"Nearly eighty years ago, Pasquale Valli secured a position at an umbrella factory in Veduggio, Italy..." Thus begins the narrative that has its contemporary culmination in Valli & Valli, one of the world's foremost designers and manufacturers of decorative handles and door levers.

Duemilacinque Door Lever. Designed by Zaha Hadid. Manufactured by Valli & Valli.

Pasquale became the supervisor of the handle department, which was a lucky stroke, since "umbrellas of the time looked exactly the same-somber, dark and gloomy, but the treatment reserved for the handle itself was wildly different." Valli realized that the handle was the nexus between the consumer and the product, that the umbrella's allure depended on its visual and tactile appeal. Thus, he became an expert in molding and dyeing metals, alloys, and plastics into handles with all manner of fascinating shapes, textures, and colors.

Today's Valli & Valli brings you door levers, cabinetry hardware, and bath accessories created by foremost architects and designers (Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel, and Michael Graves for just a taste...). The Fusital line of door levers features signature pieces that prove the old saw, "God is in the details." Take the Serie ZH Duemilacinque ("Two Thousand Five"). Designed by Zaha Hadid and Woody Yao, the lever is inspired by Architect Hadid's Puerta America Hotel in Madrid, and, for that matter, by two thousand years of cultural exchange between Spain and Morocco.


Duemilacinque evokes both the storied metalwork of Toledo's Golden Age swordsmiths and the shifting perspectives and shadow play of Moorish architecture. Made of solid brass with finishes in satin or polished chrome, the lever features a slim profile and the illusion of a sharpened edge. This, in concert with its interplay of angles and manipulation of light, makes it inviting and ominous at once. Indeed, Duemilacinque gleams with the attraction of a finely honed blade, as if to say grasp it at your peril-you never know where it might lead.

Posted August 14, 2008 by Joseph Starr

Leave a Reply