‘New York, 1996. A Baxter sofa is on display in the windows of ABC.
Paolo Bestetti is watching it, feeling proud, hopeful, and satisfied. Then he takes a better look, and gets scared.
The leather is worn-out; the sofa does not at all look as it was when it came out of the factory. He is embarrassed.
As soon as he enters, he apologises to the store manager: “What happened? A clumsy courier? Don’t worry, we’ll send you a new, intact one.” The other man laughs: “Sorry to tell you this, Paolo, but your sofas look even better when they’re worn out.
“When they are new, their leather is too hard, it’s not exciting. So, I ask my guys to jump on it with their shoes on: once, twice, a hundred times, until it softens.
“All I do is speed up the work of time: at that point, customers feel wrapped up in their own sofa.”’
Baxter CEO Paolo Bestetti recalls this story when it comes to addressing what makes a great leather couch. It may seem melodramatic to have musings over a piece of furniture, but it goes beyond materialistic possession, for what really matters here is time.
The moral of Bestetti’s story is how “time and wear act as reactants capable of bringing out all the qualities of materials”, where in this case, softened leather to be wrapped in, and that in itself is probably where Baxter distinguishes house from home.
For over two decades, Baxter has established itself as a household name that prides itself on creativity, design, quality, and the importance of the ‘Made in Italy’ label. While the familiarity and recognition didn’t come overnight, the label certainly did.
In fact, their debut at the annual trade fair in Cologne gave the impression that the brand was British, resulting in polite passers-by that acknowledged the wood-and-leather filled space as expected and typical. It was only when the fortunate few who stepped into the booth and learned about its Italian origins did the crowd come flocking in.
Baxter commends the reputable quality of Italian handicraft responsible for establishing a deep level of trust among its customers, which thereafter evolved into a natural association with the brand. “If there is trust, there is bond,” shares Bestetti. “And if there is a bond, even imperfection becomes something you fall in love with.”