Venice’s Biggest Glassmaker Doubled Its Pre-COVID-19 Sales

MILAN — Barovier&Toso, the eight-centuries old glassmaker that was appointed by the Republic of Venice in 1455 to make Venetian Crystal, said it doubled its pre-COVID-19 sales in 2023.

In a statement, the company said revenues rose 19 percent from 2022, to 19.2 million euros, due to a shift in corporate strategy. In an interview with WWD, chief commercial officer Diego Martinez Dubosc said that today its strongest markets are Europe, followed by the U.S., the Middle East and the Far East.

In 2023, the company made significant investments in the retail sector, with the opening of the Venice boutique designed by Nichetto Studio.

Located in Calle Larga XXII Marzo, the space is located just steps away from St. Mark’s Square. Nichetto Studio was founded by Venetian designer Luca Nichetto in 2006. In 2023, the company also opened its first U.S. subsidiary in Miami, which it said was key to the growth strategy. Martinez Dubosc said that in Asia, the company is directly engaging with professionals and architects to develop a network of qualified dealers for the brand. The Singapore store, which opened in 2018, was its first overseas location.

Overall, 85 percent of its sales are exported to the European Union, the U.S., Middle East and the Far East, while the remaining 15 percent are generated locally in Italy.

“The Middle East and the Far East also present youthful and challenging markets in terms of brand dissemination and communication strategies,” Martinez Dubosc said.

Barovier&Toso, whose elaborate chandeliers have adorned the homes of royal residences such as King Al-Saud’s palace in Taif, said it’s adapting with the times and is invested in strategies that bolster its storytelling through digital channels, which have become more and more crucial to its business.

“Content creation has also evolved to suit this development, adopting a modern language that aligns with the digital evolution,” the brand said in a statement.

Ginori 1735 Lamp

Ginori 1735 lamp designed by Luca Nichetto in collaboration with Venetian glassmaking firm Barovier&Toso. Courtesy of Ginori 1735

Courtesy of Ginori 1735

Though the company was originally founded in 1295 by Jacobello Barovier, in 1455 his descendant Angelo Barovier was granted the exclusive right to produce “Cristallo Veneziano” (Venetian Crystal), which is unlike any other on the market because it is void of lead and arsenic. The company operated independently until 1936, when it merged with the Toso glassmaking business. 

Today it is focused on fortifying partnerships with major luxury brands, many of which are already major clients: Dolce & Gabbana, Cartier, Louis Vuitton and Bulgari. In 2023, Ginori 1735 tapped Nichetto and Barovier&Toso, as well as Rubelli, to produce its Domus collection of statement pieces, which was unveiled in April at Milan’s Design Week. Nichetto designed interior pieces, while Barovier&Toso contributed their glassmaking expertise and mouth-blown crystal, which has been built on Murano artisan craftsmanship since the 13th century. 

“We are also planning to participate in partnership with grand events, believing in the value of synergy in collaborating with brands that, although not in the same industry, target customers aligned with ours,” Martinez Dubosc said.

Reflecting on the U.S. market, Martinez Dubosc said consumers are more discerning than ever — connoisseurs who seek sophistication in their purchases.

“They value the craftsmanship, history and narrative that come with each piece. Our brand resonates with this shift, as Barovier&Toso’s creations are not just lighting fixtures, they are heirlooms embodying centuries of Venetian artistry,” he said, adding that consumer demand for exclusive, bespoke elements for the home are on the rise. “It’s about owning a slice of history.”

Looking ahead, the company said it aims to strengthen and enhance the Asian market, to consolidate the brand’s presence in the region and take advantage of opportunities offered by a rapidly expanding market.

Worldwide, the lamps and lighting sector represent a main area of growth for design companies. According to Statista, the entire Lamps and Lighting segment, which includes table, desk, bedside and floor-standing lamps, wall and ceiling lighting fittings and lamps used for them is expected to increase to $100 billion in 2028 from $75 billion in 2022.

Like many lighting- and furniture-makers in Italy, Barovier&Toso is also keeping an eye on the situation in the Suez Canal, as it looks to boost trade with the Far East in the near term.

“The Suez situation is affecting shipping prices, as it necessitates the use of alternative means or routes. We are adjusting our shipping strategies accordingly,” he said.

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