Bronze is a metal that has been prized throughout history. It was used in ancient Rome to construct aqueducts and for the valves in lead pipes. Archeological finds prove that even after two thousand years, bronze retains its ductility and corrosion-resistance.
This is why Stella is the only Italian faucet-maker that still uses bronze castings for parts used behind the wall, guaranteeing they will last forever.
1882 - 1910
At the close of the 19th Century, with the Second industrial revolution shaping the United States and the countries of Europe, industrial enterprise became the leading force in Italian economic life following the country’s unification.
In 1882 Pietro Stella began the slow process of industrialisation towards an organised company model, one characterised by technological product expertise and focused on developing partnerships with major industrial firms.
As such, in that very year, on Lake Orta or in Cireggio to be more precise, the Stella company was born, specialising in the production of articles in bronze: candlesticks, pasta cutters, corkscrews and taps. All these products were linked by innovative thinking, a meticulous attention-to-detail and immense physical beauty, almost like small ‘jewels’ or ‘works of art’ in terms of national and European production.
A striking example from this period was the use of one of the first Stella taps within the fuel feed circuit of the Fiat Zero, the first model from the Turin-based company to achieve sales in excess of 2000 vehicles. This faucet orientated technical know-how, combined with the historical-industrial evolution of Italy taking place at the turn of the century, led to the company concentrating its efforts on the production of bathroom taps in the years immediately thereafter.
A la fin du XIXe siècle, avec la seconde révolution industrielle qui arrive aux Etats-Unis et dans les pays européens, l'entreprise industrielle s'impose comme le protagoniste de la vie économique italienne depuis la réunification.
1910 - 1930
Following the first Great International Exposition of Milan at the beginning of the century, which effectively launched the exhibition culture, Stella participated in many of the most important international commercial gatherings, early testimony to the company’s confidence and ambition for growth both domestically and across export markets.
The proliferation of new life-styles saw taps become more prevalent in the home and assume a more decorative and architectural function rather than simply being objects associated with hygiene and the washroom.
This led to Stella experiencing a true golden era, a time when the company could benefit from the vast experience acquired over 30 years and resulting in the development of some of its most famous and prestigious product lines, designs which to this day have pride of place in the Stella catalogue and grace the bathrooms of some of the world’s most discerning clientele.
Serie Italica, Serie Roma and Serie Eccelsa were all launched during these pivotal years and have stood the test of time as much for their originality as for their quality of build, thus enabling the company to transcend the abundance of copies and replicas which were to emerge over the next 80 years.
1930 - 1950
The historical events that affected Italy and Europe influenced Stella’s production to a large degree. This did not stop the company from enlarging its market, however, expanding from residential use only to the supply of luxury hotels and cruise-liners.
The 2200 passengers that boarded the Conte di Savoia on November 30th, 1932 for its maiden voyage from Genova to New York, for example, were treated to the tap creations of Stella. The bathrooms of First Class even allowed for their personal supply of sea water. It was during this period that the very first Stella patents began to be lodged in a bid to safeguard the company’s workmanship and originality.
To date, Stella has deposited numerous patents for innovation and aesthetics, to such an extent that the Stella brand has unwittingly created an industry ‘standard’ by which other tap marques now regularly find themselves judged.
1950 - 1960
1956 saw the launch of ISOMIX, the first thermostat in Italy and one of the first thermostats in the world. It was a great success both in terms of product innovation and for its functioning and longevity. It was also one of the first products designed by Angelo Mangiarotti and a trade advertising campaign of the time cites its mechanical characteristics together with its visual qualities, as showcased in 1958 at the International Fair of Thermostat Producers.
The Isomix brand is still regarded as one of the feathers in the cap of Stella production, not only because it is a true icon of product design but because it has served to enhance the lives of Italians in their ‘bathroom experiences’ over the past 50 years.
1960 - 1970
During those years, the concept of Design for large-scale production really began to gain strength and momentum, with an increased emphasis on shapes, ergonomics and materials. With this new trend in the world of interiors and household appliances, Italy and its designers assumed a pivotal role in terms of development, a factor which obviously had an influence on Stella production.
Angular, harsh designs gave way to softer, more rounded forms, thanks to new working-processes and machine types. Examples can be seen in the models which entered production at this time, namely Emisfero, Egizia, Antares, Augusta and Corinzia.
The “Made in Italy” concept germinating during these years perfectly complemented Stella’s nature of production, focusing on small quantities of design-led ‘master-pieces’, with a strong focus on research and innovation. The Nova series with its patented ‘protector’ friction-screw is a case-in-point, just one from a list of similar examples.
1970 - 1980
In 1976, Stella acquired the patent for a cartridge featuring a joystick lever and commissioned Carlo Santi to design what was the first tap to use such a revolutionary action and one which is still employed in the world of taps today.
It provided another success-story and further demonstration of the company’s technological expertise and aptitude for collaborating with architects and designers, an approach that no company had ever attempted before and one which has transformed into reality the dreams of so many leading names who have worked alongside Stella in the intervening years.
Making its appearance in the same decade, the Aster series complete with protector-screw mechanism, opened the door to the possibility of new finishes. Up until that time, taps had been regarded as chrome creations, so entering into a world of different colours and finish-types further reinforced the concept of the tap as a decorative accessory and not merely an ‘object to dispense water.
1980 - 1990
With one eye always on the Luxury Hotel market, during these years Stella witnessed an unprecedented upsurge in the demand for taps for new constructions and renovations.
A pleasing thought is that this often happens when a tap transcends the barriers of time and becomes an icon, with the result that it becomes more desirable still. Indeed, from the moment in which Stella taps achieved icon status in terms of luxury, beauty and functionality, they have been selected time and time again for inclusion in some of the most prestigious hotels in Italy, Europe and beyond.
The best hotels in Venice, Rome, Milan, Florence, Paris, Monaco, Moscow, Kenya, Rabat and Jeddah have all chosen to adopt ‘una Stella in piu’ (‘an additional star’!), by adorning their rooms and suites with items from the Stella portfolio.
1990 - 2000
For a company to have the opportunity to work with an eminent professional is indeed an honour.
When that person can be credited with changing the face of architecture and becoming its ultimate point of reference, it is an honour indeed. Sir Norman Foster was born in Manchester in 1935 and completed his studies at Yale in New York. In 1965 he founded the studio now known as Foster and Partners with offices in London, Glasgow, Berlin, Frankfurt, Hong Kong and Tokyo.
In 1983 he was presented with the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture from the Royal Institute of British Architects, followed by a Gold Medal from the French Académie d’Architecture in 1991 and in 1994, a Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects. 1999 saw him receive the Pritzker Prize as well as become a British Lord of the Realm. In that very same year he designed for Stella the tap series that bears his name and one which displays that minimal yet monumental quality that defines the skyscrapers he has designed for London, New York and Tokyo
2000 - 2010
The last decade has certainly been the one during which Stella has experimented the most in terms of partnerships with designers capable of blending advancements in style with the personality and character of the company.
With this aim, several new series have come to fruition, whether they celebrate the diversity of minimalism, take inspiration from classic architecture or indeed the story of the founder.
The minimalist Bamboo and Bamboo Quadro lines, designed by Marco Piva, are twin Round and Square collections displaying a bold character and featuring mixer-mechanisms which guarantee the ultimate in precision and ergonomics.
The Stella series, the work of architect Luca Scacchetti, combines an extremely simple profile with an asymmetrical form to make an exceptional design piece.
The Casanova series, by architect Maurizio Duranti, is a true work of art evidently inspired by the world of Neoclassicism. All of these objects, at the same time as being taps, are synonymous with the elegance and refinement of a sophisticated world. In a similar manner, by way of his Firenze series, Gianpiero Castagnoli exalts the rigours of form, giving his tap body a solid and consistent geometry so typical of Florentine Romanticism.
2010 - TODAY
Recent years have been characterised by a reinforcement of those core values and ideals that have succeeded in making the Stella brand truly unique.
The distinguished history, the unprecedented levels of workmanship, the care for detail that carries through the entire process, from project-stage right up to the delivery of each and every finished tap and component; these are fundamental concepts for everyone who works with Stella and on the company’s behalf.
To mark its 130th anniversary Stella has created a very special book entitled “La ricerca dell’eccellenza” (“The search for excellence”), a collection of the personalities and companies who through their technical mastery and sheer talent have, in parallel with the Stella story, guided and influenced the lives of the Italian people over the past century.
This book has been showcased in its XXL version (1.5m x 1.5m) in prestigious locations such as the Piazza Duomo in Milan and the Piazza Repubblica in Florence, thereby creating its very own moments of history and celebration.
The role of masterminding a design project to commemorate this special anniversary has been assigned to architect Michele De Lucchi who is creating two new collections for Stella: the classic-contemporary Collezione Centrotrenta and the uniquely sculptorial Collezione Titian.