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Arts & Crafts & design

MASTERWORKS Expertise on show in the European Artistic Crafts Days


TRANSMISSION Vacheron Constantin: a precious tribute to a glorious heritage of savoir-faire in Les Savoirs Enluminés


The sophisticated technique of Yuzen dyeing in the making of a kimono



The conservation of contemporary art needs new specialisations


Angelo Sala’s skilful hands behind the scenes of La Scala Opera House

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Beauty at the limits of the infinitesimally small

— the artisan of matter —

www.vacheron-constantin.com - www.thehourlounge.com

Since the very beginnings of watchmaking, there have always been engravings on cases, dials and even on the tiny parts of watch movements. Today, Vacheron Constantin perpetuates this tradition by offering engravers exceptional opportunities for artistic expression. The engraver can thus transcribe decorative elements into the material from which watch movements and parts of the case are made, carving them with delicate care. This work of “miniature sculpture” carried out by hand requires a clear artistic and aesthetic approach combined with exceptional dexterity.

Métiers d'Art - Mécaniques Ajourées Calibre 4400SQ

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 (www.facebook.com/slowmade.net).

• 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 coordinates the promotion of the crafts sector via a national portal located at www.institut-metiersdart.org, an official crafts directory (http://www.annuaire-metiersdart.com) and the annual Journées Européennes des Métiers d’Art (European Artistic Crafts Days, next scheduled for 27-29 March 2015, journeesdesmetiersdart.eu).

• IINMA 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.

Institut National des Métiers d’Art Viaduc des Arts, 23 avenue Daumesnil, 75012 Paris, France Tel.: +33 (0)1 55 78 85 85 | info@inma-france.org | www.institut-metiersdart.org

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Exceptional expertise to show colors in their best light

— The artisan of colour —

www.vacheron-constantin.com - www.thehourlounge.com

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

www.vacheron-constantin.com - www.thehourlounge.com

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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In opera, every detail is a challenge

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los r a -C * n a Ju orres T

THE INSPIRATIONAL POWER that breeds talent Craftsmanship is the missing link between past splendours and contemporary artistic expression. Nurturing every form of creative momentum When it comes to the artistic crafts, it was the urgency as well as the beauty of the task that initially caught our attention and led us to dedicate our efforts to preserving these superior skills from extinction. We have continually sought to share them with the public, to showcase them, to confront them with universes far from their traditional territory. We have unremittingly worked to spark new vocations as well as partnerships between artists, designers and craftsmen. Each of these joint endeavours has proved to be a rich source of inspiration and insights – because artistic crafts are a fertile and generous ground that successfully nurtures every form of creative momentum.

Maison. They embody our tradition as well as representing our conviction that the future of creation will not take place without them. Artistic crafts awaken within us an irresistible desire to experiment. They are the primal energy that drives us to be trailblazers on uncharted or little-known territories. Such is the spirit that emerges from this new edition of the Arts & Crafts & Design magazine, an inventory of all that is wonderful, excellent and poetic. We are well acquainted with this feeling. Within the framework of our Métiers d ’art collection, this year we have worked to reinterpret the “Aberdeen Bestiary”, an extraordinary 12th century manuscript illustrating the wonders of Creation. This immersion into a universe of illuminated phantasmagorical animals that have miraculously found their way through the ages proved a singular experience.


Over the past five years, the activities we have undertaken in conjunction with the Institut National des Métiers d ’Art (French National Institute of Arts and Crafts) have helped lay solid foundations. This year, we are partners of the “Mutations” exhibition, on show at Les Arts Décoratifs museum in Paris. Like a memory in motion, this exhibition places nine objects in perspective, inspired by heritage pieces belonging to the museum, and produced by artist and artisan collectives. In Milan, the public will have an opportunity to discover the “Intrecci” exhibition at the Bagatti Valsecchi museum, revisiting the art of traditional basket weaving in Italy. Finally, the European Artistic Crafts Days ( JEMA) will enable more than 65 artisan workshops from the Cantons of Geneva, Vaud and Jura to hold open days and share their passion for their trade. Engraving, guillochage, enamel painting and gem setting are inseparably bound up with the 260-year history of our

Our craftsmen have succeeded in restoring their flamboyancy through an unprecedented combination of techniques. For all those involved, this watchmaking adventure took the form of an initiatory journey to the innermost depths of human thought and genius. The inertial force of age-old skills cannot resist the powerful impetus of inspiration, nor the vibrant call of creation. Their amazing vitality restores enchantment to our daily lives. Today, artistic crafts are the missing link between past splendours and contemporary artistic expression. We are proud and happy to play a part in enhancing their reputation and influence in a variety of ways, including this publication.

*CEO Vacheron Constantin

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8. 2. – 28. 6. 2015 RIEHEN / BÂLE

Paul Gauguin

Paul Gauguin, Barbarische Erzählungen; Contes barbares; Primitive Tales, 1902, Museum Folkwang, Essen, Foto: © Museum Folkwang, Essen


L’événement artistique de l’année à la Fondation Beyeler


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E d i t o r ’s l e t t e r

n Fra


ré t o B

HEAD, HANDS and MATERIALS LEAD THE WAY TO THE FUTURE Every time this triad converges into an expression of expertise, a “miracle” takes place, which we must recognise, protect and promote

“He who works with his hands is a labourer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.” I recently came across this quote and the curious debate over its attribution. Some sources lead to St. Francis of Assisi, some to Thomas Aquinas, while others claim it was said by Michelangelo Buonarroti or London-born Louis Nizer. Whoever the true author is, I don’t think it is worth digging deeper; because while this statement certainly had value at the time, today I can’t say I agree at all. In Milan, Geneva or Hong Kong, I am often baffled by the works of supposedly renowned artists: like meteorites fallen from the sky, they are entirely out of tune with the beauty and the historical and cultural significance of the monuments that surround them. No, it is not the artist who works with his hands, his head and his heart. It is the craftsman. And the magazine you are holding in your hands is the tangible proof of this.

this occasion, institutions, museums and schools will be extending their opening hours to create a special showcase for the talent that, as I mentioned before, must be promoted and enhanced. The exceptional work of these masters also needs to be effectively protected. It is therefore interesting to discover that the Milanese laboratory of Open Care - Servizi per l’Arte has developed a specialisation dedicated to the restoration of contemporary art. Today, the role of the art restorer has taken on a multifaceted and complex form, requiring that understanding and manual skill are integrated with technical knowledge borrowed from various fields, science included. Indeed, contemporary art conservation represents the heights to which the noble artistic craft of the restorer has been pushed – a profession that has always represented Italian excellence in the world, and which has had to adapt to the new dimension of art that is by definition unstable and in constant evolution.


The images alone convey how much heart these craftsmen put into their daily work, which is fulfilled every time the triad “head-hands-materials” converges into an expression of expertise. Every skill and talent that we are presenting and illustrating here is a piece of the marvellous mosaic that it is our duty to recognise, protect and promote. Which is why initiatives such as the European Artistic Crafts Days, an international event promoted by the Institut National des Métiers d’Art (INMA) with the support given by Vacheron Constantin, are so important. At the end of March, an entire weekend is dedicated to these artisans, who will have the chance to communicate to the public their personal expressions of excellence and innovation. Workshops in Milan, Paris, Geneva and other European cities will open their doors, inviting everyone to enter their world and appreciate its highly ontological content. On

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Exploring the universe that discloses from head, hands and materials, I have also enjoyed experiencing one of the rare cases in which the materials, once moulded by master craftsmen, manage to complete the cycle, becoming food for thought. It happens every day in a refined Chinese restaurant in Milan, where an artisan sculpts fruits and vegetables to decorate the plates on the menu with extraordinary skill (and speed). Watching him work, you realise that the final result already exists entirely in his head, even before he begins. There is no design to guide him, apart from his passion: the heart that we spoke of in the beginning, which allows him to transform pumpkins, potatoes, carrots, beets and even coconuts and pineapples into marvellous sculptures for each dish. This is the magic of an expression of expertise that starts in the head and through the hands may finally become “material”.

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Arts & CrAfts & design

transMission Vacheron Constantin: a precious tribute to a glorious heritage of savoir-faire in Les Savoirs Enluminés


The sophisticated technique of Yuzen dyeing in the making of a kimono


The conservation of contemporary art needs new specialisations



Angelo Sala’s skilful hands behind the scenes of La Scala Opera House

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Cover photo: Grand feu miniature and champlevé enameling for Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art “Savoirs Enluminés” collection.

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by Juan-Carlos Torres Artisans Books Awards Initiatives Fairs Shows ALBUM by Stefania Montani


Enterprises PERFECT CURVES by François Burkhardt


Discovering talents OBJECTS WITH A SOUL by Giovanna Marchello


Crafting with style AUDACIOUS SILVER by Alexandra d’Arnoux



Heritage preserved RESTORING THE NEW by Isabella Villafranca Soissons Temples of savoir-faire WHITE GOLD by Francesca Sammartino

Living treasures Geometry on a kimono by Akemi Okumura Roy



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Historic workshops THE POET OF WOOD by Ugo La Pietra Minute decorations Creation IN MINIATURE by Alberto Cavalli Masters of design ENLIGHTENED AND RECYCLED by Ali Filippini Contemporary masters THE ENGINE OF MY LIFE by Susanna Pozzoli Secret collections MAD ABOUT THE MAD by Alberto Cavalli Local traditions LOVE KNOT by Alberto Cannetta Craftsmanship on stage PASSION BEHIND THE SCENES by Angelo Sala


Skill au féminin IRIDISCENT MAGIC by Mariagabriella Rinaldi


Furnishing quality TOP DRAWER by Simona Cesana


Training knowhow LIFE’S PRIME by Alexis Georgakopoulos


Editor’s letter by Franz Botré


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Exhibitions DIALOGUES ON ART by Alessandra de Nitto




THE INSPIRATIONAL POWER that breeds talent

Savoury crafts BEAUTY IS SERVED by Lara Lo Calzo


MasterWorKs Expertise on show in the European Artistic Crafts Days


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Food science by Andrea Grignaffini TO BIO OR NOT TO BIO THAT IS NOT THE QUESTION Re-turn by Franco Cologni THE SPIRIT OF THE WORKSHOP: RENAISSANCE 2.0

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To bear witness to forgotten peoples Two surveys and two publications per year

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A R T I sans of t h e word Alexandra d'Arnoux

She created and directed AD France. From 2004 she directed Maison Française. Today she manages esensualliving.com, dedicated to the most exclusive art de vivre. An expert in design, d’Arnoux is the author of numerous books and collaborates with the Centre du Luxe et de la Création in Paris.

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.

François Burkhardt

Ali Filippini

Alexis Georgacopoulos

Mariagabriella Rinaldi

Isabella Villafranca Soissons



giacinto di pietrantonio

Architecture and design historian and critic, Swissborn Burkhardt curates international exhibitions and conferences and writes on art, architecture, design and applied arts. He directed the Kunsthaus in Hamburg, the IDZ in Berlin and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

A graduate of ECAL/Ecole Cantonale d'Art de Lausanne, Alexis Georgacopoulos became its director in 2011. In 2014 he founded "Delirious Home", a project that won the Milano Design Award at the Salone del Mobile. His name is in “The Wallpaper* 100” list: the design world’s most powerful players.

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.

With a lifelong commitment to volunteering, in 2008 he founded the non-profit association Il Nodo Cooperazione Internazionale, and the Bottega dell’arte in Cambodia: a social project that aims to preserve and give value to the natural craft talent of Khmer youths.

ARTS & CRAFTs & DESIGN Half-yearly – Year IV – Volume 6 April 2015 Editor in Chief and Publisher: Franz Botré Editor at Large: Franco Cologni Creative Director: Ugo La Pietra Editorial Director: Gianluca Tenti Deputy editor: Andrea Bertuzzi Art Director: Francesca Tedoldi

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Akemi Okumura Roy

Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte Director: Alberto Cavalli Editorial Director: Alessandra de Nitto General Organisation: Susanna Ardigò Contributors to this issue: Texts: François Burkhardt, Alberto Cannetta, Simona Cesana, Alexandra d'Arnoux, Giacinto di Pietrantonio, Ali Filippini, Alexis Georgacopoulos, Andrea Grignaffini, Lara Lo Calzo, Giovanna Marchello, Stefania Montani, Akemi Okumura Roy, Susanna Pozzoli, Mariagabriella Rinaldi, Angelo Sala, Francesca Sammartino, Isabella Villafranca Soissons

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.

With a background in humanities and a passion for contemporary art, she follows the international art market and photography in particular. Daughter of the designer Gastone Rinaldi, she often contributes to art journals, selecting and editing exhibition reviews on new trends, design and applied arts.

Sala is one of the greatest Italian set decorators. He graduated from the Brera Academy in 1974 and became head scene painter at La Scala in 1987. From 1992 to 1995 he was Director of Stage Engineering and from 1995 he managed La Scala’s stage design workshop.

Art professor, critic and curator, he directs the Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Bergamo. He founded AMACI (the association of Italian contemporary art museums), of which he is member of the board. In 2012, he received a lifetime achievement award from the Università di Bologna.

Translations: Maka Language Consulting Revision and text adaptation: Giovanna Marchello Images: Bertrand Corbara, Raul de Nieves, Ornella Francu, Michael Koryta, Lux Toma, Giuseppe Millaci, Kimimasa Naito, Jonathan Paciullo, Laila Pozzo, Susanna Pozzoli, Eric Scott, Donatella Rigon, Giovanni Umicini, 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, production and advertising: via Francesco Ferrucci 2 20145 Milan, Italy Phone: +39 02.3180891 info@monsieur.it www.monsieur.it www.fondazionecologni.it www.mestieridarte.it Printed by Tiber spa via della Volta 179 25124 Brescia, Italy

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

www.mah-geneve.ch facebook.com/mahgeneve

@mahgeneve blog.mahgeneve.ch 

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

THE DEFINITION OF CRAFTSMANSHIP From the simple assembling of objects to craftsmanship that incorporates technology and design, creating new productive models. The world of the crafts is very fashionable today, but there are substantial cultural differences

While exploring Italy’s artistic crafts, over the years I have taken part in a variety of research and design projects that were aimed also at stimulating these manifold regional realities. This has given me the opportunity to observe the significant differences in culture, production and business structures that characterise a sector that was once ignored and scorned, but has recently become highly fashionable. In this article, I will try to analyse the types of artistic crafts that can be found in Italy and highlight some of the differences. The first category, which is fairly widespread in a country made up of SMEs, is represented by the contractor craftsmen, who supply handmade components that are later “assembled”. In times of recession, these artisans are the most exposed to unemployment: having neither structure nor entrepreneurial mindset, they are often forced out of business when orders drop.


Then there are the skilled and experienced artisans who create made-tomeasure pieces for designers working on interiors for homes, museums and public spaces. These artisans retain a good level of traditional craftsmanship, which they apply to contemporary and often experimental projects. Many artisans of this kind can still be found in areas that concentrate on one craft (alabaster in Volterra, ceramics in Caltagirone, mosaics in Ravenna and lace in Cantù, to mention a few examples). Within this group, there are important distinctions: some choose to create “low-end” objects to satisfy mass tourism’s demand for cheap souvenirs, while other artisans follow traditional

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methods in a philologically correct manner. Within this last category, two production models (and therefore two business models) can be identified: artisans who try to innovate their disciplines by developing their own style (like the ceramic artists Bruno Gambone, Alessio Tasca and Candido Fior) and artisans who, in keeping with renewed traditions, produce projects developed by artists and designers. Recently, new artisan categories have emerged. The “metropolitans” create objects that incorporate a high level of artistry and innovative techniques, often using recycled materials, a fact which places them outside the bounds of tradition. Even more recent are the disciplines explored by the younger generations who use advanced technologies to produce a sort of artistic/synthetic design. They are often competent designers (having received a university education), but completely lacking in manual skills; so they compensate for their weakness as craftsmen with equipment (like the increasingly widespread 3D printers) that can make the objects they design. The final category comprises designer/ artisans who establish genuine workshops where manual, technological and virtual aspects coexist. This last category is by far the most progressive and better equipped for the difficult circumstances that young designer/artisans are now facing: to cope with high unemployment by restoring alliances and partnerships with specialised companies, creating a new trading and production model.

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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 www.royalballetschool.org.uk tel: +44 (0)20 7845 7068 or +44 (0)20 7836 8899 enquiries@royalballetschool.org.uk

Registered Charity no: 214364 Photo: Johan Persson


Historical thought

LOOKING FOR THE COMMON THREAD BETWEEN ARTists AND ARTISANS Whether minimalist or conceptual, artists have always depended on skilled craftsmen to give shape to their creations. From Joseph Kosuth’s neon works to Dan Flavin’s metal sculptures

What links Art and Artisanship? This is an old and complex question: a diatribe that belongs to the modern era, and which conceptual art seems to have intensified since the 1960s. However, conceptual art could not exist without the support of skilled artisans and, in a way, the very methods involved in conceptual art strengthen its relationship with craftsmanship. The term artisanship does not refer only to traditional crafts, of course, but also to those associated with industry. This may seem a contradiction, but it is not.

dle exhibited at the 9th Milan Triennial of 1951; or, following in his footsteps, the neon signs and words by Mario Merz; and again, more recently and formally closer to Fontana, Pietro Roccasalva’s Jockey Full of Bourbon II (2006), a neon sign-drawing designed to fill a space from floor to ceiling. I have chosen these examples to demonstrate that there are various forms and types of craftsmanship, without which many works of art that are considered central to modernity and contemporaneity would not exist. Such as Dan Flavin’s boxlike metal sculptures, which are made by highly skilled craftsmen in metal and wood, challenging industrial production with their knowledge and expertise.


By way of example, let us consider the different approach to neon of two conceptual artists: minimalist Dan Flavin employs standard neon light strips that can be found in electric supplies stores, without any artisanal customisation; whereas Joseph Kosuth, whose works are written in neon, relies on a specialised craftsman to shape his creations. The use of neon is even more evident in artists like Lucio Fontana, who is well known for his Spatial Light– Structure in Neon, a large design-doo-

Having said this, and the list of examples is long, it should also be underlined that Kosuth’s and Judd’s conceptual art and pure minimalism were presented, at the request of the artists themselves, as a denial of craftsmanship; the inherent premise was that what counts is the idea, and that, since craftsmanship is principally associated with the manual ability to create, the artists should not dirty their hands. The counter-reaction, after the mid-1970s, came from a few artists who began to reaffirm the power of the

*Director of the GAMeC in Bergamo and Lecturer in Theory and History of Methods of Interpretation at the Accademia di Brera.

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or lab



nio* o t n a ietr P i D nto i c a i G E

hand and the value of know-how. Like Enzo Cucchi, who had ceramic tongues pop out of his paintings, or gave them ceramic frames, before going on to producing sculptures in the same material, often in the shape of a vase, aided mainly by craftsmen in Castelli (Abruzzo) but also in Vietri (Campania), where he created, with Ettore Sottsass, one of his famous works. However, to validate the initial premise, it should be noted that even Cucchi did not dirty his hands with clay, since his works were physically made by the artisans. So in terms of the practical creative process, there does not appear to be much difference between a neon by Fontana or Kosuth and a sculpture by Cucchi. Needless to say, when we see an artwork made in neon words we do not immediately associate it with the work of an artisan. But we do when we see a ceramic vase or a sculpture in wood. We should also ask ourselves why we are not inclined to associate craftsmanship with a marble sculpture: could it be the noble nature of the material? In any case, a transition took place between the 1970s and the 1980s, and at the end of the decade artists were no longer ashamed to extol the qualities of craftsmanship. Of which, on the contrary, they demonstrated to be proud both in their statements and in their work. The Italian conceptual artist Alighiero Boetti anticipated this process in the arts when, back in the early 1970s, he began to create his works with tapestry and Afghan carpet weavers. He celebrated artisanship, which is why, in this age of neo-craftsmanship, many artists see Boetti as a point of reference. Luigi Ontani, another example in this tradition, employed Indian artisans for some of his photography works and Ceramica Gatti for his mostly life-size sculptures, which depict himself in different and amusing roles. Many other artists are following in the same steps. Celebrity artist Jeff Koons, for example, is known for his ceramic artworks and his wooden sculp-

tures, which are in fact made by the craftsmen of Val Gardena, whom Koons outsourced the erotic sculptures of himself with Ilona Staller-Cicciolina as well as animal and flower sculptures; nor did he disdain marble cats carved by the artisans of Carrara, dog-shaped porcelain vases and Kamasutra glass sculptures. These and many other artists draw heavily on craft knowledge, Italian in particular, of which our peninsula abounds in its numerous artisan districts with elevated quality and productive output. And, as mentioned earlier, this trend is not limited to traditional crafts like pottery and woodwork, but it embraces also modern crafts, including neon working, mannequin sculpting by film industry artisans and animal embalming for Cattelan’s taxidermy artworks - all of which were made in Italy. Some artists push themselves as far as the Orient: Ontani went to Bali to let Balinese artisans carve his visionary pule wood masks, and Belgian artist Wim Delvoye travelled to Thailand to have his full-size Cement Truck, bulldozers and excavators baroquely sculpted by Thai craftsmen. Yet in recent years the most monumental work is perhaps Sunflower Seeds by the controversial Chinese artist Ai Weiwei: 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds, made and decorated by hand, were spread to form a 10-centimetre carpet weighing 150 tonnes over the vast floor of the Turbine Hall at London’s Tate Modern in 2010. At the end of the exhibition, the gallery bought eight million seeds for its collection. This mammoth project involved 1,600 craftsmen from Jingdezhen, an area renowned for porcelain crafts, in the creation of an installation consisting of 100 million ceramic sunflower seeds to represent the 100 million victims of the Mao era: a work that expresses 100 million common threads between Artisanship and Art.

This page, Wood in the city ceramic made in Castelli by Benito Melchiorre for the exhibition curated by Giacinto Di Pietrantonio, Civitella del Tronto, 2014. Opposite page, Ugo La Pietra’s original sketch.

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by Stefania Montani

Artisans Books Awards Initiatives Fairs Shows

GIUSEPPE AMATO Palermo-born Giuseppe Amato is a young architect, carpenter and artist who lives and works between Milan and New York, where he has established his showroom-workshops. His work has fascinated renowned architects and show business personalities. Creative and professional, his one-off furniture pieces and structures are all handmade in fine woods and inlayed according to traditional marquetry workmanship, which he has innovated in terms of techniques and materials. None of his creations is intended for duplication: each work is planned, designed and made for a specific client. One example is the certosina intarsia in the corridor of Caruso’s New York flagship store, on 45th Street, which recreates the atmosphere of a Palladian villa, including a trompe-l’oeil window looking onto a Renaissance garden. It took Amato six months of tireless work to build it using wood tesserae and a variety of other materials. Equally noteworthy is the installation he produced for Caruso’s Milanese showroom: inspired by the structure of the Teatro Regio in Parma (top), Amato narrates - in a wonderful combination of woods, mother-of-pearl and other materials - the back-stage of tailoring, before the clothes take the stage. Above all, Giuseppe has a fantastic imagination, as demonstrated by his project Unexpected Homes, presented at the Venice Biennale in 2010: a series of wooden living environments, ready to be occupied, bearing fitting names such as Falansterio, Sichilli, Concepcion, Sixty Tons and Nautoscopio. A scaled-down version of the latter was built for the Interni exhibition “Green Energy Design” in the courtyard of Milan’s Università Statale: an eco-friendly home-observatory (inspired by the structure designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the Arizona desert) that is now installed, full-size, at Porta Felice, just off Palermo’s shore. www.giuseppeamatostudio.com

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ALBUM artisans MADINEUROPE An on-line showcase of European craftsmanship, selected according to the high level of excellence in many different categories and specialities. The website offers an extensive selection to whoever is looking for a skilled artisan and at the same time it gives visibility to the master craftsmen who work hidden away in their workshops. Madina Benvenuti, a young woman of Italian-French origins who now lives in Belgium, is the creator of the platform where artisans from many European countries can be found, endorsed and reviewed (categorised by sector, craft, product, material and location). Benvenuti called the website Mad’in Europe, a wordplay between her first name and “made in Europe”. Thanks both to the accurate preliminary selection of every single workshop made by the site’s creator and to a very powerful search engine, the website is a window on the world, to promote the development of small, high-quality businesses beyond their national borders, focusing on the human dimension and placing technology at the service of tradition. Around 800 artisans have registered so far. www.madineurope.eu

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GURI I ZI Guri I Zi is a workshop named after the town in the Albanian province of Scutari where many women practise the traditional craft of weaving on wooden looms. They produce beautiful textiles in linen and cotton, mostly in multi-coloured stripes and finished with embroidery. Guri I Zi offers a wide selection of bedding and home linens as well as fabrics by the metre. All of the items can be made to measure and customised from a wide choice of material, designs and colours. The promoter of this initiative is Elena Galateri, a young and adventurous social entrepreneur. In 2006, she founded the non profit organisation Idee Migranti, a female microenterprise project whose aim was both to create a source of income for the most vulnerable women in the Guri I Zi community and to promote traditional Albanian textile works. The project has been hugely successful, considering that it started with a small group of only four women and has now grown to 53 members. Guri I Zi plans to include another 20 women into its organisation, over the next couple of years. Alessandra Dentice di Frasso (designer and teacher at the Accademia di Arte, Moda e Design in Florence) is in charge of the design. The textiles are woven from yarn supplied by Italian manufacturers: the warp is in fine Egyptian cotton and the weave is in combed cotton of exquisite quality, to give luminosity and intensity of colour to the fabrics. www.guriizi.com

COY HUTSALON Berlin is a city of many faces: the ultramodern areas with skyscrapers designed by famous starchitects, the wide streets lined with imposing Neoclassical buildings and the charming district known as the Höfe, a network of communicating, restored rear courtyards. This is where many young artisans and designers have opened their workshops and it is here, at number 8 of the historical Hackische Höfe, that Cornelia Plotzki, alias Coy, has her hat atelier. Assisted by a very close team, the creative milliner designs bespoke hats for men and for women, and for every occasion. Armed with a sewing machine, scissors and brushes, natural fabrics (linen, silk, felt...) and an impressive collection of precious wooden

hat blocks, she brings truly original creations to life: cloche hats, wide-brimmed hats, casual caps and creations embellished with jet for formal events, can all be made in the colours chosen by the client. Classic men’s hats are available too, as well as many ready-to-wear models, ranging from formal to casual. For brides, Cornelia designs hats coordinated with small bags, brooches and shawls with matching decorations. Even those not accustomed to wearing hats will be delighted by the sight of her charming shop and the decidedly quaint courtyard. www.berliner-hutsalon.de

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ALBUM books


OFF LOOM. FIBER ART Arte fuori dal telaio

STEFANO BEMER A world renowned artisanal shoe shop of the highest quality that was chosen to represent Italian manufacturing in the event (22-25 January) for the grand opening of Shanghai’s luxury outlet Florentia Village. The workshop was founded in 1983 by Stefano Bemer, a very talented craftsman who died prematurely in 2012. It was reopened a year ago by Tommaso Melani (Bemer’s former business partner and colleague) in partnership with the Gori family (founders of the Scuola del Cuoio, 1948) who acquired the brand and company, guaranteeing continuity with the past. The company has been relocated to San Niccolò, in the renovated premises of a deconsecrated church in the heart of Florence: from the shop, customers can observe the manufacturing process while choosing the style they like from over 40 basic models, each of which is available in three, four or more variations. The workmanship is scrupulous: the leather for the soles, for example, is soaked in water for 12 hours, then left to dry and rest, wrapped in paper and hammered against stone. A process that was developed here and that makes the leather strong and flexible: essential features for the durability and comfort of a shoe. Even the thread used for stitching the welt to the sole is made in-house with the traditional technique of twisting the linen yarn with pitch and beeswax. Thousands of exquisite tiny stitches hold the shoes together. With the help of the Scuola del Cuoio in Florence, Tommaso Melani has also launched a training and apprenticeship programme in his workshop, to pass on his skills to those who want to embark on the shoemaker’s profession. Over the next two years the company plans to hire around ten of their best trainees as part of their growth strategy. www.stefanobemersrl.com

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edited by Maura Picciau (Corraini Edizioni) A comprehensive anthology of the best Italian production of Fiber Art: as means of expression, this original art movement employs fibres from ancient and modern textile traditions: wool, silk, cotton, synthetic yarn, paper, straw, twine, metallic and plastic fibres, but also fiberglass and the intangible concept of optical fibre.

I TESORI DELLA FONDAZIONE BUCCELLATI by Gianmaria Buccellati, Rosa Maria Buccellati, Riccardo Gennaioli (Skira) A selection of more than 100 designs by Mario and Gianmaria Buccellati: from jewellery to works in gold and silver. Heirs to the famous Italian goldsmithing tradition that flourished in the Renaissance with Benvenuto Cellini, one of the greatest artists of all times. With a glossary of the main gold-working techniques used in the Middle Ages and in early modern times.

La mia vita con Leonardo

by Pinin Brambilla Barcilon (Electa) The author retraces 20 years of passionate work on the restoration of Leonardo’s Last Supper. Her first approach to Leonardo da Vinci’s masterwork took place in 1997, when it was threatened by new conservation problems. After centuries of deterioration, one of the most exacting and complex restoration works of the 20th century has successfully recovered Da Vinci’s extraordinary art.


by Charlotte and Peter Fiell (Taschen) A spectacular review of more than 1,000 lights: from the first Edison light bulb to beautiful Tiffany lamps, from the futuristic designs of the 1960s and 70s up to the most up-to-date high tech creations. Lights and lamps are organized chronologically and divided by decade, representing the most important styles throughout history: Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Modernism, De Stijl, Pop, Post-modern and Contemporary.


edited by Angela Rui (Corraini Editore) Ugo La Pietra’s first major monographic exhibition embraces his activity from 1960 to the present day. He redefined the relationship between craftsmanship and design and reflected on the evolution of cities, to find innovative, sustainable and livable solutions. The catalogue offers an extensive insight into the rich and versatile work of the nonconformist designer.

Shaker: Function, Purity, Perfection

introduced by Sir Terence Conran (Assouline) This volume is an homage to the Shaker style that influenced the entire 20th century. Illustrated by beautiful images, it was written by the curators of the Shaker Museum of Mount Lebanon in Pennsylvania: a fascinating glimpse into the world of Shaker design, illustrating the principles, techniques and most important works of this extraordinary tradition.

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ALBUMfairs 1

SALONE INTERNAZIONALE DEL MOBILE Milan, Rho-Fiera 14-19 April 2015 The most important furniture exhibition in the world is an allaround showcase of furnishings and decorative objects in every category and style: from unique pieces to furniture sets, ranging from classic to modern and embracing future trends. The interactive multimedia installation (with a dedicated App) in the “In Italy” pavilion will highlight and explain Italian workmanship and style. This remarkable event will feature companies, designers and architects presenting their products and designs, with videos to guide visitors in a virtual exploration of unique Italian knowhow, illustrating the production processes behind each furnishing element. The 18th edition of the SaloneSatellite is not to be missed, with its 700 young designers under the age of 35 from every corner of the globe. www.salonemilano.it


food and nutrition is characterised by the high quality of primary materials and final products: its toptier tradition will be showcased in the Italian pavilion. Italy will be present both in the Exposition site, situated along the Cardo, as well as in Palazzo Italia, the building that will be the institutional meeting place for the hosting country and participating nations. www.expo2015.org CLERKENWELL DESIGN WEEK London 19-21 May 2015 London’s design hub is ready to introduce plenty of innovative ideas. During the sixth edition of the event, showrooms, architecture studios and galleries will open their doors to the public to present their most innovative projects. With the participation of Vitra, Arper, Poltrona Frau, Brintons, Modus, Bowers & Wilkins and many more. www.clerkenwelldesignweek.com



EXPO 2015 FEEDING THE PLANET ENERGY FOR LIFE Milan 1 May-31 October 2015 For six months, 145 countries participating in the Universal Exhibition in Milan will present the best of their technology and products on the theme of feeding the planet, body and soul. Italy’s culture for

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than 1,200 brands from approximately 30 countries will present their precious creations at the important trade show. The Fair promoted the creation of the newly founded Museo del Gioiello in Vicenza, situated inside the Basilica Palladiana. www.vicenzaoro.com


ARTIGIANATO & PALAZZO Florence, Palazzo Corsini 14-17 May 2015 The 21st edition of the craft fair will present ninety of the most talented and qualified artisans from Italy and Europe. In addition to displaying their products, the master craftsmen will hold live demonstrations of their skill and techniques. www.artigianatoepalazzo.it VICENZAORO Vicenza Fiera 5-9 September 2015 The fair is constantly expanding also internationally, with events in Las Vegas, São Paulo, Mumbai, Hong Kong and Dubai. More

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100% DESIGN London, Olympia 23-26 September 2015 London’s biggest contemporary design event brings together the best designers and brands in home and workplace furnishing and decoration. Encompassing kitchen and bathroom, lighting and ceramics, carpets and wallpaper, sofas and armchairs. www.100percentdesign.co.uk CREMONA MONDOMUSICA Cremona 25-27 September 2015 The international exhibition of handcrafted musical instruments is the largest global showcase of excellence. Home to some of the most famous luthiers, including Stradivari, Amati and Guarneri, Cremona preserved its unique musical heritage through the centuries, attaining international renown. The exhibition also hosts many high-level side events. www.cremonamondomusica.it OTHER APPOINTMENTS 1) Mostra Internazionale dell’artigianato Florence, Fortezza da Basso 24 April-3 May 2015 www.mostraartigianato.it 2) London Craft Week London 6-10 May 2015 www.londoncraftweek.com 3) Maison & objet Miami 12-15 May 2015 Paris, Villepinte 4-8 September 2015 www.maison-objet.com 5) Abitare il tempo Verona 30 September-3 October 2015 www.abitareiltempo.com

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Museo del Gioiello The Jewellery Museum was recently inaugurated in Vicenza. An initiative of Fiera di Vicenza and the City of Vicenza, it is the first of its kind in Europe and one of the few in the world. The Museum is situated inside the Basilica Palladiana and directed by Alba Cappellieri, professor of jewellery design at the Politecnico di Milano. Nine exhibition halls offer a unique scientific and learning experience through Symbol, Magic, Function, Beauty, Art, Fashion, Design, Icons, Future. With 500 extraordinary exhibits whose beauty is enhanced by Patricia Urquiola’s functional and evocative staging. The Hall of Beauty was curated by Franco Cologni. The nine monographs that make up the Museum’s catalogue (published by Marsilio) guide visitors in this fascinating experience. www.museodelgioiello.it

THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET: OBJECTS IN EVOLUTION Milan, Museo Poldi Pezzoli 20 May-15 June 2015 The Mediterranean diet (a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage) inspires an exhibition hosting the creations by the Creative Academy students (the design school of the Richemont Group) made with the cooperation of Lombard artisans selected by Ugo La Pietra. Starting from the raw materials, which form the base of Italy’s nutritional and cultural tradition, the young designers will be asked to prepare their ideal table, designing plates, containers, object, and accessories. They will also conceptualise the “conviviality” that characterizes the Italian food experience. In line with the theme of Expo 2015, the project – sustained and supported by the Cologni Foundation – will also illustrate each phase in the making of the show. The objects (in wood, ceramic and glass) will be made in traditional as well as contemporary artisan workshops in Lombardy. Important and unprecedented cultural cross-fertilisation is fuelled by the combina-


tion of the designers’ international backgrounds, the local roots of the artisans, the striking context of the Museo Poldi Pezzoli and the vision of Ugo La Pietra. www.museopoldipezzoli.it Arti e Mestieri: le mani sapienti Milan, Castello Sforzesco Music is one of the positive values of life: the spreading of musical culture and encouraging the practice of music are the founding principles of the Foundation Antonio Carlo Monzino of Milan. The Foundation’s new project will unfold at Milan’s Castello Sforzesco throughout Expo 2015 (from 1 May to 31 October), as part of the Expo in Città programme. Every day, master luthiers will demonstrate how to create, restore and repair stringed instruments, both plucked and bowed. The luthier workshop will be accompanied by live performances by established musicians and young talents. This musical experience looks towards the future, supported by the belief that “knowledge and knowhow” are essential prerequisites for building a new nation. Visitors will appreciate the process of making an instrument and the individual’s development (and of young people in particular) through music. The Cologni Foundation supports this initiative, focusing on the educational and workshop activities. www.fondazioneacmonzino.it www.lemanisapienti.it

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ALBUM shows Lapislazzuli Magia del Blu Florence, Museo degli Argenti 9 June-11 October 2015 The show illustrates the ancient art of crafting ornamental and worship objects with lapis lazuli. One of the most spectacular collections of lapis lazuli in Europe comprehends archaeological artefacts coming from the Indus Valley, Mesopotamia and Egypt and continues through the Renaissance, up to the Medici, with cups, vases and amphorae as well as inlaid furniture, table tops and jewellery produced in the workshops established by Francesco I and Ferdinando I, and that were active until the great Florence dynasty declined. www.polomuseale.firenze.it



Il Principe dei sogni. Giuseppe negli arazzi medicei di Pontormo e Bronzino Milan, Palazzo Reale 29 April-23 August 2015 During Expo 2015, the City of Milan will offer visitors the opportunity to see 20 rare and invaluable 16th-century tapestries reunited, for the first time in 150 years, in an exhibition at Palazzo Reale. The tapestries were commissioned by Cosimo I de’ Medici for the Sala dei Dugento in Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio. The Old Testament story of Joseph is depicted on more than 400 square metres of tapestries that the House of Savoy separated in 1882. Woven by the Flemish master tapestry makers Jan Rost and Nicolas Karcher from the designs by Jacopo Pontormo, Agnolo Bronzino and Francesco Salviati, the tapestries represent one of the finest examples of Renaissance craftsmanship and art. This unique exhibition (sponsored by the Bracco Foundation) will debut in Rome, then move to Milan, and finally at the Palazzo Vecchio, its original location. www.comune.milano.it/palazzoreale


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THE CHARM AND SPLENDOUR OF PORCELAINS IN TURIN Turin, Accorsi-Ometto Museum Until 28 June 2015 Rossetti, Vische and Vinovo are three historic porcelain manufactories in Turin. The show illustrates the spreading of porcelain across Europe and, thanks to the House of Savoy, throughout Piedmont. Organised in collaboration with Palazzo MadamaMuseo Civico di Arte Antica, the exhibition is enriched by works in silver, paintings and engravings from the same era, as well as a table laden with china dating from the end of the 18th century. The centrepiece in Vinovo porcelain portrays the trades and characters of the time. www.fondazioneaccorsi-ometto.it


Piero Fornasetti: THE PRACTICAL MADNESS Paris, Les Arts Décoratifs Until 14 June 2015 After the Triennale Design Museum in Milan, also Paris celebrates the great Milanese artist with an exhibition of more than 1,000 pieces from the extraordinary archive of Barnaba Fornasetti. Painter, printer, designer, collector, refined artisan and decorator, Piero Fornasetti designed and created nearly 13,000 objects and ornamentations. www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr


THE MASTERY OF TIME Milan, Sala Federiciana at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana 15 April-14 June 2015 The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie of Geneva is organizing an anthological exhibition of the rarest and finest timepieces in history to illustrate the relationship between goldsmithing and astronomy. From the first gnomons to the modern marvels of micro-mechanics, a hundred exhibits will be displayed at the historic Sala Federiciana at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, whose international fame is tied to Leonardo da Vinci and to Cardinal Federico Borromeo, who built and donated the library to the City of Milan. Visitors will discover the technological and scientific conquests that eventually allowed watchmakers to reach their goal: precision. A quest that has always gone hand in hand with the métiers d’art, which have contributed to creating the precious and extraordinary masterpieces on display, quintessential examples of expertise and savoir faire. The Mastery of Time is also narrated in a book by historian Dominique Fléchon.

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29 The Milan exhibition is held in collaboration with the Cologni Foundation for the Métiers d’Art. www.ambrosiana.eu

ers such as Baccarat, Saint Louis, Daum, Lalique, Gallé, Tiffany, Marinot, Decorchemont. But also lesser known artists, waiting to be discovered. www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr

Trésors de sable et de feu. Verre et cristal du XIV au XXI siècle Paris, Les Arts Décoratifs 9 April-15 November 2015 The museum holds one of the most important glass collections in France. The international history of glass manufacturing is illustrated in 12 halls. Masters from China and the Orient, France and Europe, Venice, Bohemia, Scandinavia, and exceptional produc-

Alexander McQueen, Savage Beauty London, Victoria & Albert Museum 14 March-2 August 2015 The first European retrospective of McQueen’s genius. The British designer’s innovative creations are masterfully recounted through his spectacular fashion shows. Originally staged at the MET in New York, the exhibition was one of the ten most visited shows of all times. www.vam.ac.uk High Style: The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection San Francisco, Legion of Honor Until 2 August 2015 An interesting digression on the history of fashion from 1910 to 1980 through 60 creations that include designs by Jeanne Lanvin, Elsa Schiaparelli, Gabrielle Chanel and Hubert de Givenchy. Alongside these stars, other important American pioneering fashion designers, active between 1930 and 1940, such as Charles James, Elizabeth Hawes, Sally Victor and Gilbert Adrian. Thirty accessories and fashion sketches from the Brooklyn Museum will also be on display. www.legionofhonor.famsf.org


Jeanne Lanvin Paris, Palais Galliera Until 23 August 2015 Reopened after meticulous restoration works, the museum presents its vast permanent costume collection and celebrates the oldest French maison de couture. Dedicated to Jeanne Lanvin (1867-1946), the exhibition was curated in close collaboration with the fashion house’s artistic director Alber Elbaz, and brings together a hundred exceptional models from the archives 5 of Lanvin and Palais Galliera. Exclusive fabrics, embroidery, lace, patterns and colours are the results of the maison’s con-


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stant explorations, which ranged from classic French style to more futuristic patterns in black and white. www.palaisgalliera.paris.fr 5

DéboutonneR la Mode Paris, Les Arts Décoratifs Until 19 July 2015 “Unbuttoning fashion” features more than 3,000 buttons (dating from 1700 to 2000) that embellish evening dresses or suits like charming jewels. The show is a trove of more than 100 different items of clothing and accessories from great designers: Paul Poiret, Elsa Schiaparelli, Christian Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier among many others. www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr KITCHENS AND INVADERS Milan, Triennale Design Museum 9 April 2015-21 February 2016 The 8th edition of the Triennale Design Museum, coinciding with Expo 2015, presents an exhibition inspired by The Body Snatchers, Jack Finney’s 1955 science fiction novel, made famous by Don Siegel’s screen adaptation. The exhibition illustrates the relentless transformation of kitchen utensils into machines and robots. An army of “invaders” that have taken over many human activities in the kitchen: from refrigerators to microwaves, from coffee machines to toasters, from kitchen waste disposal units to cooker hoods, from kettles to mixers, from fryers to ice cream makers. Advertisements, manuals, films, documentaries, books and games highlight the transition to technology. www.triennale.org

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Eb sy p A o sl ie zs si oa n id r a d e N i t t o

SOURCES OF INSPIRATION This page, Lucien Falize’s goblet Les métiers d’art inspired the exhibition Mutations at Les Arts Décoratifs museum in Paris. Opposite page, Vacheron Constantin’s master engraver.



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Dialogues on

The 2015 edition of the European Artistic Crafts Days, the important international event promoted by the Institut National des Métiers d’Art (INMA) and staged in Milan, Paris, Geneva and other European cities, will feature various high-profile initiatives under the evocative theme “Territories of Innovation”. In partnership with Vacheron Constantin, the historic Geneva fine watchmaker, this exceptional network of events will join traditional and contemporary expressions of craftsmanship over the course of three days. To celebrate this special occasion, from 27 March to 5 July 2015 Les Arts Décoratifs museum in Paris presents Mutations, an extraordinary exhibition curated by Eric-Sébastien Faure-Lagorce. This innovative and visionary show is based on the juxtaposition of artworks: teams of creative professionals (craftsmen, artists and designers) reinterpret designs, techniques and materials of iconic objects from the museum’s prized collection, to create nine entirely new pieces of contemporary art. The dialogue between the new creations and their historical inspirations bears witness to a creative evolution - or “mutation” – and to its inseparable relationship with tradition. The starting point and the striking fil rouge of this theme is one of the most important objects in the museum’s collection and a true icon of the highest workmanship: the hanap Les métiers d’art, a covered goblet by the great goldsmith, jeweller and forerunner of Art Nouveau Lucien Falize.


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CULTURE REVEALED Above, on 28 March the basilica of San Calimero in Milan will host a special concert of polyphonic music. Top, the hall of the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum in Milan will house the Intrecci exhibition. Opposite page, the artisans of Vacheron Constantin will welcome visitors at the Maison’s historical atelier at Quai de l’Ile, Geneva.


This masterpiece in gold and enamel was commissioned for the Universal Exhibition of 1900 and demonstrates the heights reached by Falize in compositional and technical virtuosity, particularly in the use of highly complex and sophisticated enamelling techniques. The goblet’s symbolic iconography, illustrating Renaissance artisans in the act of working wood, stone, earth, glass, metal, leather, textiles and paper, symbolises the ideals of the Union centrale des arts décoratifs (now Les arts décoratifs), an organisation founded in 1864 and dedicated to encouraging refined craftsmanship under the motto of “art, science and craft”. An exceptional accomplishment and a tribute to the master craftsmen of the past as well as to the collections of the museum. The Paris exhibition thus opens with the symbolic comparison between Falize’s masterpiece and its contemporary counterpart: Corps de métiers, a composition created by the artist Stéfane Perraud consisting of thirty-two elements representing arts and crafts. Visitors are invited to explore the eight halls of the exhibition (true laboratories of research) which are divided by theme and material. Works of the past and contemporary creations engage in a dialogue that illustrates the links, affinities and transformations that the creativity of the designers and the expertise of the great craftsmen (including goldsmiths, jewellers, sculptors, cabinet-makers, workers in glass and stone, metal engravers, makers of fabrics and wallpapers, potters, saddlers and many others) who have been invited to demonstrate the evolution of artistic crafts. The making of these artworks was supported by Vacheron Constantin: a Maison committed to excellence, innovation and openness to contemporary trends, whilst remaining true to the great prestige of its unique heritage. In Geneva, twenty-seven cultural institutions will open their doors and put their expertise on display during the European Artistic Crafts Days (27-29 March); to celebrate 260 years of fine watchmaking, Vacheron Constantin will be welcoming the public in its celebrated atelier at Quai de l’Ile, in the heart of the city. For three days, visitors will have the opportunity to meet the Maison’s artisans as they display their masterful techniques in gem setting and engraving, and in the creation of wonderful timepieces. For the second year running, the Swiss canton of Vaud will also be opening its workshops to the public on the occasion of the European Artistic Crafts Days. In Milan, the Cologni Foundation for the Métiers d’Art, in collaboration with other Milanese partners and Vacheron Constantin’s support, has put together a rich program of cultural events dedicated to artistic craftsmanship and the applied arts. The dialogue between time-honoured traditions and contemporary creativity is further developed in the stimulating exhibition Intrecci, conceived by the young team of Segno

emanuele zamponi - museo bagatti valsecchi

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italiano, an organisation committed to heightening recognition of the finest craftsmanship through its cultural protection and commercial promotion at an international level. Segno italiano has curated high-quality contemporary artefacts for scenes of “Italian family life”. The exhibition is staged in the stunning hall of the Bagatti Valsecchi museum in Milan and will highlight one of the ancient traditional crafts of Italy: basket-weaving in willow, wicker, cane and other plants. Fine handmade baskets in towering totem-poles spectacularly turn the spotlight on an artistic craft that is still very much alive in many Italian regions. Segno Italiano’s vision connects master craftsmen with new dimensions of a symbolic, metropolitan design. Visitors to the incredible house-museThree days of meetings with master um will discover this technique in a multimedia guided tour craftsmen, demonstrations, special openings of illustrating the secrets of the works on display. The Cologni institutions, museums, workshops and Foundation’s engagement continues with a lecture (presented by the Scuola CorsiArte in collaboration with the “Associazione thematic itineraries provide an extraordinary 5VIE Art+Design”) on Milanese artistic crafts and applied arts. window on artisan talent The lecture takes place at the historic seat of the SIAM, the Society for the encouragement of arts and crafts. The private school Scuola CorsiArte of Milan, founded in 1994, is unique in its kind: it specialises in the history of ancient, modern and contemporary decorative arts, preparing professionals with a complete set of historic-artistic knowledge and technical-diagnostic skills. To enhance the value of workmanship and promote its diffusion in a tangible way, the Cologni Foundation invites citizens and tourists to discover the workshops of Milanese master craftsmen and the places where the products created by great artisans are showcased and sold. In synergy with the events in Geneve, Paris and Vaud, during the weekend of the European Artistic Crafts Days it will be possible to visit the workshops and ateliers of master craftsmen situated in the historic central area of Milan traditionally associated with artistic knowhow: the Cinque Vie (Five Streets), located between Corso Magenta, Via Santa Marta and the Darsena. On Saturday evening of the same weekend, everyone is invited to a special concert by the Ensemble Vocale Harmonia Cordis at the Basilica di San Calimero. The choir interprets works by great composers who have innovated the formal language of religious polyphonic music. With three days of exhibitions, meetings with master craftsmen, demonstrations, special openings of institutions, museums, schools, workshops and thematic itineraries, the ninth edition of the European Artistic Crafts Days is a unique and extraordinary showcase for artisan talent, linking the rediscovery and conservation of traditions with new examples of contemporary craftsmanship.


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This page, master decorator Zhang Qinglong carves a vegetable using only the simplest of tools: sharp knives of various shapes and sizes, scoops, and a potato-peeler (opposite page).

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Savoury crafts


is served

A dish should please the eye as well as the taste buds: this is the philosophy of a refined Chinese restaurant in Milan. At Bon Wei, a master craftsman carves sublime fruit and vegetable decorations for the restaurant’s genuine traditional dishes. What may appear as simple decorations are in fact the expression of a millennial culture based on symbolism

by Lara Lo Calzo

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photos by Laila Pozzo

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Savoury crafts

The great Chinese philosopher Confucius is famous for his thinking, but few people know about his love of food and the talent for the culinary arts that ran in his family. For generations, the Kongs developed superb recipes and preparation methods that the Chinese Ministry of Commerce studies and protects as a national treasure; a heritage of ancient wisdom that has its roots in traditional medicine and philosophy. Confucius is quoted as saying that a man always delights in refined food and finely minced meat. Then as now, the Chinese consider food not only a pleasure for the palate but also a source of health and long life. Great care was always devoted to the presentation of each course: for grand banquets with important guests, no expense was spared in sumptuous table decorations, while chefs skilfully prepared serving dishes in extraordinary shapes and arrangements in order to create a perfect visual and culinary effect. “A dish should always satisfy the eye as well as the palate,” says Le Zhang, manager and business partner of Bon Wei, a high-end Chinese restaurant in Milan. Without making mediocre compromises to suit Western tastes, Bon Wei is one of the few restaurants in Italy to offer the unique variety of flavours, recipes and ingredients that are typical of China’s genuine traditional regional dishes. On top of its vast menu, fresh ingredients and high-quality dishes, another great reason to try the Bon Wei is Zhang Qinglong, master food decorator and specialist in food presentation. Zhang, who was born and raised in China, developed his skills in his homeland: he studied art at high school and later transferred his passion for design and aesthetics to the world of food. Attending a cooking school enabled him to perfect his technique, but his manual dexterity is his

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very own personal resource, drawing on his creativity and experience. Zhang’s talent finds expression in the carving of simple and complex sculptures in various sizes, which accompany Bon Wei’s meat and fish dishes and several desserts. With skilful and exact movements, and a working design only in his head, Zhang Qinglong carves vegetables and fruit - pumpkins, potatoes, carrots, beets, daikon radishes, coconuts and pineapples - to create flowers, animals, faces, dragons and other figures inspired by Chinese mythology as well as more elaborate compositions. One of his most memorable scenes was carved from a pumpkin: “fisherman on a rock” with a cane, fishing line, river and tiny fish. When one of the dishes decorated by Zhang Qinglong is set on the table, the immediate aim of Chinese cuisine is achieved: to amaze the diner by pleasing the eye. Beyond the first impact,


Above, eagle on a flowering tree trunk. In creating his sculptures, Zhang Qinglong does not follow a design by only his imagination; the mental image of the final result guides every stage of his work (opposite page).

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Savoury crafts

This page, a rooster. Discipline does not suffocate Zhang Qinglong visible passion, without which nothing would be possible. Bon Wei is in Milan, Via Lodovico Castelvetro 16-18 (tel. +39.02.341308; www.bon-wei.it).

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it is the beginning of a journey that is not only culinary but also cultural. What appears to be just a decoration to the Western eye, even if performed to painstaking perfection, is in actual fact the expression of a civilization that, for thousands of years, has developed one of the most complex symbolic systems of humanity. Symbolism still plays a central role in daily life and in art; it has to be allusive and evoke images or analogies. The length of noodles, for example, is evocative of longevity, making it an inspired choice for a birthday menu. Similarly, fish swimming in pairs are a good omen for a happy marriage. This rule applies to the decoration of dishes too: every carved vegetable figure is a metaphor. Allegories that have survived unaltered for centuries, because China’s respect for tradition is a distinguishing feature of all its art, whose aim is not so much to innovate as to perpetuate traditions, and in which the virtuosity of

the artist always plays a primary role. Master decorators have always drawn their inspiration mainly from mythology and nature, which, for the Chinese, is permeated with sacredness, mystery and the fundamental meaning of life. The crane represents immortality, the chrysanthemum is a symbol of happiness and long life, the lotus of fertility, the peacock of nobility, and you could go on indefinitely. Sometimes, however, the decorations are there simply to remind the guest of what he is eating. Though symbolism is a fundamental and intrinsic element, in order to give the sculpture his own personal style an artist can draw on many subjects, according to his fancy, the occasion that is celebrated and also the season. It takes an immense creativity in order to keep renewing tradition: every day, Zhang Qinglong goes into the restaurant like a craftsman to his workshop and “fishes� in his imagination. Before our astonished eyes, in little over an hour Zhang Qinglong carves life into a peacock and a magnificent bird in the act of alighting on a trunk, both sculpted from a pumpkin using only a small sharp knife and a few simple tools. He carves with his eyes fixed on his work, the lines on his face are calm and focused, his nimble hands move quickly, his routine is carefully organised: there is no place for error in his constant search for perfection. But discipline does not suffocate his visible passion, without which nothing would be possible. The artist with the heart of a craftsman cherishes the creature that he brings to life with all the care it takes. The same care that is fundamental at Bon Wei, where the guests are served according to a solemn and ancient custom, in which the decoration of the dishes enhances one of the most famous cuisines in the world.

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Food science

ffini a n g i Gr a e r d An

TO BIO OR NOT TO BIO THAT IS NOT THE QUESTION A chef brings the self and the world into contact. The raw material is the ontological datum of all culinary activity. When selected according to the season and skilfully manipulated, it can be elevated to something ethical

Mimicking the famous question in Hamlet’s soliloquy, biblically speaking we favour the fleshy crunchiness of an apple that, in a time warp, takes us back to the Pleistocene Age of all culinary mysteries. After all, was this not the very first culinary revelation? When it is carried out with meticulous methodology, cooking is an exact science, like geometry. So, with a touch of dogmatic arrogance we affirm that the only incontrovertible truth is, yet again, to be found in the authenticity of raw materials. From the utensils to the culinary performance, from the elements to be worked to the mental freshness of the chef, food and the handling of food depend on the ontological isolation of one concept: raw materials, like prime numbers in mathematics, are single indivisible entities.


Cooking is nothing other than the science and art of vanitas. It is the mastery of a technical skill that attempts to control nature within the thresholds of freshness and decay, like a tennis ball being hit back and forth in a rally played very close the net. Take the practice of meat hanging, for example, which, like marinating, is a sort of controlled rotting procedure. While leavening shares with the kingdom of decay the bacteria responsible for fermentation. Therefore, the raw material is the ontological datum of all culinary activities, as well as

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it represents an ethical question for the chef, who selects and ennobles only those worldly elements that are worthy of being cooked and introduced into our bodies: that is, embodied. It is from this position that the ethics of food should be discussed before lapsing into blind fundamentalism. Although eating is an inherently hedonistic activity for all of us, most of the time we fail to acknowledge that it is the connection between what is our own and what is not, between the individual and the world that we almost always uncritically engorge without reflecting on the implications of our choices.

Forgetting, as Hippocrates taught us, that the human body is a temple. To prefer seasonal foods, which are universally know for their more intense smell and flavour, is not just a hedonistic choice; it also represents a political choice, as well as a display of knowledge and erudition, since the cognisant chef understands the nature of foods and their space-time relevance. Like the shaman for Native Americans, the figure of the chef could be examined from an anthropological point of view. And, in the light of his responsibilities, considered as the one who, in interpreting and manipulating matter, brings about the reunion of two active elements involved in cooking, the self and the world. Thus embodying both the agent and the theoretician of a real phenomenology of perception.

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We must go back to the nineteenth century in order to trace the origins of Gebrüder Thonet, founded in 1853 in Vienna by Prussian cabinetmaker Michael Thonet and his five sons. Thonet became a legendary name in the furniture industry thanks to the steam-bending technique that he developed using a chemical and mechanical process. This innovation allowed Thonet to produce bentwood furniture that was elegant and at the same time rational. Many hallmark pieces date back to this era, starting from the No. 1 chair, designed for the famous Palais Schwarzenberg in Vienna. No. 1 is the archetypical Thonet chair from which all the other models were developed, including No. 14, the Thonet chair par excellence. In 1911, the company’s catalogue featured 980 different models and by 1920 the company was so successful that it was selling an impressive 30 million chairs. Legendary in form as well as in the quality of their construction, these chairs continue to fascinate us to this day. François Burkhardt, design historian and an expert in Gebrüder Thonet, retraces the company’s more recent history, which is still firmly projected into the future. Ugo La Pietra

The Arch Coffee Table (2014), by Swedish design group Front. Opposite page, Pablo Picasso in his inseparable Thonet rocking chair in his studio in Cannes.

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Eccellenze dal mondo



Curves by Franรงois Burkhardt

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from «thonet 14» by giovanni renzi, silvana editoriale




The Gebrüder Thonet brand has become an established icon primarily for its beech bentwood furniture. Thonet’s invention was patented in the first half of the twentieth century and subsequently copied and produced around the world. The famous Viennese manufacturer added a new chapter to its history when Poltrona Frau was transferred from Charme (its Italian parent company since 2001) to the American brand Haworth. The change in ownership did not include Gebrüder Thonet, prompting the survival of this symbol of European industrialisation and a new course for the Austrian branch. Emblematically, the brand’s core values - product innovation and renewal - have clearly been diluted over the years. Analysing the changes in ownership that have characterised the company’s history, it is possible to see how it has drifted away from a production based on artisan and industrial research and development (as established by its founder, Thonet), to an approach governed by the interests of shareholders and investors, reflecting the economic policy of market globalisation. Gebrüder Thonet’s exit from the Charme Group is not surprising if we consider that Poltrona Frau’s management always regarded it as a prestigious investment, given the renown of the brand, showing no true desire

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to revive its production. As a matter of fact, with the exception of an initial launch of a series of re-issues, production has steadily dwindled over the years, with very limited investments in promotion and advertising. Gebrüder Thonet became a group within the group, practically abandoned and left to its own devices. The Friedberg plant, in Austria, was shut down a few years after the acquisition, and even the museum owned by Thonet Vienna, a unique collection with extremely rare pieces, has been abandoned for a long time. So it comes as no surprise that in 2014 the company was sold to its current Italian owner, Production Furniture International S.p.A. (located in Brandizzo, near Torino), which has relaunched the company under a new brand: Wiener GTV Design (GTV being the acronym for Gebrüder Thonet Vienna). The development plan elaborated by the new company shows that the perspective is changing. The production of re-issues (originally undertaken by Poltrona Frau) has recommenced and the “RE Classic” and “RE Master of Vienna” collections, which focus on the brand’s vintage lines, will be continued and further developed with the collaboration of architect Giovanni Renzi (a European specialist in Thonet production), to guarantee the authenticity of the original products. In the

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from ÂŤthonet 14Âť by giovanni renzi, silvana editoriale



The characteristic blond beechwood curl that made the first Thonets famous. Above, ten variations on the theme of the No. 14 chair, from 1865 to 1915. Opposite page, beachwood is still steam-bent, in a process that is both chemical and mechanical.

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PICASSO AND FREUD PRIZED THE EXCLUSIVITY OF THONET’S DESIGN Contemporary line, Wiener GTV Design is considering the possibility of resuming production of Thonet’s most representative and outstanding contemporary designs: the furniture developed by Enzo Mari with an innovative and refined (and expensive) technique; the chairs designed by Vico Magistretti; and new models in the very traditional Thonet category of rocking chairs. Only time will tell if the new editions will incarnate the perfect craftsmanship that Mari and Magistretti themselves once oversaw. Among the designs inherited from Poltrona Frau, the new company is continuing the production of the chairs created by Ernst Beranek and Hermann Czech, two esteemed Viennese designers. Hopefully, Wiener GTV Design will also develop new products with young Austrian designers (of which there is no shortage), in order to try to achieve what Poltrona Frau was unable to do: mend relations with the Austrian capital and its culture, politics and local economy after the disappointment caused by moving to Italy a company that was deeply rooted in its territory. A company that, it must be remembered, wrote an important page in the glorious history of Viennese Modernism. The first step taken in this direction was the opening of a showroom

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in Stilwerk Vienna. In addition, the company’s new art direction has been trying to create a team of young designers to develop original products and projects to revive the steam-bending techniques and procedures of the past. In doing so, the company intends to position its products in the mid-upper market segment while keeping overhead low. I believe it is a good choice to involve young international designers such as Swedish Charlie Styrbjörn Nilsson, who created the original interior “Ladder”, and Front, another Swedish studio, who designed the new “Arch” coffee table. Equally interesting is the collaboration with British designer Nigel Coates, who was a member of England’s rebel design generation in the Seventies. His “Lehnstuhl” lounge chair continues Thonet’s tradition, which surely will not lose its value over time. Other more recent projects are less innovative, such as “Hold On” and “Brezel”, which have only marginally developed the potential of curved wood. In my opinion, this is the aspect that should be advanced and emphasised with new production techniques, similarly to how Enzo Mari interpreted and renewed Thonet both formally and technically. This is the way by which the new company will advance into contemporaneity, firmly sustained by the pillars of its solid and glorious traditions.

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The GTV “Schaukelstuhl” rocking chair and the “Arch” coffee table. Opposite page, the indoor “Ladder” (design by Charlie Styrbjörn Nilsson, 2014) and another production phase.

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by Isabella Villafranca Soissons*

Conservation and restoration on works by (from left) Agostino Bonalumi, Alberto Biasi and Anselm Kiefer performed in the Milanese laboratories of Open Care - Servizi per l’Arte (www.opencare.it).

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Heritage preserved


Restoring the


CONTEMPORARY ART DETERIORATES JUST LIKE CLASSICAL ART. GIVING RISE TO A NEW SPECIALISATION IN THE FIELD OF CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION * D i r e c t o r o f t h e D e p a r t m e n t f o r R e s t o ra t i o n and Conser vation at Open Care – Ser vizi per l ’Arte

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Heritage preserved

C Top left, the restoration of Salvatore Scarpitta’s Untitled n. 9 (1958), mixed media on bandages and canvas; in the centre, the laboratory for the restoration and conservation of artworks in multiple materials.

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Contemporary art has become “fashionable” in recent decades: an enthralling adventure, like a modern Grand Tour in a globalised world that is crowded, multifaceted and sometimes contradictory. The roles of museum directors, curators, gallerists, collectors, artists and auction house managers are less defined and often overlap, as professions blend and their boundaries become increasingly blurred. The substantial difference between contemporary and classical art does not lie only in the multitude of materials used, but also in the fact that the former has paved the way to new forms of collecting, to new professional roles, to changing relationships, ethical approaches and conservation methods. Contemporary art is often created for contexts outside of the museum, with the purpose of encouraging reflection, challenging established certainties and compelling us to ponder the idea of impermanence. In contrast to ancient art, which was intended to be preserved and handed down through history. This break with the past began with the avant-garde movements, when artists started to use new expressive forms to represent the reality and technology of the modern world. To accomplish this change, they turned to materials found in everyday life, using a wide variety of non-traditional media, often daringly assembled: plastic containers, light bulbs, cement and garbage bags, as well as more organic and natural materials (blood, manure, animal hides, etc.).

Artists no longer choose materials for their durability, as was the case in the past, but rather focus on the concept that they want to convey, which is often expressed in the implosion of the artwork itself. The new meaning attributed to the concept of work of art, the experimentation with new materials and techniques and the introduction of a dynamic dimension that transforms the relationship to time have brought about the need for a novel approach to restoration. Leading to a new specialisation, in order to tackle the restoration (or, rather, conservation) of contemporary art with a versatile and open approach. Because established protocols and technical and manual skills no longer suffice; conservators must also be aware of the challenges posed by new materials, whose future behaviour is often unpredictable. Synthetic plastics are an excellent example of this: materials intended to last forever present manifold and diverse conservation problems, at times at odds with each other, since what is recommended for one material may prove to be detrimental to another. The conservator’s task is therefore to minimise decay and reduce the effects of time, keeping an accurate record of any change that may occur in the artwork. The creative thought is given shape not only by means of multiple materials, but also through different expressive languages. Many artists no longer present static figurative images, but interactive environments and monumental works that modify our perception of space

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Eccellenze dal mondo

and cause a sense of disorientation. Any subsequent presentation of these installations often entails rethinking their staging or, conversely, the precise execution of the artist’s instructions. In these cases, the conservator’s role takes on a new and important significance: to re-configure the installations, preserving the materials, the appearance and the meaning of the artwork, it is necessary to make an in-depth analysis with the artist himself and to refer to new documentation tools. In fact, prior to performing any conservation work on contemporary art, it is essential to carry out a long and accurate study of the materials used, always taking into account the artist’s intention. Consequently, the ideal situation is for the artist to provide detailed instructions on the manner and degree of intervention allowed on his compositions. In case this documentation is not available, or if the artist is deceased, it

is necessary to consult the artist’s foundation, archives and relevant galleries. The information gathered often clashes with the thinking and interests of the owner, who normally wishes to preserve the artwork as long as possible and in the best physical condition; in such a divided reality, legal experts are often engaged in the difficult task of establishing theoretical principles and protecting the parties involved. The restorer’s job has thus become multifaceted and complex, requiring the integration of insight and manual skills with technical knowledge in other fields. Contemporary art conservation is the furthermost boundary for a noble “métier d’art”, in which Italy has always excelled. A craft that has had to grapple with the new dimension of an unstable and perpetually evolving art. A fascinating profession that is facing a rich and engaging future and that is consistently ready to accept new challenges.

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Top right, a specialised restorer of Open Care in the process of cleaning Mercuriale, a dynamic work made by the artist Grazia Varisco in the late 1960s. The “art clinic” was founded in 2003.


In opera. Conservare e restaurare l’arte contemporanea by Isabella Villafranca Soissons focuses on the fascinating theme of contemporary art restoration. The project was born from a cooperation between the Cologni Foundation and Open Care – Servizi per l’arte. Published in the “Mestieri d’arte” series (Marsilio Editori), the survey aims at assessing the state of conservation and restoration of contemporary

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art through important contributions from illustrious experts, collectors, artists, curators of museums and of private and public collections. The book investigates, under a new and contemporary light, the ancient craft of art restoration. A specialisation in which traditional competencies and new technical, scientific and curatorial expertise converge. The volume will be presented in May 2015 at the Venice Biennale.

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Te m p l e s o f s a v o i r - f a i re

Above, the late German artist Otto Piene decorating porcelain at the Artcampus in Meissen (www.meissen.com). Opposite page, a porcelain figurine of a lady in the moulding workshop at the Nymphenburg manufactory (www.nymphenburg.com).

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At the beginning of the 18th century, in Germany, a chemist and a physicist discovered the formula for porcelain: soon after, the legendary manufactories of Meissen, Nymphenburg and Rosenthal were founded

by Francesca Sammartino

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52 Augustus II, king of Poland and Elector of Saxony, was a collector who suffered from what he himself described as a “maladie de porcelaine”

According to the Chinese, Kao-ling and pai-tun-tzu represent the “backbone” and the “meat” of porcelain. Today they are commonly known as kaolin and feldspar; combined with quartz they form an alchemical compound that lies at the heart of the purity and hardness of the so-called “white gold” developed in China as early as the T’ang dynasty (618-907). After many unfruitful attempts, between 1708-1709 the miracle was achieved in Germany, where E. W. Von Tschirnhaus, physicist and chemist, and J. F. Böttger, alchemist, managed to reproduce a porcelain which was almost identical to the Chinese kind. The first European manufactory of hardpaste porcelain was thus established in Meissen in 1710, by the command of Augustus II the Strong, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony and a great collector of precious Chinese porcelains. Augustus suffered from what he himself called a “maladie de porcelaine”: an obsession more than a passion. Jealous of the discovery, the King prohibited the copying of the recipe and ordered that the Meissen porcelain factory be transferred to the castle of Albrechtsburg, an impregnable fortress near a kaolin mine. Shortly after, however, the secret was leaked, spreading rapidly across Europe. Porcelain factories started popping up in France, at Limoges and Sèvres, and Italy, at Doccia. All conveniently situated

close to kaolin deposits, the sedimentary rock on which the purity of the finished product depends. In the Meissen manufactory, the creation of statues was entrusted to the sculptor Kirchner, later succeeded by Kändler. Hundreds of life-size porcelain animals were produced for the “Japanese Palace” in Dresden. Under Kändler, who became master modeller in 1733, new decorative motifs and china sets were developed, as well as the famous figurines inspired by the Orient, the Italian “commedia dell’arte” and by everyday life. The methodical collecting mania first of King Augustus II the Strong and later of his son Augustus III have left us today the wonderful collection preserved inside the Dresden State Art Collections (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden). In particular, the Porcelain Collection (Porzellansammlung) boasts some exceptional pieces, ranging from the Chinese Ming dynasty to the early 16th and 17th-century Imari and Kakiemon Japanese porcelains. The collection features samples of extraordinary artistic skill and illustrates the development of Meissen porcelain from its invention to the late 19th century. Since 1962, the museum is located in the Zwinger complex, where New York architect Peter Marino redesigned the interiors of the two Curved Galleries (Bogengalerien) and of the Animal Hall (Tiersaal) in 2010, innovatively

Above, the crossed swords are the mark of Meissen porcelain. Top, fine porcelain Landscape Shibori Rosenthal cup and saucer, by the Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola (www.rosenthal.de). Opposite page, clockwise from top left: a phase in the production process of the limited edition Meissen “Elephant” candlestick designed by Max Esser in 1924; the model and mould archive at the Nymphenburg manufactory; the kiln; moulding.

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Te m p l e s o f s a v o i r - f a i re

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Te m p l e s o f s a v o i r - f a i re

combining his eclectic and provocative style with the purity of the objects on display. But Saxony was not the only German region that knew the secret of porcelain. Bavaria, specifically Munich, is home to the ancient Nymphenburg manufactory, situated in the grounds of the namesake castle. Founded in 1747 by Prince Elector Maximilian III of Bavaria, in 1761 the headquarters were moved to the summer residence of the Wittelsbach royal family and the name of the factory was accordingly changed to Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg. Among the most representative works of the manufactory, still greatly appreciated today, we find the Skull, from the Memento Mori collection, created in 1756 by Ignaz Günther; Clara, inspired by the first rhinoceros that reached Europe from Bengal in 1741; the luxurious dinner service created in honour of Maximilian III Joseph of Bavaria featuring floral and butterfly decorations. In the 20th century, the porcelain factory collaborated with some of the greatest names of fashion and design, such as Wolfgang von Wersin - who designed the Lotus collection in the 1930s - Christian Lacroix, Elie Saab and Vivienne Westwood. As famous as Meissen and Nymphenburg is the house of Rosenthal, founded in 1879 by Philipp Rosenthal at Selb, in Upper Franconia. The company initially specialised in

the decoration of white porcelain, but soon set up its own production. In 1950, his son Philip Rosenthal turned the company into the first porcelain manufactory to open to design and contemporary art: combining tradition and modernity, Rosenthal collaborated with famous artists, such as Walter Gropius, Jasper Morrison and Enzo Mari for the Studio-Line, an autonomous brand that stemmed directly from new trends inspired by industrial design. Design is not Rosenthal’s only specialisation: since the 1970s, it has developed deep bonds with art too, which have climaxed in collaborations with artists the likes of Henry Moore, Lucio Fontana, Salvador Dalì and Andy Warhol, who all created limited edition porcelain sculptures and glass and porcelain objects for the Rosenthal Limited Edition Art Series. In 1993, for the first time in the history of fashion and porcelain, a co-branding agreement was sealed between designer Gianni Versace and Rosenthal. The iconic symbols of Versace - the Medusa head, the Greek fretwork, the rich baroque decorations, the vibrant colours and the gold – were reinterpretated in Rosenthal’s porcelain creations. In 2009, the historic trademark was acquired by the Italian group Sambonet Paderno Industrie, which has preserved the house’s original spirit.

Above, the colour chart used in the Nymphenburg manufactory’s paint laboratory. Top, design vases by Rosenthal Studio-Line in white and black porcelain and new “mat” finish. From left, black Phases vase by Studio Dror, Papyrus by Vittorio Passaro, Plissée by Martin Freyer and, in the foreground, Surface vase by Achim Haigis. Opposite page, detail of the Antemann Dreams collection by Meissen couture Artcampus.

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55 The alchemical union between kaolin and feldspar lies at the heart of the purity and hardness of a substance developed in China as early as the T’ang dynasty

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Discovering talents

CONTAMINATION AND EXPERIMENTATION Barbara Abaterusso combines the strength of metal to the grace of embroidery (this page). Opposite page, the Roman designer poses in front of one of her screens. Her furniture elements are either one-offs or produced in very small series, like in a Renaissance workshop.

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by Giovanna Marchello


Objects with

a soul


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Barbara Abaterusso’s bioits feasibility.” The production is then entrusted to the graphical notes describe her skilled hands of the master as an architect and designer. As is often the case in the craftsmen carefully selected contemporary scene, it is hard by Barbara Abaterusso, and to find perfectly fitting defiwho have been collaborating nitions for the multifaceted with her workshop for years universe that is generated at in a very close and familiar the crossroads of art, design relationship. “Each piece is and the crafts. Making it all clothed, caressed, polished the more difficult to identiwith stones, coated with lac“WHEN I INVENT A NEW quer, silver or pure gold, and fy and catalogue not only a then burnished and glazed. product but also its maker. TECHNIQUE, I ALWAYS MAKE Barbara Abaterusso herself is Everything is made by hand. THE FIRST PIECES, BECAUSE still looking for a definition in What makes my atelier simI WANT TO TRY OUT THE which she feels comfortable. ilar to a 16th century work“Similarly to a 16th century shop is that I use materials PROCESS AND ITS FEASIBILITY” workshop: perhaps this is the that impose their own time, indifferent to the speed, techbest way to describe the way I nology and efficiency of this modern age. The techniques work. I am not strictly a designer, because I don’t deal with I invent are based on traditional procedures that I respect industrial products; I am not an artisan, because there is an even in their rituality.” Barbara Abaterusso is both an inartistic and a spiritual quality in what I do that sets my work ventor and an alchemist, especially in the combination of aside from a pure craft; and finally, I believe that when one “materials that don’t get on together.” To create lace works starts from a conception that is so high, so intangible and on iron she uses rust, an alternative decoration to the anfulfilling, the result naturally overflows in the realm of art.” tique pieces from her grandmother’s personal collection. Drawing on her family heritage, which extends from Venice “My job is to invent, even in terms of techniques.” And she to Salento (the southernmost tip of Apulia) and is rooted in developed a great number in the course of the years. The ones textiles, theatrical costumes and the rich Italian tradition of she focuses her production on are lacquered wood, embroirefined lace and embroidery, Barbara Abaterusso developed dered metal, bronze casting, rust, wood burning, resin wood a very personal expressive dimension. It starts in the matter with silver or gold gilt or ivory lacquer and antique lace. She and manifests itself through the ritual creative gesture. “I also makes quite a number of bespoke pieces. “When I am think that the added value I gave to my family’s history lies creating for someone, I don’t change my personality. But, like in the fact that I have transformed pieces of furniture into an actor, I have to identify myself as far as possible with my nearly sacred objects. Objects that contain and preserve a client, in order to understand and interpret his wishes.” secret, emotional, passionate world that is so typically feminine.” Barbara Abaterusso’s furniture elements are all eiBarbara Abaterusso is not afraid of being copied and imitated. Because, she says, “the difference between an artist and ther one-offs or produced in very small series. Cupboards, an artisan lies in the capacity to invent. I used textiles, and in screens, thrones, tables, lamps. Feminine and masculine universes mix and blend in each element. On the one hand, this sense I didn’t conceive anything new. But nobody every the ethereal grace of lace and embroidery: “Embroidering is used them like this. In this sense I think we are talking about similar to a religious rite, because the same gesture is repeatart. And also of a very strong and important revival of high ed over and over again, for hours, like a mantra.” On the quality craftsmanship.” A quality that can only be achieved other hand, the noble strength of bronze, metal and wood: with premium materials: “Like in cooking, if you use second-rate ingredients, the result is bound to be mediocre.” “I managed to reunite, in a perfect balance, an immense Secondly, it takes attention to details, which are very impormasculine and feminine heritage, creating a new language. tant to Barbara Abaterusso. Each piece must be impeccably Like the wool embroidery that softens the harshness of finished, without “imitating an industrial product.” And, metal. Tactically it is a beautiful feeling: the cold of the metabove all, every object must have a soul. “What distinguishal is warmed by the wool in relief.” The process by which es an artisanal product from an industrial one is its soul. A Barbara Abaterusso “dresses” her furniture is very laborious. “Every time I invent a new technique, I always make the competent craftsman will not only make a perfectly executed piece: he will give it life. That’s what talent is all about.” first pieces myself, because I want to try out the process and

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Discovering talents


MATERIALS THAT IMPOSE THEIR OWN TIME This page, a lamp made of antique lace that is cast in bronze. Barbara Abaterusso reunites, in a perfect balance, the contrasting essences of “materials that don’t get on together.” Her workshop is situated in Rome, in via di Monserrato 150 A (tel. +39 06.68809713; www.barbaraabaterusso.it).

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Crafting with style


Audacious of the forging hammer has echoed for over one hundred years, this workshop carries on a centuries-old tradition at the service of French art de vivre. In 1910, Edmond Ricard took over the Grandvigne house and decided to turn the speciality of the ancient workshop towards tableware in sterling silver. In 1932, Edmond Ricard’s daughter married Marcel Richard and together they founded the Etablissement d’Orfèvrerie Richard. Jacques Richard, Marcel’s son, succeeded his parents in 1952 and infused new momentum into the atelier by developing a collection of gold and silver birth gifts and accepting custom orders. Continuing along the lines of constant evolution, in the 1970s the company diversified its activities by specialising in the restoration of antique silver pieces. In 1994 Danielle and Francis Régala, silversmiths and great craftsmen, enthusiastically committed themselves to building the future of the company and of its stunning legacy of artworks and know-how. Jean-Pierre Cottet-Dubreuil took up the reins of Richard Orfèvre after working ten years alongside the Régalas, learning the secrets of their craft, and the enterprise was conferred the prestigious title of “Living Heritage Company” in 2010. “As a member of the fifth generation of silversmiths at the Maison, it was only natural that I would continue to guard our truly exceptional expertise and at the same time

PARIS’S PRECIOUS HEART Top, In the heart of Paris, Jean–Pierre Cottet-Dubreuil represents the artistic and artisanal soul of the historic silversmith workshop Richard Orfèvre (30 rue des Gravilliers; tel. +33.1.42721305; www.orfevrerie-richard.com). In 2014 the house received the “Talent de L’Audace” prize from the Centre du Luxe et de la Création. Above, Cosmos box in silver and galuchat. Opposite page, the revisited version of a classic Versailles chandelier.

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Bertrand Corbara

Richard Orfèvre is one of the last remaining silversmiths in the heart of Paris. In recognition of its tradition and excellence, in November 2014 the Centre du Luxe et de la Création awarded the atelier with the annual Talent du Luxe prize in the category of “Audacity”. The workshop’s director, Jean-Pierre Cottet-Dubreuil, received the award. The prize is well deserved, recognising a business where a dynamic vision of the future goes hand in hand with the transmission of unique and sophisticated expertise. Hidden at the back of an incredibly charming courtyard in Paris’s third arrondissement, where the sound

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s silver

Jonathan Paciullo

affirm our desire to reflect the times,” says Jean-Pierre. “The cooperation with a new generation of designers and creative talents enables us to develop a new approach to this craft.” Since 2011, celebrating the workshop’s 100th anniversary, Richard Orfèvre has invited numerous designers - Serge Bensimon, the 5.5 Designers, Franck Sorbier, Non Sans Raison - to revisit its legendary silver creations and give them a contemporary touch. Since its foundation, Richard Orfèvre has continued to use the same traditional techniques to create handmade pieces that are born in an ingot of solid silver and a time-honoured savoir-faire. Whether reissues of ancient silverware from the Maison’s archives or contemporary creations stemming from imaginative collaborations with Ruth Gurvich, the method remains the same. Everything begins in the forge, where the ingot is heated by fire until the silver becomes sufficiently malleable to be shaped by the silversmith, who carefully hand beats and forges the silver using techniques that date back to the eighteenth century. The ingot is then placed between two steel moulds that are engraved according to the design of the piece that is being made. An original 1904 screw press, dating from before the workshop’s foundation, exerts a pressure of up to 140 tonnes onto the mould, casting the decora-

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tions and curves of the tableware. The excess material is then gently removed, and the polisher shines the silver until it gleams. The finishing touch is the maker’s mark: the atelier’s initials R and O are stamped on every piece, enveloped by two vine leaves – the perfect reference to the region of Champagne, Jean-Pierre Cottet-Dubreuil’s place of origin. A second stamp, depicting the head of Minerva, indicates that the piece is made of solid silver, in France. These are the indispensable steps in a process that is inherited from the past, and that Jean-Pierre guards and preserves today. In this way, the atelier Richard Orfèvre will continue to face a bright future, supplying private clients and experts alike with its magnificent classic and contemporary collections.

by Alexandra d ’Arnoux

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Living treasures

Living National Treasure Kunihiko Moriguchi adjusts the sprinkled rice paste before the colour is painted. Opposite page, colour test cloths.

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Geometry on a


by Akemi Okumura Roy photos by Kimimasa Naito

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Living treasures

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Yuzen, batik, tie-dye, stencil dyeing, kasuri, jacquard weave, embroidery: the techniques of dyeing and weaving fabrics for Kimono and Obi, the most famous Japanese traditional garments, are numerous and extremely diverse. Climate conditions, historical changes and different local cultures have produced a wide range of specific “métiers d’art” connected with these activities, which are unique in the world. One of the most sophisticated traditional techniques is Yuzen-dyeing. Established at the beginning of the Edo era, in the 17th century, it is still the most representative dyeing method of Japan: no foreign influences (from Korea or China, for instance) have ever been traced, and historians agree in acknowledging that Yuzen was invented and developed in Kyoto by painter Yuzensai Miyazaki. And despite the innovation, mechanization and changes brought along during the Taisho and Showa eras, this ancient handcraft is still passed on from one generation to the next. Yuzen-dyeing is an extremely complex process: over 20 steps (design, sketching, copy, drawing, Itome -thread line- gluing, brush dyeing, steaming, soaking, colouring, washing, ironing...) are necessary to complete each single Kimono, and every step has to be performed flawlessly and meticulously. Among the different Yuzen techniques, the most peculiar is called Makinori. Small particles of rice paste are sprinkled on the cloth, prior to and between applications of the background colours, to create a mottled effect. And one of the most world-acknowledged masters of Makinori is the Kyoto-based Kunihiko Moriguchi, who was designated “National

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Top, Moriguchi creating one of his geometrical designs. Opposite page, “Minori” (Fruitfulness) yuzen Ho- mongi kimono created for the 60th Japan Traditional Arts Crafts Exhibition (2013).

Living Treasure” in 2007. His father, Kako Moriguchi (1909-2008), had been honoured with the same acknowledgment too. So, even if for just a short period of time, both father and son were “National Living Treasures”: an unprecedented circumstance in the field of Japanese traditional crafts. After Kunihiko Moriguchi graduated at the Japanese Painting Department of the Kyoto City University of Arts in 1963, he went on to study graphic design at the École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs in Paris. A precious but short experience: Moriguchi returned to Kyoto in 1966, to learn the secrets of the traditional Yuzen technique from his father Kako, and to follow in his footsteps. Such a life-changing choice was mainly due to Kunihiko’s encounter with the French painter Balthasar Michel Klossowski de Rola. “You were born in a family which excels in the Yuzen technique,” the painter told him. “You should return to your home and continue with the family business. Rather than to live according to your individual desire, you should find the value of the individual living in the history of your culture.” As Moriguchi still recalls, “those words touched my heart.” During his short spell in Paris, he learned other important lessons: to respect originality, for instance. “Original” is something that can only come from you: what has already been done before is not original. Feeling he could not surpass his father, he decided to create his own style. And Kako agreed. While his father was known for his fine and bold design and for the brilliant Yuzen in the motifs of flowers and birds of the advanced Makinori (sprinkled rice paste) technique, Kunihiko

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developed an innovative and elegant style, characterized by clear geometric patterns. His studies of graphic design in Paris were a precious resource in facing difficult challenges: Moriguchi incorporated inventiveness and classic beauty to create Kimonos that do not exist anywhere else in the world. Through attentive mathematical transformations, he can visualise the movements of the figure wearing a kimono. This dynamic feeling, blending with an original sense of style, allowed him to preserve his father’s heritage, developing it in a contemporary way. In 2014, Mitsukoshi department store asked Moriguchi to create a special design to celebrate its 110th anniversary. Originally a seller of Kimonos, Mitsukoshi thus returned to its roots by focusing on the finest Japanese dyes and textiles. The selected design, called “Minori”, evokes ripe apples with a geometric pattern, and was also used on Mitsukoshi’s commemorative shopping bags. The word that best describes Moriguchi’s creations is “passion”. His most enjoyable moment in the process of design occurs when he feels that something is likely to be born. As Moriguchi explains: “The theme of my work is illusion. When geometric shapes change, many phenomena of illusion can happen. The progressive transformations of my patterns on fabrics, obtained with the Yuzen technique, have frequently been compared with the works of the graphic artist Mauritz Cornelis Escher. I am honoured to be associated to such a respected artist! The fundamental difference between us is that my designs are characterised by blank spaces: space itself has for me a lot of meaning. My geometric patterns do

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Top, first sketch of a kimono. Opposite page, in yuzen, it’s necessary to change the brush for each colour. Their size varies according to the design.

not come from inspiration, but from a choice of many possibilities, out of which I make my final selection. The operations involved in Yuzen-dyeing are so many and complex that the design plan has to be completed first: only in this way can we proceed perfectly. It can take between seven to ten years to pass from the idea to the design: a tremendous amount of time. And the production process too may take three to four months.” Moriguchi likes to convey to people the beauty of Yuzen through his work: “Yuzen on the Kimono combined with the beauty of the human body creates a wonderful effect. Like in stop-motion, the grace of ancient Greek sculpture can be transposed also in a variety of gestures. Look at Japanese dance, or at the etiquette of a tea ceremony: the design of the Kimono makes them more beautiful. Once again, I value the beauty of the human body, and the joy of living that converges in the Kimono: the thoughts of people who create it, of those who wear it, and of the many who see it. The Kimono realized with Yuzen technique holds a world of beauty that human beings embrace.” Moriguchi emphasizes the importance of preserving the traditional craft for the future. “It has to do with the concept of the circulation of nature. All the creations are made from natural materials; everything returns to ashes and soil. This is not recycling; it is a culture based on the coexistence with nature. This vision in rooted in traditional craft techniques: therefore, we need to transmit them to the future generations. A craft has to be the source of a new life, from birth. In the end, the work is the message: so the work shall tell the story of tradition.”

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the poet of wood

“WHEN YOU CARESS AN OBJECT YOU MUST PERCEIVE ITS SEDUCTIVE POWER” Pierluigi Ghianda’s signature furniture and objects, made in collaboration with celebrated designers, are exhibited at some of the most important museums in the world. With their hands, expert craftsmen enhance the precious qualities of wood, from its selection to the construction of joints and inlays and the final polishing. Ghianda’s workshop (this page) (Via d iis inSBovisio u s a Masciago nna P o Desio z z o53;l itel. +39 0362.590331; www.pierluigighianda.com).

by Ugo La Pietra

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photos by Emanuele Zamponi

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Pierluigi Ghianda is a master craftsman who has put his skill to the service of generations of designers. His extensive history in woodworking and, especially, his talent for dialogue with designers are universally acknowledged. Does the special kind of relationship that he developed with designers in the 1950s still exist today? “The designers I have worked with over the years were like my closest friends, my lifelong companions,” remembers the cabinet-maker from Bovisio Masciago. “Frattini and I, for example, were the same age and equally hard-headed. And the Castiglioni brothers, who practically define the word ‘bizarre’ (to say the least). The list is long. Things have changed over the years, and the age gap makes the difference for me now. Today, relationships remain in the professional sphere. I do not mean that they are not stimulating, but it is something entirely different.” Piero Fornasetti once said that although Ghianda claims to be a mere craftsman, had he lived in Japan he would have already been nominated Living National Treasure. His famous “puzzle” joints have been exhibited in the most important museums and collections across the world, receiving accolades from designers, curators, clients and the heads of luxury Maisons, who have entrusted him with the creation of many of their products. Ghianda, who was awarded the 2014 Talent du Luxe prize in the category Seduction by the Centre du Luxe et de la Création of Paris, is often referred to as “the poet of wood” for his exceptional ability to bestow a soul upon his objects. But he confesses that he misses the days “when architects would come to me with their drawings and sketches. Like Magistretti. Through a close dialogue and a constant exchange of opinions we would come up with a great product, each of us doing his own part.” Since the times have changed and everything moves quicker now, the risk is that “you end up making fifty attempts, hoping that at least one will come to something. But it takes love and passion to give a soul to a project, and if you work like this it is impossible. You cannot understand the essence of an object just by looking at a photo of a model sent from a cell phone: it has to touched, furniture needs to be caressed and the details have to be carefully planned. At least that is how I see it”. UGO LA PIETRA. Most of your collaborations have been with furniture designers, meaning that often the works you created were unique pieces. Can you tell us about that period, during which you developed objects that have become part of design history? PIERLUIGI GHIANDA. I consider myself a very lucky person. The relationships that I had with designers and clients

FAMILY CULTURE Ghianda started working in the family workshop as a young boy. The tradition of workmanship inspired his life and made him the protagonist of the new Italian design scene.

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Historic workshops

often bordered on friendships: work was never tiring and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Even today, I like to spend my time in my workshop: I am lucky precisely because my work is my life. For a craftsman, the unique piece is the Holy Grail, the purpose of work. When an object is replicated, even in a very limited series, it stops to be stimulating. U.l.p. On the other hand, what is your opinion regarding the fact that artisan skills and artistic craftsmanship have returned to the centre of the design world? P.g. Your question reminds me of the title of an exhibition that was dedicated to my works at the Milan Triennale a few years ago: “Fare è pensare (Doing is thinking)”. I consider this to be the essence of the workshop: those who create and design are the same people who carry out the work. Generally speaking, I believe that we are finally realising that know-how, or rather, knowing how to do things well, is Italy’s capital. The hands of our artists and artisans have always been our greatest resource. But it is a very fragile resource, which must be protected: if we cut our ties with our past, with our traditions, it is difficult to get them back. Once a special knowledge is extinguished, it is lost forever. U.l.p. Your work has become part of history: is it an inspiration for the new generations to continue in your footsteps? Do you have any apprentices? P.g. Ours is a workshop in the most classical sense of the word: when an artisan is fully accomplished, usually around the age of 40, he starts training an apprentice. This is how we work… I don’t know for how long we will manage to keep it up, but, to quote Gone with the Wind, “Tomorrow is another day!” U.l.p. When I look at your objects and touch them, I know that they came from your hands. What is your secret, if there is one? P.g. My only secret is that there is no secret! Joking aside, the secret is that they are perfectly made. I remember an episode from my childhood: I was in the workshop, polishing a piece of wood, and eager to go out and play ball with my friends. I asked one of our artisans, “Lüisin, will this do?” His answer was: “Close your eyes and caress it: if it arouses an emotion (these were not his exact words, he was more explicit…) it is ok, otherwise no!” I do not like the mentality, which is very common today, whereby you can ship off a piece that is only 80% perfect. You must always strive for 100%. Maybe you will make fewer pieces, but what comes out of the workshop must always be well made!

NO NAILS Left, the famous Kyoto table: not one single nail holds it together, but 1,705 meticulously executed joints. Opposite page, Pierluigi Ghianda.

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the manuscript was REVEALED TO THE PUBLIC ONLY ONCE, IN 2012 An illustration from the precious “Aberdeen Bestiary” (Scotland), one of the most important illuminated manuscripts in the world. Written and decorated over 900 years ago, the manuscript is the extraordinary source of inspiration for “Les Savoirs Enluminés” by Vacheron Constantin, presented on the occasion of the European Artistic Crafts Days 2015.

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Minute decorations



by Alberto Cavalli

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“Natura dicta eo quod nasci aliquid faciat, gignendi enim et faciendi potens est:” nature brings a thing to birth, for it has the power to beget and to form. Thus wrote the anonymous compiler of the Aberdeen Bestiary, one of the most important and well-preserved ancient medieval manuscripts in the world. Written and illuminated over 900 years ago, the Bestiary is a true encyclopaedia of natural sciences, conceived to correlate the creatures of Creation with the profound moral and spiritual messages that God infused in them. Words and images, knowledge and imagination, technique and art: everything in the illuminated manuscript evokes a splendour that transcends the present moment to communicate directly with the heart of man. It is from this suggestive perspective that the designers and master craftsmen at Vacheron Constantin took their inspiration for the new creations in the Métiers d’Art collection: “Les Savoirs Enluminés”, illuminated knowledge and knowhow. The three automatic watches, issued in a limited edition of 20 pieces each and certified by the Hallmark of Geneva, will be premiered on the occasion of the 2015 European Artistic Crafts Days. Each watch tells a precious and technical story, deeply rooted in the common history of Europe. Where culture encompasses both the words and the very manuscripts inscribed and finely decorated by skilled hands.

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O Our common history, precious and technical, is told in each watch. A story deeply rooted in a concept of culture that was not limited to words

Where, today as yesterday, beauty is integral to workmanship. The models in the “Savoirs Enluminés” collection have entirely original dials that conceal complications developed to always surpass the challenges of time. Each dial requires a very high level of craftsmanship that crosses the furthermost limits of fine watchmaking, to rediscover an art that has always been linked to knowledge and the transmission and celebration of time: the miniature. Watches like words, dials like parchment that hold luminous secrets and reveal the time: measurable time, but also the time needed to create them, one step after another, with the same care and devotion of the medieval miniaturists. Words and miniatures that no longer deserve to remain concealed and protected in a library, but which should be worn on the wrist like a family heirloom or an amulet that constantly reminds us of the value of time. The time of transmission: the magnificent illuminated manuscripts produced by medieval monks were created by a master assisted by an apprentice. Or rather, by two masters: a scribe and a miniaturist. Similarly, each timepiece that leaves Vacheron Constantin’s atelier is the fruit of the patient, passionate and accurate work of great masters in fine watchmaking and of the young talents who assist them in the métiers d’art and the complexity of skills involved in the watchmaker’s profession.

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Minute decorations


WHERE BEAUTY IS INTEGRAL TO WORKMANSHIP The wonderful dials featured in the collection are the fruits of the unique savoir faire of Vacheron Constantin’s master craftsmen, who recreate the superb art of the medieval miniaturists (www.vacheron-constantin.com).

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The time of innovation: the great masters of the past introduced new iconographic and iconological elements in their illuminated manuscripts, as well as surprising trouvailles in colours, techniques and decorations; similarly, this Métiers d’Art collection showcases features specially developed by the Manufacture. Features related to the precious nature of the dial, reuniting the mastery of Vacheron Constantin’s craftsmen (engravers, enamellers, decorators...), but also to watchmaking innovations, like the 1120AT calibre developed and built entirely within the Geneva atelier. And the time of meditation: the three dials conceal the arcane symbolism that the medieval Bestiary attributed to animals, updating them, in a contemporary key, in the reproductions of the three creatures chosen for the collection. The halcyon, to begin with. A symbol of serenity and prosperity, and herald of the golden age. When the sea is raging and the winds howl, the halcyon hatches its young, giving proof of its extraordinary grace and supreme temperance when the elements are at their harshest. It was thought that vultures lived for over a hundred years, and indeed the pose of the two vultures, symbols of longevity, is particularly graphic and modern. The splendid miniature reproduced on the dial depicts two vultures, symmetrical facing each other, as if to remind us that part of what

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T The timepieces created by Vacheron Constantin’s masters perfectly reproduce the original miniatures of the ancient manuscript, reflecting their magnificent colours, tones and threedimensional effects

makes time precious is sharing. And, lastly, the goat, emblem of wisdom, virtue and foresight. The making of each dial requires numerous steps. The champlevé technique is used in the lower section, to recreate the scribe’s calligraphy in gold on gold. An ode to renewal, vitality and the eternal regeneration of the world, dedicated to the driving force of nature. On the upper dial, decorated by hand in textured gold, rich decorations are created using the Grand Feu enamelling technique, which requires an impeccable skill. The timepieces created by Vacheron Constantin’s masters perfectly reproduce the original miniatures of the ancient manuscript, reflecting their magnificent colours, tones and three-dimensional effects. The name of the animal depicted on the dial is engraved on the case in the Gothic lettering reminiscent of the manuscript. The gold rotor is decorated with a “tapisserie” pattern. The hours, in Arabic numerals, parade on satellites mounted on the dial housed within a 31.5 by 44.5 mm gold case, while the minutes glide beneath them, on the lower dial. Words and images, knowledge and skill, eternal time and present time: at Vacheron Constantin, the creation of beauty is more than a craft. It is a mission fulfilled by the hands, minds and hearts of those who (as noted by the compiler of the Bestiary) bring to birth the world that we know and with which we identify.

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AN IMPECCABLE DEGREE OF SKILL The creation of each dial entails multiple phases. The lower section is made with the champlevĂŠ technique, in gold on gold; on the upper dial, decorated by hand in textured gold, the rich decorations are recreated with Grand Feu enamelling.

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by Ali Filippini

VARIATIONS ON A THEME This spectacular PET Lamp composition, consisting of 21 lights, is ideal for large spaces. All the lampshades are handmade in different sizes, following the concept of variations on the same theme (catalandeocon.com).


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Masters of design


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Masters of design

INSPIRED BY THE JAPANESE TEA CEREMONY A COMMON PROJECT Above, lamp components made out of recycled plastic bottles. The project involves artisanal communities in different countries (opposite page): from Colombia to Ethiopia. Below, Alvaro Catalán de Ocón.

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Alvaro Catalán de Ocón studied in London and Milan, where I interviewed him while he was preparing for the 2015 Salone del Mobile (in partnership with Francesco Faccin, his good friend and colleague). Important museums and galleries all over the world have exhibited his works and awarded him prizes and nominations. In recent years, the Madrid-based designer has attracted attention for the project that started his career as a designer-entrepreneur. Combining collaborations with different companies and his innate vocation for self-production. question: Alvaro, tell us the story of the PET Lamp project, with which you transform recycled plastic bottles into unique lamps. answer: In 2011 I was invited to Columbia to participate in a project to raise awareness on the difficult issue of plastic bottle disposal in the Colombian Amazon among the community and the government. The following year, with the patronage of Coca-Cola and the cooperation of Artesanías de Colombia, I organised a workshop with the artisan community of Cauca to elaborate on the idea of recycling and transformation. The first results of this project were exhibited in 2013 at the Galleria Rossana Orlandi, in Milan. The neck of the bottle, round and transparent, sparked the idea of the lamps, and a

stripped bamboo utensil that is used in the Japanese tea ceremony, very similar to a bottle, inspired the technique for cutting and weaving plastic with other fibres to create lampshades that are always different from one another. q. Since then, the project has been replicated in other countries and the lamps have taken on a life of their own. A. Exactly. The experience in Colombia made me realise the potential of this project, which is both social and cultural, and an opportunity to establish microenterprises from which the local communities can benefit economically (4,000 pieces from the Colombian collection have been sold in two years). The artisans make the lampshades that are assembled and cabled in my Madrid studio, where seven employees dedicate 70% of their time to the PET Lamp project. Then the lamps are distributed around the world, because there is hardly any local demand, since folk handicrafts are little appreciated in the communities where they are made. Instead, we introduce them in the circuit of design, which makes the difference. Most people buy the lamps because they like the design, and only later do they realise that there is a bottle inside. They understand in retrospect the story of my creations, which are the product of a global industrial object (which has a very short lifespan but is almost inde-

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84 structible) with the material, expressive skill behind a traditional textile production with strong local roots. q. Did the project evolve in terms of manufacturing processes? A. Each community interprets the concept individually. My collaborators and I explain the process and they in turn show us their techniques. In this way, we provide inspiration without imposing precise instructions. After Colombia, we replicated the project in Chile, where the artisans used wicker to create large, light and self-supporting designs. We then moved to Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia, where we worked with an all-female community. The design of the lamps was modified again to adapt

to their spiral weaving technique, which they use to make the containers for injera, Ethiopian traditional bread. The bottle is cut but not woven, which enabled us to make lampshades that are more suitable for large rooms and that can also afford some acoustic isolation and protection. Then I spent three weeks in Kyoto, in Japan, where a journalist invited us to work with local bamboo artisans. Their lamps were exhibited at 21_21 Design Sight in Tokyo. q. Tell us about the project that baffled everyone at last year’s edition of the Salone del Mobile. A. In the Home/Office chair we use embroidery (perfectly executed by a Bulgarian lady living in Madrid whom


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I discovered) to interpret the iconic Aluminium Chair by Charles and Ray Eames, made in Europe by Vitra. The starting point is certainly linked to the PET Lamp concept, but here it takes on a slightly iconoclastic twist. Or, rather: what is considered an industrial chair is no less artisanal than many handmade objects, in terms of its production process. The addition of embroidery destabilises and at the same time transforms a “serious” piece of office furniture into something more reassuring. To the point that it won the approval of Vitra’s owner, who included my version of the famous chair in his range! q. What is your opinion on the new interest of designers, particularly


young ones, in the crafts?

A. Today, as before, it is very difficult to

become an industrial designer. My generation has realised that it must apply the methodology of design in all sectors. Just think of the achievements of designers such as Piet Hein Eek, who has practically set up an industry of his own. The crafts are at the heart of industrial design. Companies like Thonet are the industrial outcome of an artisanal process. Today production can be adapted to the designer, combining exceptional detail with volumes that can vary according to one’s needs: from a few dozen to hundreds of pieces. Designers must understand how to approach this new and interesting scenario.

TRANSFORMS A “SERIOUS” PIECE OF OFFICE FURNITURE INFLUENCES Petit point embroidery respectfully decorates the canvas of the famous Eames chair in Alvaro Catalán de Ocón’s interpretation Home/Office (2014).

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Contemporary masters

This page, Terzo Dalia working on a 1:3 scale model of a 1960s 12 cylinder Ferrari 250 that equipped the California Spiders and the short wheel base berlinettas, usually renamed SWB. Opposite page, scale model of a 12 cylinder engine from a Ferrari Daytona 365 GTB4 that was first presented in Paris in 1968. For both engines: limited edition of 99 pieces; 60x23x26 cm; 9 kg.

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text and photos by Susanna Pozzoli

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Contemporary masters


The story of the passion and enterprise of Terzo Dalia originates in the heart of Emilia, on a low-lying hill in the Scandiano area, among the Lambrusco vineyards. The workshop where he assembles scale model engines is located in a beautifully restored old barn on the farming estate where he lives. His love for cars and for the legendary Ferrari began at an early age: Terzo was 15 when a silver Berlinetta flashed past him, making him want to have one of his own. When he took the lead of the family ceramics business in Sassuolo, he kept the promise he had once made to himself. Terzo has been the proud owner and driver of various prestigious Ferrari models including the 250 SWB California, the 275 Spider, the 365 BB and the 512 TR. When he sold the company, in 1996, he made another of his dreams come true: to recreate the exact 1:3 replica of an historic Ferrari engine, perfect in every detail, including the materials originally used by the Ferrari factory. With a clear idea of how he wanted his “engine-sculptures” to be and assisted by the small specialised team he selected for this purpose, Terzo Dalia meticulously set about creating his first model: a copy of the 250 GT competition engine, originally built in the 1960s by the mechanical engineer Gioachino Colombo. SUSANNA POZZOLI How did your create your first fully-assembled scale-model Ferrari engine? TERZO DALIA I had just changed my lifestyle and, with more time at my disposal, I was delving into the study of the 12 cylinder 250 GT competition “V” engine. It was 1997: the year of my 50th birthday and the 50th anniversary of the Ferrari brand, an incredible coincidence! A friend told me that an international modelling competition was being organised by the Ferrari company as part of the celebrations. Inspired by this opportunity, my son and I managed to finish the engine and, to our surprise, we won first prize and special congratulations from Piero Ferrari. We were told that Luca Cordero di Montezemolo wanted a scale model for himself. That’s how we started our business, which reunites craftsmanship and car modelling, the science of mechanics and manual skill. S.p. Why did you choose Ferrari and why in this scale? T.D. I was motivated by my passion for mechanics. In its field, Ferrari represents the top end of engineering and the 1:3 scale is particularly challenging: due to their size, the scaled-down elements are difficult to make but at the same time they are very detailed. My name is Terzo (Third) and I think that this too affected my choice! Our engines are so perfect that they reflect the high standards of the Ferrari brand, highlighting the beauty of each polished and gleam-

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ing component. They are sculptures, works of art that you can contemplate and also take apart. Technically perfect and true to the originals, down to the smallest detail. S.p. How is the scale version of an engine made? T.D. It takes us between 10 to 12 months to carry out the technical researches, study the original engines, create the moulds and the wood prototypes, test the model’s assembling. Ferrari has often given us access to the original designs, but there is nothing better than studying the real engine. Which is something we have always been able to do thanks to the support of our collector friends. This has allowed me to verify details, proportions and materials during each phase of the project, in order to avoid errors. Like the Ferrari originals, the scale engines are made from sand-cast and handshaped “galsi-9” aluminium. Other components are in latheturned stainless steel and, in some cases, we make details in brass and copper. For the latest engines, we collaborate with foundries that work with carbon fibre. It takes about 30 days to hand-assemble an engine. All the components are screw-mounted with no use of adhesives. Many models have an internal mechanism that can be rotated manually in the same firing order as the original engine. Each scale engine is made in a limited series of less than a hundred copies: when production is finished, the moulds and tools are destroyed. S.p. What is your role in this long production process? T.D. I am the idea man, the careful and meticulous observer, the mediator and artistic director. From start to finish I follow the project in every detail, source suppliers for each component (whenever possible, the same of the original Ferrari engines), and the best experts to tackle the inevitable technical challenges. I do not have the manual skill to do the milling, the turning or the welding; but, like an orchestra conductor, I plan, direct and follow every step of the process. S.p. How did you develop and promote your business? T.D. Ever since we created our first model we have received a great deal of coverage from the press: over 1,500 articles worldwide! But the best and most important publicity comes from our customers. Enthusiastic collectors with whom we have built a direct personal relationship, and who write us letters of praise. The first came from Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, in 1997. That was one of the biggest thrills of my life. Over the years, our creations have continued to grow in value, and our sold-out items are auctioned for over four times the original price. On top of this, the endorsement from Ferrari has contributed to making our company important and respected.

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Above, Terzo Dalia with a scale model of a Ferrari Type 128 LM competition engine with transmission shaft and differential (trellis type 525-526; limited edition of 6 pieces; 133x51.5x28.5 cm; 23 kg). Left, scale model of a 12 cylinder engine and gearbox from a Ferrari model for the tubular frame chassis 250 Testa Rossa sportscar of 1957 (limited edition of 50 pieces; 140x50x31 cm; 12 kg; www.terzodalia.com).

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Titoletto in prima persona * Cristina Castelli è professore ordinario di Psicologia del ciclo diLaboratories vita, direttrice CROSS (Centro scolastico This page, an installation from the exhibition New Territories: fordel design, craft and artricerche in Latinsull’orientamento America, presented by Newe professionale) del Master “Relazione d’aiuto in contesti di vulnerabilità e povertà ed internazionali” la Facoltà di Scienze York’seMuseum of Arts and Design in 2014. Opposite page, an artwork by nazionali Raùl de Nieves Let There be presso Bride (2013, mixed della Formazione dell’Università Cattolica di Milano. E’ direttrice della Fabbrica Talento. media on shoe). Exhibited in 2014 at the NYC Makers:del theSacro MADCuore Biennial dedicated to contemporary crafts del (www.madmuseum.org).

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Eric Scott

by Alberto Cavalli

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Secret collections


mad about the mad

Raul de Nieves

THE MUSEUM OF ARTS AND DESIGN IN NEW YORK HAS OFFICIALLY BECOME ONE OF THE LEADING CENTRES FOR PROMOTING CROSS-FERTILISATION BETWEEN ART AND CRAFT The building on Columbus Circle that houses New York’s Museum of Arts and Design was designed by Brad Cloepfil (Allied Works) and inaugurated in 2008. Ambitious in its size and structure (over 5,000 square metres), experimental in its modern educational workshops and visionary in its ability to combine design, applied arts, crafts and research, the MAD arrived on the New York cultural scene in response to a challenge: the old museum that it replaced had

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never been able to truly affirm itself among heavyweights such as the MET, the MoMA, the Guggenheim and the Whitney. Even the theme of its collections, the arts and crafts, was not particularly appealing, and attracted very little interest from people visiting the Big Apple. The response of the Museum’s Board to this challenge has been extremely successful. The economic crisis of 2008 has shifted attention back to a different set of values, associated

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Secret collections

Top, Breathe, hand-blown Murano glass with beads and thread from the 2014 exhibition entitled Maryland to Murano: Neckpieces and Sculptures by Joyce J. Scott. Opposite page, clockwise from top: an exhibition hall during the MAD Biennial; Glenn Adamson, Director of the Museum; the facade of the building designed by Brad Cloepfil on Columbus Circle, home to the MAD. Since its foundation, the Museum has explored the ways in which artists and designers transform the world around us.

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Michael Koryta


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with craftsmanship, with the maker’s approach to design, with workshop experimentation with shapes and materials. The MAD arrived just at the right time with its permanent collection and temporary exhibitions, offering a lively and somewhat iconoclastic cultural programme. In addition, the Museum played an important role in attracting experimental artists, metropolitan artisans, keen curators and traditional master craftsmen, who participate in the process of renewal that the applied arts are undergoing in their formal and conceptual language. The field of jewels is undoubtedly one of the most explored in numerous exhibitions and events. The MAD has underlined, very appropriately, the relationship between jewels and fashion (with the recent show Fashion Jewelry: The Collection of Barbara Berger, for example), jewels and contemporary creativity (with the annual event LOOT: MAD About Jewelry), and jewels and experimentation with interesting and unusual materials (such as Murano glass in the exhibition Maryland to Murano. Neckpieces and Sculptures by Joyce J. Scott). The masters of international ceramics were invited to interpret - through the intensely expressive medium of clay that is modelled, fired and decorated - the changes in the way the human figure is represented (Body and Soul: New International Ceramics). In parallel, an intense and stimulating programme of activities was organised in the ceramic workshops. NYC Makers: the MAD Biennial is an exhibition dedicated to New York’s creative talents who experiment with shapes, materials and functionality using an entirely contemporary approach to craftsmanship. With this new initiative, the Museum has definitively earned its place among the most important centres in the world for promoting cross-fertilisation between art and craft. As the Director, Glenn Adamson, noted: “Since its founding, the Museum of Arts and Design has championed the way that artists and designers transform the world around us, using both traditional and cutting-edge creative processes. This exhibition reflects this core mission across the full range of crafted production, and establishes a new paradigm of 21st-century making as an engine for creative industry.” The Museum’s mission is carried out not only in its exhibitions, but also through the rich programme of supporting events: last May, the series dedicated to the role of craft and production in contemporary fashion design was enormously successful and contributed towards the emergence of a deeper awareness of the American identity within the world of fashion, both in terms of design and of production processes.

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The exhibitions planned for 2015 follow the same path: keeping a strong focus on New York, they will explore cultural influences from different parts of the world. And investigate, with a committed, original and open approach, the dialogue between mind and hand, between innovative artistic vision and territorial artisanal skills. Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and Today, open until 28 September, probes the role of women, their aesthetic vision and intellectual impact on the subtle relationship between creativity and craft, and between the culture of design and manual experimentation. New Territories. Laboratories for Design, Craft and Art in Latin America, closing at the beginning of April, is inspired by the concept of “new territories” developed by Gaetano Pesce: the exhibition examines the dialogue between traditional crafts and contemporary trends in several cities throughout Latin America. Thus continuing a journey which the MAD started in 2010 with The Global Africa Project exhibition. In the meaningful context of one of the strongest museum systems in the world, the MAD has successfully brought back to the international creative scene an element that the technological and digital revolutions are gradually rediscovering: craftsmanship as the new frontier of expression, the means by which a design is transformed into a product. Hence contributing to the cultural, economic and social expression of a time and place.

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by Alberto Cannetta*

love knot


Appearing and disappearing is a peculiarity of Cambodia. flow is reversed by the pressure from the monsoon-swollen To open up and close down again, cut off from the rest of Mekong. Like the Nile, in a distant era this immense alluvial the world for years. Only to become an irresistible travel plain enabled a remote civilisation to flourish with a splendour destination for tourists attracted by Cambodia’s splendours, that outshone all others, but which time has almost completely erased. The tropical forest provides valuable timber: a its temples and green paddy fields. Impossible as it may patrimony that, in recent years, has been ransacked to supply seem, the impenetrable lair of the Khmer Rouge that the export markets. Cambodian artisans have always used their American bombs destroyed, only yesterday, to drive out the skill to work the beautiful materials hidden in their forests. Vietcong, has become a charming country visited by thousands of tourists enchanted by the temples of Angkor, by To this day, solid wood furniture, walls and decorations are the slow poetry of its rivers, by the chaotic energy of Phnom considered essential symbols of wealth and luxury by wellPenh and by the white beaches of Sihanoukville. The history to-do families in Cambodia and neighbouring countries. The of the Khmer Empire is still partly cloaked in mystery and production of silver artefacts is another legacy of Cambodia’s bears the marks of a former glory that vanglorious past, and whole villages pass down the ished abruptly when the jungle took over the secrets of this age-old craft. work of man for centuries. The alternation Traditionally, however, Cambodia is probAt the Bottega dell’arte, established by ably best known for the production of silk: of these long periods seems to have caused Il nodo - cooperazione from generation to generation, the skill and time to stand still. The ancient bas-reliefs of internazionale onlus, knowledge of this craft is handed down withthe temples of Angkor portray country life young Cambodian in the family. Silk in a thousand colours can as it continues to be to this day: the same craftspeople use traditional be found in the markets of every town, large habits, costumes and tools that tourism and techniques to weave textiles or small, and it is a prized souvenir for every consumerism have only superficially affected. and work silver and wood (www.ilnodoonlus.org). visitor to Cambodia. It is impossible to fully Like the Nile for Egypt, the main source of understand the miracle of that rustling silk if life for Cambodia is the Tonlé Sap, whose

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Local traditions

one does not know the skill of the hands that created it. In the villages thousands of girls and women of all ages dexterously produce strips of light and colour on rudimentary wooden looms in the shade of the stilts that protect their houses from the frequent floods. They represent the magic of a time that has never really disappeared. A time that has remained in the heart and in the hands of the Cambodians, unperturbed by the recent tragedy caused by the Khmer Rouge regime attempting to wipe out the past in order to create a new society. The ikat fabric that today is produced in only a handful of villages in Cambodia, Indonesia and India was considered one of the finest textiles in the world in the 19th century. When the King of Thailand visited the USA in 1856, he brought a fine Cambodian ikat as a gift to President Franklin Pierce. The art of dyeing the yarn that is used to weave the pattern on the loom is a family heritage: grandmothers, mothers and daughters all take part in the hand-dyeing processes, and calibrate by eye the intensity of the colours. Just one roll of cloth can keep an entire family busy for days, weeks or months. Every family treasures and passes down its own legacy of patterns. A girl working at the loom recalls the grace of the Apsaras, the celestial dancers, whose performances reflect the traditional gestures and beauty that is celebrated in the Angor bas-reliefs. The techniques used to dry fish, the elaborate flower arrangements, the displays of fruit at a market, the coloured fabrics lining the inside of temples, the canoes skimming along the river testify to the aesthetic culture, to the passion for beauty that the long cultural isolation has helped to preserve. A culture that in the richer and more advanced neighbouring countries has all but disappeared. Cambodia offers a unique and unrepeatable experience to those who know how to discover and appreciate the wealth of culture and tradition that has survived virtually intact. The nation that has withstood a radical attempt to destroy its culture and its traditions lives an extraordinary paradox: the forced isolation from outside influences has spurred, as a reaction, the will and desire to preserve


and rediscover what was in danger of being lost forever. And Cambodia anchored a newfound sense of identity to that past. Our “Bottega dell’Arte” in Phnom Penh was founded in the midst of this process. Here, local master craftsmen teach traditional crafts to young people with a difficult background. Silversmithing, for example, is given a modern twist to meet the requirements of the international market with the contribution of Italian designers who volunteer their time and experience. Everywhere in the world, poverty forces people to abandon traditional jobs, inherited knowledge and the skills that whole villages used to take pride in. They flock to the towns to beg for a factory job, attracted by the pittance that they receive in exchange for their new life as modern slaves. The same tragedy has hit Cambodia, where thousands of girls have left the family loom to earn a few extra dollars in garment factories producing Western brands for Chinese entrepreneurs. Our school demonstrates that this trend can be stopped. Today it is possible to produce better and earn more money within the local communities, without having to give up the quality of life that only home, family and friends can provide. At the Bottega dell’Arte, the non-profit organisation “Il nodo” (the Knot) is battling to give young people a future. To let them regain the satisfaction of working with passion and to rebuild that positive sense of identity that is crucial to making them grow to become responsible adults, for their own and their family’s future. Artisans must be independent and creative persons who accomplish not only the satisfaction of a decent wage but also the pride of doing things well. Over the years, many Italian artists and designers have been involved in this project, including Renzo Bighetti, Rossella Tornquist and Denise Bonapace. For short spells they have worked with the local silversmiths to develop new ideas and also a new way of interpreting their own world, their traditions and the resources that come from the world around them. We are proud to say that our non profit organisation takes care of more than two thousand Cambodian children and young people, who have access to clean water, attend school and are learning a job. *Founder of Il nodo - cooperazione internazionale onlus

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Craftsmanship on stage

THE MAGIC OF AN ABANDONED FACTORY In Milan, the site of the former headquarters of the Ansaldo steel plant in via Bergognone 34 have been given new life and transformed into a true workshop of wonders for La Scala theatre. The laboratory is in charge of set design and costumes, with an archive of nearly 50,000 stage costumes.

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Passion the scenes behind


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photos by Laila Pozzo

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Craftsmanship on stage

EXTRAORDINARY TEAMWORK Set building is carried out by three different work groups, each headed by a set builder. Most of the handmade activities are carried out here: set design, sculpture, thermoforming, carpentry works, mechanics workshop, set assembly. An extraordinary teamwork, performed at the highest levels of La Scala’s heritage.

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Craftsmanship on stage

My parents would have preferred me to become an architect. But ever since I was a child, I have always enjoyed making big drawings and playing with puppets and costumes. So becoming a set designer came almost naturally. My career at La Scala began after a short experience as assistant costumier for the show Barbablù at the Piccolo Teatro of Milan. I was in my third year at the Accademia di Brera when my professor of scenography, the architect Tito Varisco who was also Director of Stage Engineering at the Teatro alla Scala, proposed me to gain working experience at the theatre’s scenery laboratory. That is how, in October 1972, I stepped through the little gate of the workshop in via Baldinucci 85. The first weeks were disappointing. I was assigned a repetitive and dull task, attaching large tulle leaves onto a backdrop. Far from fulfilling my aspiration of painting large scenery, I began to wonder if I had made the wrong decision. What made me change my mind were the chief stage designers, who gave me increasingly important and gratifying duties. The first two years were tough, since I had to reconcile my attendance at the Accademia with my commitment at the workshop. But although I worked up to ten hours a day, the new experience was helping me focus my

course of study. For the first six years I trained in building techniques under La Scala’s chief set designers Gino Romei, Gianni Bellini, Ludovico Sommaruga and Giorgio Cristini, and external set designers like Arturo Benassi, Ettore Rondelli and Fulvio Lanza. In 1978 I received my first assignment for the stage scenes of La storia di un soldato directed by Dario Fo, who also designed set and costumes. I was at once thrilled and terrified of making a mistake, and for the first few days I was having nightmares about the set falling apart. But everything went well and Maestro Fo himself complimented me on my work. During those years I made other experiences in private workshops, which enriched my professional background and allowed me to gain also organisational skills, elaborating timescales and calculating costs, spaces and so on. In 1987 I was appointed head scene painter and I produced the scenery for the ballet La Sylphide, entirely painted on tulle. I think that my contribution to scenography lies in my capability to interpret the artwork, suggesting textures and materials that often vary from one artist to another. An example was creating the curtain for the opera Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights directed by Bob Wilson; Bob congratulated me because

“I WAS AT ONCE THRILLED AND TERRIFIED OF MAKING A MISTAKE. I WAS HAVING NIGHTMARES THAT THE SET WOULD FALL APART.” I did not blindly copy his set design, but I interpreted his style, giving the effect of his pastel strokes. Indeed, after that experience he asked me to recreate some of his works on a large scale. I have always shared my knowledge with my assistants and co-workers and I have tried to transmit the traditional techniques of theatrical scene painting to the younger generations, in a constant process of renewal and innovation, since stage decoration is no longer limited to simple two-dimensional scenes on canvas and it incorporates increasingly cinematographic three-dimensional elements. With the advent of scenic construction, the set designer’s role has changed too: no longer solely a scene painter, but also a skilled technician in the development of large-scale drawings of the stage set, in order to facilitate its construction. For a theatre season in the 1960s we used 5 to 7 cubic

FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION Within La Scala’s workshop, the secrets of ancient knowledge and crafts are closely guarded, handed down from master to apprentice and from generation to generation. For centuries this entirely Italian way of building sets has reached outstanding levels of excellence, recognised and admired in the whole world (www.teatroallascala.org).

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metres of wood and 20,000 to 25,000 square metres of canvas, often recycled from previous sets. In the 1980s and 1990s, we used between 70 and 100 cubic metres of wood, 2 to 3 tonnes of metal and only 10,000 square metres of canvas. I am proud of the many sets I have created: La Clemenza di Tito, La Traviata, and La Dama di Picche (1989); Idomeneus (1990); Fra Diavolo and Lucia di Lammermoor (1991). What I will never forget, however, is the recognition of my professional achievements that I received from famous set designers: Luciano Damiani, Ezio Frigerio, Franco Zeffirelli, Dante Ferretti, Pierluigi Pieralli, Pier Luigi Pizzi and Mauro Carosi. I was appointed Director of Stage Engineering in 1992. This brief but intense experience was the occa-

sion to work with Maestro Riccado Muti. Returning to the workshop, I produced the scenes for Romeo e Giulietta, Il Flauto Magico and Macbeth. In 1996 I produced the sets for Giselle from the sketches by Alessandro Benois, transforming the paintings with special techniques to make them look more realistic. In 1997 I designed and produced the sets for La Gioconda, a project for which I drew on all my professional experience and managed to combine traditional painting with other materials. In 1998 I was appointed director of the stage design workshop, which was still in the old site in the area of Bovisa. The workshop was then moved to its current and more practical site in via Bergognone, in the former Ansaldo

buildings. In the new premises the workshop has three times the space and with the departments all close to each other, the production process is much easier. My role changed from operational to managerial. No more brushes and paints, but letters, meetings, managing staff and purchases. During that period, I rediscovered my creative streak, designing numerous sets for many theatres including La Scala: Ugo, Conte di Parigi, Il Bacio della Rosa, Immemoria and various ballets. Teaching at the Accademia della Scala has allowed me to pass on my experience to the students and to assist them in their placement. Having approached the end of my career, my desire to hand down my technical skills and artistic knowledge is stronger than ever.


Il Bel Mestiere. Artigiani e maestranze nel teatro d’opera by Clizia Gurrado and Laila Pozzo is the latest volume produced by the Fondazione Cologni in the “Mestieri d’Arte” series (Marsilio Editori): an act of love and a tribute to the master craftsmen who, day by day, construct with unparalleled skill and passion the success of Italian opera houses. A craft that is esteemed and respected worldwide, and a real feather in the cap of Italy’s artistic and artisanal tradition. Across a multifaceted universe of skills and talents, the authors guide the reader on an exclusive journey behind the scenes of the opera, to meet the professional figures that create rich and complex productions in a variety of contexts and departments:

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from set design to carpentry and mechanics; from sculpture to thermoforming, from dressmaking to make-up, hair and costumes, to the actual building of the stage set. Master craftsmen and technicians who share the same commitment and spirit of sacrifice, working in the magical synergy that gives life to a show, to bring illusion and emotion on stage every evening. The theatre is an extremely delicate and complex machine that hides a perfect and finely tuned orchestration, in which everything has a place and a time. Night after night, the theatre “works”, almost by magic. Yet it is not magic, but extreme competence, enthusiasm and total dedication, as this multiple narrative beautifully demonstrates.

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This page, a close-up of Gabriella Gabrini’s workbench at her studio in Padua, at Riviera San Benedetto, 134. Opposite page, Rosa del deserto (enamel on copper, 1997).

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Donatella Rigon


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Skill au féminin




Giovanni Umicini

by Mariagabriella Rinaldi

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06/03/15 11:27


“You become a craftsman by respecting the raw materials with which you work.” Padua-born Gabriella Gabrini is an expert in artistic vitreous enamel and this is how she modestly explains her exceptional creativity and skill, revealing her enormous passion for a substance that is both magnificent and demanding. Born in an artistic family, Gabriella fell in love with enamelling right after her diploma, when she started training as “workshop apprentice” in the studio of Paolo De Poli (1905-1996): after other experiences in the studios of Melandri, Melotti and Fornasetti, she continued to work with the great Padua artist for over twenty years. De Poli is universally credited with the revival of the ancient and complex craft of vitreous enamelling, which has its historical roots in ancient Egyptian jewellery. In 1956, his friend Gio Ponti said that “if we can speak of an Italian art of enamel, we owe it to De Poli.” Enamel is a difficult art that requires great technical skills. A hard glassy mixture of siliceous materials and alkali metal oxides is fired onto metal at a temperature of 950 °C. The objects can be made of copper, iron, gold, silver and, nowadays, even of stainless steel. In the workshop, the metal is cut, hammered and modelled with shears, anvils, hammers, pliers, files and grinding wheels. After this laborious preliminary process, the object is fired to burn off all impurities and immersed in sulphuric acid to cleanse it. The enamel powder is mixed into a paste with distilled water and gum tragacanth, which is delicately applied to the surface of the metal with a brush or spatula. Finally, the object is placed in the kiln with a

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long-handled firing fork, protected in a stainless steel support, so that the enamel does not come into contact with the walls of the kiln. The number of firings depends on the layers of enamel necessary to create a variety of transparent or opaque effects, according to the colour intensity. Enamel powders are available in more than 400 different shades. Enamel is full of light, but the work behind it is exhausting and very complex. Yet Gabriella Gabrini’s experienced and incredibly gifted hands can magically give life to objects that are often inspired by the feminine emotional universe. Like Melagrana e chicchi (Pomegranate and Seeds) and Scodella da parto (Birthing Bowl), both related to the theme of motherhood, or Ninfea (Water Lily) and Rosa del deserto (Desert Rose), which radiate pure sensuality. In her workshop, Gabriella continues to develop the teachings of De Poli through her inexhaustible creativity and her spirit of research. She applies her technique to many different materials, designing contemporary one-off pieces that feature a myriad of colour effects created by the light reflected on their surfaces: rocking bowls, vases, plates, dishes, trays and drinking glasses. Supremely refined objects, translucent and shimmering, in designs that are inspired by nature (flowers, leaves, butterflies, birds, the sea and the sky). Many of her works are connected with Padua and its art treasures. The Vault of Heaven in Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel inspired the magnificent bowl in enamel on copper and gold foil. There is often a religious theme in her many large-scale works: L’Angelo del Santo (Angel of the Basilica),

Ornella Francu - LUX Toma


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Skill au féminin

in Padua’s Basilica of St. Anthony, is a large circular composition consisting of 26 panels in enamel on copper and red Persian marble. Beyond her more intimate and spiritual themes, Gabriella Gabrini continues to cultivate her strong interest for design, of which her numerous home-decoration items and furniture panels are evidence. A vocation that was influenced by De Poli and the strong relationships with designers such as Ponti, Munari, Rinaldi and Zanuso. Among her most recent creations are the little enamel tables in the Frammenti (Fragments) collection, produced in collaboration with Marco Zanuso Jr. in Milan. The name of her company, Smalti d’Arte (Artistic Enamelling), well describes her world. A drawing by her friend and mentor Gio Ponti, with whom she often worked, inspired her stylized sun and moon. The same drawing was also the inspiration for the Fasi lunari (Moon phases) series featuring a striking combination of cobalt blue and yellow gold. In recent years, Gabriella Gabrini has been experimenting with works that are closer to sculpture: emphasising form more than colour, she uses enamel to enhance the simple beauty of the material.


Her works are regularly exhibited in Italy and abroad, and they are part of various public and private collections from Paris to Lisbon to New York. Gabriella Gabrini has received many awards, including the title of Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic for excellence in artistic craftsmanship, which was granted to her by President Ciampi in 2000. In recognition of her accomplishments, the Veneto Association of Ancient Crafts promotes the exhibition of a series of her enamels inspired by nature and food at the Italian Pavilion at Milan Expo 2015. She will also be holding a seminar on the art of enamelling, in keeping with her strong sense of social responsibility and her commitment to teaching and raising awareness. Gabriella Gabrini can proudly say that her workshop is always open to art-lovers, artists, designers, architects and, especially, to students and young people, who are her favourite audience. She never tires of repeating to them a maxim by the Chinese poet Shi Tao: “No matter how far you go, no matter how high you climb, you must begin with a single step.”

Gabinetto Fotografico dei Musei Civici di Padova


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Above, Melagrana e chicchi (enamel on copper, 2010). Opposite page, top: L’Angelo del Santo (enamel on copper and red Persian marble, 1996) and SoleLuna (enamel on copper, 1995). Left, Gabriella Gabrini.

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Inside the Fratelli Boffi workshop at Lentate sul Seveso (Mb). Lathed and hand finished table legs and tops are ready for polishingand assembly. Titoletto in prima persona page, (W)hole by ordinario di Psicologia del ciclo di vita, direttrice del CROSS (Centro ricerche sull’orientamento scolastico e Opposite * Cristina Castelli è professore Ferruccio Laviani professionale) e del (2012) Master “Relazione d’aiuto in contesti di vulnerabilità e povertà nazionali ed internazionali” presso la Facoltà di Scienze revisits the Louis XV style. della Formazione dell’Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano. E’ direttrice della Fabbrica del Talento.

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Furnishing quality




by Simona Cesana

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Furnishing quality

Small and medium-sized enterprises form the core of Italy’s manufacturing industry, which has always been appreciated internationally because of its flexible structure and intrinsic creativity. If this is generally true across all sectors, it is especially so in the case of the furniture industry, where these qualities are the key to the success of Italian furnishing and design companies. Location is also a fundamental factor, as the history of Fratelli Boffi demonstrates: the industrious district of Brianza, north of Milan, is renowned for its small and specialised businesses run by meticulous, imaginative and hard-working artisan-entrepreneurs who are open to collaborations with architects and designers (amidst the dust

“We are a family business, but we have embraced new technologies through innovative woodworking machinery and continuous research into finishing processes”

This page, the seat of the “Daina” chair by Nigel Coates is up-holstered in leather, while the grain of the ziricote wood reveals the intricate carpentry work. The chair is part of the “Animalia” collection, inspired by mid20th-century design. Opposite page, master craftsmen carefully follow every step of the production process.

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and noise of their workshops) to create innovative home environments. Over the years, Fratelli Boffi (a third-generation family-run business) has succeeded in evolving and transforming itself without betraying its roots, as architect Alberto Boffi explains. QUESTION. What are the characteristics that best describe the type of company you manage? Do “family ownership”, “artisanal production” and “period furniture” still fully represent your business? ANSWER. Yes, these traits are always part of our DNA. Over time, we have managed to project artisan knowhow into the future: we have given a contemporary twist to our classic-style furniture with the ironic elements that we have come to be known for. At the same time, we have embraced new technologies through innovative woodworking machinery and with our continuous research into finishing processes. We are definitely a family-run business: we were established in 1928 by Carlo Boffi, who started out as an artisan and earned his reputation as one of the best wooden chair carvers. After the war, his sons had the idea to expand beyond Brianza, into international markets, starting with American and English department stores. Q. When did your international expansion reach its peak? For several years, your furniture occupied entire floors at Harrods in London. Do you still work with them and other international department stores? A. The greatest period of expansion was in the eighties and nineties, when we started to work with major department stores like Harrods in London, Lane Crawford in Hong Kong and, before them, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s in the United States. Unfortunately, we are no longer supplying these stores. The world of furniture has changed and today we work with high-quality retailers across the globe and, in particular, with acclaimed architects and interior decorators of international fame. Q. Your contract division represents a substantial share of your output. Which countries do you mainly focus your attention on? A. Contract furniture represent around 70% of our output. In fact, our contract division develops and creates large-scale

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Eccellenze dal mondo

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Furnishing quality

projects, including tailor-made items, for hotels, private homes, villas, residences and offices worldwide. We work with renowned architects and interior designers (Ed. among which Philippe Starck Studio), but thanks to our almost one hundred years of experience in the sector, we have always managed to avoid compromising on quality and style. Recently, our largest contract jobs have been for clients in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Russia, Greece, China, Germany and France. q. How important is it for you to participate in design events, even when they have no commercial purpose? I am thinking about your collaboration with Ugo La Pietra for the Abitare il Tempo exhibition in Verona: was it a one-off or did you develop other projects? A. Taking part in cultural events is always important because it contributes towards the development of our business, in Italy and abroad, both in terms of visibility and prestige. Our collaboration with architect Ugo La Pietra continues to be very significant: we have worked on a number of cultural events during Abitare il Tempo and also recently for an exhibition at the Milan Triennale. We are very much in tune with La Pietra’s approach to project development, as well as sharing a strong friendship that dates back to the days when we were all a bit “younger”. Apart from the cultural events, year after year the Salone del Mobile represents a very important opportunity for experimentation. Recently, we have worked with famous designers, including Aldo Cibic, Nigel Coates and Ferruccio Laviani. Q. When did you start introducing contemporary furniture into your product range? A. In the early eighties, after meeting architect Palatinus and his post-mod-

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Originally a producer of Louis XV, Louis XVI and Empire period furniture, Fratelli Boffi has developed a style that stays true to its origins and open to contemporary influences ern designs during a long period I spent in the United States. Before, our production was based on traditional and classic furniture, inspired by the Louis XV, Louis XVI and Empire styles. Since then, our goal has been to develop our business in a way that stays true to our traditions and craftsmanship and, at the same time, open to contemporary influences. Q. Your products are strongly connected with your heritage and designed by important names in Italian and international contemporary design. How do you reconcile these influences? A. We are currently developing many projects by Nigel Coates, Philippe Bestenheider, Ferruccio Laviani, Aldo Cibic and Piero Manara. By combining their creativity and our woodworking expertise and craftsmanship, over the years we have managed to successfully incorporate the lines and decorative styles of the past (which are harmonious and reassuring) with contemporary influences.

Top, Collage sofa (Ferruccio Laviani, 2012). The assembly of three styles results in one contemporary piece: a chesterfield with capitonné workmanship, a modern sofa and a sinuous Louis XV style chaise longue. Opposite page, Boffi’s sample collection (www.fratelliboffi.it).

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Training knowhow



“We consider craftsmanship to be one of the exemplary forms of human activity,” wrote Simone de Beauvoir in The Prime of Life (1960). Here at ECAL (University of Art and Design Lausanne), artistic workmanship has always been an essential element of our many design projects. We have further nurtured this philosophy through the support that Vacheron Constantin, a devoted advocate of time-honoured métiers d’art, contributes to our Master of Advanced Studies in Design for Luxury and Craftsmanship (MAS DLC). Our collaboration with the prestigious Manufacture of fine watchmaking began two years ago, bringing one success after another. At the Elac Gallery (ECAL’s exhibition space) we presented Arts & Crafts & Design. Time according to Alessandro Mendini and his artisans, in association with the Cologni Foundation for the Métiers d’Art. Each year, the Master’s students have the chance to experience first-hand the skills of the Geneva Maison’s master craftsmen. Vacheron Constantin awards a special prize at the graduation ceremony, and together we create unique projects: the calibre 1731 inspired a dreamlike installation (made with the cooperation of the students in the bachelor degree course in Media & Interaction Design and Industrial Design) that was presented at the 2014 Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie. Our partnership evolves to yet another dimension thanks to an outstanding exhibition (also organised in partnership with the Cologni Foundation) that blends craftsmanship and design in the VIP room of the Swiss Pavilion at the Milan EXPO: Arts & Crafts & Design: Time according to ECAL and Swiss Craftsmen. In the semester-long workshop directed by Italian designers Simone Farresin and Andrea Trimarchi of Formafantasma, twelve international students from the MAS DLC course were paired to twelve artisans to develop the theme of the cycle of seasons. Resulting in the creation of three projects for each season that will be displayed on four separate platforms. Visitors will have the chance to see furniture made by a creator of automatons; a picnic hamper made by a saddler; a vase created with a glassblower; a mirror cast in an aluminium foundry; a lamp made by a marble-worker; hatchet and knives developed with an expert in carbon fibre; a composition assembled with a master glass-maker; plates designed with a ceramic artist; fans developed with a specialist in papercutting; marquetry plates; a millstone by a stone sculptor; a music box made with a lute-maker. Through this partnership, our students explore formidable crafts that are facing oblivion. At the very peak of our industrial age, this project proves how craftsmanship still arouses great interest in young people, encouraging their creative freedom.

by Alexis Georgacopoulos

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When we were asked by Nicolas Le Moigne to hold a workshop at ECAL in collaboration with Vacheron Constantin, we immediately accepted since the project was conceived as challenging and inspiring for the students. The idea of having 12 Master students paired with as many local craftsmen is a tremendous educational opportunity. As we have experienced in our work, design as a discipline is at its best when based on collaboration. The aim of the workshop was to guide the students to generate ideas via research and a profound understanding of the qualities, the tradition and the relation with locality that every single craft has. In this respect the challenge as mentors has been to push the students to avoid nostalgia and to use design as a pragmatic tool to reveal the contemporary relevance of craft. What ECAL offered to us as mentors and to the students is a great platform where design wasn’t discussed just on an academic level but in context. As in our work, we love it when ideas are developed by directly experimenting with materials and production processes. What has been great with this experience is that we had complete freedom in working with the students, and over time it felt more like working in a studio or a design collective than in an educational context. Simone Farresin and Andrea Trimarchi (Studio Formantasma)

EMBRACING TRADITION AND INNOVATION Left, under the guidance of Formafantasma’s designers, the students at the ECAL in Lausanne have merged their creativity with the skills of 12 Swiss craftsmen. Top, the picnic hamper made by a saddler (www.ecal.ch).

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raftsmanship looks to the future without forgetting the past. Only 15 years ago, design and industrialisation held centre stage. But today the atelier is back in the spotlight


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Beautiful, exceptional, ethical and wellmade: these are the words that define a constantly changing paradigm. Beauty is eternal, and in this historic moment the creation of beauty, its realisation, must be nourished by innovation, change and the interpretative power of a protean Zeitgeist. And, surprising as it may seem, the entire category of artistic craftsmanship is particularly affected by the possibility, if not the necessity, for change and evolution. The touch of the human hand is a distinguishing and irreplaceable feature; likewise, the primary elements of a high-quality production are the identification marks of an artisanal history with deep reaching roots. But technology has been called upon to expand the possibilities of craftsmanship, to improve the design process and to perfect the creative act.True innovation does not end with digitalisation. Rather, it is achieved also when an invention can be produced to satisfy (or create new) criteria for style, functionality, costs, markets and tastes as well as ethical, formal and substantial values. The dialogue between formal innovation and ancient languages is now


perceivable, albeit in different ways, in countries all over the world. If 15 years ago design, industrialisation and all that is “fast” ruled the stage, today the relationship is more balanced: the craftsman and the designer meet on equal terms and “slow” becomes synonymous with quality. The workshop has returned to the centre of attention, offering fresh occupational opportunities, also thanks to the younger generation’s new interest in the figure of the “maker”: an international version of the homo faber, who, in forging his own future, creates a product embodying his vision and identity. Economic, functional, formal and institutional factors contribute to the conception of a product that expresses a time and a place; and master craftsmen, be they Italian, American, or Japanese, are the translators of this idea through a qualified and specific savoir-faire. Innovation arises from the ability to interpret projects, to transform them into contemporary objects and to find new solutions to old problems. But there is another synonym for innovation: collaboration. It is this “networking” that has created ties not just between one workshop and another, but also between one continent and another. The new artisans, the masters of today and tomorrow, know that only dialogue can give rise to something new, beautiful and long lasting. Though they speak different languages, they know that the expressive medium they have mastered, their expertise, is the meeting point for different cultures that look to the future without forgetting the past. This is the spirit of the Renaissance workshop 2.0: the circulation of culture and parallel thinking combined with knowledge and knowhow. These are the elements on which the innovation process of successful businesses is grounded. Elements that can find, now more than ever, the perfect environment for experimentation and growth in artisan workshops.

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Beauty at the limits of the infinitesimally small

— the artisan of matter —

www.vacheron-constantin.com - www.thehourlounge.com

Since the very beginnings of watchmaking, there have always been engravings on cases, dials and even on the tiny parts of watch movements. Today, Vacheron Constantin perpetuates this tradition by offering engravers exceptional opportunities for artistic expression. The engraver can thus transcribe decorative elements into the material from which watch movements and parts of the case are made, carving them with delicate care. This work of “miniature sculpture” carried out by hand requires a clear artistic and aesthetic approach combined with exceptional dexterity.

Métiers d'Art - Mécaniques Ajourées Calibre 4400SQ

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 (www.facebook.com/slowmade.net).

• 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 coordinates the promotion of the crafts sector via a national portal located at www.institut-metiersdart.org, an official crafts directory (http://www.annuaire-metiersdart.com) and the annual Journées Européennes des Métiers d’Art (European Artistic Crafts Days, next scheduled for 27-29 March 2015, journeesdesmetiersdart.eu).

• IINMA 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.

Institut National des Métiers d’Art Viaduc des Arts, 23 avenue Daumesnil, 75012 Paris, France Tel.: +33 (0)1 55 78 85 85 | info@inma-france.org | www.institut-metiersdart.org

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Arts & Crafts & design

MASTERWORKS Expertise on show in the European Artistic Crafts Days


TRANSMISSION Vacheron Constantin: a precious tribute to a glorious heritage of savoir-faire in Les Savoirs Enluminés


The sophisticated technique of Yuzen dyeing in the making of a kimono



The conservation of contemporary art needs new specialisations


Angelo Sala’s skilful hands behind the scenes of La Scala Opera House

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Profile for Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d'Arte

Arts & Crafts & Design n°6  

Arts & Crafts & Design n°6  


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