It was an accident, really, that started Daniele “Danne” Semeraro down the path of launching his own product design company, Sempli.
“I was working at a wine bar in Florence, Italy,” recalls Semeraro, 36, “and I may or may not have done some wine-tasting myself that night. At the end of the night, I was polishing a wine glass and accidentally broke off the stem. I put the glass on the table and noticed how it leaned and spun.”
The tilting and twirling intrigued him–because it aerated the wine. Semeraro went home and spent the rest of the night feverishly sketching a rendering of the glass he named “Cupa.” “I used my tip money to rent a car,” he says, “and spent two days driving around Tuscany visiting glass factories I found looking through a phone book–it was just before everyone was on the internet.” Armed with a prototype, he had a limited production made of the design and sold the glasses locally.
Semeraro wasn’t just a Tuscan bartender with a lucky idea. His design talents have deep roots. Born in Vasteras, Sweden to Italian parents, he spent the school year in Sweden, steeped in what he views as “modern sensibility, where form follows function,” and summers in the family’s home in Puglia, Italy, where he was exposed to “craftsmanship, style and elegance.”
When it came to university, his Italian heritage won out, and Semeraro went to Florence to study interior and product design (hence the wine bar gig to help with tuition). Landing a job back in Sweden with a firm that specialized in automotive interiors for the likes of Volvo and Volkswagen, Semeraro put the Cupa glass idea aside for a few years. A chance to work for Hirsch Bedner Associates, a global hospitality design firm, brought him to Los Angeles, where he managed both interior and product design projects.
The Family Grows
In 2010, following stints working for Los Angeles-area lighting design companies, Semeraro got the itch to launch his own product design business. Dusting off the Cupa glass, Semeraro understood he couldn’t build a company with just one design. He went back to the drawing board and created Cupa barware for whiskey and shots, as well as other designs for decanters, bowls, lights, bottle openers, coasters, placemats and more. He named the Los Angeles-based company Sempli, a play on semplice, the Italian word for “simple.” Today, his line includes 40 products, some of which are starting to make appearances in bars and restaurants throughout the United States.
Semeraro is constantly mulling new designs, finding inspiration everywhere. “My Cupa was a happy accident,” he reflects. “But I’m not just a glass designer. I don’t want to limit myself–or Sempli.”