FIAM was born from one man’s passion for glass.
Founded by VITTORIO LIVI in 1973, FIAM designs, develops and produces items of furniture in curved glass, creating them through a combination of craftsmanship and industrial processes, actually merging tradition and innovation, hand-crafting and design. Vittorio Livi came to know and appreciate glass from a very young age.
FIAM sees a designer’s ability to take risks with shapes as a welcome challenge to its technical expertise. The company has even created one-off technologies to produce some pieces. For example, in 1982 MASSIMO MOROZZI came up with the design for the Hydra coffee table, with very pronounced shapes it would be difficult to obtain with the machinery then available. So FIAM invented a special machine (called the Paser) capable of pushing water and abrasive powder to a speed of one thousand metres a second – three times the speed of sound! And to produce the Illusion table by Philippe Starck, FIAM had to create a plant capable of processing glass at one thousand degrees.
Hand-in-h and with its innovation in design, Livi has always invested heavily in innovation in technology. Industrially produced glass reaches FIAM in the form of sheets. After the initial cutting, grinding and milling stages, the sheet is ready for bending, a process which starts with preheating to 630 degrees. It is fundamental for the glass’s temperature to be absolutely uniform during this stage, because even tiny differences cause the sheet to break. At less than 600 degrees, the vitreous mass crystallises and can no longer be moulded, while at a higher temperature it may become too free-flowing. To deal with these problems, over the years and as technology evolved, the small natural gas-fired bending furnace used to process the glass was replaced with another, larger, oil-fired one, and then by another powered by electricity, to guarantee better control of temperatures and the transformation of the heat from static to dynamic. Instead of refractory bricks, nowadays insulation is provided by high-tech ceramic insulating tiles of the kind also used on the space shuttles. Originally made from clay, the die is now produced in thermal steel.