1972-2022. 50 years stand between us and 1972, when Roberto Montauti and his son Piero, founded MON ART INTERNAZIONALE. Who more than Piero Montauti can relive this story of Italian talent, creativity and entrepreneurship? A story that unfolds with the evolution of taste, major economic events, and style trends worldwide. So, let’s retrace these years directly with him, Piero Montauti.
Let’s go back 50 years. How was ‘Mon Art Internazionale’ born?
The origins of our company can be traced back to when Roberto Montauti, my father, collaborated with the most illustrious artists and engravers of the mid-1900s for the creation of amazing medals and commemorative plaques for important events and prominent personalities. In my house there are still models of Greco, Messina, Minguzzi, cast in bronze that were used to make the molds in tempered steel (the coinages).
The name ‘Mon Art Internazionale’ what origin does it have?
If we want to be completely honest, Mon Art was the name of my mother’s company that produced fashion items, accessories, and bags. It is not a Frenchism as it may seem (‘mon art’, my art), but it is precisely the crasis of ‘Montauti Arte’. This double meaning of the name, to which INTERNAZIONALE was added to underline the strong desire to reach foreign markets, however, helped us to approach the first foreign market, which was precisely France. For the French market, we have created what we have been for years our flagship products: pins, badges, keyrings, and many other promotional items. Great brands such as Moet Chandon, Pomery, Mercedes Benz have been our customers; Peugeot, for example, sponsor of the 1992 Roland Garros, ordered 1,200,000 badges (pins) reproducing their most significant car models. This was the ‘folie des pins‘, one of the engines of our creativity: we designed 40 different subjects of enameled pins that reproduced coffee grinders, sewing machines, motorcycles, and of course cars.
Are any other projects particularly significant from that period?
We were used to collaborating a lot with the institutions, the Ministries, and the Army. Coni and the various Sports Federations ordered us 1,000,000 pieces including badges and medals for their members; the onboard shops of the Italian and American Navy… even the wonderful Amerigo Vespucci, the sailing bost built as a training ship for the cadets, was our client!
And what happened then? Economic, political, and social events have influenced the company.
Just consider some events relating to Italy, but also to the rest of the world. ‘Mani pulite’ in 1992 created a real shock in Italy and public entities completely blocked all these kinds of promotional productions. In addition, at the end of the 90s, the incredible economic growth of China with its low-cost productions forced all brands to rethink their strategy and product offerings. On the other side of the world, at that time, the phenomenon of the Yuppies began in New York, young professionals extremely attentive to the look who dressed perhaps in jeans but combined with a jacket, tie, and cufflinks on the cuffs of the shirt. Surely in the wake of this trend, we suddenly received a very high demand for cufflinks that we hadn’t foreseen (in those days we produced very few examples.) And that’s exactly when and how the Dandy collection, one of the best-selling still today, was born.
I truly believe that we have contributed to upsetting the concept of the cufflink as a classic accessory for elegant dressing, to come to be considered an accessory for everyday use. As well as the button covers…
The button covers. An accessory perhaps not so usual today.
Ok, let me tell you a story. The ‘la’ for this production came from Sergio Doni, the owner of Principe, an important high fashion store in Florence. Sergio, who was my friend, told me: “If you can invent an accessory that quality but cheap enough to let us produce large quantities in many different patterns, I will order you many, many pairs!” So it was that I invented a simple and very functional system of button covers that we can decorate with more than 120 different fantasy designs. Our creations had great success and led us to collaborate with the most important brands of international fashion, through exclusive and completely customized productions. And we patented the locking system that still today many manufacturers try to copy.
Since that moment Mon Art has been closely linked to the world of fashion.
Yes, this is the beginning of our spread into the world of fashion that has led us to become world leaders in the design and production of cufflinks and fashion accessories in many different patterns and materials, with customers at all latitudes, Colombia, Mexico, Canada, the United States, Germany, Greece, Russia, Japan, up to Australia and many other countries.
Let’s talk about inspiration.
We produce an average of 30/40 new subjects per year and for each of these the inspiration is the world around us, nature, architecture, but also the ‘every day’. For Pitti 2002, for example, we designed a model of cufflinks reproducing the EURO coin just adopted throughout Europe … well, that time maybe it wasn’t a really brilliant idea, because shortly after we received a visit from the guard of finance, thinking we were counterfeiters….
If you were to describe Mon Art today using just a few words …
Fantasy, nature, color, and brightness, for example, those of the Fashion Garden and Lumière collections, craftsmanship, quality, attention to detail, the unique professionalism of our collaborators who are truly a fundamental part of the company. And then the special relationship with customers … Can they be enough?
What remains of the company’s origins today?
The competence in common and precious metals with the specific knowledge that the artisan’s hands are essential to finishing a high-quality article. Of course, the production techniques and the materials themselves have evolved, but Mon Art Internazionale has kept the structure of the classic company: there is a prototyping department, molding, electroplating, enameling, up to packaging. Even today a lot of our work is hand-made, even the patinas, the chiaroscuro with brushes and blackeners. This makes the difference in the product: a well-made product, from the design to the mold, with roots in the Florentine artisan tradition.
In the end, an overview of the future.
The future of the company is my children, Filippo and Silvia, who are now in charge of the company.
They are the architects of new products, such as beautiful bracelets, the creation of e-commerce, and the opening of new collaborations.
The future of style instead .. who can foresee it! In my opinion, the important thing is to remain firmly anchored to the values that have always distinguished us, but with eyes and ears always open to grasp and, if possible, foresee what is to come!