April 1, 2013
Fantini draws upon its legacy to right a small part of the world’s water inequalities.
100 Fontane: Fantini for Africa
Daniela Fantini’s life revolves around water. Her family’s eponymous 65-year-old company, which she took over in 1982, is known for its faucet designs—most popular are the colorful pop art curves of its I Balocchi (the Toys) series. It is fitting that a company built on conduits for water makes its home on a peninsula, surrounded by Lake Orta, in northern Italy.
In the landlocked African country of Burundi, water is a daily problem. Although there is ample water beneath the land, there is little plumbing infrastructure outside cities, and children spend hours a day walking to a well. This limits the time that they can spend in school, which, in turn, limits their opportunities.
In 2010, Daniela, along with Ricardo Conti, vice president of Fantini USA, joined an Italian Rotary Club trip to a group of small villages in Burundi called Masango. “We stayed at the mission,” says Conti, “which was run by Sister Celina, who is seventy-something years old and has been in the country throughout its struggle for over thirty years with a civil war.” Conti supervised the building of a chicken coop. Daniela provided faucets for a hospital under construction, but realized that the lack of potable water was a problem that Fantini could help solve. The company soon launched 100 Fontane: Fantini for Africa, a program to build infrastructure and water fountains in the area.
“Our friends, customers, architects, and designers, they heard about it and said, ‘We want to help you!’” Conti says. “And Daniela said, ‘OK, but we don’t want to collect money from clients.’” Instead, Fantini decided to relaunch its one-time smash hit, I Balocchi, which had been phased out in the mid-1990s. The original designers, Paolo Pedrizzetti and Davide Mercatali, gave the product a subtle face lift. The curve of the spout has been refined; the nozzle, where the water comes out, is now integrated into the spout; and the flow of water is adjustable up to 1.5 gallons/minute, in accordance with CALGreen regulations. In its original iteration, I Balocchi was most often requested in blue, red, apple green, and orange. This time around, the faucet will be available in any of the RAL colors (the European equivalent of Pantone).
All the 2013 profits from sales of I Balocchi will go toward building fountains in Masango—ten units sold is enough to build one fountain, and Fantini hopes to go far beyond the original 100.
Looking Back at NYCxDESIGN 2023