Back in Australia by popular demand: The update from MDF Italia’s Frederik Billiau

Back in Australia by popular demand: The update from MDF Italia’s Frederik Billiau
MDF Italia is now on the floor and displayed to best advantage at Bachli — and every product is an example of beautiful minimal design at its best. Jan Henderson speaks with MDF Italia’s CEO, Frederik Billau.

MDF Italia - Neil Twist Chair Offset Table - ©Thomas Pagani

With the opening of Bachli in Hawthorn, Victoria there is again the opportunity for MDF Italia to present its range ‘in the flesh’ to Melbourne’s architects and designers. The owners of Bachli, Nathan Bachli and Rebecca Pistilli, have curated a range of furniture, lighting and accessories for their showroom and at the heart of the offering is MDF Italia.

Recently in Melbourne for the launch of the Bachli showroom, Frederik Billiau, CEO of MDF Italia, talked passionately about the products, philosophy of the brand and the strong and continuous relationship with Nathan Bachli that inspired the company to once again place its product within the Australian retail landscape.

MDF Italia - Cosy Island Random Wood - ©Thomas Pagani

MDF Italia was established some 30 years ago in Milan, Italy and quickly gained a reputation for sleek styling and simple pure lines. That’s not to say simple is easy. We all know that designing the essence of a product without flourish is the most challenging of all, but MDF Italia is the master of less is more.

The company portfolio includes a wide range of products with sofas, armchairs and chairs, bookshelves, wall systems, dining and coffee tables, beds, desks and even office cabinets. MDF Italia collaborates with designers and there are products and collections from such luminaries as Piergiorgio and Michele Cazzaniga, Francesco Rota, Jean Maire Massaud, Francesco Bettoni, Neuland Industriedesign, Jean Nouvel Design and Xavier Lust, among many others. However, while each product is unique and exceptional in its design, they all adhere to the MDF Italia philosophy that simplicity is best.

MDF Italia - Universal Armchair Offset Table - ©Thomas Pagani

Billiau elaborates on the collaborations with designers: “When we go through the history of the company and see some of the iconic pieces, I would say the characteristic of most of them is that they were innovative, whether it was in function, the material or the terms of the design. For MDF Italia it has to be something very special.”

The MDF Italia philosophy is to find simple solutions to complex problems. For example, the very minimal Tense Table designed by Piergiorgio and Michele Cazzaniga is so slim and fine but can span up to four metres in length with no mid-supports and just two legs at either end. The engineering required for such a design is complex, rather like building a bridge, but the incredible feat of an unsupported table of four metres in length is a reality. Or the Minima shelving range by Neuland Industriedesign, again so very minimal with aluminium shelves that have a thickness of just 1.5 centimetres and can span 120 centimetres in length. It’s all sensational engineering but the form is outstanding and presents as delicate and elegant.


MDF Italia - Cosy Island Random Wood - ©Thomas Pagani

Billiau says that “MDF Italia makes furniture, not art” but each product is a sculptural, artistic form or structure. There is a lightness to the aesthetic and, although there are contributions from many different designers, there is a continuity and flow to all the finished products.

Billiau adds: “MDF Italia products respect simplicity, they have a lightness to them so that if you put, say, the Tense table in a room, it will not interfere with the space and it will not be the centre of attention. At the same time, there is innovation. Our products are always pushing boundaries.”


MDF Italia was first established by Bruno Fattorini in 1992 and it was subsequently sold in 2007 to the Cassina family (who had divested their iconic company, Cassina, to Poltrona Frau in 2005). With dynamic new blood in the business, MDF Italia has evolved to meet the demands of 2023 while staying true to Fattorini’s original values – they are just translated in a different way for the time.

As an Italian company supplying Australia and the world, Billiau sees community and every facet of communication as the heart of MDF Italia. The future is about creating and strengthening relationships with clients and distributors and building a brand that is strong in a globalised environment. As Billiau reflects, “in terms of the product offering, and the product design, people come to us because we’re trusted. We have incredibly long relationships with our partners overseas and we have a very long relationships with the market here [in Australia].”

Relationships might be one part of the equation but the rest is the MDF Italia products that speak of beauty, quality, technology and longevity. The collections reflect timeless design and attention to detail that are in perfect balance. It’s so good to have MDF Italia in Melbourne and available for Australia’s architecture and design community — welcome back.

MDF Italia

Bachli Furniture

Thomas Pagani

Written by Jan Henderson, May 26th, 2023

Read the full article via the InDesign Live website

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