It all started in 1920 in Cantù, in the heart of Brianza (an area of Lombardy), where a small family ran an artisan workshop founded by Nino Romano, specialized in the production of classical style solid wood furniture.
In the mid-forties, after the end of the war, Mario Riva joined the workshop and continued his father in law’s activity and employed a handful of workers.
They continued to produce models in classical style, always prioritizing the matter of the quality of the product in line with the traditions of the typical cabinet of Brianza, making skills of the area, the traditional cradle of high quality Italian furniture production.
The brothers Maurizio and Davide Riva followed the footsteps of their father and grandfather and at the end of the seventies they started as carpenters in the workshop below their home, focusing on made to measure furniture and expanding to more than 1,600 private customers. A long period of commitment and enhancement of the use of natural wood and craft skills started, aspect that later becomed the main feature of Riva1920 production. In 1987, the first headquarter was opened in via Milano, in Cantù, employing about 30 workers. In the same year, their sister Anna joined the family company too.
Following to a visit in New York by Maurizio Riva, the next years saw a fundamental change with the company adopting the North American philosophy of using reforestation timber and, with this, they began the production of solid cherry wood furniture inspired by the models devised by the Amish/Shaker religious community in the United States. Gradually a precise design identity began to evolve, defining a clear commitment to quality and naturalness with the use of completely natural glues, waxes and oils.
In 1992, Riva 1920 presented its collection for the first time at the Milan International Salone del Mobile and started to be known, both in Italy and abroad. At the same time, the production process was subjected to an inevitable advance in industrialization and technological innovation.
The Riva family entrepreneurial intuitions promoted the importance of collaborating with designers of international renown, something which went hand in glove with Riva 1920’s move towards sustainable design. In the meantime, with the entry into the company of the fourth generation, new markets and new horizons were introduced to the company philosophy of uniting functionality and aesthetics without ever forgetting the importance of leading a healthy and sustainable life.
Alongside American reforestation timbers, the company introduced reuse woods like the ancient Kauri wood from New Zealand, the Briccole, the marker stakes from the Venetian lagoon, and the Lebanese Cedar, to hand down and remind the world that wood is a renewable but not infinite resource.
In 2005 the second production unit in Cantù opened and in 2010 they saw the completion of the construction of the Riva Centre, a captivating building completely covered with larch wood, a project born from the idea of the architectural study of Renzo Piano Building Workshop.
This space hosts on the ground floor a Showroom of about 1200 sq.m. emphasizing the types and the uniqueness of the solid wood products, the first floor is taken up by the Wood Museum with its collection of over 4,000 pieces of woodworking machines and tools.
In 2013 the third technologically advanced manufacturing unit opened, specializing in the processing of cedar logs.
In 2017 it is scheduled to open the second floor of the Riva Centre, which will host the table Pangea, symbol of Expo 2015, designed by Michele de Lucchi, and also a xylotheque, a collection of wood specimens coming from all over the world.
Sustainability, design, research, social awareness and cultural promotion became a fundamental part of Riva 1920’s activity.
“To produce with honesty and to hand down to future generations by producing furniture that defy time and respecting fully the environment”, for almost 100 years this is the thinking that has been guiding and motivating every daily action in the company.