About us

History  •  Criteria  •  Materials  •  Team



The history of the Totem is that of a young architect who dreamed of being able to design furniture that could really be an integral part of life of every home.

It all began in 1996, born from the hundreds of notebooks full of drawings and ideas on the utility combined with the functionality and sustainability of furniture. After graduating from university, Paolo Cogliati went in search of work at big furniture companies. In Milan the trend has always been to follow the fashion industry and in the 90s the material par excellence was plastic, many kinds of plastics, of all conceivable colors. In his notebooks, which would become the basis of the Totem project, the only material used was wood. “Wood is thing of the past” was the phrase he kept hearing, along with the closing of the doors of big businesses.
In those years, the concept of self-production was almost unknown, as was sustainability awareness, respect for nature, and the combination of production, consumption and harmony of the senses.
Good quality furniture for every-day use was not available on a large scale. Designers aimed created furniture for the high-end, relatively good quality products with very high costs accessible only to few.
And so that in the frenzy of colored plastic, the increasingly accelerated pace of a consumption-based system and trends which were anything but ecological, Totem began to take shape.
The first step was to choose products among the hundreds of ideas and designs. There were not many rules to follow, just some basic principles. The selected products had to be: simple, able to be built by craftsmen and artisans, practical designs made only of wood, without the need for additional accessories or tools, without expensive finishes. The material had to be found in Italy, or within Europe, to avoid high transport costs (now called Km0).
As time passed, however, the concept of ecology became an additional market strategy and selling and buying green products became the new trend. If in the 90s we had plastic, we now have “ecology”, a lot of ecology, ecology of all conceivable colors and flavors, but Totem continues its independent struggle against fads, against massive and ferocious consumption.
Totem continues to create its history one piece at a time. It is the only wooden furniture of Italian origin, able to adapt to change and the passage of time, easy to assemble and disassemble without screws or nails, so flexible the designs can transform, so original that they are not simply pieces of furniture, but a personalized experience with wood.





ANTI-CONSUMPTION: to protect harmony and for creating a new balance between humans and nature.

Our designs are meant to last, against the planned obsolescence that is prevailing in the market.
Totem products are built to last, if they are ever damaged, they can be easily repaired.



EVOLUTION: the organic dimension of Totem.

Instincts that remain the same do not evolve, consciousness counterbalances instinct and also does not suffer the effects of evolutionary processes.
Totem evolves, changing according to your needs.



NATURE: the man outside of nature has a distorted perception of the world, satisfies his instincts in an alienated dimension.

There is no direct relationship between the need and availability, nor the perception of limit.
Totem is nature, without waste, without pretensions.



BALANCE: the need to rebalance the relationship between instinct and consciousness.

Do we want a “luxury home” that is also “low cost”? This is not possible. We can have a home with quality furniture at the right price.
This is Totem.



HARMONY: as a value itself, the perception of harmony is the legacy of few.

Art and harmony are the criteria that give form to Totem’s values, ​​and include all of the above criteria.




Birch plywood: the featured material in Totem products embodies all the qualities for producing unique, high-quality, durable designs. Birch plywood is a semi-finished material made by several layers of wood whose crossed fibers make the 12mm thick panels very robust. The panels are cut with the millimetric precision of a laser beam, obtaining the individual components for each Totem product. The panels are certified E1, which guarantees that the formaldehyde content in the glue meets specific parameters defined by current environmental regulations.



The furniture can be supplied without any treatment, varnished with a water base paint or with a paint kit. The finish can be neutral/colorless or colored (white,black, yellow, orange, red, lilac, blue, green). The paints used have the EcoLabel label, which certifies compliance with European regulations to reduce environmental impact.



If You choose to get the paint kit, everything You need is included in the package. Apply the varnish with the roller provided and wait 20 minutes until it dries. Sand lightly with fine grit sandpaper. With the paint kit You can customize Your product by choosing the color of each component. This finishing process allows for an easy maintenance in the event of scratches and stains by sanding and repainting only the damaged parts.










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