An all-Italian story
“In realtà, volevamo fare dell’altro” (“Actually, we wanted to do something else”) is the title of the exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of Agape, a company founded on the banks of the Mincio River in 1973. From the province of Mantua, Agape has spread throughout the world, becoming one of the best ambassadors of made in Italy production in the world, thanks to the entrepreneurial skills of brothers Giampaolo and Emanuele Benedini as well as Giampaolo’s creative talent.
The title of the exhibition tells the story of Agape’s evolution, a fortunate adventure that started almost by chance, accidentally. An entrepreneurial reality that reflects the family and personal values of those who shaped it and continue to make it grow, with a deep connection to its territory, Mantua and its province; and a design ethic that is constantly searching for uniqueness and consistency, a way of being and living that yesterday and today has always translated into a forerunning vision of the bathroom.
Agape’s path started almost by chance, but from the very beginning it has been characterized by unique dedication and depth. Founded in 1973 by cousins Gianfranco and Luigi Benedini, with Giampaolo, a young architect and industrial designer, Agape began to chart its current course in 1979, after Emanuele joined the company in 1977 and the cousins left in 1979.
Bathroom and design
From the early years, the company has followed a design-led approach and has introduced a very innovative bathroom concept for the time. At first, Giampaolo was the sole designer and author of numerous successful projects. These include Erion, a system of modular wooden furniture, the innovative Spoon bathtubs, Woodline, with its innovative use of curved wood. However, the company opened the doors to collaborations with other designers and architects soon: the first were Enzo Mari and Pino Pasquali, followed by many others, including Patricia Urquiola, Gwenael Nicolas, Neri & Hu, Jean Nouvel.
The encounter with Angelo Mangiarotti resulted in the Lito and Bihon series of washbasins and in the desire to preserve the master’s legacy, which led to the birth of Agapecasa, in 2012, with the Mangiarotti Collection.
The innovative distribution
Agape has also distinguished itself for its innovative distribution: in the days when bathroom furniture was sold mainly in large showrooms specializing in plumbing fixtures, the Mantua-based company had the intuition to turn to furniture retailers. Combining distribution and innovative services, Agape was also among the first companies to have its own in-house design studio, Agape Studio, dedicated to fittings for its distribution partners and private clients.
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The bond with the local dimension
Today, Agape has a production facility in Governolo di Roncoferraro and a showroom surrounded by greenery, between the banks of the Mincio and Po rivers, in Bagnolo San Vito. A strong bond with the province of Mantua, therefore, which is particularly evident in the “Bosco”, the showroom made out of a disused farm. A space that is a place for meeting, designing and conviviality, a pole of attraction for architects, collaborators and clients, where one breathes what Agape is all about, in a warm and authentic atmosphere. The Benedini brothers’ bond with the city of Mantua, the Renaissance cradle of the art of living, is therefore deep and rich in stimuli, also because of its particularly fortunate location.
Fifty years after its birth, Agape has consolidated itself into a manufacturing company characterized by experimentation and research, a proud exponent of Made in Italy production. Not a bad result for two people who “actually, wanted to do something else.”