In 1967, aspiring Italian entrepreneur Giuseppe Dalle Mese founded the Conceria Montebello Tannery that, in its early days, primarily crafted leather to be used in footwear.
Last year, the company celebrated its 50th anniversary and Dalle Mese’s son, Gianfranco, payed tribute to his father in a film celebrating the company’s longtime success.
“If [my father] were here today, I think he’d be satisfied of our achievements,” Gianfranco says in the opening lines of the film. “But I also believe that, regardless the great results, he would say, ‘What shall we do tomorrow?’ From him, we learned that an entrepreneur must never stop thinking about the future.”
Given that statement, it’s no surprise that half a century later the tannery’s craftsmanship is renowned, supplying leather for many of the world’s high-end fashion and footwear brands as well as the hospitality and interior design industries and beyond.
One of Conceria Montbello’s more recent successes has been the 2006 founding of Studioart, an offshoot company borne of Gianfranco and his architect sister Nadia’s combined talents. Studioart’s mission, says marketing manager Chiara Crudo, was “to create a high-end product that could dress interiors with extremely fashionable leathers.”
About five years ago, Studioart caught the eye of Denver trade showroom TOWN Studio, whose founders, Eddy Doumas and Mikhail Dantes, were interested in partnering with more Italian brands while also looking for a core leather line to connect with. While at the Salone del Mobile trade fair, they took a brief detour to tour Studioart’s headquarters near Venice, and were impressed by the innovation, creativity and dedication they saw there.
The team at TOWN Studio, known for its boutique and high-end luxury brand partnerships with about 30 brands, were particularly captivated with what Studioart calls its “leatherwalls.”
The walls, says Town Studio general manager Jeremy Dowling, “have a three-dimensional flow,” providing depth, texture and visual interest to an interior that regular wallpaper can’t. They also differ from wallpaper in that they are actually shipped as tiles — with the adhesive used to install them — which, adds Dowling, makes for an easy installation that won’t damage existing walls if taken down.
Dowling says they’ve been used locally in long hallways, dens and around fireplaces in residential projects, and adds that they have great appeal in the hospitality industry, where they can be used as headboards or an accent wall. Restaurants also find them to be an eye-catching design feature — local restaurant Jax Fish House’s new Aspen location will be installing a leatherwall in its entrance.
“They can be used in a lot of different ways, depending on the look you want,” says Dowling. Crudo adds that installation options are “basically infinite — Studioart always suggests patterns, collections and layouts to give ideas and color trends, but any change in the finish —flat, padded or flat and padded — collection or color make the same layout look completely different.”
And, in true Giuseppe Dalle Mese fashion, Studioart has not been satisfied with resting on its laurels. Each year they offer new leatherwall collections featuring different patterns and designs, Crudo says, sourcing from fashion trends and nature as inspiration, but also by partnering with young international designers to “build new relationships and get fresh ideas.” It also helps, she notes, to have a tannery in the family. “Being able to source our materials from our own tannery that works with major fashion brands gives us the possibility to take the lead in terms of leather trends in treatments and finishes.”
Last month they launched a new Textures Collection, and they’re working on a collection of leather rugs that they hope to launch in the last half of 2018. Dowling was at the launch of the Textures Collection and says it includes “fantastic new designs that have a three-dimensional flow — to where it almost looks like ribbons going down the wall.”
“One of the things we really like about them is they’re not afraid of color or to play with texture,” notes Dowling. “It’s just been really, really cool to have brought that all the way to Denver.”
To see Studioart’s products in person and get some design inspiration, visit TOWN Studio located at 601 South Broadway, Suite A in Denver, Colorado.