From Roman aqueducts to the annual Milan furniture fair, Italians have a history of being ahead of the design curve. Italy's had several "golden ages" of design, and in recent history, both modernism and contemporary design have flourished there. Italian furniture tends to be high-end, high-quality, and is often the result of strong relationships between designers and manufacturers. There are too many companies to cover in one swoop, but this is a starter list for good sources — we'll add to it over time.
Cabinets and Storage
This company has been in existence since 1942, and their trademark is high-end modular storage solutions for closets, kitchens, and living rooms. They continue to make their products in Italy, and they have distributors in over 75 countries.
Molteni&C Dada Unifor
Their Italian-made shelving is particularly beautiful, and they pride themselves on collaborating with clients on custom spaces. They have showrooms in major European and American cities, and they sell through a big network of high-end retailers.
While most of the companies on this list originated in the golden age of Italian mid-century design, LAGO is much younger. Their colorful, high-gloss modular storage pieces are available at Lagostores in Europe, but have yet to grab hold of the North American market.
Headquartered in Noviglio, Kartell is an international leader in plastics technology. They've developed some of the most iconic plastic pieces of the mod era — including Anna Castelli Ferrieri's Componibili and Ferruccio Laviani's Neutra Hanging Lamp.
Sofas and Upholstered Furniture
Cassina manufactures and sells work by greats like Gio Ponti and Franco Albini, as well as other non-Italian furniture makers. They're the only licensed manufacturer of Le Corbusier's furniture, and they also carry lines by Charlotte Perriand and Philippe Starck, among others.
B and B Italia
This Italian furniture company collaborates with contemporary designers like Patricia Urquiola and they have four major collections: B&B Italia Home, Maxalto, B&B Italia Outdoor, and B&B Italia Project. (They also own 1/2 of the Dutch company Moooi.)
Founded in 1946, Cappellini has been a driving force of Italian modernism for most of its existence. Their sofas, chairs, and tables have appeared in the collections of MoMA in New York, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris.
They're a family-owned company based in Italy, with stores throughout Europe and America. The mid-century Arco Lamp, designed by the Castiglioni brothers, remains their biggest seller, but they also collaborate with contemporary designers like Marcel Wanders and Antonio Citterio.
This Italian lighting store was founded by Ernesto Gismondi in 1959, and now has locations throughout the world. They carry lamps by top Italian designers like Mario Botta, Enzo Mari, and Luigi Serafini, as well as non-Italian names like Philippe Starck and Norman Foster.
Kitchens and Bathrooms
This company is an international trend-setter in the world of bathroom design, and they've worked with greats like Joe Colombo. They maintain a New York showroom (designed by Piero Lissoni) in SoHo, as well as multiple European locations.
Since 1958, they've been combining modern technologies with age-old Venetian glass tile-making techniques. Their lines are pricey, but the quality is exceptional and the range of colors and choices is huge.
Trend Group USA
This Italian tile maker has a strong foothold in green design — they make beautiful mosaic surfaces from 60-70% post consumer recycled glass. An active member of the Green Building Councils in both the US and Italy, they have a distribution office in Miami.
Carlo Alessi founded the company and it's still a family-run operation, currently owned by Carlo's son Alberto. They focus on designer tabletop with — for lack of a better description — lots of shiny metal stuff. Alessi has international showrooms and a huge retail network.
This Italian office company has existed since the 1950s, and they sell some iconic designs, including Enzo Mari's perpetual calendar and his 1963 apple print. Their specialty is artwork and accessories, and they have stores in Italy with an international dealer network.
Best known for high-end fashion, Missoni remains a family-owned company with an international empire built on their signature brightly colored zig-zag fabrics. Aside from sweaters and dresses, Missoni also sells bedding, poufs, and other home accessories.