In the tradition of ancient Native American tribes the totem has symbolic meaning which best represents the idea of our company. For the Ojibwa tribe, the totem is a being or category of beings that a group considers itself to have a particular familial relationship with. The basic idea of Totem is precisely this: to create a bond between our wooden furniture and those who use them.
Researchers studying the philosophical concept of the totem, as well as the disciplines based on totemism, describe it as “a worldview that identifies a specific relationship between human beings and forces of nature, used as a conceptual tool for the classification of reality and of society.”
Totem furniture, then, is not only carefully designed to be functional, but also strives to create a more intimate relationship between our spirit and our surroundings: our homes, the meeting place for our “clan” of family and friends, the place that allows us to separate from the chaos of the outside world and rediscover our hidden aspirations.
The totem simultaneously represents a spiritual quest, an individual path in motion, curiosity and experimentation to discover our place in the world. In this sense Totem gives us the ability to change, transform and to create new spaces based on paths of change – so a simple loft bed one day can become a four-poster bed, a crib can be reborn as a rocking chair for children, a table transforms into a sofa and sofa into a comfortable bed. All in a simple and harmonious way, without upsetting the balance between sustainable design and quality, in harmony with nature, the external world and our spirit.
Our product names symbolically pay tribute to and recall Native American tribes who considered the totem as a meeting point between their societies and nature.
The history of the Totem is that of a young architect who dreamed of being able to design furniture that could really be an integral part of life of every home.
It all began in 1996, born from the hundreds of notebooks full of drawings and ideas on the utility combined with the functionality and sustainability of furniture. After graduating from university, Paolo Cogliati went in search of work at big furniture companies. In Milan the trend has always been to follow the fashion industry and in the 90s the material par excellence was plastic, many kinds of plastics, of all conceivable colors. In his notebooks, which would become the basis of the Totem project, the only material used was wood. “Wood is thing of the past” was the phrase he kept hearing, along with the closing of the doors of big businesses.
In those years, the concept of self-production was almost unknown, as was sustainability awareness, respect for nature, and the combination of production, consumption and harmony of the senses.
Good quality furniture for every-day use was not available on a large scale. Designers aimed created furniture for the high-end, relatively good quality products with very high costs accessible only to few.
And so that in the frenzy of colored plastic, the increasingly accelerated pace of a consumption-based system and trends which were anything but ecological, Totem began to take shape.
The first step was to choose products among the hundreds of ideas and designs. There were not many rules to follow, just some basic principles. The selected products had to be: simple, able to be built by craftsmen and artisans, practical designs made only of wood, without the need for additional accessories or tools, without expensive finishes. The material had to be found in Italy, or within Europe, to avoid high transport costs (now called Km0).
As time passed, however, the concept of ecology became an additional market strategy and selling and buying green products became the new trend. If in the 90s we had plastic, we now have “ecology”, a lot of ecology, ecology of all conceivable colors and flavors, but Totem continues its independent struggle against fads, against massive and ferocious consumption.
Totem continues to create its history one piece at a time. It is the only wooden furniture of Italian origin, able to adapt to change and the passage of time, easy to assemble and disassemble without screws or nails, so flexible the designs can transform, so original that they are not simply pieces of furniture, but a personalized experience with wood.
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Textiles and futons combined with our products were kindly offered by Onfuton.