Arts & Crafts & Design n°5

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Exceptional expertise to show colors in their best light

— The artisan of colour — -

The art of enamelling was invented by oriental craftsmen nearly 4,000 years ago. With the development of watchmaking in the 17th century, Geneva became the center of Grand Feu miniature enamelling for watch decoration. Vacheron Constantin today perpetuates this refined ancestral craft.

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The enameller creates or faithfully reproduces designs or miniature patterns on the dial with the aid of a brush. Other techniques are also used: cloisonné enamelling, which involves using wire to mark the outline of a zone, and champlevé enamelling, in which the material is hollowed out at the locations where the enamel is to be received. This decorative craft requires very highly developed artistic and technical skills. Métiers d'Art - Fabuleux Ornements Indian manuscript, Calibre 1003SQ

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The art of the meticulous to create watches of prestige

the artisan of light -

T he first Vacheron Constantin ladies’ pocket watches were both watches and jewels, veritable accessories that for med an integral part of the costume of the times. T he advent in the 20th century of the baguette-shaped wristwatch – the thinnest in the world – contributed enor mously to the reputation of the Manufacture.

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T he gemsetter’s role is to arrange precious stones on a timepiece while respecting the codes of quality concer ning the alignment of the stones in relation to the cut and the refraction of light.

Métiers d'Art - Fabuleux Ornements French lace, Calibre 1003SQ

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Le Bord de mer à Palavas, 1854, Musée Fabre Montpellier, © Musée Fabre – Montpellier Agglomération

FONDATION BEYELER 7. 9. 2014  – 18. 1. 2015 RIEHEN / BASEL 140908_FB_COURBET_Arts&Crafts&Design_240x320.indd 1

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THE POWERFUL LIFE FORCE OF THE CRAFTS Today as yesterday, fertile diversity is a vital source of life. To remain open to the world is also the commitment of the Maison Vacheron Constantin, which has always been engaged in the protection and patronage of the métiers d’art There are certain journeys in which the destination is less important than the odyssey itself. Vacheron Constantin has forcefully committed itself to protecting time-honoured skills by ensuring their enduring existence and promoting their renown. The new edition of the Arts & Crafts & Design magazine is an opportunity to travel once more to the land of excellence. It unveils the ancestral Japanese art of Bizen pottery, as well as the radical work of Cape Town’s inspired cabinet-maker, James Mudge. It also offers a backstage glimpse on the restoration of a most precious carpet belonging to the Museo Poldi Pezzoli collection, as well as portraying an enchanting encounter with the Campana brothers who are fronting the renewal of the Brazilian design scene.

is a cardinal virtue faithfully cultivated by Vacheron Constantin. It guides our commitment to artistic crafts and to institutions such as the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and the Barbier-Mueller Museum Cultural Foundation. This mindset guarantees the longevity of our Maison, which has remained in uninterrupted activity since 1755. It breathes a little extra soul into our timepieces which are as many bridges spanning diverse cultures. This is particularly true in the field of ornamentation. A specific characteristic of the Geneva School, the art of decoration as it developed in Vacheron Constantin’s native city was nurtured by the talent and inspiration stemming from the varied origins of the prodigious artisans of the time. Ever since, ornamental techniques have found themselves at the crossroads of aesthetic currents and have been recurrently united at the heart of horological masterpieces.


Over the years, the Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte and Vacheron Constantin have given a broad audience a chance to discover a range of crafts that are legendary or little known, extraordinary or unassuming, but perpetually fascinating. Whether renewing ties with ancient domains or exploring new uncharted territory, these embodiments of excellence epitomise a form of supreme creativity that is a world away from the disposable and the virtual. Today as in yesteryear, they continue to demonstrate that fertile diversity is a wellspring of what the French philosopher Bergson termed élan vital. A powerful life force reflected in the extraordinary garden of Prince Louis-Albert de Broglie, who invites us in this new issue to share his fruitful passion; as well as the Officine Saffi in Milan that unites artists from all horizons in providing an extraordinary panorama of contemporary ceramic art. A determination to remain open to the world

We wished to pay tribute to them by offering the public the “Travels and Adornments” exhibition in which the extraordinary pieces from our heritage collection retrace various major artistic movements. This invitation to explore the heart of technical and precious adornment is a masterful demonstration of Vacheron Constantin’s expertise. It also reveals how master artisans, across changing eras, have maintained an ongoing dialogue with the different artistic currents and influences in order to magnify their own creations. Inspired by Ancient Greece or by Art Deco, by flamboyant India or by industrial architecture, these timepieces are now part of our legacy. They tell the story of dreams of faraway places and are dedicated to making artistic crafts one of the promised lands of human genius.

*CEO Vacheron Constantin

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Vacheron ad output - MADDIE - Sept 2014_RBS 19/09/2014 13:28 Page 1

The Royal Ballet School continually searches to find and encourage talent. Admission to the School is based on potential, regardless of academic ability or personal circumstances. Our Outreach Programmes provide training at centres nationwide introducing dance to hundreds of children who may otherwise have little access to the arts.

The Royal Ballet School is one of the world’s greatest centres of classical ballet training which for generations has produced dancers and choreographers of international renown - from Margot Fonteyn, Kenneth MacMillan and Darcey Bussell to a new generation currently making its mark on the world stage - Christopher Wheeldon, Edward Watson and Lauren Cuthbertson, to name but a few.

The Royal Ballet School · London · Find out more at tel: +44 (0)20 7845 7068 or +44 (0)20 7836 8899

Registered Charity no: 214364 Photo: Johan Persson



E d i t o r ’s l e t t e r

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CRAFTSMANSHIP IS OUR MAIN INGREDIENT What makes the Métiers d’Art unique is the human element. Even when it is coupled with advanced technologies. And imperfection is awe-inspiring... As I was reading through this issue of Arts & Crafts & Design, before declaring it “ready for print,” I stopped to consider a detail that may seem obvious but is nonetheless significant. To begin with, I must say that I love working on this magazine and if I could I would dedicate my time to creating the pages that feature the articles, rather than being mostly the publisher of my magazines. You may ask yourself where all this enjoyment comes from… Selecting the topics is not a simple matter, at least if one’s aim is to create a quality product: a magazine must not be a patchwork of features on different themes, but an organic whole that flows harmoniously. Photographs, headlines, contents and articles are all frames in the same film. The screenplay must open with an element of surprise, and then the story must unfold freely, in a balanced alternation of rhythm and colours. The main ingredient that amalgamates each number of Arts & Crafts & Design is craftsmanship itself. I enjoy using my hands when I work: I like cutting out the photographs to find the best combinations as much as I like using the square ruler to make sure everything is perfectly aligned… Did you notice how many times hands appear in the pages of Arts & Crafts & Design? Hands that work with clay, hands that sew a scarf, hands that embroider a fabric, hands that decorate porcelain. Because the human element is what makes the métiers d’art unique. And in our case this element is expressed by the hands more than by the faces.

Ottoman architecture, Indian manuscripts, French lace: Vacheron Constantin’s technical perfection is blended in its workmanship. The exploration of a world made of colour, precious stones, complications and inspirations is performed without excess or ostentation. But for the sole pleasure of evoking and seducing through decorations, a rare talent that has historically characterised the Geneva-based Maison.


There is a hand also on the cover, even though readers cannot actually see it. It is the hand of one of Vacheron Constantin’s master craftsmen, who is applying precious gem petals and gold pistils to the dial of a watch in the new collection of the Métiers d’Art series, Les Fabuleux Ornements, created to celebrate the savoir-faire of the Maison. These sculpted timepieces for women recreate a mythical, dreamlike dimension with the refined touch of ancient traditions. Chinese embroidery,

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Manual skill is perfect even when it appears imperfect. As exemplified by Living National Treasure Jun Isezaki, a master of Bizen pottery, who employs an antique heritage to create a symbolic universe that is fascinating because it is imperfect. Isezaki’s technique is the most ancient of Japan, having been developed over 1,000 years ago, and the underground oven in which his ceramics are fired is one of the “Six Ancient Kilns” of the Land of the Rising Sun. Each piece is “born from the encounter of man, fire and clay”: a primeval fusion that is the perfect expression of the essence of Wabi Sabi: “nothing lasts, nothing is finished, nothing is perfect.” Sometimes manual skill is supported by the intellect, which, in the case of the extraordinary work of Andrea Pacciani, is synonymous with culture. The artist has a real passion for ornamental turning, but the lathes that were used in the past to create those extraordinary artworks, prized by Russian tsars and French kings, are lost forever. Faced with this unavoidable fact, Pacciani managed to recreate that special magic by using the advanced technology of the successors of 3D printers. The images speak for themselves. And the beauty lies in the fact that, in Pacciani’s case, the digital world does not override the manual one; on the contrary, it elevates handicrafts to a superior level. Yes, handicrafts. Because the machine paves the way for the craftsman, who uses timeless instruments and techniques to breathe life into these objects. Manual skill 2.0 is definitely awe-inspiring.

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Workshops Books Awards Initiatives Fairs Shows ALBUM by Stefania Montani


Digital manual KING’S DELIGHT by Mattia Schieppati

Arts & CrAfts & design



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Ornamental turning: an ancient skill revived by 3D printing


Beijing Opera is the quintessence of performance and artistry

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On the cover, gold leaves and pistils decorate the dial inspired by Chinese embroidery. From the new Métiers d’Art collection by Vacheron Constantin.


Weaving wonders THE GARDEN OF PARADISE by Isabella Villafranca Soissons


Comfortable shapes ASSEMBLED DESIGN by Ali Filippini


Minute decorations THE FOUR BEAUTIES by Alberto Cavalli

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Fired to perfection MAD ABOUT THE LAB by Simona Cesana

Made in art by Ugo La Pietra WHEN DIVERSITY BECOMES DESIGN Historical thought by Massimo Bignardi THE CREATIVE ACT THAT MOULDED ITS OWN WORLD


Family footsteps THE PERFECT FIT by Alessandra de Nitto


Heritage preserved MEMORIES RENEWED by Stefano Follesa


Savoury crafts FROM RUSSIA WITH TASTE by Alessandra Meldolesi Sustainable wood THE MAKING OF A TABLE by Susanna Ardigò One man mission STEERING TOWARDS THE FUTURE by Giovanna Marchello


Blending talents THE MUSEUM OF IDEAS by Vincent Lemarchands


The ritual of matter WORKERS OF THE SOUL by Ugo La Pietra


Chiselled identity LUMINOUS HARMONY by Alberto Cavalli


Genius defined MEASURING MASTERY by Alessandra de Nitto



Skill au féminin SYBILLINE MOSAICS by Federica Cavriana


Masterworks of nature THE PRINCE GARDENER by Julie El Ghouzzi

Ottoman architecture • Indian manuscript • French lace Chinese embroidery

The tropical style of the Campana Brothers conquers the world

Craftsmanship on stage A NIGHT AT THE OPERA IN BEIJING by Caroline Roberts

Living treasures THE FASCINATION OF IMPERFECTION by Akemi Okumura Roy






Perspective THE POWERFUL LIFE FORCE OF THE CRAFTS by Juan-Carlos Torres


Preparing for excellence by Hedwige Sautereau SAFEGUARDING THE INTELLIGENCE OF THE HAND



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February 2015

United States of America Conductor Charles Dutoit Soloist Nikolai Lugansky, piano Aliso Viejo, Davis, Sonoma and Santa Barbara, California Ithaca, New York Newark, New Jersey Washington, DC

The Orchestre de la Suisse Romande warmly thanks Vacheron Constantin for supporting its international tours

NEEME JäRVI Music Director The Orchestre de la Suisse Romande is generously supported by the City of Geneva, The République and canton of Geneva, and the Canton of Vaud

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OSR at the Suntory Hall with conductor Kazuki Yamada July 8th, 2014 Photo © Masayuki Nakajima / Japan Arts

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Teaches Contemporary Art History, Environmental Art and Landscape Architecture at the University of Siena, where he is head of the School of Specialisation in Historical and Artistic Heritage. Since 2002 he directs the Baronissi Museumregional fund for contemporary art.

After managing communication for major luxury brands, she left Tokyo and her native Japan to follow her husband, an English photographer, to London, where she is a correspondent for many Japanese media.



Grown up in an international environment, spacing from Japan to Finland and Italy, she is a lover of English literature. She lives in Milan, where she has worked in the fashion business for 20 years, specialising in licensing.

After graduating in Architectural Restoration at the Turin Polytechnic she specialised in Restoration in Florence. She returned to Milan after a long career as a curator in New York and London, and is the director of Open Care restoration and conservation laboratories.







He graduated in design from Venice’s IUAV University with a thesis on the history of exhibiting from the perspective of goods and culture. He cooperates with trade magazines, combining journalism and publishing with his work as lecturer and curator.

After the university, she experienced the coup de feu and the coup de foudre for high cuisine behind Paris forneaux. She is now a passionate food writer mingling knowledge and flavours, a journalist and specialised translator, with a true knack for avantgarde cuisine.

She lives in Hong Kong and has extensive experience in the world of luxury, having worked in the Asia-Pacific region for brands such as Louis Vuitton, Giorgio Armani and Dolce & Gabbana. She runs a successful marketing and communication consultancy business and coordinates numerous publishing projects.

ARTS & CRAFTS & DESIGN Half-yearly – Year III – Volume 5 December 2014 Editor in Chief and Publisher: Franz Botré Editor at Large: Franco Cologni Creative Director: Ugo La Pietra Editorial Director: Gianluca Tenti Art Director: Francesca Tedoldi

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Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte Director: Alberto Cavalli Editorial Director: Alessandra de Nitto General Organisation: Susanna Ardigò Contributors to this issue: Texts: Augusto Bassi, Andrea Bertuzzi, Massimo Bignardi, Alessandro Botré, Federica Cavriana, Simona Cesana, D&L Servizi editoriali, Julie El Ghouzzi, Ali Filippini, Stefano Follesa, Vincent Lemarchands, Giovanna Marchello, Alessandra Meldolesi, Stefania Montani, Akemi Okumura Roy, Caroline Roberts, Hedwige Sautereau, Mattia Schieppati, Isabella Villafranca Soissons

Co-founder of the Totem group in 1980, he coordinated Saint-Étienne’s first Biennial of Design. He teaches at the École Supérieure d’Art et de Design in Saint-Étienne and is president of Hs-Projets. He developed a design methodology for engineers and plastic technicians that is based on “co-conception”.

Architect and designer, he is lecturer at the DIDA Department of the University of Florence. He writes books on architecture and design and curates exhibitions and events. He lives and works in Florence where he has his own professional studio.

She holds an MA in Philosophy from both the Sorbonne University and the University of Bologna and an MA in Art History. In 2007 she was appointed director of the Centre du Luxe et de la Création in Paris, the prestigious think tank and do tank for luxury and métiers d’art.

Translations: Francesca Squillante Revision and text adaptation: Giovanna Marchello Images: Marc Danton, Mauro Davoli, Giuseppe Millaci, Elena Montobbio, Claudio Morelli, Kimimasa Naito, Bob Noto, Kevin Preiksaitis, Donald Pyper, Susanna Pozzoli, Youness Taouill, Emanuele Zamponi. Arts & Crafts & Design is a project by Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte Via Lovanio, 5 – 20121 Milan © Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte. All rights reserved.

Original manuscripts and photos will not be returned, even if unpublished. Texts and images cannot be reproduced, even partially.

Half-yearly magazine by

Swan Group srl Editing and production: via Francesco Ferrucci 2 20145 Milan Phone: +39 02.3180891


Via Francesco Ferrucci 2 20145 Milano Phone: +39 02.3180891

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RUE CHARLES-GALLAND 2, 1204 GENÈVE Open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., closed on Monday


Today, artistic crafts face three challenges visibility, understanding and heritage. Moreover these “savoir-faire” become “rare” or even “orphan” when there is no dedicated educational program and the transmission of know-how is only done between the Master and his / her apprentice. In April 2012, Vacheron Constantin, the oldest watch manufacturer of fine watches, launched Cercle 250, an initiative that strives to support and promotes the expertise of this exceptional know-how in order to protect them from extinction and oblivion. Cercle 250 is an association of corporate patrons with over 250 years of continuous activity to their name. Its mission is to encourage and promote the values of excellence and commitment to manual skill through an Annual Project. The Annual Project will celebrate the excellence of one or more Artistic Masters through the renaissance of a material or immaterial culture heritage. An example of an immaterial heritage can be the skills used by a master craftsman that can be transmitted to an apprentice in a spirit of trust and generosity. It is a mirror image of material heritage and its scope for recreating or restoring a work – a rare object or monument – in its most material form. Cercle 250 will expand its initiatives by inviting people behind the scene to explore the creative process of the Maisons involved, offering them, so to speak, real moments, suspended in time, in the company of fascinating works and skills.

©Sophie Zénon

© Mobilier national



Made in art

fied b y

Ugo L a Pie tra

WHEN DIVERSITY BECOMES DESIGN Territorial design is becoming more and more appealing to the manufacturing world, which is moving away from the old concept of industrial design. To recover values that are removed from standardisation

For some time now, the food industry has felt the need to protect the value of diversity through the recovery of crops that were all but extinct, the conservation of vegetable and animal species, the creation of seed banks, and the promotion of the products that are, historically, typical of our territories. Diversity is increasingly becoming a value! Even the design world seems to be finally appreciating the advantages of variety, by encouraging the development of specific territorial knowhow. Suppressed for too long by an intransigent “industrial design” system - which had banned everything that was small production, handmade, traditional in its formal and decorative symbols - the rediscovery and recovery of our cultural, material and manufacturing resources has been a long and difficult process which has characterised the past few decades. Now, spurred by the positive experiences reported in other fields – such as the food industry – the design world is starting to reconsider what it had brutally abolished, but has fortunately survived: the vestige of an increasingly concealed reality.


New design projects should therefore no longer be inspired by an idea based on a homogenous model of society; but rather follow a path that first and foremost pays attention to the resources available on the territory. In order to create an artistic design in dialogue with the world

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of production – where the industr y can be an individual (self-production), a workshop, a small or medium-sized enterprise, and even a public or private institution – it is therefore necessary to consider where and how, and on which resources, the company which has commissioned the project is based. The resources for a project are often not easy to identify, especially in territories (such as ours) which are deeply innervated by history, culture, artistic and artisan traditions. Every city or village is proud of its particular way of cooking a dish – a culinary identity which is the expression of their own reality. Likewise, each site can give a project the opportunity to be expressed through a specific design, which we define “territorial.” Every urban planner understands the particularities of an urban or a suburban context, a residential or a rural area rooted in agricultural traditions, a seaside resort or a hot spring… The designer too must be aware of what surrounds him and choose whether to work for diversity or for a globalised system in which he himself does not feel represented! The values that are integral to every city, village, square and street… Territorial design therefore means designing objects which originate from the observation of what has always been the greatest value of humanity and of its relationship with the reality that surrounds it: “diversity.”

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Institut National des Métiers d’Art: Building the future of crafts

 Created in 2010, the Institut National des Métiers d’Art (National Crafts Institute) is a semi-public body working in the service of the crafts industry, a creative sector of the French economy with strong growth potential. Under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture and Communication and of the Ministry of the Economy, Industry and the Digital Sector, INMA is a government-recognised public interest body with a general interest mission. INMA’s role is to anticipate the future of the sector and to prepare for it by creating conditions that are favourable to its long term growth. Through its identity and positioning, INMA unites all the public and private actors around the sector and develops expertise in both national and international matters, by means of the following projects:

• At the heart of development and innovation, INMA fosters contacts between public and private actors, in the form of initiatives and experiments combining the fields of crafts, design and artistic creation, including international workshops, working committees and the Slow Made movement’s think tank (

• A crafts monitoring, information and exploration centre that is unique in the world: INMA’s resource centre is open to the public. It offers an educational introduction to the subject through its collection of documents and audiovisual materials, as well as informational products like description sheets for each craft, a monthly press review, and a database of initial and ongoing training options.

• In its role as a talent scout, INMA holds a national competition to award the Prix Avenir Métiers d’Art (Future of Crafts Prize) in recognition of new talent in training in the field of crafts.

• INMA’s mission of sectoral monitoring and expertise allows it to perform daily analyses, both current and forward-looking, on the evolution of crafts: the purpose of Les Rendez-vous de l’INMA (INMA Gatherings) is to bring actors together to study the major issues relating to the economy and to the development of the sector and to identify new, concrete action areas.

• INMA shares its expertise with the sponsors of national development projects via a network of regional correspondents. • The Master Craftsmen-Students programme that it runs encourages a stocktaking of the intangible heritage of the various crafts and its transmission to the next generation

• Internationally, INMA develops its expertise through programmes on training and the transmission of know-how, as well as on the development of innovation in Europe and the Mediterranean region. • INMA coordinates the promotion of the crafts sector via a national portal located at, an official crafts directory ( and the annual Journées Européennes des Métiers d’Art (European Crafts Days, next scheduled for 27-29 March 2015,

 Institut National des Métiers d’Art Viaduc des Arts, 23 avenue Daumesnil, 75012 Paris, France Tel.: +33 (0)1 55 78 85 85 | |

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by Stefania Montani

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Workshops Books Awards Initiatives Fairs Shows

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ALBUM La Fucina di Efesto Milan, via Arrivabene 24 A 16th-century stable, situated near the Politecnico di Milano in the bustling area of Bovisa, was converted into a smithy in the 20th century. In 1997, Alessandro Rametta, then a young university student who was a friend of the owner’s grandson, was so charmed by the place and by the magic of the craft that he decided to pick up the trade himself. Since then, he has devoted his life to studying metals and techniques, focusing on a constant research into innovative technical and aesthetic solutions for the creation of sculptures, furniture items, stairs, gates and architectural structures. Today, nearly 20 years on, Rametta passionately continues his adventure with Andrea Capriotti, his associate. They work with every type of metal (iron, copper, brass, with the exception of aluminium), implementing ad hoc burnishing, acidating and waxing techniques to obtain an array of colours, shades and special effects. They often inlay and combine metals with different consistencies. Their production is thus ultra modern, yet based on ancient traditions, which are renewed using modern techniques. Rametta and Capriotti start every project with an in-depth analysis with their clients. Then they develop a graphic rendering before choosing the most appropriate metals. In their production they combine manual techniques (using traditional tools such as pliers, hammers, cutting torches and blow torches) and technology (laser cutting and TIG welding). An important part of the process involves choosing the best chromatic combinations based on a rich selection of sample materials. Rametta and Capriotti have worked on projects with the Creative Academy and Ugo La Pietra. Their works have been exhibited at the Milan Triennale and they often collaborate with the Politecnico di Milano.

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ALBUM workshops Stamatis Ftoulis Skyros, Magazia & Molos He is the most famous ceramic artist in Skyros, an island in the Sporades that boasts a millenary tradition in ceramic production. According to legend, in ancient times pirates used to trade pottery and other items from their raids for local goods. The islanders began to copy the most beautiful objects, developing their own production and setting in motion a new artistic culture which is still successful today. Stamatis is one of the numerous ceramic craftsmen in Skyros, many of whom have a shop Amalia RamÍrez guitars Madrid, calle la Paz 8 and General Margallo 10 Amalia Ramírez descends from an extraordinary dynasty of guitar makers. Her ancestor José Ramírez I was only 12 when he started making guitars. He invented designs to improve the sound of the guitars for the most important flamenco and classical musicians of his time. He developed the tablao guitar, favoured by flamenco players. Amalia learned the trade from her father, José III, in 1976. She perfected her skills with her brother, and has been making her own guitars since 1993. Her shop in Calle la Paz is situated almost in the same spot where her ancestor opened his first workshop. A precious collection of instruments dating from the 18th and 19th centuries is on display in the shop. The workbenches of her workshop, situated in General Margallo, are ridden with the many tools of the trade, tins of glue, natural polishes and the different types of wood that are used to make these excellent instruments: rosewood, maple wood, cedar wood and ebony. Her instruments are created here, including the extraordinary “Conservatorio”, entirely handmade, and the “Auditorio”, which features a double top to increase the acoustics, and a series of other models which can be personalised according the requirements of the musicians. Amalia has also perfected new techniques for the construction of polyphonic MIDI guitars that can be connected to computers, tuners and sound modules. Her niece and nephew are the fifth generation of the Ramírez family to work in the atelier.

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on the main street. For generations his family has owned a workshop near Athens, where ceramic objects are created by hand, and then passed on to Stamatis, who decorates them in his workshop that faces the sea, not far from the beach of Magazia. Stamatis’ workshop is truly a fascinating place, where shelves are brimming with plates, bowls and jugs. In the back there is a large high-temperature kiln, in which the colour is fired and fixed. The walls of the workshop are lined with white ceramics, which Stamatis decorates, using natural paints in different colours, on the long workbench near the entrance. His outstanding monochromatic designs in blue are inspired by imaginary birds, fish and sailing ships. Other original designs feature chestnuts, leaves and pomegranates in bold colours. Ftoulis also creates personalised made-to-order dining sets for clients from all over the world. His creations are also exhibited and sold in the shop on the main street. Tel. +30.22220.92220

Atelier Dumetz Marseille, 24 rue Châteaubriand Jerôme Dumetz is a 31-year-old artisan designer with a diploma from the ENSA in Marseille. In 2013 he was awarded the Audi Talents Awards in Contemporary Art and Design for his ability to create furnishings and lamps characterised by great practicality, innovation and personality. In his atelier in the centre of Marseille, Dumetz has turned experimentation into his ethos: starting from the design, which he develops as he works, he creates furniture items using base materials such as solid oak wood and lacquered steel, which he then finishes with special details. Among his many designs is Les Ensembles, a collection of furniture that can be assembled from a series of wood panels and connectors: a modular concept that is developed around six models and colours, to be combined as one pleases. Dumetz presented his collection at the Palais de Tokio in Paris, in a workshop set up for the occasion where he invited designers and artists to create their own projects. His designs are tasteful, inexpensive and resistant. Among the furnishings that he has created in his workshop are the Stojil stool, the Bancok writing desk, the Oaké and Ariane tables, and the lamp kit. He considers himself a minimalist and, as he explains, he is focused on subtraction, in the attempt to create something significant with the minimum of materials. The restaurant inside the Regards Museum in Provence is furnished with his tables, and he created a very original mobile bookcase for the Théâtre Liberté in Toulon.

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ALBUM books


The Shoe Book

by Nancy MacDonnell (Editions Assouline) “Shoes are like friends: you can never have too may!”: Charlotte Olympia’s quote opens the volume, published by Assouline, that explores the history, materials and technology behind the most beautiful and innovative shoes of all times. The book is illustrated with 300 photographs and includes contributions by Manolo Blahnik, Bruno Frisoni, Christian Louboutin and Sarah Jessica Parker.

the School of fashion

by Simon Collins (Editions Assouline) For over a century, Parsons The New School for Design has represented the best in American fashion, training great creative talents. The book is written by Simon Collins, the dean of Parsons, himself a designer who collaborated with Zegna, Nike and many others. With testimonies from the best graduates of this legendary school, including Donna Karan and Alexander Wang.

Dries Van Noten Alistair Croll Alistair Croll is a talented young artisan who began his brilliant career in London in the 1990s, distinguishing himself as a master pastry chef at the Claridges Hotel. Chocolate turned into a real passion when he came into contact with maîtres chocolatiers Jerry Lagundas (at the Savoy Hotel) and Frederic Bau (head pastry chef at Harrods), two of the best graduates from the French Valrhona École du Grand Chocolat. So, in 2004, Croll decided to set up his own business: he invented and tested recipes that combine pure chocolate with liquors and fruit essences, creating extraordinary little macarons in a great variety of delicious flavours. His desserts are sold at London’s most refined markets - Kings Road, Chelsea, Regent Square - and at specialised fairs like the South Bank Chocolate Festival. His recipes have been developed in years of intensive research and experimentation while working at the best hotels, where Croll learned the complex art of tempering chocolate from great master pastry chefs. His Whiskey Truffles and delicate, bite-size macarons are absolutely remarkable creations. Since Croll has not made up his mind yet about opening a permanent shop, his sweet-toothed fans can order his delicacies by email or by calling him directly on his mobile... Tel. +44.07813255672

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Various authors (Editions Musée des Arts Décoratifs) The book accompanies readers in the discovery of the sources that have inspired the Belgian designer’s creativity: fashion, painting, cinema, photography, even music, from East and West. A personal collection, like a book of wonders in the Renaissance style. Koen de Waal captures with his photography an intimate journey into the world of the designer, including his home and garden, and his extraordinary collections, from 1986.

The Garden of Paradise

by Emanuela Nava, illustrations by Patrizia La Porta (Carthusia) This children’s book in the “Storietalentuose” series was published by Carthusia with the support of the Cologni Foundation for the Métiers d’Art and Open Care–Servizi per l’Arte. It tells the story of a magnificent 16th-century Persian carpet, recently restored and exhibited at the Poldi Pezzoli Museum in Milan. A charming fairy tale, featuring beautiful illustrations.

Trame Copper Crossing in contemporary art, design, technology and architecture

by Antonella Soldaini and Elena Tettamanti (Skira) The exhibition at the Triennale Design Museum, conceived by Elena Tettamanti and coproduced by Eight Art Project, is collected in this interesting catalogue. Featuring objects in copper created by great artists who have experimented with multiple techniques, from Fontana to Ponti.

Birds of Paradise

Various authors (Lannoo Publishers) For centuries, feathers played a unique role in the decorations for exclusive and glamorous creations. The book focuses on the Plumassiers de Paris, the specialised artisans who created these wonderful compositions. An evocative journey in the designs worn by stage and screen stars like Marlene Dietrich and the Flapper Girls of the 1920s.

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ALBUMfairs 1

Mayfair Antiques & Fine Art Fair London, The London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square 8-11 January 2015 The Mayfair Antiques & Fine Art Fair is the ultimate London showcase for crafts and applied arts. The fair features the finest furniture, sculpture, silver, oil paintings and watercolours, jewellery, ceramics, maps and prints, textiles, glass, clocks, oriental carpets, art pottery and much more. Heimtextil Frankfurt, Fair 14 -17 January 2015 The renowned international trade fair for home textiles proposes a new exhibition space entirely dedicated to carpets, located in Hall 4.0. And “Navigator Heimtextil,” a free app that visitors can download to find their way around the different sectors. Over 2,600 exhibitors will display home textiles produced by the most important textile manufacturers in the world. Every year, Heimtextil publishes the Trend Book featuring a preview of the latest trends.


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materials also in home decor. For a happier and convivial life. The biannual Paris trade fair presents new proposals by the best companies and by established and emerging designers. Hall 4, entitled Craft, hosts the area dedicated to artistic crafts. The exhibition presents many different solutions for interior design, art de la table and textiles.


Homi Milan, Fiera Milano 17-20 January 2015 10 dimensions of living and lifestyle recreated in 10 dedicated areas (named satellites), to showcase every moment in the life of the men and women of today. Proposals embrace the lifestyles of contemporary multicultural consumers and stretch from wellness to home and garden decor, to kitchen and dining room, bathroom, home textiles and jewels. Including a wide selection of handmade objects in ceramic, glass, porcelain, metal, wood, leather, fabric and natural stones. With a special focus on Italian excellence. 2

Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Geneva, Palaexpo 19-23 January 2015 One of Geneva’s most exclusive trade fairs celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. In the name of excellence, the haute horlogerie exhibition previews the latest creations by the most important brands. This highly anticipated appointment is the product of the research and collaboration between creators, master watchmakers and designers. Featuring A. Lange & Söhne, Audemars Piguet, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, Greubel Forsey, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Montblanc, Panerai, Parmigiani, Piaget, Ralph Lauren, Richard Mille, Roger Dubuis, Vacheron Constantin, Van Cleef & Arpels. Maison & Objet Paris, Nord Villepinte, 23-27 January 2015 The fil rouge of this edition is “Sharing”: the creative sharing that is an exchange of information and


BRAFA – Brussels Art Fair Brussels, Foire des Antiquaires de Belgique 24 January-1 February 2015 Brafa is one of the most important art and antiques fairs in Europe. Thanks to its eclectic nature, it encompasses a wide variety of specialities, spanning from antiquity to the 21st century. Including jewellery, coins, sculpture, porcelain, photography, furniture, carpets, as well as ancient and contemporary art.


other APPOINTMENTS AF-L’Artigiano in Fiera 29 November-8 December 2014 Milan Showcase. Ireland’s Creative Expo 18-21 January 2015, Dublin Fiera di Sant’Orso 30-31 January 2015 Aosta Expocasa 7-15 March 2015 Turin, Lingotto Fiere

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ALBUM awards initiatives

R.I.T.R.A.TTO Five departments of the University of Florence have recently joined in a “task force” - called R.I.T.R.A.TTO - to promote Italian savoir faire, elaborate strategies and provide support tools to the enterprises. The project is sustained by the Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze, the Osservatorio dei Mestieri d'Arte (Observatory for métiers d’art) and Fondazione TEMA (Technologies for cultural heritage and the crafts). Its purpose is to protect the culture of “Made in Italy”, of the products conceived and produced in our Country. To reinforce this identity on international markets they will support the development of new communication strategies, based on product experience and on the added value that results from the combination of territorial identity and entrepreneurial spirit. 1

Sumampa The Huarmis Sachamanta are a group of weavers of the Sumampa (“pure spring water”) Association. The “scrubland women” have received a prestigious award for the high quality of their production in Latin America and for the recovery of an ancient craft knowledge and culture. The IE Business School of Madrid presented the “IE Award on Sustainable Premium and Luxury Products” to Sumampa as best sustainable project in South America. Sumampa’s activities are aimed at preserving and developing traditional art and culture in Argentina, in particular the ancient quichua-santiagueño culture of Santiago

del Estero. With the proceeds from its sales, Sumampa has built water collection wells, nurseries and vegetable gardens, a medical clinic equipped with a radio and a telephone, textile and wood making workshops and higher education scholarships. Open Museums MUSEUM OF FASHION AND APPLIED ARTS The Museum of Fashion and Applied Arts in Gorizia is one of the most important of its kind. The Museum has recently reopened thanks to funds from the European project OpenMuseums. In the completely renovated and expanded exhibition areas, visitors take a trip back through time, into the lifestyles and atmospheres of the past. The clothes on display date from the late 18th century to the 1920s. The chosen theme of the exhibition is “shiny decorations”: metallic yarns, sequins, glass beadings, rhinestones, and silver and gold borders that make precious evening gowns sparkle. Some of the items on display are truly exceptional. Like the spectacular neoclassical dress in a rare silk tulle, finely embroidered with chenille and silver sequins and with silk crepe decorations, and two 1920s dresses from Vienna, once owned by Margaret Stonborough Wittgenstein (1882-1958), the sister of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein who was portrayed by Gustav Klimt. Also worth visiting are the reproductions of ancient workshops, presenting the traditional crafts of the past. 1


GLASS MUSEUM The Glass Museum in Murano is undergoing important renovation works that include the expansion into new spaces, beyond the pre-existing exhibition areas at Palazzo Giustinian and the Conterie. This will enable the Glass Museum to offer visits to the workshops as well as access to the library and the rotation of its permanent collection. With the aim of highlighting territorial identity. The layout of the exhibition areas is curated by Gabriella Belli, former director of the Mart in Rovereto and the Gam in Turin. The items are set out in chronological order and embrace artefacts from the Roman era to the Renaissance, from the development of shapes and colours throughout the centuries to the glorious era of 20th century designers and architects.


Prix Liliane Bettencourt Pour l’Intelligence de la main Applications are open for the 16th edition of the award promoted by the Fondation Bettencourt Schueller. The two sections, Talents d'exception and Dialogues, reward expertise and artisan skills among young talents. The competition is dedicated to professionals of the métiers d’art, and since its conception it has consecrated and effectively supported the exceptional talent of over 60 master craftsmen. Heritage Crafts Awards The British Heritage Crafts Association, under the aegis of the Prince of Wales, celebrates traditional crafts with a number of special initiatives, among which the “Maker of the Year” and the “Made in Britain” awards.

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ALBUM shows tivity in the crafts as an integral element of America’s cultural heritage. Thanks to her energetic personality, she initiated important institutions which still play a fundamental role in supporting craftsmanship: the American Craft Council, the School of American Craftsmen, and the World Craft Council. The exhibition highlights the achievements of the MAD, alongside interviews with the philanthropists who have supported it and examples of the craftsmen’s works of art.



Horst: Photographer of Style London, Victoria & Albert Museum Until 4 January 2015 Horst was one of the greatest fashion and portrait photographers of the 20th century. A London exhibition pays tribute to this eclectic artist through 250 photographs spanning from the 1930s to the 1990s. From haute couture, with Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli, to the silver screen, with Marlene Dietrich, Rita Hayworth, Bette Davis and Noël Coward; from art, with Salvador Dalí and Jean-Michel Frank, to designers and celebrities such as Herb Ritts, Robert Mapplethorpe, Bruce Weber and Madonna. More than 90 Vogue covers by Horst are also on display. The exhibition explores his many sources of inspiration, from ancient art to the modern ideals of Bauhaus and the 1930s Surrealism in Paris, up to the end of the 20th century. Horst’s remarkable Patterns From Nature are an investigation into the wonders of the natural world, prompting new designs for fabrics, carpets, wallpapers, glass and plastic What Would Mrs. Webb Do? A Founder’s Vision New York, Museum of Arts and Design Until 8 February 2015 MAD celebrates its founder, Aileen Osborn Webb, with an exhibition featuring a selection of objects spanning almost seven decades. With her futuristic vision, Webb advocated manual skills and crea-

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DONI D’AMORE Donne e rituali nel Rinascimento Rancate (Mendrisio), Pinacoteca cantonale Giovanni Züst Until 11 January 2015 The exhibition is dedicated to a selection of gifts that were presented to women between the 14th and 16th centuries on the occasion of a betrothal, a wedding or following the birth of an heir. Showcased in the three sections of the exhibition are boxes containing small ivory objects, precious belts, jewels, decorative items, wedding gifts, painted chests and 15th-century furniture where the dowry was stored. The common theme is the symbolic value that the society of the time attributed to the articles created to celebrate these occasions. Through them it is possible to understand women’s role from the late 14th and

early 15th centuries up to the Renaissance. One of the masterpieces on display is an ivory mirror case featuring scenes from the Attack on the Castle of Love, the painted golden chest from the Museo di Castelvecchio, in Verona, and the rock crystal marten’s head from the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection.

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Ugo La Pietra dal 1960 a oggi Milan, Triennale Design Museum 26 November 2014-15 February 2015 The Triennale presents the first major monographic exhibition dedicated to Ugo La Pietra, from 1960 to the present day. The spotlight of the exhibition focuses on the humanistic side of this eclectic designer, at once artist, architect, designer and researcher in the vast field of applied arts. The exhibition is part of a journey undertaken by Silvana


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27 Annicchiarico, director of the Triennale Design Museum, which claims the continuity of research aimed to re-evaluate non-conformists, heretics and underground designers, from Gino Sarfatti to Piero Fornasetti and Ugo La Pietra. Through a selection of over 1,000 works that, from the conceptual origins of La Pietra’s philosophy, “manifests” itself in the form of research and experimentation, objects and environments. Expanding from the individual towards the observation, repossession and configuration of space and reality. 4


Bellissima Rome, MAXXI 2 December 2014– 3 May 2015 Curated by Maria Luisa Frisa, Anna Mattirolo and Stefano Tonchi Over 20 years of fashion in an exhibition which evokes the atmospheres and styles of a very creative period in Italy’s history, which has contributed in an extraordinary way to defining Italy’s style across the world. Vintage gowns created by the masters of Italian haute couture are exhibited on mannequins designed by Vanessa Beecroft, who was inspired by the photographs of Pasquale De Antonis. From Simonetta and Fabiani to Irene Galitzine, from the Sorelle Fontana to Maria Antonelli and Balestra, Carosa, Capucci, Gattinoni, Schuberth, Ferdinandi, Eleonora Garnett, Mingolini-Guggenheim, Valentino, Biki, Gigliola Curiel, Mila Schön, Jole Veneziani, and Germana Marucelli. Iconic dresses, images and video footage recreate a cosmos of style populated by its unforgettable protagonists.


in the 20th century. The outstanding workmanship of the collection invites visitors to discover exquisite artisan skills and a universe that is not only made of many different manual techniques, but also of different shapes and colour concepts. The first exhibition halls present works from the Fontainbleau Chinese Museum, founded in 1863 by Empress Eugénie, alongside other exhibits collected during the Universal Exhibitions, which inspired collectors and the first enthusiasts of these art forms. Costumes de légende. 20 ans de création à l’Opéra de Lyon Lyon, Musée des Tissus et des Arts décoratifs. Until 4 January 2015 130 extraordinary stage costumes of the Opéra de Lyon were selected for this exhibition, held inside the suggestive halls of the Museum of Textiles and Decorative Arts. Lyon is the French capital of silk, culture and cuisine. The fanciest, most representative and most significant costumes from the best stage productions of the past 20 years have been brought together in a sump-

tuous setting that reveals the traits of each character and places them in their specific reference area. One hall is entirely dedicated to the training of the specialised craftsmen of the opera, like the costume makers. The show serves a double purpose: to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Museum and the 20th anniversary of Jean Nouvel’s restoration project, which brought the Opéra de Lyon to new life. other Appointments Del món al museu. Disseny de producte, patrimoni cultural Extraordinàries! Col-leccions d’arts decoratives i arts d’autor (segles III - XX) El cos vestit. Siluetes i moda (1550-2014) Disseny Hub, Barcelona From December 2014 With their heads held high. Headgear from all over the world Schmuckmuseum-Pforzheim 30 November 2014-22 February 2015 Pergamene fiorite. Pitture di fiori dalle collezioni medicee Museo degli Argenti, Florence Until 14 December 2014 Unraveling Identity: Our Textiles, Our Stories Textile Museum, Washington 21 March-24 August 2015


De la Chine aux arts décoratifs Paris, Musée des Arts Décoratifs Until 11 January 2015 For the first time an exhibition dedicated to the collection of Chinese objets d’art, jewels and furnishings that was partly acquired in the first decades after the Museum’s foundation and partly donated by private collectors, mainly in the second half of the 19th century and

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FAITHFUL TO THE ORIGINAL BEAUTY Andrea Pacciani created this jewellery box with a digital synthesiser and adorned it with graphite and gold. Opposite page, the original drawing from the Grollier De Servière collection, a mid 17th century Wunderkammer.

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Digital manual



by Mattia Schieppati


photos by Mauro Davoli

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TRADITION AND TECHNOLOGY Two jewellery boxes by Andrea Pacciani. For the shellac finish he prepares the surface with Armenian bole and an ivory burnisher.


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Digital manual



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Digital manual

Put yourself in the shoes of a 17th-century artisan. Not just any artisan, but a master belonging to the restricted circle of ornamental turners, who were extremely jealous of their know-how. Only very few craftsmen mastered this art, which was secretly passed down from father to son. And just as secret were the tools of the trade, the special lathes that were used to carry out extremely refined decorations on an exceptional material such as ivory. The amazing skills of these artisans (who were mainly German and Flemish) opened them the doors of the European courts. Turned sculptures were prized by Russian tsars and French kings, who welcomed the expertise and creativity of these masters not only to enrich the collections of their Wunderkammers, but also to learn a craft with which they too were eager to amuse themselves. In other words, it was a hobby for kings. A mysterious world that crossed the 17th and 18th centuries and then silently disappeared during the 19th century, leaving virtually no trace behind it. Save for the few rare items that occasionally turn up at auctions (with hammer prices in the range of 100,000 euro) and the beautiful and rich collection of turned ivory works in the “Museo degli Argenti” (the Medici Treasury) at Palazzo Pitti, in Florence. Andrea Pacciani is a 49-year-old architect from Parma who became passionate about these objects and decided to put himself in the shoes of a mysterious 17th century artisan. Pacciani expresses his multidisciplinary creativity and philosophy (“I recover and reproduce objects from the past in order to delight in their eternal beauty,” he says) in many different and surprising fields that range from masonry and restoration to handmade carpets and ornamental turning, his latest passion. Reinterpreted, however, using the most advanced technologies, including a laser synthesiser - the big brother of the 3D printer – that can create complex geometric figures by crystallising a special resin powder. “The reason why I resorted to technology is sim-



Ornamental turning in ivory was a craft mastered by a restricted circle of specialised craftsmen

ple: the very special lathes that were used to make these objects in the past have disappeared, and no one would be able to recreate them today. The tools of the trade were part of an artisan know-how that was transmitted orally, and is forever lost.” Pacciani’s passion, almost an obsession, for ornamental turning has accompanied him for years: “I always dreamt of approaching this universe. When I first started working on a traditional lathe, I was even more impressed by the perfection of the works produced 400 years ago, and I wondered how those craftsmen had managed to reach such outstanding levels.” Question after question, retracing the history of these objets d’art and the stories of their creators, Pacciani came to the conclusion that modern technology could “bridge the gap that, at one point in history, separated those who design from those who make. This division of roles led the artisan to lose his design skills and, in the same way, the designer to move away from production techniques. My objective is therefore to reunite these two skills, to make them co-exist in one person: the creative-craftsman.” When an artistic artisan meets technology, normally regarded as the antithesis of manual know-how, the potential is enormous and fascinating. Pacciani’s work is based on an erudite philological research, the recovery of original designs and projects (“literature and iconography on the subject are very rare” he says), and their digitalisation, so that they can be read and “translated” by the synthesiser. After the first technology-assisted phase, the manual skills of Pacciani the artisan take over: he finishes his works using timeless tools and techniques, such as the graver, gelatine, Armenian bole and graphite. Giving a soul to his objects and making them unique. His first mini collection of jewellery boxes was presented last summer. With prices ranging between 400 and 1,500 euro, Pacciani’s is not so much a business venture as a “great personal satisfaction.” The fulfilment of a small and refined dream.

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JOYFUL JEWELS Pacciani called his collection “Porta Gioia”, a wordplay which in Italian means “bringer of joy” and “jewel box”. They are approximately 33 cm high and the base measures 12.5 cm in diameter (



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Craftsmanship on stage


A night at

the opera in Beijing



* tradotto dall’originale inglese da Alberto Cavalli

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PHOENIX EYES In the Beijing Opera, actors are responsible for their makeup and costumes. The “phoenix eyes” for the female role, known as Dan, require a number of complicated and carefully executed steps (opposite page).

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SPECTACULAR DECORATIONS In addition to stage makeup, which is crucial to the creation a character, costumes and footwear are also entirely handmade and embroidered. Yun Jian, the Cape of Clouds, is one of the most elaborate costumes (opposite page).

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Every performance of the Beijing Opera is the expression of different forms of art: music, interpretation and dramatic talent, but also the hidden, almost secret skills of the artisans who create the sumptuous costumes that the actors wear on stage. And the actors themselves are not only the protagonists of the drama: very often they are also the craftsmen of their characters, creating their own makeup and hairstyle according to precise and traditional guidelines. Each performance is thus the sediment of centuries of experience; and all the characters moving on-stage express their status, feelings, emotions and identity not only through their actions, but also through the eloquent appearance of their handcrafted stage looks. Behind the red curtains of the historical Beijing Opera, in the Lao She Teahouse, everything is disciplined to maintain the enchantment of a flawless dream world. A dream that is conjured by the experienced hands of its artisans and artists.

Each of these beautiful dreams begins in the makeup, which has to minimise the traits of the actors’ faces, in order to characterise them according to their specific roles. Brushes in various sizes are necessary to outline eyebrows, draw graphical patterns and apply white facial paint. Solid makeup is divided into oil-soluble colours (red, gold, silver, yellow and black) and water-soluble ones (blue, green, white and purple). The celebrated, pretty red-and-white look on Sheng (male role) and Dan (female role) is called Yan Zhi Zhuang. The transformation into a Dan requires a number of complicated, carefully executed operations. The actress must first of all use eyelid stickers to create a Chinese-style eye shape called “Phoenix Eyes”: the eyeliner must be applied to draw fine signs at the inner eye corner, and thick and bold ones at the outer corner. False eyelashes blackened with thick mascara add extra charm to the Dan’s brilliant eyes. Red colour on the upper and lower eye zones, matched with a powder blush of the same tone on cheekbones and temples, and smoky eyelids contribute to form the beautiful, spectacular features of both Dan and Sheng. The Hua Lian makeup originally derives from the mask worn for the role of Jin, or warrior, a couple of centuries ago. The mask posed serious limits to the actor’s facial expression, so it was replaced by makeup. The pattern and colour combinations identify the different characters and the various roles of Jin: red represents integrity and loyalty; white means ruthlessness; black expresses strength and honesty; blue or green, courage. Gold is usually used on warriors from the Palace of Heaven. The square or round shape with the white nose emphasises the funny face and is characteristic of Chou, the male clown role. When fixing their own hairstyle, actors have to overlap with great precision a series of parts on their heads, to protect their own hair and to sustain all the elements necessary for the stage (Ruan Tou Mian); this tightening step may easily cause headache and discomfort, which can be overcome only after a long training. Dan’s hairstyling is righteous and complicated as her heart of heroine. Her forehead and temples must be framed by long hair bands, in

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Craftsmanship on stage

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Craftsmanship on stage

two large curves (the Double Willow Curve), or in five, sometimes seven bands. The perfect oval of the face is enhanced by the lateral hair bands, fluctuating in the air as the actress moves on the stage. The pins that embellish the hairstyle of a Dan, or Tou Mian, can be divided into three categories: silver pins are mainly used for roles of widows or poor ladies; diamante pins, made of crystals, are for young and pretty girls; the most luxurious Kingfisher pins are for aristocratic ladies. Antique Kingfisher pins were made of turquoise feathers from kingfisher birds; the modern versions are realised using bluish-green satin fabric or enamel. Each of these creations is made of 50 pins of various types and completed by flowers: red for happiness, white for sadness and sorrow. The headgears on a Dan may also include helmets of great effect, like the ones known as Butterfly and Seven-stars. Phoenix decorations, pearl fringes and silk tassels are the graceful notes on the Crown of the Five Phoenix, used for queens and princesses; a jade crown was specially designed by Mei Lan Fang, one of the last great maestros of the Beijing Opera, for the role of Concubine Yu in Farewell, my concubine!. Men’s shimmering helmets are as eye-catching and carefully crafted as the ladies’ ones. If the Xue Shi hat is one of the most famous (created in embroidered satin, or in plain satin with golden trimmings, with jade wings and two ribbons on the back) and is used for the role of the scholar, heroes wear the Hua Lao, always in satin but with decorations and patterns matching the character’s colours and costumes. Princes wear the Zi Jing, the imperial crown enriched with pearls and dragon-shaped medals. And finally, the costumes: each of them is lavishly decorated, entirely embroidered and extremely expensive. They can be divided into four categories: the so-called big coats, like the Mang robe (decorated with images of dragons or waves) worn by the royal family, concubines, ministers and scholars, often in the so-called upper five colours (imperial yellow, China red, green, white, black). Pei and Zhe are daily robes, less formal. The robes for warriors and wrestlers include the spectacular

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Kao, armour for the generals, and the more graceful Gai Liang Kao, always beautifully decorated. The third category comprises shoes, boots and all the undergarments. And finally, accessories: among them, one of the most poetic is the Yun Jian, the cape of clouds. Originally from the Han tribe in China, it is made of silk satin brocade and fully embroidered with happy and lucky images like bats (luck), deer (fortune), peaches, cranes, turtles (longevity), jades, peonies, clouds, butterflies, birds. The embroidery technique with which each cape is realised is very refined, and concurs to make the final product a masterpiece of Chinese needlework. Every night on the stage, colours, decorative elements, time-honoured techniques, manual talent and artistic vision blend in, to create a vision which, like the legendary phoenix, continually dies when the curtains fold, and is born again when the curtains are drawn, to reveal the quintessence of Chinese culture.


EMBELLISHED HAIRSTYLES Every character wears a specific costume, which also includes accessories. Pins (above) embellished with crystals (also made by hand) are typical of aristocratic roles. Diamante pins are normally worn by young and pretty girls.

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Masterworks of nature


The prince

GARDENER by Julie El Ghouzzi

Throughout the centuries, the French aristocratic family of the de Broglies has delivered some of the greatest servants of the State, who have distinguished themselves in the fields of politics, science, literature and the arts. Louis-Albert de Broglie, who was awarded the “Talent du Luxe et de la Création” prize in the Audace category in 2013, is the first member of the dynasty to have become famous for serving… mother nature. After a career in banking, in 1992 he purchased the castle of La Bourdaisière, a 14th-century jewel in the heart of Touraine, where he created

his first garden: a project which, in 1996, developed into the National Conservatory of Tomatoes. But the prince’s scientific curiosity is not limited to gardening and horticulture: in keeping with his ideal of scientific coherence, he also rescued the legacy of the renowned taxidermist Deyrolle, and launched a brand of garden furniture and accessories. The “Prince Gardener”, as he is now known, has accepted to reveal us the secrets of a trade that celebrates the treasures of nature. JULIE EL GHOUZZI: What is your definition of “art de vivre”?


What we call art de vivre is, first of all, a process in which we must continuously adjust our aspirations to the transience of time and to our environment: how we observe it, how we understand it and how we share it with the rest of creation. The search for harmony is a long, complex and, at the same time, intense process. Therefore, art de vivre has nothing to do with the material world. On the contrary, it is a deeply spiritual condition, possibly even cosmic; in any case, it is initiatory. J.G. How did you first find out about

NATIONAL CONSERVATORY OF TOMATOES Opposite page, Louis-Albert de Broglie. His first garden at the castle of La Bourdaisière was nominated in 1996 National Conservatory of Tomatoes. The varieties he grows are both rare and precious; excellent ingredients for refined dishes, and beautiful decorative elements (above).

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quality in everything we produced. My nickname, the “Prince Gardener,” tickled the curiosity of admirers and spectators and added some spice to the story. But the scope of this adventure is much more serious, because it involves both environmental and social issues. J.G. Why did you decide to acquire the ancient Maison Deyrolle and what projects do you have in store for it? L.D.B. In my eyes, Deyrolle was a temple of observation and curiosity. At the same time, it also represented a scientific and educational institution. Nonetheless, before I discovered his archives, I had not grasped the universal and transgenerational breadth of Deyrolle’s language and of his famous illustrated boards. His spirit and his method guided the activities that the Maison Deyrolle carried out in approximately 120 countries between 1850 and 1960, touching all aspects of natural sciences, from botany and zoology to physics, chemistry, social studies and the human body by means of the big illustrated boards that in France are familiarly known as “la leçon des choses”. J.G. What is the element that characterises all your activities?

L.D.B. Curiosity, the awakening of

consciences, the need to observe in order to comprehend, learn, dream, wonder, preserve and transmit. And, above all, to focus our attention on solutions. Thus, on concrete actions. All this without ever losing sight of evolution; or rather, the “Great Evolution,” which is the exceptional product of the beauty of nature, of all the wonderful specimens that we should regard as masterpieces. I often say that Deyrolle elevated natural sciences to the status of works of art. Should man not find gratification in what is naturally beautiful? Rather than keep pursuing the consumerist Grail, which is often synonymous with destruction and chaos? J.G. What is man’s role in the conservation of nature and biodiversity? L.D.B. Today, man’s role is fundamental. If we consider the issue of food and pesticides for example, it is clear how man himself could be the solution, if only he recognised the threats and admitted what is essential. The key to the survival of mankind and nature is in the intelligence of the hand and in the understanding of creation, to be accomplished through an educational project that moves from the plane of reality to that of the ideal.

NATURAL SCIENCES LIKE WORKS OF ART Above, the rich scientific archives of Maison Deyrolle, purchased by Louis-Albert de Broglie, have been a source of discovery and awe for over a century. Opposite page, a view of the facade of the castle of La Bourdaisière in the heart of the Touraine province.

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the castle of La Bourdaisière? Can we describe it as a kind of laboratory? L.D.B. This adventure started 23 years ago, with the transformation of the vegetable garden at La Bourdaisière. Mingling profit with pleasure, I created a collection of aromatic plants, typically used in cooking, in which the discovery of ancient varieties went hand-in-hand with my curiosity for species that were virtually extinct. A wide abyss separates 21st-century men from those who still live in nature, who experience the cycle of seasons and comprehend the virtues of plants, animals, ecosystems. I was able to measure this abyss when my project was confronted with terrifying real-life situations: like the companies that believe they can patent nature itself, for example, or the total ignorance when it comes to understanding the difference between certain fruits within the same supply chain, as in the case of tomatoes. That is when I began to imagine that I could turn La Bourdaisière into a laboratory dedicated to cultivating these diversities, to contemplating the beauty of creation, and to experimenting innovative environmental techniques. All the while maintaining a high aesthetic

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Masterworks of nature

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by Isabella Villafranca Soissons*


the garden

AFTER A LONG PERIOD OF RESTORATION, THE ANCIENT SPLENDOUR OF THE * D i re c t o r o f O p e n C a re ’s D e p a r t m e n t o f C o n s e r v a t i o n a n d R e s t o ra t i o n

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We a v i n g w o n d e r s



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We a v i n g w o n d e r s

T The “Tiger” Carpet of the Poldi Pezzoli Museum in Milan was almost certainly produced by an exclusive royal manufactory. Purchased in 1855 at a private auction by count Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli for the price of 80 Austrian Liras, the rug is a prime example of 16th-century Safavid Persian workmanship and one of the most important ancient carpets among all the collections of Italian museum. Its fantastic story, as we will see, has inspired both a poetic book and a wonderful exhibition. The carpet was hand-tied five centuries ago in the heart of Persia, where master weavers were already producing superior quality carpets in the early days of the Safavid dynasty (1501-1732). The carpet features the artistic representation of a garden: not just any garden, but the garden of Paradise. It is decorated with iconographic motifs and animal and vegetable species from faraway and imaginary worlds that, nonetheless, coexist in perfect harmony and artistic balance. Set against a ruby red background, tigers, lions, dragons, snakes and gazelles roam amidst red lilies, yellow roses and trees with a rich, luxuriant foliage. The centre is marked by a circular blue medallion featuring a pattern of decorative flowers and birds. A blue frame surrounds this idyllic world, almost as if to contain it, with an inscription woven in a silver brocade. It refers to the magic garden as a source of energy and life for “Darius of the Universe,” a symbol of kingship and power: probably the great Shah Tahmasp, who reigned in Persia between 1524 and 1576. The perimeter of the carpet, with a celadon green background, represents the boundary which separates the garden of Paradise from the terrestrial world. In this area, the decorations are more geometric, in the style of the “herati” pattern, with palmettes and curved leaves outlining a flower. Here too, abound terrestrial animals such as dogs, lions, roe deer, foxes, hares and tigers, all depicted with extreme attention to detail. The vibrant colours of the yarns were obtained from fifteen natural dyes, resulting in a

On these pages, the Persian carpet known as the “Tiger” Carpet was woven in central Persia around 1565. Owned by the Poldi Pezzoli Museum in Milan, it features a silk warp and weft, woollen knots and silver thread brocade, and measures 227 x 507 cm. It is one of the most important historical carpets to be held in an Italian museum.

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Eccellenze dal mondo

carpet of rare beauty and harmony. The warp and weft are in silk, and the extremely fine wool fleece has a density of approximately 9,000 knots per square decimetre. A detail that demonstrates the immense work that went into the creation of this rug, also in consideration of its size, which measures approximately 2.3 metres in width and over 5 in length. This treasure was left hanging on a wall for more than a century: the way it was exhibited and the inadequate mount have caused great damage and a conspicuous structural degeneration, also due to the repeated invasive and excessive restoration works that were carried out on the rug throughout the centuries. The carpet was therefore withdrawn and stored in the Museum’s deposits, from where it was unearthed in the spring of 2013, and after a painstaking restoration work it was finally possible to exhibit it again, to the delight of the public, researchers and enthusiasts alike. After an intense period of research and analysis, the restoration work was carried out by Open Care-Servizi per l’Arte, a specialised laboratory based in Milan, following a specific schedule that was defined with the Museum and the Superintendence. The conservative restoration began with the removal of the excess material that had been applied on the back of the rug in the course of previous interventions. The stabilisation of the carpet was achieved with the consolidation of the perimeter and central band on a linen support. Missing portions were reinforced with small grafts of tinted fabric, creating an “optical buffer” to sustain the overall effect without interrupting the decorative elements of the carpet. It was then decided, where possible, to remove the old incongruous restorations in order to reveal the original underlying portions of the carpet. This meticulous restoration work, which lasted one year, was carried out under the direction of Luisa Belleri and was made possible thanks to the support of the Bruschettini Foundation for Islamic and Asian Art and Open Care. It was an exemplary collaboration involving, to varying degrees, public institutions, foundations and private companies. In the spring of 2014, the carpet was presented to the public in the exclusive exhibition entitled The Garden of Paradise: the “Tiger” carpet and other 16th century Persian carpets at the Poldi Pezzoli Museum in Milan. The exhibition was curated by Michael Franses, associate researcher for important museums and an international authority on the subject of carpets, together with Annalisa Zanni, director of the Poldi Pezzoli Museum, and Federica Manoli, in charge of the textile collections. To celebrate the occasion, the Cologni Foundation for the Métiers d’Art and Open Care have created a small book, published by Carthusia, entitled “The Garden of Paradise”. The book is the third volume in the “Storietalentuose” series dedicated to young boys and girls, intended to familiarise them with the world of artistic crafts. A poetic story, inspired by the carpet, evocative illustrations and educational indepth analyses introduce young people to the millenary art of carpet weaving and to the techniques of expert Italian restorers who brought this precious work of art back to life.



The restoration of the “Tiger” Carpet (above) was commissioned by the Poldi Pezzoli Museum to the master craftsmen of the Milanese laboratory Open Care, with the support of the Bruschettini Foundation for Islamic and Asian Arts: a meticulous and complex project which lasted over a year has restored the carpet, at least in part, to its original splendour.

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LIMITED EDITION Above, a close-up of the Nave lamp in bamboo with a crystal diffuser. Opposite, Humberto and Fernando Campana reflected in the Pendant mirror.

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Cd oi mUf go ro t aLbal ePsihe at pr ea s




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by Ali Filippini


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Comfortable shapes


The name of the Campana brothers has become a trademark denoting an approach to design that is based on the creative upcycling of materials and the hybridisation of artisan and mass production. Their work spread across Italy when the Tuscan company Edra started to produce their first pieces, thanks to the mediation of Massimo Morozzi, who discovered their talent and whom the Campana brothers remember with great fondness (the designer and art director passed away last spring). Towards the end of the 1990s, the two brothers introduced in the Italian design world - still largely dominated by minimalism – their rather unusual works, obtained mainly from the assemblage of heterogeneous materials and characterised by a sense of humour and a “concept” that were, until that day, very uncommon. It was the invasion of “tropical design”, to quote a fitting definition that was created for them on their first exhibition at New York’s MoMa (in 1998, with Ingo Maurer). From their atelier in São Paulo, a city to which they are deeply tied and which, with its many contradictions, provides a fertile nesting ground for their creativity, they continue to collaborate with companies around the world, reaching across different sectors and always trying to contaminate savoir faire and modern technologies with their inclination for assemblage, upcycling and ready-made. ALI FILIPPINI. Your approach to design always begins from the materials, which, combined with technology, have inspired you from the start… CAMPANA BROTHERS. For us, materials continue to be important elements, which can determine the outcome of projects during the creative process. We like discovering new materials and we enjoy stretching the boundaries of research, trying to imagine what shape these materials could take on. The material itself suggests us “what it wants to become,” be it a chair or a lamp. We believe materials, shapes and functionality go hand-in-hand. From the start, we decided to work with common, cheap materials, also because we could not afford more expensive ones... Today we have chosen to con-

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THE MATERIAL ITSELF SUGGESTS WHAT OBJECT IT WILL BECOME tinue on this path because we believe that to reuse materials is an essential choice for our environment. This is why we are constantly searching for “poor”, disposable materials, to which we try to give some kind of dignity, whilst putting ourselves at the service of their nobleness. A.F. Speaking of reusing, how important is sustainability in your work? C.B. We see our work as something rare and needed. Our purpose is to humanise design, preserving the savoir faire of different artisan communities in the hope that this will have a positive impact on the production chain, so also towards the sustainability of materials and processes. A.F. Your studio looks more like a workshop, where objects are also created by hand… C.B. It does, and it reflects our approach to design. Which is quite apparent in the furniture collection we recently designed, entitled Detonado, where the underlying idea was inspired by the stringing patterns of tennis rackets. With this technique, we have tried to dematerialise the physical aspect, playing with the transparency of the nylon string. The weaving was handmade by a local artisan here in our studio in São Paulo. In addition to the brass structure and the nylon, we incorporated in our chair the iconic Vienna wicker seat taken from old Thonet chairs. The pieces in the Boca series were also entirely made here in our studio. In this collection we used the sewing technique. When you think of it, the act of sewing can appear brutal in its approach, almost surreal. This is why we used cowhide in an

INNOVATIVE ELEMENTS Above, the weaving of the Detonado Sofa was inspired by tennis rackets. Opposite, the Sushi Cabinet, made for the Carpenters gallery in London and Paris.

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Comfortable shapes

THE STITCHED COWHIDES CREATE EXASPERATED THREE-DIMENSIONAL PIECES expressive way, creating exasperated three-dimensional pieces in which the emphasised stitching adds structure to the form. The use of spotted and printed leather is carried over also in the Bastardo couch that we presented with Edra at this year’s Salone del Mobile. A.F. These objects, unlike the ones created in collaboration with Edra or Alessi, are limited edition pieces, some are even one-of-a-kind. Are we talking about art or design? C.B. We try to establish a dialogue between emotions and functionality. As designers we believe it is possible to integrate craftsmanship and mass production. In terms of creativity, we see very little difference between a designer and an artist, because they are both researchers and witnesses of their time. For this reason we cooperate with different galleries across the world, where we present our limited edition pieces. A.F. Can you give us an example? C.B. The Ocean collection for Carpenters (Editor’s note: a renowned gallery based in Paris and London and specialised in design-art), which evolves from the Sushi series, the first we created for them. Last year we introduced new designs, handmade objects that combine more or less the same materials, but that are centred on the theme of mirrors. We developed this padding technique in 2002, using small rolls - like the rice and fish rolls typical of Japanese cuisine - which are made from scrap materials such as rubber, felt and plastic. This time we used them as decorative elements to frame a series of wall and pendant mirrors. The idea of making mirrors dates back to the beginning of our cooperation (Editor’s note: Humberto, a law

graduate, started working on artisanal pieces in the late 1970s in his own workshop before his architect brother joined him; shell-framed mirrors were among their very first productions) and it’s a way of revisiting it today, years later, when we can benefit from the notoriety of our work. For the gallery exhibition we used these mirrors to create an installation where they could interact with the environment; especially the ones that were hanging on the walls and that absorbed the surrounding space in a play of reflections. We used different shades of blue, green and white to create an almost liquefied, oceanlike atmosphere, which explains the name of the collection. The mirror evokes water and the curved lines of the frame (which in turn recall the Sushi collection) enabled us to create different tones by juxtaposing the materials. A.F. In your career you have collaborated also with important manufacturers, such as Baccarat, for whom you created three special pieces... C.B. For Baccarat we developed special pieces that are the comparison of two cultures and two materials: on the one hand the brand’s heritage of crystal and the French Art de Vivre, on the other a natural material, such as bamboo, and the powerful expression of Brazilian nature. The crossover gives value to the output: we have subverted the genetic codes of the very materials we were using. Our work is handmade, which makes it very precious; we try to introduce a human element in the manufacturing process, which is in line with the spirit of our country and also a fundamental element of Brazilian design. A.F. Speaking of which: how can we interpret the “ethnic” roots of your work, your “Brazilianess”? C.B. Translating our Brazilian identity into design is one of our most important challenges. Many projects are revisitations of solutions which belong to the poorer communities of our country, original techniques which have their own kind of beauty. Since we live in São Paulo, we try to use our work to create a bridge between the primeval artisan universe (which is deeply humanised) and the contemporary industrialised world.

EXPRESSIVENESS Above, the Boca desk. Opposite, the crystal and bamboo Amuleto table lamp from Baccarat’s Fusion collection, inspired by the iconic candle holder Zénith (

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by Alberto Cavalli

PEEKING THROUGH THE KEYHOLE OF A SUBLIME WORLD Shiny half-pearls on a gold gridwork embellish a model from Les Fabuleux Ornements collection, which pays tribute to Ottoman architecture.

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Minute decorations


The four


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The art historian Henri Focillon once wrote that art begins with transformation and continues with metamorphosis. Actions that take place in the dimensions of both time and space: the time needed to mutate, change or transform, and the space that lies between the starting point, matter, and the end point, the masterpiece. Each masterpiece is therefore like a journey into another world: the world of the master craftsman who created it, drawing on his inspiration and personality, but also the world of matter and the endless possibilities it offers. For Vacheron Constantin, the elements of space, dream, time and travel are tightly bound together. Indeed, the oldest Manufacture of Swiss Haute Horlogerie, which will soon be celebrating its 260th anniversary, has always created extraordinary miniaturised masterpieces, capable not only of measuring time with extreme accuracy, but also of communicating emotions, of transporting the wearer to magnificent places, of arousing a desire for beauty which is perpetually confirmed by sight, hearing, and touch. The outstanding know-how of Vacheron Constantin’s master craftsmen was celebrated in the exhibition entitled Voyages & Ornements, organised by the Maison in its ancient headquarters, on the small island in the centre of Geneva. Forty models, selected from the over 1,200 pieces that constitute the Manufacture’s heritage, divided into four main themes: the Orient, Greece, Art Deco and designs inspired by early industrial architecture, in which functionality and grace went hand-

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in-hand. The Orient that stretches from mysterious and fascinating India - evoked by an 1831 pocket watch with champlevé enamel decorations - to Ottoman Turkey and its rich floral references, brought back to life in fine engravings and turquoise and amethyst settings. Greece and the myth of perfection, of Olympic beauty, inspire the selected pieces from the 1920s, featuring highly sophisticated enamels and etchings. The geometries of Art Deco, the purity of black and white exalted in baguette-cut gems, the essentiality of the decorations are well exemplified in the expressive power of a ladies’ watch from 1939. And, finally, the grandiose constructions of openwork dials: the ingenious creations of Vacheron Constantin’s master watchmakers, who managed to artfully combine transparencies, the sheer impact of the mechanisms and the perfection of their workmanship. Recreating, in the space of a watch, the great architectural structures that were transforming our cities, epitomised in the white gold and rock crystal watch of 1926. This journey through the fascinating and evocative power of watch decorations, whether or not of exotic influence, has always been the distinctive feature of Vacheron Constantin’s master craftsmen ever since the Maison’s foundation. Indeed, the Geneva Manufacture has always shunned any excess which may appear ostentatious. At the same time, it possesses the extraordinary ability of transferring onto a watch – which is small and often hidden, worn inside a pocket or under a cuff – an entire universe of col-

KNOW-HOW REVEALED Open-working reveals the beauty of hand-finished bridges, decorated anglé elements and the beating heart of every watch. Opposite page, the Grand Feu enamel dial is inspired by Indian manuscripts: ten vibrant colours, applied with meticulous skill to obtain a perfect result.

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Minute decorations


The vibrant colours of Indian manuscripts are rendered in the iridescent enamels that offset stylised flowers on a pale blue background

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Minute decorations


Ancient techniques conjure subtle inspirations in authentic and delicate sculptures

UNRIVALLED WORKMANSHIP Above, the Métiers d’Art collection “Les Fabuleux Ornements” is inspired by French lace, Indian manuscripts, Ottoman architecture and Chinese embroidery. Opposite page, the dial is decorated like a Chinese needlework, with artfully sculpted gold leaves and pistils, and rare and precious flowers.

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ours, precious stones, complications and inspirations. Each masterpiece made by Vacheron Constantin probes the endless possibilities of matter through the evocative power of enchantment and through the places and eras that man’s hand is called upon to reinterpret. The expertise of the Manufacture’s craftsmen, developed throughout the centuries to combine technical perfection and aesthetic beauty, has led to the creation of a new collection belonging to the Métiers d’Art series: Les Fabuleux Ornements. The new collection is the natural continuation of the rich tradition showcased in the Geneva exhibition. It combines evocative territorial and exotic inspirations with superior craftsmanship, involving the expertise and skill of all Vacheron Constantin’s master craftsmen: watchmakers, enamellers, engravers, gem-setters and guillocheurs. The collection is dedicated to women, who enjoy the refined elegance of a decoration coupled with the authentic perfection of a Haute Horlogerie timepiece. The ultra-slim calibre 1003 in 18 kt. gold, measuring a mere 1,64 mm in thickness, is openworked to reveal its inner beauty: hand-finished bridges, anglé elements decorated and finished by Vacheron Constantin’s master craftsmen, as well as all the superb aesthetic and functional solutions which perfectly embody Victor Hugo’s maxim, cultivated by the Maison: “No external grace is complete if it is not vivified by inner beauty.” The exterior beauty of the Fabuleux Ornements is inspired by four different themes: Chinese embroidery,

Ottoman architecture, Indian manuscripts and French lacework. On a dial decorated with an opal pink cloisonné, Chinese embroidery is rendered in precious sculpted flowers made in rubies, cuprites and garnets with gold leaves and pistils, reminiscent of the silk needlework of the Celestial Empire. Chamfered musharaby in pink gold adorns the dial of the model inspired by Ottoman architecture: shiny half-pearl beads constellate the gold gridwork of the dial, while the calibre is embellished with arabesques to highlight the sense of magic enchantment. The vibrant colours of Indian manuscripts are rendered in the bright iridescent enamels that offset stylised flowers on a pale blue background. The pink gold case is topped with a bezel entirely set in diamonds. To fire the ten different hues used in the decoration is an exacting operation, which likens the craftsman to an alchemist. The elegance of French lacework is recreated in the subtle white gold guipure on which sapphires and diamonds delicately shimmer. The base of the gold dial is decorated in a guilloché motif to accentuate the richness of the embroidery, and the dial itself is in “Grand Feu” enamel. The Métiers d’Art – Fabuleux Ornements timepieces (all bearing the Hallmark of Geneva) are authentic and ultralight sculptures that conjure distant lands and subtle inspirations. They are the contemporary representations of a philosophy that has accompanied Vacheron Constantin for almost 260 years: to push the boundaries of what is possible, achieving perfection and magnificence at all times.

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Living treasures

THE COLOURS AND TEXTURES OF ART This page, Bizen ware is characterised by a reddish brown colour. The colour varies with heat and depends on the iron content of the clay. Opposite, Jun Isezaki artworks are made of Japan’s powerful culture and traditions.

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Living treasures


EVERY PIECE IS BORN FROM THE ENCOUNTER OF MAN, FIRE AND CLAY In Japanese, the words Wabi Sabi define an aesthetic vision which is deeply rooted in the tradition of the Empire of the Rising Sun. According to Richard R. Powell, it nourishes the most authentic spirit of Japan by expressing, through objects, that “nothing lasts, nothing is finished, nothing is perfect.” Bizen pottery perfectly conveys this aesthetic vision through objects which may look simple and humble, but which are real treasures of research and know-how. Bizen pottery developed in the area of the town of Bizen, in Okayama prefecture, more than 1,000 years ago. It is the most ancient pottery making technique of Japan and the type of kiln in which it is made is one of the Six Ancient Kilns of Japan. It is also know as “Imbe Yaki”, from the name of the village, Imbe, where it was originally practised. The first Bizen kiln appeared in the 12th century, the late Heian Period. With the development of the tea ceremony, in the late 16th century, tea pottery started to grow more and more in demand: its production increased and became more sophisticated. The Bizen tea sets produced in this period are still considered masterpieces by connoisseurs and tea masters, both for their historical value and for their Wabi Sabi allure. The materials used to create Bizen ware have not changed over the centuries: its unique characteristics are due to the special clay that is particular to Bizen, and to the Yakishime firing process – literally, “to put fire into your clay”. The Bizen technique requires in fact to fire pottery at a high temperature (between 1,200 and 1,300 degrees) for over two weeks, applying neither glaze nor decorations. In such a unique context, over the centuries numerous masters have created real works of art, and in recent years five great Bizen craftsmen have been named Living National Treasures. The fifth, Jun Isezaki, was designated as a Preserver of Important

Intangible Cultural Properties in 2004. He has been acknowledged for opening new horizons for Bizen pottery, and he is one of the few Bizen craftsmen whose fame stretched to Europe and the US. His works have in fact been exhibited and collected by major museums in the world, such as by the British Museum in London, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Musée National de la Céramique in Sèvres. The second son of Yozan Isezaki, one of the greatest Bizen potters of the 20th century, Jun Isezaki became a Bizen potter for natural election, together with his elder brother Mitsuru. All three masters have been designated Okayama Prefecture intangible cultural properties, in recognition of their superior works and unselfish sharing of their knowledge. After graduating from Okayama University in 1959, where he studied arts, Isezaki and his brother Mitsuru dedicated themselves to pottery. They successfully restored the traditional kiln form called “Anagama”, which derives from the Middle Ages. The Anagama kilns are covered with soil, and dug into the slope of the hill like a tunnel. In the mountain behind his house, Isezaki now has three Anagama kilns, measuring 8, 10 and 15 meters. Each kiln is fired twice a year, and Isezaki creates approximately 500 works at a time. The process of filling the kiln, firing it, cooling it and taking out the works takes approximately one month. Isezaki emphasizes the importance of the process of filling the kiln: the path of the fire must be precisely calculated, and imagining how and where the ash will fall in the kiln allows to decide where and how to place the pottery inside it. Even an expert of Bizen pottery like him cannot predict how his works will turn out: each piece is born from the encounter of man, fire and clay. This last variable is of extreme importance: the colours of the clay may in fact vary with heat, giving each object a rustic,

THE INSPIRING WARMTH OF MATTER Top left, wooden combs and other tools of the trade. Right, working the clay requires strength and focus. Opposite page, the sculpture “Fusetsu” (Wind-driven Snow), is made from a mould of a split pine tree.

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Living treasures

WE ARE WORKING TO CREATE A TRADITION FOR THE FUTURE simple beauty and conferring an exquisite, natural good taste. The works of Isezaki bring out and express the strength of the Bizen clay, and the traditional Anagama kiln is the best instrument to express its natural beauty: the nature of the local climate, the surface of the earth, the land and history of the city. The creations of Isezaki, like his innovative ceramic walls and his artistic objects, are highly acclaimed, because they blend traditional techniques and modern taste. Jun Isezaki is certainly a person characterised by “ryobo”, a zen word used to describe someone who, surpassing the oppositions which exist in everything, attains a state of perfect selflessness from all thoughts, to be in peace. And observing his work, like the “Fusetsu” (Wind-driven Snow), made from a mould of a split pine tree, one really feels the dynamic of the earth, through an emotion of nostalgic warmth: it is a reflection of Jun Isezaki’s own nature, who keeps pursuing beauty through new forms of expression. To create a tradition for the future. AKEMI OKUMURA ROY. Mr. Isezaki, do you have specific themes to inspire you? JUN ISEZAKI. My main themes and sources of inspiration are nature and life. I take an image out of nature and embrace its strength. As we are living in close connection with nature and we receive its blessings, we have to live in harmony with it. It would be impudent to think we can control it. Pottery is made of clay, water and fire: we should always think that its essence derives from these three materials. I am progressing to create a new world, which did not exist in the past. So, when I work on an idea, it may change naturally while I create. I think with my hands, not my head: at times I cannot even do as I had thought. The time I spend on my work derives from these evolutions.

Sometimes it’s a matter of two days, sometimes half a month is necessary. But in my head, I work all year round. The time for the production, in the end, takes less than half of a year; the other half is spent preparing the production itself. Materials are very important: sometimes they determine the final output. Each new creation is rooted in materials and techniques, which our predecessors have been exploring for many years. A.O.R. It is said that the Japanese traditional arts and crafts should be handed down to the new generations. How do you transfer your know-how? J.I. We have inherited our know-how from our predecessors, and we are continuing to change it and to create new forms, too. Our technique is closely related to the material we use: Bizen is unique not only in Japan, but in the world. The soil has settled to the bottom of the rice fields and flows from the mountain. But if some day this material should not be available any longer, people will use a different clay: as time changes, materials may change too. Tradition is not only something to be inherited, it is also something we are called to create, though always relying on time-honoured techniques. New expressions and forms are born of changes and creativity, and this chain of innovations becomes tradition. We have to work for the present time, and create new works. Innovation becomes a tradition for the future generations only when it encompasses originality. A.O.R. The Bizen tradition has been handed down by three generations of Isezaki potters. Do you have any advice for your son, Koichiro, who is already making a name for himself? J.I. My suggestion is to grasp firmly the tradition, to polish always better the technique that has been inherited from his grandfather and myself, and to create something new, suitable for our times.

THE PEACEFUL CONTEMPLATION OF BEAUTY Top left, the rustic, simple beauty of the pottery comes from the skilful use of the Bizen kiln. Right, traditional tools in wood. Opposite page, Jun Isezaki in front of his monumental sculptures.

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Fired to perfection

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by Simona Cesana


A gallery, a magazine and now a workshop. Officine Saffi is a temple of ceramic arts, a cultural project dedicated to developing this ancient and noble craft in Milan


HANDS IN CLAY Above, porcelain pearl necklace made by Nina Sajet, displayed at the exhibition “Contemporary Art Jewels”. Opposite page, the OS Lab workshop organises ceramics and sculpture classes.


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Fired to perfection

We meet Laura Borghi, the creator, founder and driving spirit of Officine Saffi, in her gallery-workshop. Located in via Saffi, from which they took their name, the Officine have wide, bright windows overlooking the internal courtyard of an elegant early 20th century building in the centre of Milan. The vast structure, which has been completely renovated, preserves its vocation to craftsmanship: originally it was a typography, later a workshop. With the Officine Saffi project it was turned into a laboratory dedicated to researching and promoting ceramic arts, among the most ancient and noble forms of applied arts. It is a busy day at the gallery. The event in progress is dedicated to the renowned British ceramic artist Robert Cooper (whose workshop is to conclude the exhibition), and some pieces that were exhibited in Chicago’s Sofa art fair are coming in. Officine Saffi’s first participation to Sofa, in 2013, received outstanding recognition, including the “Best artwork in show” award for the paper-thin porcelain bowls by Swiss artist Arnold Annen. As Laura Borghi explains us, Officine Saffi is a broad cultural project, embodying three souls. The first is the ceramic arts gallery, which showcases contemporary design by emerging and established Italian and international artists. The second is OS Lab, the workshop inside the gallery: fitted with kilns, potter’s wheels and all the necessary equipment and tools, it hosts courses as well as workshops and seminars led by important ceramic artists. The third is an art magazine directed by Flaminio Gualdoni, which provides significant up-dates and food for thought on traditional and contemporary ceramic arts. The cultural project was launched


OS is a perfectly equipped atelier, where classes, seminars and workshops are held

IN THE BEGINNING WAS AN IDEA... Above and opposite, some of the exhibitions held in the evocative setting of Officine Saffi. Gallery and workshop are located at Via Saffi 7, Milano. Tel. +39.02.36685696

a few years ago, starting with the gallery and followed, shortly after, by the magazine. Then came the workshop, providing a reference point for Milan’s ceramic artists as well as offering a wide selection of working tools. Laura Borghi tells us about her great passion for ceramics, developed over the years thanks also to her personal ties with English gallery owner Anita Besson, who has been her reference point in the world of ceramic arts, as well as providing an enlightening example of the role that gallery owners have in the world of contemporary ceramics. Laura Borghi’s activities expand beyond her charming Milanese gallery-workshop: over the years, the quality of the work produced here and her inventiveness have allowed her to embark on important partnerships. Including the well-established co-operation with the Museo Internazionale della Ceramica of Faenza. Officine Saffi recently exhibited the works of the finalists at the 58th Premio Faenza and, from January of this year, have started the first artist-in-residence programme dedicated to the winners of the Award (Ljubica Jocic´ Kneževic´, Nero Neretti and Päivi Rintaniemi). Like all of Officine Saffi’s initiatives, the competition was aimed at encouraging the use of ceramics in contemporary arts, design and furnishings, as well as providing an opportunity to compare notes on the latest aesthetic and technological innovations. Officine Saffi is a thriving incubator of ideas, co-operations and projects: this is what the world of Italian contemporary ceramics needs, and we hope that Laura Borghi’s project will not only prosper, but also stimulate other initiatives, to sustain and promote applied arts as a whole (

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by Federica Cavriana

The colossal decorative mosaic works inside St. Peter’s Basilica were finally completed, in Papal Rome, 257 years ago. After more than two centuries, the Vatican Mosaic Studio had succeeded in reproducing and substituting all the paintings of the Basilica with 10,000 square metres of mosaics. Their beauty was now eternal and the mosaic artists were suddenly out of work. But those were the days of the Grand Tour, which boosted the demand for art works, and the “filato” technique had been perfected, which made it possible to reproduce in mosaics the same hues of paintings. In addition, the people of Rome had the innate gift of reinventing themselves: the artisans who were unemployed dedicated themselves to the creation of minute micromosaics. Also the objects on which the mosaics were set were minute: brooches and jewellery, snuff boxes, decorative objects and small pictures. Private citizens and aristocrats became the new clients of the mosaic artists, and profane were the subjects they illustrated. Mosaic tiles were no longer cut out in one-centimetre squares; instead, they

photos by Claudio Morelli

were spun from a glass paste that was made of molten silica and metal oxides. From this incandescent mix, one-millimetre micro tesserae in countless colours were obtained. This technique continued to be used for another century, but eventually it started to dwindle, until it became virtually extinct. Today, there are very few artisanal ateliers that keep this traditional art alive. Le Sibille is one of these rare workshops. Based in Rome, Le Sibille was founded over 20 years ago by three friends who are the only remaining artisans to apply the minute mosaic technique to jewels. Camilla Bronzini, who studied languages, is the export manager and oversees all the different production phases. Antonella Perugini, who holds a degree in psychology, flanks Camilla in the production and takes care of the accounting. Francesca Neri Serneri, who is passionate about art and fashion, is the trio’s creative mind and in charge of design and communication. Francesca was the first to be fascinated by this technique, and she sought training from a master craftsman at the Vatican Mosaic Studio. It was the beginning of

MOSAIC DESIGN, COLOUR AND SETTING Above, sketches of the jewels that are created with the time-honoured micromosaic technique, which the three Sibille have revisited in a contemporary key. Top, “Leaf” pendant: tsavorites, green tourmalines, diamonds and micromosaic set in 18kt gold. Opposite page, “Grace” pendant in 18kt gold with rubies, pink sapphires, diamonds, rubellites and micromosaic.

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an all-female adventure, whose success is based on the perfect balance of the three Sibille, the “Sibyls”. The name was chosen by Camilla: “I immediately thought it would bring us good luck. It represents us well since it is suggestive of history and femininity.” And when asked what the strengths of this hard-working trio are, they reply that female good taste, precision, patience and sensitivity have helped them very much in their work. Their idea is to revisit the micromosaic in a modern key and make it appealing to the elegant women of contemporary

Rome (and not only, considering that Le Sibille have just returned from a trade show in Hong Kong...). Le Sibille’s micromosaics are practically guaranteed for life, but Le Sibille are also experts in very delicate restoration works. They work traditionally, explains Antonella: “The glass paste is melted in a crucible, and in combining different colours we can obtain the desired nuances. Then the paste is pulled and stretched, creating a thin stick measuring one millimetre. The rod is broken into microscopic fragments, which will become the minute

mosaic tesserae.” Setting the tiles takes a minimum of half a day to a maximum of three days, depending on the complexity of the design. Approximately 100 micro-tiles are needed to fill just one square centimetre, and they cannot work on a piece for more than four hours a day because it is very tiring on the eyes. As Camilla explains: “You need to be a colour, design and mosaic virtuoso. It takes approximately three to eight years to master this technique.” Francesca, the creative mind, tells us about the shapes and designs: “I am inspired by Classical, Byzantine and Renaissance art... Art forms from the past enrich the present. They are the starting point for new contemporary jewels dedicated to women who know the value of one-ofa-kind pieces and artistic quality.” This is how these “Sibylline micromosaics” come to life. All the micromosaics are set on 18-karat gold. Some have already become iconic pieces for the workshop’s fans: like the Cubo ring illustrating a medieval village, or the Roma pendant, in the new “Postcard” series, which is like a mini postcard in gold, rubies, diamonds and micromosaic, depicting a view of the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Cupola and the steeple of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. Le Sibille’s accomplishment is to condense great beauty in just a few centimetres of minute colour fragments. Worlds in miniature, in wearable art.

TASTE, PRECISION, PATIENCE AND SENSIBILITY Above from left, a ring is decorated with the minute mosaic technique; the spinning of glass paste; micromosaic is set on the “Venezia” pendant. Top, the Sibille: Camilla, Antonella and Francesca. Opposite page, 18kt micromosaic jewels: clockwise, the “Deg” cross with coral; the “Cubo” ring with diamonds and rubies; the “Smart” ring with rubies; the “Roma” pendant with diamonds and rubies ( ).

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Family footsteps



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THE MODERN VERSION OF A RENAISSANCE WORKSHOP, WHERE TECHNIQUE AND WORKMANSHIP MEET Santoni is a family business which exemplifies the excellence of Italian savoir faire. To the story of this company is dedicated the refined and unique monograph in the series Mestieri d’Arte, published by Marsilio for the Cologni Foundation for the Métiers d’Art. A story of talent and entrepreneurial courage, which we enjoy to tell and hear because it fills us with pride and hope. Men’s footwear manufacturing is one of Italy’s leading industries, of which Santoni is the jewel in the crown. In his perceptive and faithful account, Andrea Guolo, a journalist of specialist expertise, illustrates the company’s creative and manufacturing history through first-hand interviews with its protagonists: Andrea Santoni, master craftsman and founder of the company, his wife Rosa, life-long partner and co-worker, and their son Giuseppe, who took over his precious charge and brought the Marche-based company to international distribution and prestige. The book also gives a voice and a face to the artisans who, under the family’s leadership, have made this extraordinary enterprise so great, thanks to the passion, skill and love they put into their work. They represent what Andrea and Giuseppe Santoni consider their fundamental “human capital”. Skill, expertise, passion and technique, as well as the

humanity of the protagonists, emerge in a story all the more fascinating for its truth. An emblematic example of dedication to work and passionate pursuit of beauty. For the first time, a successful Italian company, renowned for its iconic style and impeccable craftsmanship, puts its artisans under the spotlight: an important and generous tribute to the value of their work, to the wealth of knowledge, know-how and loyalty on which the acclaimed excellence of Santoni is solidly based. The volume opens a window on a trade which boasts rich historic traditions and sophisticated techniques and workmanship, described in a clear and captivating manner to connoisseurs and readers who appreciate the culture of craftsmanship. The many secrets of this ancient craft are also captured in the poetic and sensitive photography of Susanna Pozzoli, who tiptoed into the heart of the company to reveal this wealth of artisan expertise: an emotional discovery of a world of beauty and love for a craft that is always performed to the highest standards. “This magic tale unfolds in the exceptional shoe factory of Andrea and Giuseppe Santoni, both master craftsmen in their own right as well as entrepreneurs. The shoes produced in Corridonia (the heart of the footwear district of the Marche) are coveted and admired throughout the world. Over several decades, the Santoni family has

In the previous pages, double buckle Santoni shoes: each pair takes two weeks to manufacture traditionally. Top left, Andrea and Giuseppe Santoni. Father and son are, respectively, the founder and manager of the family business. Right, the wooden last on which a prototype is constructed. Once the shoe is tested and approved, a plastic last will be used in the industrial phase. Opposite page, all shoes are hand sewn. The only instruments allowed are a needle, thread and a stitching awl.

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“THE MAKING OF A PAIR OF OUR MEN’S SHOES INVOLVES BETWEEN 85 AND 90 STEPS” knowingly recreated a Renaissance cobbler’s workshop with a modern twist: here, new techniques are tried out and contemporary styles are created with the same expertise and passion that the world seems to have abandoned or even forgotten...” writes Franco Cologni in his introduction. The story and the images lead the reader into this reality, which is at the same time a business and a workshop and where, to this day, traditional tools and techniques are employed. A tradition which is continuously perfected and innovated thanks to research and experimentation in new aesthetic solutions and complex techniques requiring a high level of manual dexterity. According to the experience of Andrea Santoni, the construction of a man’s shoe involves between 85 to 90 steps. Starting from the preparation of the shoe last, which is done by hand, to the selection of the leather and up to the finishing known as the chromatic “patina”: a very particular polishing process which is one of the company’s trademarks and is carried out by hand by over 50 expert artisans, most of which come from art institutes. Since specialised schooling is virtually non-existent in the area, Santoni has long since developed in-house training programmes, according to very high quality standards, thereby protecting and passing down an extraordinary craft, which would otherwise be destined to disappear. There

are many skills involved in shoemaking and some require years of apprenticeship and practice to master. A specialised craftsman is needed for each passage, which is always made by hand: the design, the pattern, the shoe last, the selection and cutting of the leather, the upper, the assemblage, the hand-stitching, the Goodyear welt construction, the heel, the “patina” and, finally, the polishing… Founded in 1975, Santoni now employs some 500 workers and has grown to a yearly turnover of nearly 55 million euro (which is constantly increasing). Nonetheless, Santoni managed to save and preserve the precious and extraordinary characteristics of the most authentic “Made in Italy” hallmark: quality, a passion for details, workmanship, unparalleled savoir faire and the use of selected materials. A unique company in the close-knit circle of the top international luxury brands. For Giuseppe Santoni, shoes are and remain a “family affair”: “This is what our family represents. Our operators are not simply numbers but individuals whose different skills and characteristics contribute to making all our shoes unique, deeply attached to our region, and as authentic as the traditional craftsmanship which has been nurtured here since we began.” An exemplary story: a simple but important Italian miracle (

Top left, tools used for the hand-colouring of shoes. Right, the cover of the volume Creators of Beauty, published by Marsilio for the Cologni Foundation for the Métiers d’Art. Opposite page, steps in the production process: 1. The careful flamefinishing of the cutouts. 2. Tools of the trade. 3. Stitching an Oxford shoe. 4. The antique finishing called “velatura”. 5. Patterns drawn on the lasts. 6. Creating a last. 7. Attention to detail. 8. The leather warehouse. 9. Shoes are assembled manually using only pliers and nails.

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Heritage preserved

This page, the platters in the Richard Ginori Contessa collection feature a hand-made serigraphy with a gold or platinum trim. Opposite page, the hallmark is stamped on the back. (

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by Ste fano Follesa*


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renewed WITH THE ACQUISITION OF THE RICHARD GINORI MANUFACTORY, GUCCI SAVED THE HISTORY OF ITALIAN PORCELAIN In a cultural phase dominated by a progressive hybridising of the arts with other disciplines, we witness the surge of a critical reading of modernity which is aimed at identifying the negative and positive elements on which a new conception of progress could be based. A process that involves also the objects which have sparked the consumption boom, and which are held responsible for the fortunes and catastrophes of our modern way of life. Modernity has brought with it a new way of relating to objects. This is mostly due to the changes in the production processes and to the economic and social transformations that these changes have engendered: standardisation, serial production, delocalisation, economies of scale, the simplification that is necessary in industrial processes, the creation of needs that are functional to selling ever-growing quantities of products. These are the issues which material cultures and their communities have had to face at different times and in different ways, and which have progressively contributed to alter the relationship between man and objects. As a result, we have lost the faculty of attributing to objects the same values, symbolism and rituals that were customary in the past. The force

of these new “languages” distracts us from a long-term relationship with objects: we no longer feel the need for durable products, and on the contrary we continuously change the few we own. The objects that once filled our lives were durable and not programmed for “self-destruction” after one season; they were made to remain with us throughout our entire existence and to be passed on from one generation to the next, the ritual perpetuation of customs in a society that was constantly evolving. This was the case, for example, with ceramic objects, which had the dual role of “assets” and “family legacy”. Ceramic objects could be found in bourgeois and peasant homes alike: they were tributes to the art of making, to travel, to a passion (for collecting), to a status symbol (whether real or feigned) and to generational continuity. All this is disappearing, since nothing seems to be made to last in our global vision of progress. The value of things is equal to the contextual value of their function; they last until they are substituted, or until obsolescence proclaims their demise. Modernity has abandoned objects and shifted its attention to people. This notion of society is opposed by a new kind of modernity, which has rediscovered the true

* l e c t u re r a t t h e D I DA D e p a r t m e n t o f t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f F l o re n c e

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Heritage preserved

The development of a society is measured in terms of the conservation of its knowhow and the protection of its cultural diversity value of objects, their symbolic role in life’s rituals and their relationship to individual productive territories. A new conception of growth that unites companies, researchers, artists and designers in the search for innovation which will not nullify the past. This vision inevitably reclaims the value of “savoir faire,” which is a measure of the development of a society and a protection of its cultural diversities. In line with an approach that has heightened the prestige and style of one of the most distinguished Italian fashion brands (and, at the same time, has safeguarded and developed an important manufacturing sector), Gucci is taking up a new challenge which has cultural and business relevance. The goal is to restore one of the most prestigious porcelain manufactories in history and to accomplish an even more ambitious task: to rekindle our lost emotional bond with objects and to foster the appreciation of the tangible value that is the product of art coupled with savoir faire. The new beginning of Richard Ginori revives a 270-year heritage of excellence, knowhow, tradition and craftsmanship related to a precious and magical material: porcelain. The processing of the earth has given rise to many materials, of which porcelain is elegance and exquisiteness par excellence: the experimental material for painters and sculptor and the supreme manifestation of Oriental ceramic production. Coveted for centuries by

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European sovereigns and patrons, who endeavoured to find its original chemical formula (the history of porcelain began in China between the 7th and the 8th centuries AD, almost 1,000 years before the Europeans discovered its secret), porcelain became synonymous with refined culture, as it accompanied the rise and prestige of Europe’s most important courts. Unlike other material cultures, which followed a bottom-up development, with skills being passed from generation to generation, in Europe the culture of porcelain began and expanded among the aristocracy and merchant classes. Initially it had an elitist function, but gradually it became associated to social and family rituals that have crossed the centuries unaltered. In Tuscany, the Marquis Carlo Ginori was among the first in Europe to set up a rudimentary ceramic kiln in his villa at Doccia, Sesto Fiorentino, a small town near Florence. He started to produce hard-paste porcelain in 1735, and soon after founded the renowned Manufactory. In very little time, first under Carlo and later his son Lorenzo, Ginori became one of the most important porcelain factories in Europe. In 1896, Marquis Carlo Benedetto Ginori sold the Manufactory, which at that point had grown to industrial dimensions, to the Piedmontese entrepreneur Augusto Richard. The fusion of the Manifattura Ginori di Doccia with the Società Ceramica Richard gave rise to the Società Ceramica Richard-Ginori per Azioni. At the beginning of the 1900s, thanks to Gio Ponti’s successful artistic direction, the Società Ceramica Richard-Ginori per Azioni mingled with modernity, and creativity was almost entirely given over to design. Ponti was perhaps one of the few who was fully aware of the need to safeguard the expertise which had been accumulated in the course of time. His writings and projects clearly show his desire to introduce innovative elements in a “cultural manufacturing process.” For Ponti, modernity did not mean wiping out the past and starting over, but rather historic continuity. The same continuity which represents the primary value of the company’s new mission. Unsurprisingly, the first collections created under the new company structure, Art de la Table 2014, tapped into some of the best historic productions of the manufactory, in the name of continuity fuelled by innovation. Tuscany, Cartiglio, Paesaggio, Ciliegie, Contessa, Labirinto and Catene are some of the names of the collections, which represent the fusion of the contemporary with superior craftsmanship. The new Richard Ginori is following a path which recognises tradition as the driving force behind innovation and creativity, which gives value to our cultures and to the prestige of “savoire faire”. A wealth which also represent the founding values of Italian workmanship. The same union which enabled Gucci to acquire an undisputed leadership in the global luxury industry. The flagship store, situated in the historic Ginori palace in Florece, was recently renovated with the same spirit: back in 1802, the workshop in via de’ Rondinelli was the first glorious example of Made in Italy porcelains. Beautiful tablescapes adorned with porcelains from the new collections fill the exhibition rooms of the boutique and accompany the visitor in the discovery of renewed traditions which have been restored to their original splendour.

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This page, hand-decorated vases in the “Cartiglio” collection. Neoclassical in style, the design is inspired by ancient apothecary jars. Opposite page, tiny insects grace the “Hesperidae” china collection by Richard Ginori.

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Savoury crafts




by Alessandra Meldolesi photos by Bob Noto

THE UNIQUE TALENT OF A CUNNING SELF-TAUGHT CHEF Above, potato sphere with dill cream and salmon eggs. Opposite page, Nadia and Anatoly Komm. The chef chose the name Varvary for his restaurant (Russian for “barbarian”), ironically referring to the reputation of Russia’s cuisine in the rest of the world.

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Savoury crafts

Take the silhouette of Gualtiero Marchesi, cut out from the great book of global cuisine, tie a fur hat around his head, place him in post-Soviet Russia and spin your watch hands ahead to the third millennium, to contemporaneity. Anatoly Komm, the first Russian cook to reach the gourmet empyrean, looks a bit like this. A trailblazer whose geographic origins are evident, yet keeps in step with the world. Passionate and refined, local and global without indulging in the banality of the so-called “glocal.” His baritone voice rings out from the waves of grizzled hair that share his forehead with the calm rhythm of his thoughts. His challenge continues like a mission on the Russian gastronomic scene, forever dominated by xenophilic vogues, whether French or international, which have recently swerved towards the Mediterranean, thanks to the pilgrimage of many Italian chefs. Breaking the ice of the Russian gastronomic winter, updating and ennobling what until now had been mistreated because it was considered everyday and ordinary. Pumping the heat and energy of Russia’s gastronomic deposits like a Gazprom culinary drill. A third millennium Marchesi, we were saying, in consideration of the similarities between the two chefs’ restyling operations. Almost a novyy nouvelle cuisine, the de-ethnication of a heritage carried out with a toolbox entirely renewed in a high-tech key. Komm’s is a high-precision cuisine, perhaps because his biography is rooted in science, as attested by his degree in geophysics. Born in 1967 in Lubertsy, a district of Moscow, after a brief stint in the information technology sector and the dissolution of the USSR, Komm began importing haute couture brands into Russia. A very gratifying activity, which enabled him to travel the world and sit at some of the most trendy restaurants, day after day enriching an enviable suitcase of daydreams and notebooks. Often, after a new culinary discovery, he would ask the chef if he could stay for a training session. He began in Hong Kong, first at a restaurant in the fish market district and then at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental’s Amber Restaurant.


Then he made stops in Germany, Spain, the Caribbean and Italy. So much so that eventually his hobby took over, and the old habit of sticking his fingers in his grandmother’s recipes or emulating at home the dishes he tasted abroad turned into a life choice. After closing the door of the Koty offices and leaving his host guise behind him (“I was constantly in the kitchen”), his first enterprise was “Green”, a brasserie in Geneva that earned him the very first Russian star, which he soon had to give up due to visa problems. Bouncing on an elastic trampoline, in 2006 he performed an impeccable leap into haute cuisine. The Varvary, a million-dollar investment, occupies the top floors of a luxurious building in bulvar Strasnoy, just a stone’s throw away from the Kremlin. Even to non-Russians, the signboard reads “barbarian”. Because Komm’s provocation was clear since the beginning: to reclaim a die-hard identity from foreign gastronomic

THE RED SQUARE AND OTHER CULINARY LANDMARKS Above, Saint Basil’s Cathedral. Top, Russian delicacies in a concerto of dishes: beetroot gelatin with caramel sphere, codfish liver paté tart, cream of broccoli, gelatin spiral, herring mousse. Opposite page, scampi soup with squid essence.

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supremacies, dismantling inferiority complexes with a touch of irony. His ingredients and inspirations are rigorously indigenous; his wine cellar – like his kitchen tools – is remarkable, offering some of the most prestigious châteaux wines from across the world. Sumptuous halls, immaculate tablecloths, Pavlovo-Posad shawls and Vologda laces on the walls and a panoramic terrace complete the setting. Even though, at first, it was not rewarding. No prophet is accepted in his own country, in Moscow like in Nazareth: and, in fact, most of Varvary’s clients are foreigners. Even more so since it was listed among the 50 leading restaurants in the world. A nomination that must be attributed to the originality of the restaurant and also to the rigour with which it is managed. Anatoly Komm is almost entirely selftaught and, as is often the case, he has elevated his shortcomings to obsessions. Molecular cuisine? Yes and no, since every chef who practices these manip-

ulations can fit into this definition, he points out. In fact, Russia boasts an unrecognised tradition in this subject matter, which originated in space food research, in vitamin-boosting experiments on the food for Arctic explorers and kindergarten children; all the way to the custom of spinning out “smetana”, a very popular variant of sour cream, with a pinch of methylcellulose in Soviet cafeterias, or simulating caviar with a spherical surrogate. “Most of the techniques used at elBulli were developed in the USSR 40 years ago,” underlines Komm. The freeze-drying machine is in fact the same that is used to prepare astronaut food, even though the paternity of this alternative use unquestionably belongs to the great Catalan chef. The house icon remains the reinterpretation of the “borscht”, a popular Slavic soup, in which smetana is turned into a frozen sphere and beetroot into a warm soup, which is poured directly onto the plate in front of the guests. Served alongside two foie gras escalopes, in line with the traditional juxtaposition of poor and rich ingredients. Destructuration, in classic elBulli style, mixed with a perfect example of programmed cuisine, the evolution of which has been anticipated by experimentation to maximise taste, fragrance, and organoleptic modifications. Another of the restaurant’s classics is the herring maki roll, where nori seaweed is replaced by centrifuged, jellified and sprayed beetroot paper - an oriental echo in food design; molten Borodinsky rye bread served with a spoon, or sunflower oil capsules, whose elbullian inspiration is Russianised by the reference to the estrangement theorised by the Formalists. Some fifteen dishes make up the “Gastronomic Show” menu, which Komm updates every six months and is prepared by sixteen chefs for the 30-odd places of the restaurant. But a mighty fleet advances behind the flagship, including the bistronomic Kupol, the Anatoly Komm Restaurant & Bar at the Barvikha Hotel, just outside Moscow, the Varvary brasserie, situated near the main restaurant, and the “brasserie de luxe” Restaurant No. 1 in Yekaterinburg.

KOMM’S REVISITATIONS OF traditional DISHES HAS ROCKETED RUSSIAN CUISINE TO FAME AND GLORY Above, one of the Varvary’s dining rooms. The restaurant occupies the top two floors of a sumptuous building close to the Kremlin (8A, Strastnoy Boulevard, Moscow; tel. +7.495.2292.800). Top, the preparation of borscht.

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Historical thought


si s a M


ard n g i B


Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe: the enlightened manifesto that liberated the crafts from historical ideology The manifesto of the Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe turns 100. A century in which creative thought and manual skills have developed a deep identity. Nearly one century has passed since Giacomo Balla and Fortunato Depero published their manifesto on 11 March 1915 (even though, it must be said, they began working on it in the autumn of 1914). A manifesto that advocated a clear-cut approach to design and translated, in brief, the intention to merge the bustling profusion of practices, inventions, expressions and communication levels that had emerged in the wake of the movement founded by Marinetti, which had reached its peak at this point in time. Balla and Depero – later joined by Enrico Prampolini and a number of young artists, including Pannaggi, Fillia, Dottori, Tullio d’Albisola, Dal Monte, Diulgheroff and Thayaht, whose work would mark the intense season of the “Second Futurism” – were calling upon the involvement of multiple sensorial levels, to create the “total work of art”. They were aiming at expanding the “aesthetics to everything”, as emphasised by Paolo Fossati, which implies a close relationship between “aesthetics” and “craftsmanship”, and involves “materials that can recreate the fantastic reality of the world […].” Today, this relationship leads us to think of the Reconstruction manifesto as a significant element of the identity of contemporary art, which affects and differentiates it, interrupting the continuous line that in the history of art had run up to the avant-gardes.

the aesthetic horizon drawn by the Futurists opened to the vibrant and creative reality of the artisan heritage, with the purpose of “reconquering” it, in order to renew it from the roots, until then curbed in historic ideology. From fashion to interior design, from commercial art to publishing, from ceramics to industrial design and urban planning; roaming in the dimension of what is familiar without giving up on the “know-how” of the hand, on the dimension of being “faber”, which is the art of making. A cultural heritage that, still today, is integral to the way in which we approach design. The key word of the manifesto was “reconstruction”, which essentially confirmed the renewed “aesthetic education” evoked by Virgilio Marchi and entailed “a different spirit and different skills.”


Art becomes, for Balla and Depero “the Present, a new Object, a new reality created with the abstract elements of the universe. The hands of the traditional artist longed for the lost Object; our hands yearn for a new Object to create. Hence why the new object (plastic complex) appears miraculously in yours.” (Editor’s note: English translation by Caroline Tisdall ©1973 Thames and Hudson Ltd, London.) With “your hands” they refer both to the social universe, to which the creative gesture is addressed, and to the myriad hands of the artisans, of the interpreters of the creative genius which Adorno considers “a dialectical method,” thereby accepting Abbagnano’s interpretation of “what is not schematic, not repeated, but is free.” From that moment,

From this moment onwards, the “creative” gesture embraced an aesthetic universe which pushes the boundaries and expands the vitality of abstraction in the dynamism of a new urban reality, touching upon different levels of communication that were ready to assign a regenerated notion of time to the creative dimension. This perspective was exemplified by Italian artists and artisans in the works of art exhibited at the International Exposition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris, in 1925, where Balla and Depero presented their furnishings and Prampolini his up-dated stage designs. In this international setting, Tullio d’Albisola triggered the radical renewal of ceramic art, transforming everyday objects into elements of design that, in time, would conquer the field. Indeed, during the 1930s ceramic panels had deviated into sculptures, into environmental art, like the 40-square-metre mural designed by Tullio d’Albisola for Milan’s Triennale in 1936, or the frieze he created in 1937 for the International Exhibition in Paris. This line continued all the way to the rational shapes with which Diulgheroff experimented for the 20th-century home. The fashion industry followed suit, as exemplified in the new essential design of the “modern dress” created by Ernesto Thayaht in 1926 - half a decade after the famous overalls, Tuta per uomo, which he designed in 1919 - but also in the embroideries, ties and fabrics created by Balla, which would tune the body into the rhythm of “modernity”.

* Director of the School of Specialisation in Historical and Artistic heritage at the University of Siena.

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This page and opposite: Oak Simple Table, one of the first and most popular creations by James Mudge. His studio is at 39 Hope Street Gardens, Cape Town (

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The making of



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This page: Pick-Up Sticks. Opposite, James Mudge in his workshop in South Africa. In the foreground, Chest of Drawers, in birch wood.

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Sustainable wood

Cape Town was the first South African city to be designated World Design Capital, in 2014. Because art and design are driving the revival of entire districts of Cape Town, the Mother City: the symbol of a new South Africa and of the truest spirit of Mandela’s legacy. The four cardinal themes of this year’s World Design Capital are: “African Innovation. Global Conversation”; “Bridging the Divide”; “Today for Tomorrow” and “Beautiful Spaces. Beautiful Things”. Design is therefore at the service of the city, a means to improve the lives of the 3.6 million people who inhabit the most dynamic capital of Africa. Thanks to this event, many ateliers in Cape Town have captured international attention. On one, in particular, have a number of critics and journalists focused the spotlight: the workshop/studio of James Mudge at 39 Hope Street Gardens. Here, a young and creative architect designs and manufactures high quality furnishings with the help of a small team of qualified craftsmen. The production is in limited series and entirely made according to traditional woodworking techniques. By incorporating mortise, tenon and dovetail joints to contemporary design pieces, Mudge and his team guarantee solidity and durability to their production. An important choice, therefore, which will allow his creations to stand the test of time. But Mudge’s is not just an aesthetic solution, it is also an ethical choice, in contrast with the culture of consumerism and waste. A particularly pressing issue in the African continent, where development continues to be discontinuous. James Mudge began his career at a very young age, working at the family-owned Knysna Forest furniture factory. After achieving a degree in Architecture at the University of Cape Town, he spent two very intense years designing and decorating the Ralph Lauren stores in London, where Mudge had moved to, and Paris. This experience introduced him to the world of interior design: being a gifted designer as well as a craftsman, he also projected and oversaw the interior decoration of four private homes, one in South Africa and three in France. His experience

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as an architect brought him to shift his interest towards furniture design. As Mudge explained in an interview to the South African DesignTimes: “Architectural and furniture design have a lot in common. Both of them draw on the art of living and the relationship between people and objects; it is not uncommon for the two disciplines to go hand-in-hand. What I enjoy about the process of furniture design is the level of autonomy that I have with my designs. My decision to move from architecture to furniture was less of a conscious decision and more of a natural progression towards something that I love.” A love that has come


Times: “The design is simple, as the name suggests, but it has remained in our permanent collection and it is still a popular choice for a desk or table today. I have kept the first one I ever made and would never sell it, because it represents what I have set out to do and how far I’ve progressed thus far. As I’ve watched my business grow I’ve had the immense satisfaction of producing more complex designs. Developing my skill set and that of my team is extremely rewarding, but that does not detract from the initial satisfaction of making a start with something that you want to do. It’s a leap of faith that I have never regretted making.”

I think that people will always enjoy natural products. Wooden furniture that is well made can last a lifetime to the surface through experience, but that was probably already in his DNA, fostered in the family business where Mudge learned and mastered traditional workmanship techniques and honed his knowledge of wood types. For his creations, which are very contemporary in style, he prefers American White Oak, French Oak and African Iroko: sustainable, high quality woods with an appealing grain and colour. James Mudge firmly believes in the current trend of creating products that are reusable, sustainable and durable. Wooden furniture that is well made lasts a lifetime, more than any veneered item, and can be passed down from one generation to the next. “I think that people will always enjoy natural products and our handmade creations. I also think it makes a pleasant change from the disposable products flooding the market,” he declared to Designtimes. Mudge designs essential and solid furniture, and what stands out immediately is his supreme workmanship and attention to detail. Mudge is a creative artist, skilled craftsman and entrepreneur who loves the simplicity of everyday life, with an inherent elegance which he combines with functionality. His most loved creation is in fact called Oak Simple Table. As Mudge explained, always to Design-

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Vocation and ideals: this is what Marc Russell’s outof-the-ordinary life is constructed on. Russell builds and restores canoes and kayaks in Toronto, Ontario. He named his business Gull Lake Boat Works, after the lake where Kilcoo Camp rises, a summer camp that has influenced his life and triggered off his profession as a builder. GIOVANNA MARCHELLO. What part did Kilcoo Camp play in your outlook on life and work? MARC RUSSELL. Kilcoo Camp has been a very meaningful place for me and for thousands of people who have been there in the more than 80 years since its foundation. I spent my first summer at Kilcoo when I was 11. I found things there that were very much lacking in my own existence. It was the best place in the world for me: it was great fun, and the natural environment was fantastic. There is definitely something more profound and spiritual about being out in nature. Kilcoo Camp’s strength is in providing growth experiences through a variety of activities and pro-


grammes. It is a place where young people can explore their interests and be challenged in a safe and constructive manner. A lot of guys stick around Kilcoo through university and adulthood, passing their summers working at the camp, mentoring the new generations. We love the place and it is not at all strange to stay that long. I was selected as Staff in 1997, and I decided to frame my life around it. So during and after completing my MA in English, I continued to work at Kilcoo. I wanted something else, and to get to it I had to make some sacrifices, abdicating certain aspects of the world and of common thought. It is probably easier to live a “normal” life, with an average job and a suburban home. But this choice was more honest towards who I am and what I want. G.M. How did you start making canoes? M.R. David Latimer, Kilcoo’s Director for 25 years, was concerned that our fleet of vintage canoes was running down. Originally the camp had about 80 boats, but the 20 remaining were literally held to-

Opposite page, a view of Gull Lake from the stern of a Kilcoo 15’7” canoe. “A market for beautiful hand-made products will always exist, as long as someone is willing to take up the craft,” explains Marc Russell.

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One man mission

gether with tape and varnish. The first idea was to restore them but, unfortunately, this option would have been uneconomical. So we decided to rebuild the fleet from scratch with master builder Ron Frennette, the retired founder of Canadian Canoes. David and Ron involved me because I have a natural talent for building, an eye for detail and a vast set of skills. And certainly for my loyalty and dedication to Kilcoo Camp. Kilcoo funded the entire project and an eightmonth training course for me with Ron. As soon as I started working with Ron I just picked it up very quickly and after a few months I didn’t look back. I created Gull Lake Boat Works, where I am responsible for administering the reconstruction of Kilcoo’s fleet and also act independently on other building and restoration works. G.M. What is the story of Kilcoo Camp’s fleet? M.R. Besides a few Chestnuts and Peterboroughs, until the 1980s our fleet was made of “Mintos”, a fairly unique model that was built exclusively by the Minto family, who ran the local marina in the nearby town of Minden. Both Minto daughters were builders and after May Minto died, no more Mintos were ever produced. What is unique about the Minto is its relative scarcity being made locally and not in a factory. Design-wise, it lies somewhere between a 15’ Ranger and a 16’ Prospector, beguilingly less deep than both. It has a good straight-line and turning response, and easy to solo and carry, making it an excellent all-around boat that works well in most environments and conditions. It’s a canoe with a great pedigree and attractive looks. G.M. How did you go about creating the new model, the Kilcoo 15’7”? M.R. Basically we brought the Minto back to life and back on the water. Scott Walker, a former Kilcoo sailing instructor in the early 1980s and progenitor of the “Kilcoo Canoe Project”, made contact with the now reclusive Minto family and did some incredible detective work to find the mould, but to no avail. So we used a near-perfect Minto that belonged to another alumnus and took it to the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough, where they have a triple-axis scanning machine. With that data, marine architect Steve Killing redesigned the boat. This is a multi-faceted achievement, which goes beyond me and my little company or Kilcoo Camp. We are preserving a culture and this is very important. Ron is 70 years old and his colleagues are in their fifties and sixties. I think I am the youngest person doing this in Ontario, at a professional level. We are talking about maybe 10 people. It is a dying art, and it is dying mainly for economic reasons. G.M. How important is tradition?

M.R. Very important, and I think we have to preserve what tradition and culture we have in North America. Contrary to Europe, in Canada it is probably based more around our ties to the natural environment. It can be very problematic to work traditionally, because the economics are not great. It takes me 3 or 4 months to make a custom canoe, and I cannot really charge what would be fair. It can be difficult for consumers to understand the amount of work and skills involved. That it is often painstaking and difficult, and that you have to put your soul in it. G.M. Is working on your own a limit or an opportunity? M.R. It is very hard, because I am almost like a single mum with a job and three kids! I have to take care of the website, banking, building, cutting, cleaning... I really like working by myself, and there is a certain level of control, of course, that I would have to relinquish in order to work with someone else. But I do love working alongside other people. If you know what to do and how to do it right, working together is like a ballet. And it allows you to increase your productivity. The problem is the lack of people who have all the skills to actually be useful to my enterprise, because I cannot afford to train someone. G.M. What do you think, or hope, will be the future of craftsmanship? M.R. For myself I hope that I can sustain the business and keep building good boats, creating small innovations and developing my abilities. You have to keep it traditional, but there is nothing wrong in growing, in making things faster and better. If not we would still be using dugout or birch bark canoes. Today I use composites and modern equipment. The point is that the spirit of craftsmanship is in it. The Internet is a great opportunity to get your product out there. That spreads the craftsmanship around. But, again, it all comes down to whether people are willing to spend their money on a custom-made boat rather than on another common luxury, which they can use every day. A market for beautiful hand-made products will always exist, as long as someone is also willing to take up the craft. G.M. So perhaps you won’t be making canoes all your life? M.R. Life is long and you have to be ready for change. I think we have to be multifaceted and adaptable, especially if we want to exist on our own terms. As far as I’m concerned, I am living in a very precarious spot and I am taking this opportunity as far as I can go with it. To build an enriching and positive life experience and leave behind a testament of my own existence (

Above, Marc Russell. Opposite page, below, Kilcoo Camp’s fleet, rebuilt by Marc Russel. Above, Tropical Mahogany outer gunwales clamped and ready for attachment to the canoe hull.

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In these pages, works from the collection of the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain de Saint-Étienne Métropole ( Above, Joe Colombo, “Roll” Armchair, 1962 (chromed steel and brown leather). In the background, the W & LT6 chambershelf by Australian designer Marc Newson, 1996-97.

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Blending talents


by Vincent Lemarchands

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IDEAS The institution of the museum of Saint-Étienne was not accomplished by the State, as was the case in other important cities in France between the 18th and 19th centuries. On the contrary, it was the result of generous donations from many different collectors. Up until 1890, and with the sole exception of the Oudinot arms collection, the museum possessed only a cluster of minor donations and contributions. In that year, Marius Vachon, a curator who was almost certainly inspired by William Morris and Hermann Muthesius, proposed the creation of a new Musée d’Art et d’Industrie. It would lie somewhere in between a museum and a school: an innovative cultural centre for the arts and the industry, a place where factory workers and the economic and industrial protagonists of the city would find artistic resources and references. A place where everyone could learn about the arts and aesthetics. Marius Vachon launched this new paradigm, but the resistance and reticence he had to face made him abandon his post the following year, certainly prematurely. In fact, it was necessary to wait another 60 years before Maurice Allemand, visionary curator and promoter, arrived to stir the old institution. It was 1947, and the museum had by then moved to the Palais des Arts. Allemand was a talented manager, and he successfully multiplied the museum’s acquisitions, obtained deposits from the State, collected legacies and donations, enriched the art collections and bridged many of the museum’s gaps. Picking up from where Vachon had left, he extended the existing collections of arms and ribbons to embrace the third local industrial tradition: bicycles. Undoubtedly, what enabled Maurice Allemand to project the museum’s collection on the European scene was modern art and, in particular, his openness towards post-war America, which was the reference point of the Avant-gardists. In 1967, after 20 years of outstanding exhibitions, Allemand left the museum and its collection in the hands of a new curator, 27-year-old Bernard Ceysson. Following in the footsteps of his predecessor, for thirty years this

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100 young and tireless manager successfully multiplied the museum’s acquisitions of important works or art. When Jack Lang was appointed Minister of Culture, in 1981, contemporary art in France had two major showcases, outside of Paris: Grenoble and, above all, Saint-Étienne. Obtaining important donations and great support from several patrons, Ceysson was able to incorporate all the artistic fields of the time into the museum’s collection: pop art, arte povera, conceptual art, new realism, minimal art, supports/surfaces, Fluxus, neo-expressionism and many more. By 1987, the museum had been transferred to its present seat, the Musée d’Art Moderne, which was conceived to host a collection that had become too big for the old Musée d’Art et d’Industrie. In addition to this change of location, Bernard Ceysson and Jacques Beauffet, who were at the helm of the museum, decided to add two new categories to the so-called industrial arts collection: photography and design. As early as 1986, the great and exciting exhibition

“Formes du bois” (Bernard Ceysson, Jacques Beauffet), in the Caravelles 1 space, explored one and a half centuries of evolution. In 1991, a second exhibition in the Caravelles 2 space, entitled “Vivre Plastique” (Bernard Ceysson, Jacques Beauffet and Claire Fayolle), reconfirmed the validity of a display concept that focused on one material only, in this case plastic. The design collection underwent an unexpected development when the city of Saint-Étienne, following the impetus of the nearby École des Beaux Arts, started working on the first edition of the International Biennial of Design. It was presented in 1995 with the simple title “Design… naissance d’une collection” (Bernard Ceysson, Jacques Beauffet), and it was completed in 1996 with “Design, 100 nouvelles acquisitions”. In 1998, for the first Biennial, the museum inaugurated the exhibition “Prisunic 1968-1976” (Françoise Bernicot and Jacques Beauffet). In 2000, two exhibitions marked the second Biennial: the retrospective “Totem

When mixed, their visual impact is powerful. The aim of this clever merging of art and design was not limited to highlighting the correspondence of dates and materials by merely drawing a line between art and industry...

1980-2000” ( Jacques Beauffet) and “Un siècle de design” ( Jacques Beauffet), which presented important works from the museum’s collection. Once again, donations by collectors and companies (Braun, Prisunic, Apple, Bulthaup...) enriched the Museum’s collection with important pieces. During the first 15 years of activity, Bernard Ceysson and Jacques Beauffet combined paintings to the objects from the growing design collection, organising a number of small mixed exhibitions of powerful impact. Certainly the aim of this clever merging of art and design was not limited to highlighting the correspondence of dates or materials by merely drawing a line between art and industry. In fact, the spirit of the curators and the positive reaction of the public revealed a deeper meaning. The perfection of industrial production was not simply juxtaposed to art; on the contrary, their exhibition revealed the correlations between them. And, indeed, in this relationship they actually offset and gave value to one another: the same criteria with which the beauty and precision of a work of art is judged can be applied also to an utilitarian object. At the Rijksmuse-

Above, Shiro Kuramata, “How high the Moon” armchair, 1986 (nickel-plated metal with epoxy resin). Opposite: 1. Raymond Loewy, Gaufrier Type 5355, 1947; 2. Frédérick du Chayla, Fasi couch, 1993; 3. Mario Bellini: GA 45 Pop & Phonoboy record player, 1968 (ABS and aluminium); 4. Serge Mouille, Lamp, circa 1950 (black lacquered metal); 5. Mathilde Bretillot, Console, 1998 (mahogany and Honduras rosewood); 6. Anonymous, Marcel Cerdan sunglasses, circa 1940 (cellulose acetate).

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Even the Centre Pompidou presents mixed-theme exhibitions, in which – quoting Roland Barthes – the Citroën DS becomes a 20th century cathedral. Innovation passes through new channels

um in Amsterdam, the artworks by the great masters of Flemish painting are harmoniously displayed alongside woodworking treasures, wonderful scientific instruments and everyday objects of the same periods. Even the Centre Pompidou presents mixed-theme exhibitions, in which – quoting Roland Barthes - the Citroën DS becomes a 20th century cathedral. An important catalogue dedicated to the collection of the Musée d’Art Moderne de Saint-Étienne Métropole was published in October 2008 with the support of the Cité du Design. The design collection retraces the evolution of the industrial era from Thonet furniture onwards. A period that covers the many changes that have characterised industrial progress and the mutations in the approach to production. This is not at all surprising for a city which has taken full advantage of the technological advancements that marked the 19th and 20th centuries, and which, during the same period, developed a bent for innovation and creativity. But the city was plagued by the decline of the mining (1940-1960) and steel industries (1970-1990), and by the delocalisation of both the bicycle and arms

industries (1980-2000). Saint-Étienne turned to design to soothe the wounds imparted by these crises, which have on their side determined the identity of design itself. Industrial innovation develops through new media, such as digital design. Nonetheless, it will have to face a deep cultural analysis of the productivity crisis and of its consequences. Saint-Étienne’s design collection is one of the most important in France, together with those of the Parisian Museum of Modern Art, at the Centre Pompidou, and the Museum of Decorative Arts. The latest exhibition, “Histoire des formes de demain” ( Jeanne Brun) was presented in July 2013. It traced the ideologies and utopian design that marked each of the collection’s 22 stages. The great success of this exhibition was undoubtedly due to the richness and variety of its pedagogical approach. In future we expect to admire more examples of the virtuous cooperation between the Musée d’Art Moderne and the Cité du Design (namely, between collecting and creating design): the absolute complementarity of the two institutions, so many times invoked in the past, will be ratified at last.

Top, Jules-Émile Leleu, Bed, armchair, writing desk and bedside table, 1934 (painted steel tube, solid beech and oak wood). Furnishings created for the Alpine sanatoriums of Guébriant and Martel de Janville in Upper Savoy. The bed, measuring 92 x 133 x 202 cm, can be dismantled and the headboard includes two revolving drawers on one large hinge. The visitor’s chair (left) measures 88 x 60 x 85 and features “sommier” springs, the same ones used in beds.

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Preparing for excellence


me ocu



eau* r e t u e Sa g i w d He

SAFEGUARDING THE INTELLIGENCE OF THE HAND The Bettencourt Schueller Foundation supports France’s métiers d’art and is committed to fostering their development. To give wings to talent and rediscover a national heritage which has a great potential

André and Liliane Bettencourt, together with their daughter Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, created the Fondation Bettencourt Schueller to “give wings to talent” and thus contribute to France’s success and prestige throughout the world. The Fondation’s mission, recognized as a public utility, is carried out in three main areas: life sciences, culture and social projects. As part of its cultural patronage programme, the Fondation supports France’s métiers d’art and promotes their development. To this end, the Liliane Bettencourt award for the “intelligence de la main” (intelligence of the hand) was established in 1999. An initiative supported by Liliane Bettencourt in person, who grew up among the works by Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann (a renowned interior designer who was a great friend of her father) and motivated by an intense personal passion for objets d’art and creativity.

nity of artisan and creative talents. In 2014, the Fondation Bettencourt Schueller has intensified its commitment in favour of the professionals and institutions involved in the métiers d’art, and is developing an important policy focused on training, production, enhancement and promotion, and the creation of awareness. To this end, established partnerships have been renewed and new ones have been initiated, in line with the spirit and values represented by the award: excellence, innovation, interdisciplinarity. The Fondation also dedicates its activities to highlighting the métiers d’art through important events and in exhibitions which are generally dedicated to other disciplines. Since their institution, in 2002, the Fondation is partner of the European Art and Craft Profession Days. It sponsors innovative projects in the field of training, such as the creation of a post at the École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs in Paris (the university of art and design), thereby advocating research and experimentation. It encourages international exchange by supporting the new programme of artist residency at “Villa Kujoyama” in Kyoto, now open to professionals in artistic crafts. Aware of the importance of conveying and spreading as far as possible the exceptional heritage of French decorative arts, the Fondation supports the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and Sèvres-City of Ceramics in their digitalisation projects, enabling them to develop electronic and museum mediation devices. The Fondation also fosters initiatives aimed at safeguarding this heritage, and since its creation it is involved in the training and promotion programme of the Fondation du Patrimoine. A tangible commitment for a field that is facing a very positive future.


The award represents the desire to encourage and give value to France’s vital and vibrant heritage of exquisite and high-quality craftsmanship. Indeed, the Fondation has always firmly believed that these skills can withstand time and continue to thrive if they keep evolving, if the know-how is fuelled by creativity and innovation. The expression “intelligence de la main” indicates the indispensable alliance between manual skill and intellectual knowledge, where the latter always has to lead the former. In the space of fifteen years, this award has become a true seal of excellence for French métiers d’art. Being very conscious of the economic relevance of this sector, the Fondation accompanies and supports the winners over and above the actual award: hence, throughout the years a tightknit and solid network has developed around the winners, which has become a commu-

* He a d o f C u l t u ra l S p o n s o r s h i p f o r t h e B e t te n c o u r t S ch u e l l e r Fo u n d a t i o n

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O hc ce h ri ie tl ul ia l o f m a t t e r T

Striking a mystical balance between the ineffable culture of India and the millenary knowhow of industrious Puglia, Tarshito links two worlds that are only apparently antithetical. His designs and his unique touch are inspired by an all-embracing Transcendence

Workers Tarshito’s artistic journey represents the link between the cultures of art and craftsmanship of the Western and Eastern hemispheres. His designs are full of mystical and spiritual references, and find their most intense portrayal and formalisation in India’s artisan culture. UGO LA PIETRA. Your coherence and your love of Mediterranean materials and culture are well known; as a designer, what is your position on the cultures of design and applied arts? TARSHITO. I don’t regard them as conflicting. In my approach, in my artistic sensitivity, both elements come together. Indeed, I feel I am a “link” between both cultures. I

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was born in the Western world, but I have had the opportunity, in fact I still do, to visit many other parts of the planet, in particular India, a country with deep cultural roots. I am reading the Vedas, the sacred texts, which were given to India four thousand years ago. When I spend time in two parts of the world that are apparently so different, perhaps even divergent, I shift between the art and craftsmanship of both cultures. In India and in industrious Puglia, in the south of Italy, I learn what these opposites have in common. I am gradually experimenting the “Oneness” of East and West. The more

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of the soul by Ugo La Pietra

p h o t o s b y Y o u n e s s Ta o u i l l

I travel, the more I discover little rituals that the world is forgetting: among the people I meet in the south of Puglia (like the craftsmen that make gilded ceramics, a great Italian tradition) as much as among the tribal people I meet in India, those who propitiate the gods by painting their houses, their raw mud huts, for a good harvest, for a good marriage… I am rediscovering these practices particularly in this part of the world, the one from which I am talking to you: Italy, the founding rituals of which I am investigating. Being an architect, I come across these rites in my work. I often hear

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old masons talk about their small offerings, perhaps just a few coins, to Mother Earth. It is part of the “old knowledge” and knowhow of the hands I am lucky enough to work with. Sometimes the hands are Italian, sometimes Indian and sometimes Albanian. What I’m saying is that, over the course of time, I have gradually started to see how, through the magical area of symbolism and ritualism that expands beyond the specific cultures of the East and West, these two parts actually come together, they become one. What I perceive now is no longer a Mediterranean culture or an Oriental cul-


The exhibition room in the “Speciale Tarshito” village, containing several sculpture vases by the artist. In the foreground, left, Il Vaso, l’Albero e il Rosso, 2013 (by Tarshito, V. Di Cillo, P. Giangregorio, R. Garofalo, L. Scarcelli): the iron structure is covered with musk, bark and cord (diameter 108 cm, height 255 cm).

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The ritual of matter

ture: it is simply culture. Just now I was mentioning the roots, the rituals and symbols. The visualisation of the roots, giving them a physical shape, is something that I can create or that an Indian or Puglian artist or craftsman can create. If, through the shape, the symbol guides me to a concept, there is an equally powerful energy that drives me back towards Transcendence. What is really important is that the symbol creates a state of profundity, which gives me access to conceptuality. This action inevitably leads me to the essence of design, to this form of awareness. In the effort to approach the essence we are paying tribute to design, offering it to Transcendence. So, as a designer, my position toward creativity is that it is a process, a journey. U.L.P. Your work, rich in objects and atmospheres that express the value of craftsmanship

I don’t identify with “Eastern craftsmanship” but with the concept of artisan oneness. My idea of oneness embraces the people in the East and in the West. And their hands, extraordinary tools linked to traditional manual skill, even in its more archaic forms, is held in high esteem by those who observe the relationship between design and artisan production. Could you tell us about how you relate to craftsmanship in general and why, in particular, you have come to identify yourself with that of the East?

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T. Consequentially to what I have just explained, I don’t identify with “Eastern craftsmanship”, but with the concept of an artisan oneness. My idea of oneness embraces the people in the East and in the West, and their hands, these extraordinary tools that stroke clay, that plane wood and, immediately after, caress it. I like to quote the wonderful letter that father Tonino Bello wrote to St. Joseph, the “Great Carpenter”. This prayer, a piece of poetry, contains the essence, the respect of the craftsman who uses his hands with sensitivity, because he knows he is hurting the material he is working on and for this reason he caresses it and uses ointments to soothe it. That’s why I love to work with people, I never work alone. I like to share this creative moment, to show my respect and at the same time catch the glimpse of the gift that emerges from this magic, from Transcendence. For this reason, I no longer want to make distinctions between the traditions of craftsmanship in the East and in the West. Instead, I want to feel the love that is common to all civilisations. U.L.P. Your works are full of symbolic values, suggestive of a spiritual wealth. How and through what processes can we comprehend this aspiration of yours? T. Let me try to describe the process I follow. We can imagine it as a circle, a harmony. Creativity is closely linked to inspiration, and inspiration is something that comes from above, from Transcendence, which is the starting point, the highest point in

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this circle, or process. Inspiration enters us to enrich the idea we have received. So the seed of creativity is nurtured with knowledge and study, until it sprouts. This happens in the intermediate part of the circle, where we find the values of ethics, of warmth, of love, of the usefulness of this idea, of this seedling from which people can benefit. In the next stage, the idea, the project, shifts to the more material part, the part that involves the “making”. The energy that has guided the artist or artisan in the T. process, the consciousness of all the creative steps involved, the appreciation of having received the gift of inspiration and accordingly to “acknowledge oneself as a worker” of Transcendence: this way of thinking, this awareness of the object, of the work, is a superior force that, through the offering, enables the process to move on, out of the material part, and back to Transcendence itself. This can only happen if one is aware of being merely the instrument for the gift of inspiration. The project gradually becomes clearer and clearer to me in a process that combines the material nature of the making with its more spiritual flavour. This is the message that every work should be able to convey to those who observe it. This inner process should be a dynamic and sparkling movement that contaminates all those who can identify with this kind of energy. This is my journey. U.L.P. Recently in Puglia you created a centre dedicated to research, experimentation and the culture of matter: a new path of

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solidarity and spirituality. Would you like to tell us about your project? T. I inaugurated this complex in 2013, at the beginning of December. It is situated in the outskirts of Bari, and comprises nine buildings constructed in the 1950s. I fell in love with the energy of this abandoned place when I discovered it over 20 years ago. Originally, oil and olive pomace were produced here. This industriousness made me fall in love with the place. I restructured part of it, so now I can work here. I want this to become a village. I like to call it Platform because to me a platform means movement: inwards or outwards. It makes me think of a process, what I feel when I am blending creativity and spirituality. I would like it to be a communal space for all those who, like myself, want to share things, to pool their creativity, spirituality and traditions. When I say traditions, I mean not only the heritage of craftsmanship and of the applied arts, but also the great oral traditions, the lessons of spiritual masters, in short, pure spirituality. On these two fundamental pillars rests the great gift that combines material knowhow and the magic of light, of the divine that appears through inspiration, creativity. The vibration generated by the acknowledgement of the great sound of life itself. A large and comfortable space for “satsanga” (I like to use the Sanskrit term), which refers to the “meeting of people with the same purpose.” A place where you can stop and feel your own presence, where you can learn to be a part of something as great and wonderful as life itself.


Bottom, glimpses of the “Speciale Tarshito” village. The artist wants to fill this place with “Creativity”, expressed through architecture, painting, sculpture and design, “Spirituality», through the knowledge of spiritual Masters, and “Tradition”, applied in many fields, like gilding, construction of paper, lining, ceramics.

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Chiselled identity

A high tech INVENTION Pascal Luthy’s “Luminous wood” is a masterpiece of cabinetry and technology: the wood is illuminated from the inside, to reveal all its beauty. Opposite page, some of the precious woods that Maison Dupin carefully selects for its outstanding production (rue Eugene Marziano 22, Geneva.

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harmony by Alberto Cavalli

With their insight and creativity, Pascal and StĂŠphane Luthy can interpret the wishes and personalities of their influential clients. Maison Dupin furnishes private homes, embassies and boutiques with a unique style and an extensive offer that goes from cabinetmaking to passementerie to painted decorations

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Chiselled identity

Arthur Schopenhauer wrote that simplicity is essential in every form of art. Simplicity, however, should never be confused with deprivation, or the denial of taste, but rather as a judicious and measured abstention from everything that could make the message redundant. In the case of Dupin, the Maison of architecture and interior design founded in Geneva in 1820, art takes the shape of exquisite woodworks: carpentry, cabinetry, carving, marquetry and sculpture. To convey elegance, harmony and originality through furnishings that embody personality, uniqueness and research is the message carried forth by Pascal and Stéphane Luthy, the grandsons of Albert Luthy, who took over Maison Dupin from the original heirs in 1944. The research process starts in the wood: “I never stop looking around for the best lots, the most prized and rare,” explains Pascal, who was trained as a carpenter and gained experience as a designer in the Unites States. A visit to the wood cellar in rue Marziano, where the lumber is stored, is like an initiatory journey into an alchemist’s lab: Pascal knows every grain, hue and colour of each piece of wood. Graphic miracles of nature, to which the hand of man will confer even more preciousness and beauty: “We select wood of exceptional quality, and what we do is to highlight this richness. In everything we do we seek the effectiveness of the project and the perfection of the details,” explains Pascal. Research, for Maison Dupin, is also oriented towards the customisation of their production. “We like our projects to be meticulously executed, down to the smallest detail: craftsmanship is in continuous dialogue with the project, and by understanding the ambience we are always able to choose the best materials for each job,” says Stéphane, who is also an architect. The best materials, coupled with the most appropriate techniques. Woodworking represents the signature feature of Maison Dupin, but in the course of time it has embraced upholstery, courtepointières (curtains, garlands, draperies…), painted decorations, made-to-measure and custom-made carpets, which are cut and finished by hand, and passementerie… “To listen to our

We can integrate domotics into all our projects without altering their harmony


clients’ wishes means to connect with their private worlds, in which a representation of themselves and a very intimate expression of their personalities coexist,” comments Pascal. “A flawless execution is crucial, but our artisans also have to make sure that the onsite installation is perfect, respecting the domestic environment for which we are responsible just as much as our clients.”The generational turnover is not a problem at Maison Dupin: “In our team we have three carpenters who are brothers. The father of one of our upholsterers did his apprenticeship here with our own father,” says Stéphane smiling. The pride he takes in his trade emerges in the skilled gestures that are necessary to create furnishings for their very demanding and extremely discrete clients, who have often entrusted Dupin with the decor of entire estates. “The best way to understand if a client is satisfied with our work is to wait,” says Pascal. “To wait until we get a phone call informing us that a new home has been purchased, and asking us to decorate it.” Throughout the years, the expertise of Maison Dupin has attracted clients who perhaps are less discreet, but by no means less demanding: the Luthy brothers have furbished the boutiques of Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels in Geneva, as well as a number of Swiss embassies across the world. And beautiful private homes, where Dupin’s great artisan knowhow incorporates the most advanced technological solutions: “In every project we can integrate very efficient home automation systems that do not alter the external harmony in any way,” confirms Pascal, who has developed his own very personal technique called “luminous wood”. The four pieces which feature this special technique are part of a limited edition collection named after Pascal Luthy. They are authentic masterpieces of carpentry and technology: the console, the desk, the nightstand and the “Tableau” are created combining ultra thin sheets of luxurious woods which are exquisitely lacquered and backlit. The light coming from the inside reveals the strokes, the marks, the messages composed by nature’s impeccable hand. Signs that the craftsmen of Maison Dupin have translated into works of art, without dissipating its intrinsic value: the simplicity of absolute beauty.

a FAMILY LABORATORY Above, Pascal and Stéphane Luthy, owners of Maison Dupin. Opposite page, Dupin’s workshops are a real hotbed of refined artistic crafts: from upholstery to courtepointières, from custom-made carpets to interior decoration.

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Genius defined




photos by Emanuele Zamponi The latest volume in the “Ricerche” series - dedicated to scientific research in the world of the crafts and published by Marsilio Editori with the Cologni Foundation for the Métiers d’Art - provides enlightening food for thought on craftsmanship and its “value”.The new study is particularly significant because it spotlights and provides insight into artisan excellence. Today, more than ever before, it is of vital importance to understand the origins and future of what we commonly define “Made in Italy”: a label which is the expression of the extraordinary savoir faire of our master craftsmen. An often unacknowledged and invisible wealth of knowhow that fuels Italy’s manufacturing industry, and that is the essential ingredient of the special beauty which the world appreciates and admires. This engaging exploration was carried out by Alberto Cavalli, researcher, journalist and director of the Cologni Foundation, in collaboration with Giuditta Comerci and Giovanna Marchello. The purpose is to define a rating system for the evaluation of excellence in the crafts; comprehensively and consistently, the study analyses, combines and compares subjective criteria (creativity, competence, training, talent, interpretation) with terms that are related to the territorial dimension (territoriality, tradition) and features that characterise the work of the masters (authenticity, originality, craftsmanship, innovation). Starting from the essential role played by the “métiers d’art” in the multifaceted realm of Italy’s manufacturing industry, the study pieces together a system to measure the level and quality of this excellence. Without losing sight of the fact that scientific objectivity is impossible to achieve, the author effectively identifies, in a clear and documented way, a set of characteristics which an excellent artisan product should possess. An instrument that would enable us to identify what is “beautiful and skilfully made” – the basic elements of “Made in Italy”

First-hand accounts from 12 Lombard master craftsmen give shape and substance to The value of the craft. Above, some of the works by the great cabinetmaker Pierluigi Ghianda, who has been defined “the poet of wood”; top, inside the historical atelier A. Caraceni, of the Milanese tailor Carlo Andreacchio.

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production – and thus promote and enhance this uniqueness and beauty. To construct a possible rating matrix, the research investigates and compares how artistic crafts are disciplined in Italy and in some relevant nations of the European Union (France, Germany, United Kingdom). Japanese legislation is also examined, in consideration of Japan’s rich tradition in the crafts and, above all, the particular attention that is devoted to protecting and promoting Japanese craftsmanship of excellence: an example that we should all be following. Italian productive regulations and territorial expertise are then analysed, to distil the definitions that are most recurrent and which become the basis for the key-concepts on which artisan excellence can be grounded and evaluated. In addition, the study integrates the output of an important sociological research on the perception of artistic crafts in Italy, which was conducted by sociologist Enrico Finzi on behalf of the Cologni Foundation for the Métiers d’Art. A fundamental contribution also comes from some of the greatest and most authoritative master craftsmen of Lombardy, with whom the validity of the classification system was verified. A critical summary is extracted from the analytical study of the Italian legislation and regulations, from the opinions of experts (sociologists, philosophers, economists, artists, master craftsmen, art historians, men of letters, opinion leaders…), from the sociological research and, lastly, from the interviews with the master craftsmen themselves. The resulting rating system has a double purpose: on the one hand, the evaluation of excellence and, on the other, its promotion. The criteria and concepts that are the key words on which the evalua-

tion is based constitute an ideal reference point for high-level artisan savoir faire and can be condensed in craftsmanship, authenticity, competence, creativity, training, innovation, interpretation, originality, talent, territoriality, tradition. The central themes in the cultural debate surrounding artistic crafts are employed in the matrix of an innovative rating system, which an ad hoc commission of experts could use to “weigh” each of the key-concepts, in order to assign a vote to the different subcategories according to a simple evaluating system. The author’s hope is that this matrix, which will need to be perfected through further practical testing, will prove to be a valuable instrument in identifying, promoting and safeguarding artisan excellence. And, above all, that it may serve as an incentive to protect, improve and rediscover it. The first-hand accounts of Lombardy’s master craftsmen give shape and substance to the theory. The panel of eminent representatives of “the intelligence of the hand” operate in different fields: from tailoring to musical instruments, from marionettes to ceramics, from embroidery, carpentry and goldsmithing, to paper and iron. Carlo Andreacchio, Renata Casartelli, Caterina Crepax, Elena Dal Cortivo, Pierluigi Ghianda, Pino Grasso, Eugenio Monti Colla, Gio Batta Morassi, Alessandro Rametta, Lorenzo Rossi, Gabriella Sacchi, Filippo Villa: it is in their extraordinary and captivating accounts, which are so rich with experience and knowledge, talent and passion, that the most authentic heart of the study beats; and it is thanks to their words that we are truly able to fully grasp the great beauty, high moral standards and essential “value” of craftsmanship.

The cover of the book The value of the craft by Alberto Cavalli, published by Marsilio, features a parchment rose created by the expert hands of Elena Dal Cortivo, based in Milan. Above, a violin undergoes the delicate phase of varnishing in the workshop of Gio Batta Morassi, in Cremona.

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eal master craftsmen strive to transform everything they touch into gold, like ancient alchemists. But if the former have always tried, the latter have always succeeded


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Every alchemist’s dream has always been to transform common metals into gold. Tales, legends and myth tell us about the mysterious laboratories of alchemists, half scientists and half wizards, where arcane transmutations took place, alongside much more predictable failures. They are depicted as underground chambers, filled with alembics, ampoules and retorts, and crammed with the esoteric imagery of planets and numbers and all the magical and evocative symbolism involved in the metamorphosis of matter. The transformation of lead into gold also had a spiritual significance, not only a material one: the real alchemist was, in his own way, on a quest for truth. His purpose was to elevate himself from the lowest level of knowledge (symbolised by lead) to the highest rank of wisdom and erudition, represented by the incorruptible nature of gold. Who are today’s alchemists? It would be banal and misleading to compare the alchemist’s fabled laboratory, with magic potions and secret treaties, to the workshop of a modern master craftsman. It would do justice to neither: alchemists were not artisans, and master craftsmen do not rely on magic, but on talent and experience. And yet, the most noble and characteristic attributes of ancient alchemy can be traced in the works of today’s greatest artisans. The first trait is that of ennoblement. The master craftsman’s hands, his personal touch and vision, elevate the materials and enhance their beauty. He gives a soul to the project, transforming a drawing into


a product someone will love, desire, purchase and cherish. The level and value of the production is augmented by the high degree of manual skill, which restores its vocation of handmade artefact. The second trait is experimentation. I believe most laws and regulations prohibit the use of salamanders, dragons or the bizarre dyes that were the alchemist’s basic ingredients. But don’t luthiers still use a red resin called Dragon’s Blood? And aren’t the workshops of contemporary artisans the experimentation hubs for luxury goods? Only here can one find the talents capable of addressing the challenge of today’s top-level manufacturing industry, increasingly focused on customisation, in order to satisfy the most demanding consumers. Only the greatest craftsmen know how to perfectly interpret the intuitions of designers, and can follow their experimental creativity to develop something that is always new and unexpected. And, finally, their secrets. Hermetism was one of the features of alchemy, which traditionally employed codes and cryptic formulas; the deep symbolism which underlay alchemical experiments was both a language for initiates and a way to preserve the value of their discoveries. Likewise, real master craftsmen have their “trade secrets”. Isn’t it true, even in the modern age, that laboratories and workshops are places where the most sophisticated workmanship is passed down from one generation to the next, or from the master to the apprentice? And that a craft can never really be learnt from books and manuals, but that it has to be “stolen with the eyes”? Craftsmanship involves neither magic nor alchemy. It is a skill that requires creativity and passion, and a lifelong commitment. Yet, just like an alchemist, the modern master craftsman strives to turn everything he touches into gold: materials, projects, and ideas. From the lead of mass production to the gold of customisation, of a perfect execution, of a detail which always makes the difference, even on a larger scale. Alchemists have always tried; real master craftsmen have always succeeded.

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