So far, I’ve only been lucky enough to meet Ralph Montemurro as the face of Monte, one of my favorite companies for family-friendly furnishings. But after doing their interview, I definitely have to get to Canada and meet Ralph’s better half, Michelle, and the kids who inspire their wonderful designs. I share their love of practical, durable, high-quality yet simple designs. And I imagine that combining an evening of Montemurro charades with the dance parties that keep my husband and me in stitches at our house could be quite an event!
Ali Wing: What is your motto?
Ralph Montemurro: The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you’d have done unto you.”
AW: What inspires you?
RM: So many things… we are inspired by products that are extremely well-built, stand the test of time, and have attention to detail, yet still very simple. Some examples of products are chairs made by Emeco, a Brooks leather bike seat, or a traditional espresso maker.
Beautiful architecture and well-designed everyday objects (like the items found in Phaidon’s Design Classics Books) are always an inspiration …they challenge us to make an average object better.
Also, since we are in the juvenile furniture industry, our 4 kids (ages 1 to 9) are always an inspiration because we’re designing with them in mind.
AW: What color are you loving right now?
RM: Grey, with a small hit of a bright color.
AW: What are you currently reading?
Ralph: I’m a magazine junkie…I subscribe to too many (from Wallpaper to Fortune)
Michelle: The Book of James and lots of parenting books!
AW: What is your favorite city/location/destination?
RM: NYC and anywhere in Italy (we both speak Italian, and love any opportunity to enjoy our roots), but we are also itching to return to Spain, as there are some great designers coming out of Spain right now.
AW: Who is your favorite composer, or what is your favorite music genre?
Ralph: Classic rock…there is always a Neil Young or Springsteen song a click away. There are also some great bands coming out of Brooklyn right now, like Vampire Weekend.
Michelle: I’m subjected to whatever Ralph is listening to, and he likes it loud!
AW: What was your most favorite baby gift?
RM: Books…they are such a wonderful way to spend quality time with little ones while encouraging learning.
AW: What is your proudest parenting moment?
Ralph: Seeing their school report cards- they definitely take after Michelle in that department.
Michelle: When our kids make the right choices…from helping a sibling, to giving away his/her last cookie, to telling the truth…these are moments I cherish.
AW: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
RM: Definitely having children. But on a business level, it would have to be our decision to keep our products made here in our own factory …that decision has defined our standard for quality, helped define our brand, and affected our overall success.
And please complete the following:
…make(s) me laugh.
Playing charades with our kids…the objects they come up with are priceless. Last week, our 5 year old just stood still for several minutes while we tried to guess what he was — he was trying to be a cheese stick!! We also love the humor on the show The Office.