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Inside Story: Made A Mano

The go-to luxury ceramics company for architects and designers has made its name by doing things the hard way

made a mano tiling in tom dixon’s milanese space, the manzoni
Made a Mano tiling in Tom Dixon’s Milanese space, The Manzoni

It took 10 years to develop our collection and to build what we have today,’ says NanaKi Bonfils, who set up Copenhagen-based company Made a Mano in 2001. A former lawyer and marketing executive, her interest in beautiful, natural surfaces had drawn her to Sicily, where she promptly fell for the unique properties of lava stone. Bonfils quit her job and started to send sample boards to architects and interior designers.

everything is complicated because we’re trying to make something that will last forever

‘In the beginning, it was so difficult to understand the techniques needed to work with this incredible material,’ explains Bonfils. Excavated from Mount Etna, the natural, volcanic rock is sent to factories across Italy where it is baked in specialist ovens at 2,000 degrees for up to 10 days, so the colour glaze fuses with the stone, producing a material that is incredibly durable, impervious to water and stain resistant.

made a mano blue kitchen splashback
Made a Mano Blue kitchen splash back
Made a Mano Blue kitchen splashback

Today, the Made a Mano range – which includes tiles, surfaces, sinks, table tops and benches – is available in raw, untreated stone and a spectrum of courageous colours, from jade to coral and ‘Yves Klein Blue’. ‘It’s not about the flavour of the month, or the colour of the year,’ insists Bonfils. ‘At Made a Mano everything is complicated because we’re trying to make something that will last forever.’ Sustainability is also integral to the brand, and it is experimenting with plant-based dyes derived from red onions and rocket.

'ossida’ tiles in a bathroom
’Ossida’ tiles in a bathroom
'Ossida’ tiles in a bathroom

Inspired by the past, patterns are made and applied by hand. The ‘Komon’ range,
which includes the company’s two bestsellers, ‘KN3’ and ‘KN11’, was informed
by the patterns found on ancient Japanese kimonos, while the ‘Cristalli’ collection
– which can be found in pink in Skye Gyngell’s restaurant Spring – is notable
for its complex tonalities, created by hand-brushed colour and pearl crystals. Other clients include Calvin Klein in New York and The Battersea Power Station redevelopment in south London. The ‘artistically diverse’ ‘Ossido’ series – created by burning up to 12 colours together – has been installed throughout Tom Dixon’s restaurant-showroom hybrid, The Manzoni in Milan.

made a mano new 'noble' collection
Made a Mano new ’Noble’ collection
Made a Mano new 'Noble' collection

Made a Mano produces just 8,000 square metres of product a month, but that is set to change this year when Bonfils launches a new collection called ‘Noble’. The result of years of product development, the material has the durability and eco-credentials of lava stone, but with a much lower price point. ‘It will be suitable for interior and exterior use, and available in new sizes and shapes and a range of beautiful colours. It will bring a new look to the market,’ she confides. madeamano.com

This article appeared in the March 2020 issue of ELLE Decoration.

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