Caterina Fabrizio’s voice dips, almost reverently, as she describes a beloved piece from her family’s Italian textile company, Dedar. “Fabric should provide an emotional impact,” she says, waxing poetic about the Dante, a sumptuous but sturdy velvet that’s risen to bestseller status over the brand’s 40-year lifespan. It’s just one of the 3,000 high-end home materials, wallpapers, and trimmings currently offered by the design house. “We want people to fall in love with a fabric first, then figure out how to use it,” she adds.
As the co-owner of a family business that’s inextricably linked to its headquarters’ surroundings—the shores of Lake Como, which was Italy’s silk production hub at the turn of the 18th century—Fabrizio’s passion for artisanal traditions is only matched by her sharp eye for discovery. While Como fuels Dedar’s longstanding commitment to fine craftsmanship, neighboring Milan, the backdrop to her company’s sleek showroom, promises Fabrizio a front-row seat to an edgier design scene. “You cannot take Como without Milan,” she says. “It’s very important to have dialogue between the roots and the vision.”
Since she joined the business more than 20 years ago, its customer base, once solely native, has significantly expanded thanks to a fashion-forward approach. It now caters to an increasingly global clientele, and collaborates with renowned designers such as Stephen Burks and heavyweights like Hermès, who Dedar advises on its home furnishing line. “There’s a timelessness to our products, but we also don’t mind being a little daring, a bit audacious,” says Fabrizio. “We feel very confident that you can express yourself through an elegance that doesn’t necessarily conform.”
Though Fabrizio officially brought her creative muscle and free-spirited aesthetic to Dedar in 1994, she and her brother, Raffaele, spent the bulk of their adolescent years shadowing their enterprising parents on business trips to far-flung locales. It was on an excursion across the Indian subcontinent that a teenage Fabrizio first encountered the rustic perfection of matka, or hand-loomed silk, while journeys to Turkey’s carpet-producing regions sparked her interest in intricate Anatolian weaves. “We still have a lot of visual memories,” she says. “It’s why we’re so open to different inspiration and style sources.”
She might as well be expressing the peripatetic sentiment that streams through Dedar’s kaleidoscopic spring 2016 collection, an exuberant tribute to weaving and wanderlust. “The yarn is the protagonist this year,” she declares, singling out the Reversi, a tartan-inspired design. The rest of the cosmopolitan selection takes cues from 18th-century Chinoiserie, American textile artist Anni Albers, and Russian painter Kazimir Malevich, making it nearly impossible to define.
But Fabrizio has always resisted categorization, ensuring that all of Dedar’s offerings pair decadence with durability, and proving that form and function don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Case in point: Fireproof jacquard, which also plays a starring role in the latest catalogue. “When we first decided to apply advanced technology to our silks, our mill workers told us we were trying to get to the moon on a Vespa—it turned into a family joke, because that’s really what it felt like for a couple of years,” she says.
Despite her reach-for-the-stars ambitions, Fabrizio insists she’ll never drift from her family’s foundations in historic Como, where nearly 80 percent of the company’s lineup is still produced. “We try to make things where we can get them done best,” she says, “And there’s something very rich when you have roots there.”