophe Pillet, “Heaven” by Jean Marie Massaud, and “Cross” by Rodolfo Dordoni are the first collections to join the Advanced line in 2007, followed by “Re-Trouvè” by Patricia Urquiola, “Ivy” by Paola Navone, “Intrecci” by Carlo Colombo, and “Open” by Hoisl and Andreucci, leading up to the recent addition “Pattern” by Arik Levy.
From Here On
After Riccardo Biscarini repurchases the company’s shares in 2009, Emu takes a significant step in late 2010 by selling 100% of the shares to Opera Investments S.p.A. Opera’s involvement writes a new page in Emu’s history, while maintaining continuity with its past through the retainment of all corporate management, its desire to further develop a revitalisation initiative started 18 months before, and the financial reinforcement of the company.
The story continues as Emu looks far into the future toward development and significant new projects, sustained by the deep historical roots of the company’s extraordinary technological heritage. It follows in its own legacy of experience and skills as it opens up to the situations and goals of tomorrow.
At this time, the company is pursuing three priority directives. The first is to continue the “Design for Outdoor Living” project which works alongside elite international designers and architects to bring the top interior design styles and manufacturing methods to the world of garden furniture. The second is to strengthen the company’s core business—namely, the classic metalwork that that has defined Emu and continues to provide beloved products for both private gardens and classic style public accommodations. The third directive is to put more energy toward contract work, a crucial sector that already occupies a leading role in furnishing the most prestigious hospitality facilities in the world. Through new projects and product lines, Emu will continue to affirm its leadership in the field.
Rio, Ronda, Round: Three Great Successes That Tell the Story of Emu
From the beginning until the present day, Emu’s furniture has been characterized by its functionality, durability, and unmistakable style. Every product tells a piece of the story, and the following three exemplify the worldwide success of the Emu brand:
In 1968, the GARDENTIME line was launched and immediately stood out for the exceptional performance of its plasticized iron and for the ergonomics of some of its units.
Among these units was the Rio which had already appeared on the market two years before; it became one of the biggest international successes in outdoor seating, selling a good 8 million units. Rio perfectly united sturdiness and durability with beauty; its four pieces consisted of symmetrical tubes forming the arms and legs and corresponding wire mesh “fillings.” Significant innovations included the backrest, positioned on a restful incline, its stackability, and a range of colour choices other than the standard white.
Solidly successful in the ‘90s and still in high demand today, the Ronda chair appeared on the market in 1995, first as a version with armrests and later manufactured without.
It is characterised by its curvaceous form and the perforated motif across the sheet metal. Like its “ancestor” Rio, it has added appeal in its numerous colour options.
The play of light filtering through the transparencies in its metal body are enthralling and give a modern touch to the chair’s classic beauty.
Rounded lines and extreme comfort are the bases for the international acclaim met by the Round collection, designed by Christophe Pillet to open the Advanced line, along with two other collections, in 2007.
According to Pillet, “Some things are often difficult to find in outdoor furniture, and these very things are what I sought to express in the collection: simplicity, timelessness, and a touch of understated elegance.”
The Round chair, formed of a steel frame and a body of pre-galvanised sheet metal, is immediately appreciated both in the contract field for its durability and stand-out functionality and in the field of home furnishings for its balanced design and delicate elegance.
The 2011 Emu Corporate Statement
In the year of its sixtieth anniversary, Emu describes itself in essence as a company of people and a brand of values. The new 2011 statement speaks of all who choose Emu to be part of their daily lives and special moments. Emu’s life story highlights the values of commitment, perseverance, and dedication that are shared by all who participate in the various production processes and transfer some of themselves onto the final products. For this very reason, Emu is able to create furniture with strong personality from its birth, forged from invaluable experience. These same furnishings, once purchased, take on further experience as they become part of the lives and memories of those around them.
The 2011 catalogue describes the relationship between its products and those who design, produce, and sell them. The advertising campaign reports the ability of Emu products to become part of the lives of the people who use them, creating unions that surpass time.
Me Emu graphically represents this union and, on a communicative level, symbolises the freedom to experience the outdoors according to each individual’s personality and desires.
Emu’s sixtieth year corresponds with the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy—a coincidence that strongly signifies the worth of a company like Emu to the “Made in Italy” industry. The logo dedicated to this important anniversary accompanies the new advertising campaign and expresses pride for its history of challenges accepted and goals achieved.
Aside from its tradition of advertising campaigns characterized by style and originality, another important feature throughout Emu’s history is its partnership with renowned cultural and sporting events, the organisation becoming known over time as “the company that furnishes sport and culture.” The Olympics, the Swimming World Cup, the tennis tournaments of Montecarlo and Rome, and the Cannes Film Festival are only some of the most widely-followed international events with which Emu has partnered.
Emu believes in sports’ ability to generate a sense of well-being and to inspire positive growth in young people by supporting values like personal care, a spirit of unity, and a healthy life in rapport with nature. Similarly, Emu encourages the promotion of the Italian culture, recognising in its art, music, and experience a heritage of inestimable value.