Catalano - rogerseller

Partner Stories:
a moment with Catalano

Leading Italian sanitaryware manufacturer of fifty years, Catalano, is renowned for their superior quality and leading innovations such as the unique glazing technique Cataglaze. With state of the art manufacturing facilities and processes, Catalano seek to reduce their environmental footprint, while creating beautifully crafted products, presented in timeless designs.

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Inside Catalano’s manual glazing room.
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Some of the raw materials used for making the ceramic mix used to create Catalano products.
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Plaster models are the classic way to produce Catalano bathroom items. Each mould produces one piece per day and can cast 50-60 times before it needs replacing.

Interview with
Mario Rossi, Catalano

Mario Rossi is president of Catalano in Viterbo, Italy – a world leader in innovative contemporary bathroom product design. We spoke to Mario about his early years in the industry and some of the key changes adopted by the company along the way. We also found out what sets Italy apart when it comes to outstanding design.

Ciao Mario. We really love your work. Can you share a little bit about your background with Catalano?
Certainly. I’ve been with Catalano for 48 years. I started working for the company in 1969, right at the beginning of its life. I was just a young boy at the time. I didn’t have any specific role within the company, I was more of a helper.

The company was founded in 1967 by a group of seven partners who had experience producing ceramics. We are based in a town called Fabrica di Roma, which is in Viterbo, central Italy. In fact, the Viterbo region is quite famous in Italy – and around the world – for its ceramics. The name Catalano was derived from the name of a small town that is not too far from here.

When you started at Catalano in 1969, did you have any idea that the company would be as globally influential as it is today?
Of course not. But over the years, at every single next step, I devoted myself with constant effort towards perfection. Now I realise that this is the right – and the only – way to reach success.

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Each Catalano product undergoes a three-step glazing process.
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The automated glazing application takes about three minutes per piece (completing around 20 pieces per hour).
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The robotic arm moves a piece after step one of the glazing process.

What do you think makes Catalano products so desirable around the world?
Firstly, our products are beautifully designed and exceptionally well made, right down to the smallest detail. We have been in this business for 50 years, and we are committed to ongoing innovation which means that our products offer something extra that few others can.

Everything that we produce is made right here in Italy, and I think that there is a great deal of respect around the world for Italian design and our inherent commitment to quality.

Our products embrace the Catalano philosophy, which is based on the important pillars of passion, honesty and respect – which extends to customers, staff, suppliers, and everyone that we work with. We are confident that whenever somebody buys Catalano they’ll be satisfied with their purchase and not have any regrets.

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After being glazed, toilets are then transported to be baked in the automated oven.
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The robotic arm applies an initial round of cleaning, smoothing the exterior surface of the toilet.

From 1967 to 2000, Catalano produced standard pedestal design basins and then the Zero. How was the idea of Zero born?
Actually, between the standard pedestal design basin and the square-shaped Zero basin there was an important middle step, which was our Luce collection. The Zero shape didn’t exactly represent a direct departure from the past shapes and styles, it was more the result of a long evolution process that slowly moved towards the purity of straight lines.

Zero had a very strong impact on the market because it was totally innovative, and with its squared shape, it was completely different to anything else in the market at that time. We were the first to realize that rounded shapes needed to be changed, and Zero’s design became a trend-setter because all of our competitors then followed our path.

From where (or whom) do you draw your inspiration?
Rather than looking to specific designers, I like to observe the shapes of nature, the world around me, the needs of users, and the beauty of things. I’ve always been inspired by the constant research of purity and balance of lines. But I guess if I have to give you a name, I’d say [British industrial designer] Jasper Morrison. I feel great empathy with the way that he goes about conceiving good design.

Can you name any collaborators that you’ve particularly enjoyed working with?
Certainly, that would have to be Matteo Thun, who is a designer and architect from Bolzano in northern Italy. Matteo was behind the design of several collections for Catalano including the Muse, Samoa, Girly and Roma ranges. Of all the designers that I’ve worked with, I feel like Matteo really embraced the Catalano ethos. His designs are both innovative and timeless, and they have a way of always triggering a positive emotional response.

What is your opinion on the importance of good design, and what do you see as the future of bathroom product design?
For us, good product design should provide the user with both aesthetic pleasure and functional comfort while they are using it. Good design is man’s friend. We think that bathroom products in the future will be characterised by an integration of straight, pure external shapes with soft internal sinks that are able to softly allow the flowing of water.

Catalano - rogerseller
Catalano - rogerseller
Catalano basins waiting to be glazed then baked for 24 hours, before a final round of quality assurance testing and packaging.

"Rather than looking to specific designers, I like to observe the shapes of nature, the world around me, the needs of users, and the beauty of things."

Mario Rossi, Catalano
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Catalano toilets made via the classical manual process are smoothed using couple of simple techniques. The tool pictured here is used to remove any bumps from the toilet trap.
Catalano - rogerseller
After each toilet is produced via the classical manual process, the technician does a visual check before smoothing out any bumps both on the interior and exterior surfaces of the toilet.

"Good product design should provide the user with both aesthetic pleasure and functional comfort while they are using it."

Mario Rossi, Catalano
Catalano - rogerseller
Catalano basins waiting to be glazed then baked for 24 hours, before a final round of quality assurance testing and packaging.