Five minutes with Davide Riva of luxury wooden furniture line Riva 1920

For a century, Riva 1920 has produced beautiful wooden furniture from its workshop in Italy, creating quality pieces in classical and contemporary designs.

Davide Riva

Now run by third-generation brothers Maurizio and Davide Riva, the brand has launched in Hong Kong through the exclusive distributorship of Nature Evolution, with a showroom on Hollywood Road.

Speaking to Home Journal, Davide elaborates on wood – as a limited resource, an art, and a social commitment.

What do you find most compelling about wood as a material?

It comes from nature. We use reforestation wood, and we try to respect nature as much as we can, using wood in a sustainable and conscious way – this is our everyday mission. So even if we’re using such an important resource from nature, we try to manage it the best way we can.

 

Among the various types of wood, which is your favourite?

Walnut. You can apply it to many pieces of furniture and products. It’s also part of the company history – at Riva, we like to work with this kind of wood.

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How has the demand for craftsmanship evolved since your grandfather founded Riva 1920?

Craftsmanship is not a trend, but a long-lasting lifestyle. What’s important is for Riva to produce timeless products. For us, keeping tradition within production is part of our heritage and DNA. Of course, as we celebrate our 100th anniversary, there is the introduction to technology and innovation – but with an eye on the past. These two live together: on one side, you have technology and high-end machinery. On the other, you have craftsmen working on benches like my father used to.

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What were some of the unique challenges you faced when you first started to run Riva?

It’s not easy to work with solid wood. Wood is a live material, unlike plastic. You need to dominate wood. You need to find a strategy to give shape to a piece of wood according to its capability, strength, shape, characteristic. We know a lot about wood, but it’s never enough. 

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You enjoy woodworking as well. What are your favourite pieces to make?

It’s a hobby for me to transform wood into a piece of art. I also try to find a common ground among furniture, art, and social commitment, so it’s not just a matter of business. I’ve taught guys at a rehabilitation community in Italy how to work with wood to give them a second chance once they are released. For almost a year, we taught them how to work with wood, use the machinery, and how to produce their collection. It’s a way to give them hope. So it’s not just a matter of selling a piece of furniture – it’s something more.

Images courtesy of Riva 1920