Made in Italy (Cigar Journal)

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A cold morning; Milano Linate Airport. Massimo de Munari picks me up at the gate. We get into his car and drive briskly into the center of Milan to inspect the regional Casa del Habano. Massimo isn’t a tour guide but, together with his brother, is the owner of a cabinetmaking workshop. His business, DeArt artfully furbishes rooms all around the world that are unparalleled. We are interested in DeArt, which is established in the metropolitan area of Milan, because owners Massimo and Alberto de Munari have specialized in the building of humidors. Among other things, DeArt designed the Casa del Habano in Milan. The objects are marketed under the brand Cigars Time. And those who are yacht fans will find in the two brothers experts in the interior design of boats. They are responsible for the cabins of various luxury yachts. And to pique your interest even more, the spectrum of customers of the Italian family business ranges from private individuals to restaurant and shop owners to heads of state. The work of the brothers can be found in London to Saudi Arabia, and Singapore and China. A small gesamtkunstwerk by the humidor makers from Italy: the walk-in humidor in The Wellesley in London

A small gesamtkunstwerk by the humidor makers from Italy: the walk-in humidor in The Wellesley in London

Alberto and Massimo’s father, Giovanni de Munari, founded the company in 1962 in Calvenzano. “At that time, many handicraft businesses moved there, and today there are numerous master businesses,” Massimo explains to me. It was mainly artisan cabinetmakers and inlayers who set up their workshops here. Like his sons, Giovanni de Munari also looked for a specialist area. He made barometers, and then focused on the construction of grandfather clocks, pendulum clocks and wall clocks. Furthermore, DeArt specialized in the making period furniture. Ornate objects can be reproduced or manufactured. Louis-Seize, classicism, art deco – everything is possible. No design vocabulary is unknown to the Munaris. Giancarlo Savinelli’s passion for cigars and their storing options was aroused in the late Eighties. “He asked us to make humidors; we delivered boxes with various inlay motives. At the RTDA, now the IPCPR, they were a huge hit,” remembers Massimo de Munari. Meanwhile, the company has a team of experts that exclusively specializes in the building and technology of humidors. The boxes then became display cases, then wall units, and, in the meantime, walk-in humidors. When the sons took over the business, they invested in high-tech machines; from a technological point of view, DeArt is cutting-edge. On site in the factory I am able to follow every step and observe how Cigars Time humidors are constructed. We start our tour at the cedar wood storage facility. All humidors, whatever their size, are lined with untreated Spanish cedar. DeArt’s storage facility is like a treasure chamber. The inventory here not only suffices to outfit numerous humidors but can also guarantee that the color scheme of the respective objects is harmonious. A good example of this is the contract for the humidor for the 225th jubilee of Hunters & Frankau. DeArt made 225 of them, and the client, Jemma Freeman, was thrilled about the consistency of the color of the cedar wood in the cabinet’s interior. “I had been hugely impressed by the work I had seen around London where DeArt had installed many humidors. Their standards and attention to detail were exemplary. For example, on our project, Massimo personally selected all the Spanish cedar that was used. We left it untreated because it gave a raw, dusty, natural feel to the cabinets, which we think is timeless,” says the British cigar expert. Our tour continues to the cutting machines. The machines, almost robots, “read” the designers’ drawings and deliver what the designers have come up with after consulting with the clients.

Together with his brother, Alberto, Massimo de Munari (photo) runs the artisan cabinetmaker business near Milan

Together with his brother, Alberto, Massimo de Munari (photo) runs the artisan cabinetmaker business near Milan

If at any point a part needs to be replaced, it can be delivered at any time without a problem; everything is saved and stored. This is also where the individual pieces of the huge baroque theater were produced – major projects like this can also be realized by DeArt. We move on to the paint shop, which is the next biggest work step in the production chain. This is where the individual pieces get varnished, painted or glazed. Following that, the “pieces of the puzzle” are assembled. Only a few days ago, in the factory hall stood a noble walk-in humidor with an integrated cooling system for wine, built true to the original. Now packed up, the humidor is waiting to be sent to the customer in China. Everything that DeArt constructs is assembled and tested in the factory before being transported to the customer. An amusing idea: In Calvenzano there have been complete cigar shops, lounges and cooling systems, which are now embellishing the Corinthia Hotel, Harry’s Bar, the Bulgari Hotel, or The Wellesley in London, among other places. “Eddie and Edward Sahakian chose DeArt to design, build and install our three double cabinet humidors for the Edward Sahakian Cigar Shop in the Bulgari Hotel London back in 2012. We were one of the first locations in London to work with Massimo and DeArt and we are very happy to see their work appear in many new sites not only in London but also globally,” says Sahakian’s shop manager Mike Choi enthusiastically.

DeArt designed the wall cabinets for the perfect storage of cigars in The Arts Club in Mayfair, London

DeArt designed the wall cabinets for the perfect storage of cigars in The Arts Club in Mayfair, London

Choi is also happy about the humidifying system developed by Massimo: “After nearly five years of service, I can, hand on heart, say that I have never had one issue with the humidors or the humidification system – real work horses!” The de Munaris have meticulously worked on the humidification system for their humidors for a long time. While we smoke a cigar in the office, Massimo de Munari explains the systems to me and shows me the latest test model for the walk-in humidors. A mono-block, called “Total clima Evo,” guarantees a perfect temperature and an appropriate humidity level. “All zones of the humidor have the perfect temperature due to an integrated circulation, humidification and dehumidification system,” Massimo explains. Should Evo ever be defect, the entire block can be removed with little effort and quickly repaired. The values can not only be read but also even controlled via an app on a smart phone. All of the humidors and chambers built by DeArt have “sandwich walls.” On the outside is the wood chosen by the customer, behind that there is a solid core of wood and a layer of insulation. This is then covered in the interior, inside the humidor, with Spanish cedar. All the glass inside is made from thermal safety glass. It is sealed all around with silicon and each door has a triple lock. Restaurateur Dario Nembrini, who had the de Munaris build him a walk-in humidor, emphasizes, “There is no doubt about the professionalism of DeArt. What is remarkable is the high quality of all the materials that they use in the manufacturing and the continual research that they do in order to guarantee the best temperature for the cigars.” Currently, DeArt is building a lounge and a humidor in the Trinity Hotel in London; the Casa del Habano in Kuwait; and display cases and cigar lockers in the Four Seasons hotel in Florence. And naturally, always following the credo of the de Munaris: “We have the maximum of flexibility for the exteriors and fulfill all the customer’s desires. Inside, it’s the cigar that has priority; the technology and lining are completely oriented around that,” says Massimo.[1]