With an emphasis on unusual materials, talented artisans and innovation, it’s been almost fifty years since Robert and Nancy Frehling founded Oggetti. The Frehlings first set out as retailers, owning a group of tabletop and gift stores, and it wasn’t long before they branched out into importing and wholesale. “The name Oggetti is an Italian word for ‘objects.’ When the company was formed in the early 1970s the product was primarily accessories, so the term was perfect. Besides, it had a wonderful ring and traditionally all things Italian have been coveted in the design world. In fact, customers and consumers have always assumed that Oggetti is an Italian company. The truth, however, is that Oggetti is an American company that values good design and quality. While the journey began in Italy, that quest for product has taken the buyers all over the world,” explains Oggetti president Gregory Frehling.
Driven by passion, and a love for fine materials and design, Robert and Nancy traveled the world sourcing unique furniture, accessories and lighting—essential elements in designing a beautiful home. Gregory, the Frehlings’ son, became part of the team early on and quickly embraced traveling. He journeyed to Italy, the Philippines, Vietnam and other far-flung destinations to source for the company. Now at the helm, Gregory continues his parents tradition of discovering quality and beauty, and sharing it through Oggetti.
The majority of the Oggetti collection is produced in Italy and the Philippines, but as new products are discovered that can change. Rattan strips, fossil stones, leather, shagreen, local woods, come primarily from the Philippines; lighting is primarily Italian and glass hails from Italy and Poland. “Glass has been a very important part of the Oggetti story throughout its history. The Frehlings were in love with its translucence, its sparkle, its colors. First it was Murano glass with its 2,000-plus years of history. The ability to apply this craft to lighting has been an exciting journey. Then Oggetti sourced glass from other countries. Today, Oggetti is the exclusive American distributor for Borowski, another family company based in Poland. Borowski glass is noted for its fine craftsmanship, its strong colors, its whimsy and its truly unique approach to glass-making,” explains Gregory.
Devoted to craftsmanship and to those who create its various pieces, “The company has always been enamored of unusual design and the ‘hand’ of the artisan who makes it come to life. Whether it is hand-braiding of leather or fine cutting of stone or the magical blowing of glass, Oggetti has been committed always to the individual craftsman,” says Gregory. This shines through in its eye-catching pieces, “Whether it’s a cocktail table made with rattan strips or a lighting fixture hand-blown in Murano, an Oggetti object is the item that draws attention and compliments,” adds Gregory.
As to the brand’s aesthetic, Gregory explains, “‘Contemporary’ might be the adjective one would use to describe the Oggetti style. But the collection, which includes furniture, the accessories and lighting, is more. The pieces are truly transitional and can be used by designers in an eclectic way. Oggetti loves unusual materials. There is furniture in fossil stone, shagreen and coco palm. But then there are many beautiful tables made from wood, an age-old material for furniture. The wood, however, is always used in an innovative manner, showing off not only its grain but its ability to be bent, to be fashioned in a unique and exciting way,” he explains.
Working all over the world for almost a half century, Oggetti relies on relationships with designers and makers, and has forged friendships with many. “It cares about its sources and their needs and problems. Whether contributing to buying rice for workers in the Philippines or helping after a hurricane ravished Cebu, Oggetti has tried to be a true partner,” explains Gregory.
Oggetti introduces pieces throughout the year, and is constantly looking for new lines, pieces and additions. “Oggetti is presently introducing a marvelous chair from one of our most talented designers Vito Selma in black. We have shown the chair in natural wood before. The new piece is stained a deep, rich black, which still reveals the grain of the wood, and is a stunning addition to a living room setting,” explains Gregory.