“To make a big wall
it doesn’t take a big brush,
but a Big Brush:
It is certainly one of the most famous spots ever broadcasted on Italian television. Conceived by Ignazio Colnaghi in 1978, the spot by Pennelli Cinghiale entered the collective imaginary thanks to a brilliant idea: that of broadcasting it in its original version until today. A unicum in television history, which has made it part of our material culture.
But the company’s success has ancient roots: in the 1930s, in fact, the town of Cicognara is famous for the production of straw brooms. From Cicognara, the young Alfredo Boldrini accompanies his grandfather in his itinerant trades along the streets of the Apennines: in the churchyards, where markets are set up on Sundays, Boldrini learns the precious art of listening to the needs of customers. And so, immediately after the end of the Second World War, he decides to switch from broom-making to the production of brushes.
Thus pennelli Cinghiale was born. With sharp marketing intuition, Boldrini decides not to link the brand’s name to his family name, but to choose a symbol, the wild boar, to evoke strength and resistance.
Soon after the war, Italy needs everything to rebuild itself and brushes are an indispensable tool: since the beginning, Boldrini aims to create the highest-quality products he can imagine.
The brush must be handy and resistant. To do this, he imports Chinese bristles – the best available on the international market – aiming to create beautiful as well as functional objects. In his overall vision, the workers’ well-being is an essential condition and so he decides to broadcast opera music in the factory.
Not forgetting his origins as an itinerant vendor, Boldrini personally travels to the South of Italy to open new markets and to know more about local brushes’ traditions. In fact, every Italian region has its own preferences: in Tuscany they mostly use round brushes, in Sicily those with long bristles, in Naples “ovalino”, a special brush to gild door handles. Together with his brother, he flies to North Africa – Algeria and Tunisia, in particular -, and starts trade exchanges with the countries on the Mediterranean sea: here the demand for brushes is very high, due to the sea. The saltiness erodes the paint more easily and the facades need to be repainted more often.
The commercial activity is made up of letters, air-mail orders, relations with the Italian embassies abroad. To meet the different requests, the catalog is enriched with new models: next to the brushes, flat brushes appear, innovative handles are studied, capable of retaining the drops of paint without letting them slip away.
In the 1970s, the company becomes a leader on the Italian market and starts focusing on advertising: to do so, Commendator Boldrini calls an important advertister, Ignazio Colnaghi (the author of cult-character Calimero), and promotes the company on TV and football stadiums. Pennelli Cinghiale becomes synonymous with brushes, by succeeding in the hard challenge to identify its brand with an object of common use.
Today the company, led by daughter Catiuscia Boldrini and her two grandchildren, continues with the same visionary ability, opening up to new markets, launching a line of paints and inventing new products, such as the technological line made of Boartex, a filament that guarantee excellent performance in terms of lightness, flexibility and paint loading and unloading. In this way, the company represents a great design lesson, by constantly improving an object that is (only apparently) as simple and resolved as a brush, to meet the real needs of those who use it. True democratic design of yesterday, as of tomorrow.
Fattobene means well made in Italian. It is an online shop and a platform to archive and sell Italian everyday archetypes that have a long history.
We travel through Italy to discover special and unique items, like art déco soaps and modernist saffron packagings, old time candies and niche farmers' textiles that have been producing the same way for hundreds of years.
We want to create a place where people can relax and read interesting stories about objects that are difficult to find anywhere else.
The result is a cutting edge collection of timeless items that improve with age and create an atlas of Italian material culture.
Fattobene is curated by Anna Lagorio, journalist, and Alex Carnevali, photographer.
Visual identity and web design by AV.
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