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Riccardo & Francesco Barthel

Riccardo Barthel, Firenze

Owners of Riccardo Bartel, a most fascinating place in Florence, where the antique knowledge of artisans meet modern beauty and where exclusive interior design projects are born.


Growing up in the Barthel family

The link between my life and the Barthel company exists since I was very young; I was born in 1972 and the family business in 1976.

The realization of the Barthel company was something that was strongly desired by my father Riccardo, in order not to depend on anyone, to be able to focus on his ideas and achieve the satisfaction needed in life to be able to look ahead.

At his side was my mother, Daniela, who for many years has helped and supported him in thousands of decisions.

You could say we have grown and changed side by side, both my father and I along the way, and somehow the growth of one has changed and influenced the other.

Today I realize how much the two realities - work and family - each with its needs and difficulties, have been complex for my father to pursue together. To find the time and the concentration to bring up a child and get a business to take off at the same time is no mean feat, especially if the child is actually not just one, but two, and the growth of the business depends completely on the profits of the same. A good dose of intelligence and optimism was needed as there were no capital partners or family members waiting in the wings in case they needed to help out.

So if I have influenced our company with my existance, it has also influenced me; summer vacations were often spent in France with a van to buy old furniture from second-hand trade, Sundays pass by at antique markets, in the evenings we ate late because customers never went away, the suppliers arrived at our house or phoned all the time and for many years, the laboratory of our craftsmen was located in our barn!


The work always came home with us, lunches and dinners revolved around the subject; customers, troubles, employees, projects ... And our home always somehow entered the shop too, because in a family business such as ours, it is impossible to separate the two and one feeds the other. But sometimes it created tough situations and made it difficult to relax.

The years passed by and we grew, the company grew, the ideas of my father actually worked. The number of customers increased, employees too and even the shop, in via dei Fossi just a few sq.m, had to be extended, first of all to cover the ground floor and then also the first floor.

These are the years of my elementary school and middle school and I continue to live with the company, helping out in the summer during the school holidays, accompanying my father on site, to carpenters, to smelters, to the bronze-workers learning a great many things.

Then 1994 arrives, an important year, and after 8 months of preparation the Barthel company moves to its present location of Oltrarno, on Via dei Serragli, a workshop of 1,350 sq.m. that still today, after 22 years, thrills anyone that passes the threshold with its originality and charm.

That was an important step, a great leap in quality that allowed us to tell the public that not only did we do bathrooms and kitchens, but also projects and homes, hotels, restaurants, shops ...

And I, who had finished the art school and had enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts, was waiting to figure out what to do with my adult life. I participated in the transfer of our headquarters and began to learn new things, understand, see with different eyes what was surrounding me.

Two years passed, where I spent more time in the cellar arranging mergers and in the store room organizing things than passing exams.

And then something transformational happened, something that changed both the company and me. I will always remember that moment. It was in August 1996, and we were on a return flight from America. I really wanted to start working in the family business, so I got up, went over to sit next to my father, asked him if he agreed and he said yes!

Since that day I am part of the Barthel Company, and what impresses me the most is that half of my father's life I have lived and breathed this too, with decisions, errors, ideas and satisfaction.

For several years my father and I shared every decision, every step, every problem and every success. Then the growth has changed us even more, in this case perhaps it was me that wanted to find out who I was and what I wanted, so I created an stand-alone activity, DESINANDO, a cooking school and a place for encounters. Without my family and the Barthel company, this would not have been possible!

Now new challenges await, linking the different aspects of two entrepreneurial generations together in one place,and in one family.

Ad maiora!

Written by Francesco Barthel