Before launching the furniture and accessories company LATOxLATO in 2018, husband-and-wife architects Francesco Breganze and Virginia Valentini stood firmly in the lane of architecture. Both spent their childhoods surrounded by the columns, colonnades, and basilicas of classic Italian architecture (he in Vicenza, she in Bologna), before meeting as students at Politecnico di Milano where each earned a M.Arch. After graduation they moved together to New York, working at architectural firms LOT-EK and Bonetti Kozerski Studio, respectively, before opening their own practice, Spazio Primario, focused on retail and residential projects.

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A worker forms one of the company’s arched ceramic vases.
Photos © courtesy of LATOxLATO

Those decades pondering the built environment, historic and contemporary, are cleverly referenced in their designs of vases, candle holders and case goods, which they unveiled during this year’s Milan furniture fair. “We were lucky enough to be raised surrounded by beautiful Italian architecture,” Breganze says. “We came very naturally to transpose what we saw every day into the household.”

August 2019 Partners In Design
Arches are hand-finished in 24-karat gold.
Photo © courtesy of LATOxLATO

In fact, the ceramic vases are shaped like Palladian villas in Vicenza and porticoes in Bologna; the arched base of one centerpiece bowl forms a miniature loggia; and a modular candle holder made of heavily veined marble with brass hardware can be folded into a perfect square, an ode to the geometric architecture of Carlo Scarpa. Trapezoidal modules in a credenza and the spider-like base of a glass-topped table are inspired by 1950s work by Carlo Mollino and Franco Albini. “Our backgrounds as architects makes us connect things around us to a precise shape,” Breganze says.

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A sketch and the finished product for the loggia bowl.
Images © courtesy of LATOxLATO

The production process is also an extension of the Italian design traditions: Product designs begin with the couples’ sketches and material choices, then they cherrypick artisans near Vicenza where they now live to fabricate and finish pieces using centuries-old techniques.August 2019 Partners In Design August 2019 Partners In Design
A sketch and the finished product for the Vestalia candle holder.
Images © courtesy of LATOxLATO

Ceramics are hand-fired, glazes are hand-applied and finishes such as the 24-karat gold on vases are hand painted. “We spend a lot of time finding the right craftspeople,” Valentini says. “They’re used to working on traditional pieces. We need the one who is willing to be challenged and use their knowledge to make unique contemporary designs.”

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