Craftsmanship and Marketing Create an Enduring Legacy
April 27, 2009
Given the entrepreneurial nature of the stone industry - where even the largest companies tend to be relatively small, family-run operations - there are few “brand names” in the field. An exception to this, however, is Antolini Luigi & C. S.p.A., which has long been a company of note in the international marketplace, and the company continues to invest to remain an industry leader. This is evident at the company’s facilities around the world, including the company’s head office in Sant’Ambrogio di Valpolicella, Verona, Italy, which houses a broad range of new technology and product innovations.
Company HistoryThe Antolini company, founded by Luigi Antolini, started its business in Sant’Ambrogio di Valpolicella in 1956 with a small workshop, which was progressively enlarged with the purchase of land to open their own quarries, so they would have their own material available for production. It soon moved to a larger location in Sega di Cavaion, near the Adige River. In 1959, the company concluded its first agreements with other parties in Germany, and then in other major European countries, particularly in Northern Europe.
In 1975, the company made its first major move to open up the U.S. market for marble and granite. Although the U.S. stone market was small at the time, the Italian dominance in the industry in major cities made communication easier. Business relationships started by Antolini Luigi & C. during this period in the U.S. market continue to this day.
The current generation of the Antolini family assumed roles of prominence in 1999, when Francesco Antolini became President, Alessandra Antolini became Vice President, and Alberto Antolini became General Manager of the company.
The Antolini group also opened a trading company and block stockyard in Vitória, Espirito Santo, Brazil, to service its customers and the growing demand for Brazilian granite. In 2006, Antolini Luigi set up a brand new factory with state-of-the-art machinery in Vitória (“Antolini opens state-of-the-art plant in Brazil,” June 2008 Stone World, page 108).
In 2002, Antolini Luigi’s marketing efforts included the “Stone Gallery,” a new concept in presenting stone, which covers over 50,000 square feet of space. Large book-matched slabs in exotic and exclusive materials are exhibited. This innovative way to exhibit stone slabs, has become a standard for displaying slabs around the world.
That same year at Marmomacc in Verona, Antolini launched its “Stone Fashion Show” - a runway-style presentation of models showcasing the company’s products. Since then, varieties of this initiative have consistently drawn a great deal of attention at trade fairs around the world.
Developments in ItalyWhile Antolini Luigi & C. has operations around the world, its headquarters remains in Sega di Cavaion. This facility stocks 1,000 different colors of stone at any given time, and the varieties on hand change from week to week. Among these materials, Antolini Luigi is continually discovering new exotic materials from around the globe. These include varieties of marble, granite, onyx, precious stones, shellstone, gemstone and other materials.
Given the broad range of materials being shipped around the world by Antolini Luigi, the company has made a concerted effort to support its customers with special displays and samples. In just one example of this, the company has outfitted a showroom specifically for its work with Benetti Luxury Yachts, which is based in Italy. Clients of Benetti can visit this space within Antolini’s facility to make their material selections for custom yachts.
Antolini’s production facilities in Sega di Cavaion have continued to progress over the years, and the company has been a pioneer in the use of new large-scale stoneworking technology.
In the last few years, the company’s production output has been greatly increased, thanks to an upgrade of all previous granite gangsaws to the latest advanced technology and to the adoption and modernization of completely automated granite and marble polishing lines. This is in addition to automated vacuum resin lines for marble and granite, which has significantly raised quality levels. Every block in the stockyard is fitted with an RFID label, and the company is able to monitor the production step by step, from the initial slabbing to the time the material is loaded onto the truck. Antolini is also able to track the specific block that each slab came from.
Blocks are processed on 13 gangsaws, and prior to slabbing, the blocks are squared on four faces so that the resulting slabs have clean edges. In addition to gangsaws, Antolini Luigi’s facility in Sega di Cavaion includes multi-wire technology for block slabbing.
In addition to continually finding new materials and surface finishes, Antolini Luigi is also using technology and innovation to introduce products never before seen in the marketplace. Several of these examples were on display during Stone World’s visit to Antolini Luigi’s facility.
A range of innovations can be found in Antolini’s “Onyx Pavilion,” which houses onyx slabs treated with the AVP® - Antolini Vacuum Process. A special technology is applied to stone to ensure the structural integrity of every slab. For onyx, alabaster and other exotic colors, Antolini reports that the use of the AVP ensures significant improvement in processing and better quality installation. Additionally, the materials receive a better polish, since even micro-fractures in the surface are completely filled. By using this process, the factory does not have to cut around compromised portions, since the entire slab is sound.
For upscale design applications where weight is a concern, Antolini’s “Stonlight®” panels have been treated with the patented vacuum resin process, and the slabs are 7 mm thick and flexible. These products have been used for yachts, indoor panels and ceilings as well as the new Airbus 388 in the bar and restaurant areas.
Another development at Antolini Luigi has been the use of Swarovski crystals as an accent to its stone products over the past few years - known as the Antolini Diamond Collection enriched with CrystallizedTM Swarovski Elements. The use of crystals has taken on many forms, including geometric patterns and banding, and Antolini Luigi is also working directly with designer Fiona Swarovski, who is using the crystals to create custom, one-of-a-kind patterns for upscale applications.
In yet another innovation at Antolini Luigi, the company unveiled its Shellstone Collection at the most recent Marmomacc fair in Verona. This production is created and totally realized in Mother of Pearl, and the collection produces iridescent effects that shine from green to light blue, from yellow to pink, from silver to black and the various shades and hues within those ranges. They brilliantly ignite furnishings and settings by creating a truly suggestive atmosphere. “Thanks to Antolini, the enveloping charm of the sea enters into houses - bringing forth a mysteriously golden preciousness that accompanies Mother of Pearl,” stated the company.
True to Antolini’s flair for dramatic presentation, stone can be found in a range of display applications at the facilities in Sega di Cavaion. These include a traditional slab yard and several indoor spaces for product viewing. Classified by product type and color shade, there are eight showrooms, which are unique in their kind: Stone Gallery, Stone Boutique, Marble Pavilion, Antolini Lifestyle, Onyx Pavillion, Antolini Shellstone, Stone Museum and the latest Luxury Showroom.
Product displays within the Stone Gallery go beyond exotic and book-matched slabs. Visitors to the Stone Gallery, with over 5,000 square meters (54,000 square feet) of exposition space, are also presented with the opportunity to view forms of stone “artwork” - complete with descriptions of each piece, as one would find in an art gallery.
Antolini’s grounds also include a “Stone Boutique,” described as a sort of “jewelry box” space, which first opened its doors in 2001 and has become an important resource for designers, architects and other professionals. This space includes precious objects in onyx, alabaster, gems and precious stones - all in large-sized slabs with over 600 pieces in stock. The design is a minimalist-inspired ambience, with clean, essential lines that elevate the intrinsic value of each single piece. Visitors can also see historical pieces at Antolini Luigi’s “Stone Museum,” or they can stroll across the company’s “Stone Garden,” among other highlights - all intended to make a visit to the company a one-of-a-kind experience.