Lorenzo Pusterla: craftsmanship excellence and contemporary design

Pusterlamarmi is a craft company in Como, a true excellence in stone working and marble processing in particular, a material with which they produce refined furnishing accessories.
It was founded in 1977, and it is now run by the second generation, Lorenzo and Angela Pusterla, who respectively take care of the production and the management of the family business. Since its beginnings, the company has carried on this ancient craft, employing experienced and qualified workers.
An ancient tradition that continues in the name of innovation, thanks to the continuous search for new shapes and lines that meet contemporary living requirements. The result is unique pieces with modern and elegant taste, impeccable finishes and exquisite craftsmanship.
In 2022, Lorenzo Pusterla was awarded the title of MAM – Maestro d’Arte e Mestiere (Master of Arts and Crafts), recognised by Fondazione Cologni to master crafters who have distinguished themselves for their talent and know-how.

What is your story and how did you get involved in stonework?
As a young boy in the 1980s, I started working in my father’s workshop, becoming passionate about all phases of marble processing. After attending vocational school, I joined the company on a permanent basis.
At that time, we were already producing custom-made artistic works in the field of furniture and design.
I learnt the trade from my father and his collaborators, and later developed innovative technologies that enabled new solutions to be realised quickly.
When my father passed away, my sister Angela and I took over the company, keeping it up to date both technically and artistically.
Thanks to our long-standing collaboration with sculptor Bruno Luzzani, we have been organising sculpture symposia in our area since the 1980s.
In 2012, in collaboration with designer Lorenzo Damiani, we won first prize in the Best Communicator category at the Marmomacc international trade fair in Verona, and in 2022 I was awarded the title of MAM – Maestro d’Arte e Mestiere by Fondazione Cologni.

How important has been the link with the Como area for your work and the family business?
The Como area has always had the presence of numerous luxurious villas, both in the city and on the lake shores: this has allowed us to develop and flourish in our business of designing and executing high prestige furniture.
Our proximity to Milan, the undisputed capital of European design, allows us to collaborate with leading architectural firms on flooring, wall coverings and interior and exterior design and decoration projects.

The artefacts you make are a skilful combination of tradition and contemporary design. Is this a recent development, or have you always preferred a more modern and original style?
This is not a recent development, but stems from the experience we have accumulated over 50 years. Our uniqueness is deeply rooted in the culture of artistic craftsmanship. Each piece takes shape entirely in our workshop in Como and is the result of a process that blends traditional techniques with contemporary visions, guaranteeing timeless creations that enhance the natural beauty of the stones.

How is the business organised to date? How many employees assist you?
Our staff consists of 22 people; our strength lies in the in-house management of the entire production process. From the first consultation through to delivery and installation, each stage is handled with the utmost attention to detail and a constant commitment to excellence.
When we accept a commission, we always start with the consultancy: we listen to the customers ideas and guide them in choosing the materials and solutions best suited to their needs. We then provide detailed estimates and tailor-made solutions for the given budget. Next, our team of experts transforms the vision into a concrete project, using state-of-the-art CAD technology to precisely visualise the end result. We then move on to the actual realisation phase: the idea comes to life in the hands of our crafters, who work with dedication to realise every detail of the project.
Finally, we conclude with delivery and installation, guaranteeing a complete service right up to final installation, ensuring that each element is perfectly integrated in its context. However, our commitment continues even after the delivery, with service and maintenance, aimed at preserving the beauty and durability of our creations.

What does it mean today to pass on such an important tradition?
For me, it is very important to pass on to the next generation the passion and craftsmanship that we have contributed to preserve and flourish over so many years.

How important is design and planning when creating luxury furniture, or a work of art in marble?
For us, the thorough planning and elaboration of the entire production process is of utmost importance.

The “Salone del Mobile” and the Design Week in Milan has recently come to an end. Did you realise a particular project for this occasion?
We collaborate with the most important companies in the furniture and design sector, with whom we developed and produced new prototypes presented at the last “Salone del Mobile” in Milan.

What would you say to someone who wants to approach this craft?
I would say it is a challenging but rewarding work: from a block of marble comes a finished design product that is appreciated by customers all over the world.



Via Canturina, 107/109 – Como
Ph. +39 031 592443

Enza Fasano: a triumph of colour, between history and modernity.

Enza Fasano‘s workshop is the true spearhead of Grottaglie ceramic art.
The master in fact grew up among terracottas, and having practiced this art all her life has allowed her to develop a refined and recognizable taste.
Today, in her historic atelier, she creates artefacts inspired by local tradition, but also reinvented with originality and enriched by shapes and chromatic plays; pieces that know how to surprise, the result of years in the workshop, family school and improvement, and suitable to satisfy a cosmopolitan and demanding clientele.
The large showroom presents hundreds of objects of great beauty: from the typical Apulian tradition to the more functional elements for the table and for the home.
In 2020, Enza Fasano gained the title “MAM – Master of Art and Craft”, bestowed by the Cologni Foundation.

Tell us your story and how was the Enza Fasano workshop born?
My story starts with my grandparents, who have always worked with clay.
My family and I have continued the tradition: my daughter, a designer, creates the collections for the company and my husband is the production manager. We continue to do it with the same passion of my ancestors, but with an eye to innovation, by studying new shapes, colours and decorations.
I still remember the emotion I felt as a young girl in seeing a potter shaping a “capasone”, an ancient wine container, 180 centimeters high, starting from a piece of clay, and thus composing the three pieces and assembling them together.
In this path, there has been no shortage of difficulties, mostly of a family nature, but the passion for this job made me overcome any obstacle.
I also remember with emotion my first sale: an object made with very little tools and materials available.
Today, after these difficulties, I am proud to have realised my dream of being appreciated by connoisseurs and a discerning public, and proud to adorn enchanting homes and hotels with our objects.
We have been able to expand our workshop.

What ceramic collections do you create?
There are many but I can summarise by saying that we produce table collections, lamps, garden vases and various objects. My favourite ones are lamps and ornamental objects.

How important is tradition in your work and how do you manage to combine it with the ability to innovate?
Everything we do comes from tradition, whether it is the shape, the decoration or the production technique. We have been making ceramics for five generations, the tools have changed but the techniques are the same as they used to be. We have a historical repertoire to which I spontaneously refer.
I like to interpret history and bring it into modern environments.

We also have some emblematic collections in this respect. For example, the slim vases: ‘slim’ is the elongated shape of the objects, borrowed from Grottaglie tradition, that were once used for pouring water, wine and oil, the so-called vummile, trufolo and oliera. This collection is very popular, and combines the custom of the past with the style of the present, giving new life to ancient forms and creating a renewed way of conceiving the home.

Another collection that combines tradition and innovation is the ‘pupa’ (doll) and the cavalier: from the feudal period we remember the legend of the ‘Pupe with moustaches’. It is said that the iniquitous ‘jus primae noctis’ unleashed the jealousy of a future husband who, in order not to have his consort owned by the feudal lord on duty, disguised himself as a bride by presenting himself before the nobleman, but because he had forgotten to shave off his moustaches, he was soon discovered. As punishment, he was ordered to provide the best of his wine in anthropomorphic ceramic flasks in memory of the betrayal, later called ‘Pupe’. Today, Pupas with and without moustaches are reproduced, also in the ‘horse’ version to commemorate the groom’s escape from the castle, also used as candlesticks or as lamp bases.

Or the pizzolato table service, a collection that originated between the 14th and 15th centuries, originally enamelled in typical colours such as ivory or green. A highlight of our production for its particular hammered edge, obtained by turning a serrated tool on the edge of the dish while still soft. We offer this collection in the 37 colours in our palette, the infinite possible combinations that make the mood of this table unique and unexpected every time.

Where does the inspiration for your works come from?
From tradition, as I explained before, and from nature, from which the collection of artichokes, agave leaves, octopuses and fish was born.

How important is the connection with the city of Grottaglie for your work?
This is where it all starts. In the past, there were many clay quarries in Grottaglie and this is why the art of ceramics spread. In ancient times, mainly tableware and large containers for food were produced, as well as traditional ornamental objects representing myths and legends, such as the doll with a moustache, and decorations such as the “smammriato” which we still use today, always re-designed in a modern way. The stylistic bond with Grottaglie is therefore very strong.

Do you also carry out educational activities? Are you available to welcome young people for training internships?
We currently only host one artist residency per year. Our dream is to pass on our knowledge through educational activities, but at the moment we are unable to for reasons of time and space.
The artist residency held annually is curated by Terraterra, an invitation-only art residency programme dedicated to tableware. Terraterra selects the artists, while my daughter Giovanna is mainly in charge of this project. The objects created during the residency are tableware: in past years the artists have worked on the lines of our flat plates and jugs, while this year they worked on the glasses, designing and modifying our shapes, and entrusting the production to us.

What are your plans for the future of your business?
We dream of a cultural and educational place that complements our production.
We would like to expand the residency experience, adding even longer classes for professionals, in which they can complete their projects themselves.
Another dream is to organize an immersive experience in the world of ceramics. Our company preserves ancient production spaces and tools, such as ancient wood-fired ovens and pedal lathes. We have the desire to open these places to show them to those interested in our work, showing both the modern and ancient workshops.

Enza Fasano
Via Caravaggio, 31 – Grottaglie (Taranto)
Ph. +39 3483573110

William Bertoia: traditional mosaic art in dialogue with innovation

Friul Mosaic is a family-run craft company of artistic mosaics, founded by William Bertoia in 1987.
The atelier draws on an important tradition, with an eye towards contemporary design: starting from the concept, for which innovative motifs and original compositions are sought, each mosaic is made by hand, tile after tile, respecting the traditional techniques.
Wall mosaic decorations, floor coverings, artistic and architectural solutions are all rigorously made to measure, with mastery, rigor and accuracy, without forgetting creativity and innovation. In fact, alongside classic motifs, original and modern textures are proposed, inspired by nature, works of art and myth, but also by modern mosaic as an interior design element.
In 2020, William Bertoia gained the “MAM – Master of Art and Crafts” title, bestowed by the Cologni Foundation.

What was your path and how did you start doing this job?
My path as a mosaicist began as a child with the finding of a bag of marble tiles belonging to my grandfather, a master mosaicist and terrazzo craftsman.
Then, I attended and graduated from the Scuola Mosaicisti del Friuli (Mosaic School of Friuli) in Spilimbergo.
I started working in the marble workshops in the area and then, in 1987, I opened my own mosaic company.

Friuli is recognized all over the world for the tradition of mosaic. How important was the bond with the territory for your work?
The craft spread in Friuli Venezia Giulia region during the Roman Empire in the city of Aquileia. Here, in the early Christian period, it was then transformed from a decorative art, for private homes and public spaces, to sacred art for the decoration of the churches.
The technique was also used in the Byzantine period (of which we have an astonishing example in the apse of the cathedral of San Giusto in Trieste), whose workers then formed the basis for the workshops of Venice, during the birth of the guilds.
When the guild of terrazzo craftsmen and mosaic artists was born, many of these masters were Friulians.

After the fall of the Venetian Republic, the Friulian artisans spread out across the major European cities of the time, due to the closure of almost all the workshops.
They opened ateliers in Paris, Copenhagen, Berlin. However, the bond with the region remained alive, and this led to the creation of the Spilimbergo school. The various styles are taught here: Roman, Byzantine, Renaissance and contemporary; direct and indirect processing, the latter entering the world of mosaic around 1860.
This process allows work to be carried out in the workshop on any type of decoration required, whether ancient or modern and of any size.

When there is a large order, we resort to the collaboration of other workshops and artisans of the area, whose work is high-quality and we know what to expect; this is important because the execution must be homogeneous, as if done by a single hand.

Friul Mosaic, the company I founded in 1987, hired almost all mosaic artists who graduated from the Spilimbergo School, where I finished my studies in 1961. Natalina, one of my first collaborators, now leads the workshop. My daughters, sons-in-law and first grandson operate within the company in different roles, according to their skills; production and installation of the mosaic for the males, who learned this art in the ateliers of the area, as well as alongside me on various construction sites in Italy and abroad; my daughters Barbara and Tiziana take care of the relationship with customers and architects, organize participation in fairs and draw up estimates. They have thirty years of experience by now. Barbara has a degree in Business Economics and Tiziana has a diploma as a Business Expert and foreign languages. They have been surrounded by mosaic from an early age and decided, once they finished their studies, to join the family business, a work environment that requires a specific know-how on how to promote, lead and manage the work of around thirty people.

Your works are true masterpieces of mosaic decoration, some of significant size. How do you organize your work? Do you have collaborators who assist you?
The mosaicist’s work begins with the preparation of the design and the choice of materials to use for the creation of the mosaic. Then we move on to the distribution of tasks to the staff: cutting the materials, gluing the tiles, checking the dry work, then packaging and shipping. Finally, inspection of the construction site and verification of the surfaces intended for the setting up of the mosaic.
The company includes mosaic artists, technical designers, administrative staff, promotion and marketing staff, and staff responsible for cutting the marble to produce the tiles.

How many hours of work does the creation of a large-scale work require?
The creation of a work depends on several factors: type of decoration, type of materials (which can be for example marble, vitreous enamel or others), size of the tiles and size of the work. It can take from four hours per square meter, for the simplest surfaces, to well over 100 hours per square meter for micromosaics with minute and complex decorations.

What styles and techniques do you prefer?
As a mosaicist I have no style preferences, certainly the more complex creations leave a more vivid memory.

Who are the clients of your works and what has been the most interesting work you have created so far?
The clients are of various kinds, and they follow all the phases of the setting up.
They can be religious institutes for which we create mosaic works of sacred art; owners of shops, hotels, private villas – for such buildings we create walkable surfaces or walls decorated in mosaic, swimming pools and wellness areas, floors, entrances and rooms – public bodies which commision us mosaic surfaces with decorations of representative subjects or themes; but also designers and marble workers.
For me, the most interesting work, among the many I carried out, can be considered, in terms of prestige and size, the covering of the dome of the National Sanctuary of Nossa Señora Aparecida: over 2000 squared meters of enamel and gold for the largest basilica in the world, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, which welcomes 13 million pilgrims a year.
However, the projects we have created for major fashion brands are also very important, such as Dolce&Gabbana, Marni, and others that I cannot mention for confidentiality.

How important is, in your opinion, handing down craft know-how to new generations?
Experience and knowledge of this craft is very useful for new generations and their education.
Care, love for art and lasting beauty have a positive impact on coexistence and civic awareness. The masterpieces handed down over the centuries are evidences of the work of great artists and masters of the past.
This can also be our case: the works produced in recent years will be witnesses for centuries of our ability and know-how.

What are your plans for the future of the business?
Personally, I can plan only a short-term future, being 80 years old! I would like to conclude my work as a mosaic artist with a personal exhibition. That could be a review of works, ranging from sacred art in Byzantine style, to the mosaic translation of famous works by impressionists, ending with contemporary mosaic compositions. I am thinking about fifteen works to be exhibited in some cities, to make this art more known and appreciated.
As Friul Mosaic company, founded by me in 1987, now directed by my daughters Barbara and Tiziana, by the workshop manager Natalina and my nephew Nicola who is responsible for the marketing, the future seems to be on an excellent path. There is no shortage of projects, work is progressing well, and exept for pandemics or other calamities, our contribution in this field will continue to be operating and rewarding.


Friul Mosaic
Via San Giacomo, 42 – San Martino al Tagliamento (Pordenone)
Ph. +39 0434 89191

Orsola Clerici: painting dreams

PictaLab is an interior decoration workshop created in Milan over fifteen years. It was founded in 2007 by Orsola Clerici, in collaboration with Chiara Troglio.
In this elegant atelier, hand-painted wallpaper and wall decorations are created, with many different techniques: from fresco to trompe l’oeil, from coating to lacquering. Here, skilled craftspeople masterfully carry out each project, which always arises from a direct confrontation with the clients to understand their needs and expectations, and take care of the execution, rigorously made-to-measure.
Every creation always takes into account the architectural space and the context in which the idea is shaped, to offer creative and personalized solutions. In addition to wall decorations, the workshop also offers a customization service for furniture and interior design objects.
Orsola Clerici, co-owner and co-founder of the studio, obtained in 2020 the title “MAM – Maestro d’Arte e Mestiere” by Cologni Foundation for the Métiers d’Art.

What was your career path and how did you start doing this job?
I studied painting and restoration first at the Como Fine Arts Academy and then at Brera Fine Arts Academy. The study of time-honoured techniques and materials was very useful.
Later I started working in Milan with decorator Alfonso Orombelli, and soon I opened my own activity. I had the great fortune to immediately start working with renowned architects such as Piero Castelli and Barbara Frua, who offered me the opportunity to grow and learn, as well as to admire and work in enchanting spaces and places.

What styles, techniques and materials do you prefer?
I’m quite eclectic and I’m interested in many techniques. The tempera painting on large surfaces perhaps remains my favourite one, however I am also very interested in engraving or other similar techniques on particular supports, such as glass. I’m also dealing with hybrid techniques of digital printing and manual techniques, which are giving me great satisfaction.

How do you create a bespoke interior decoration project?
The first step is the analysis of the space and its characteristics: the plan, the brightness, the intended use, the characterizing architectural elements, and so on; all this has to be combined with the wishes of the customer or the designer.
The project must be based on these premises and then studied through sketches, 3D visualizations, photomontages and moodboards. Once the sketch has been approved, we develop the executive project for the implementation.

Is there any artist or master artisan you particularly appreciate?
There are many of them! I constantly study ancient art: from the great masters of the Italian Renaissance to Roman painting, up to the Bolognese decorators of the 18th century. I also appreciate many contemporary decorators, my collaborators in the first place, among which I mention by right of seniority only Greta Gallia, Alice Zaninetti, Valeria Brigliano, Giulia Lavina, Melinda Forfori. I have great esteem for Idarica Gazzoni and Elena Carozzi. I also appreciate companies such as De Gournay or Fromental, which develop products of superior craftsmanship.

How is the workshop organized today? Do you have collaborators who assist you in the work?
Our workshop is constantly growing: it counts today 12 persons and as many collaborators. Our team is composed of planners, decorators who take care of the realization, and an administrative department.

What is the most important or most inspiring project you have completed so far?
I have been lucky enough as to carry out many inspiring projects. So, this is a very difficult question! At the moment I am engaged in the creation of painted mirrors with a special ancient technique. I’m also working on a large decoration with huge plants for a stairwell in a building in Rome.
With my partner Chiara, we always remember a “legendary” job we did: the decoration of the “Monastero” resort in Pantelleria (Sicily), in collaboration with Barbara Frua and Fabrizio Ferri.

How do you combine tradition and innovation in your work?
It’s something I do every day on various levels: creatively, I try to translate ancient decorations into contemporary taste. On a technical level, I try to innovate processes and techniques, also by making use of new materials, as well as new technologies, for example applications for digital design, laser cutting for moulds, in some cases digital printing or scanning.
Without ever forgetting the study of ancient techniques, such as verre églomisé, which consists in applying a design, or gold or silver leaf, on the back of a glass panel.

In 2023, you hosted the young decorator Soé Astuquipan Leo in your atelier, as part of the Cologni Foundation’s “A School, a Job” project. How was this experience of collaboration with an apprentice? Do you carry out other activities for the training of young people and the transmission of your knowhow?
It was a nice experience. Soé has a very delicate hand and is very sensitive. Furthermore, the fact that she is Peruvian and therefore belongs to a different culture from ours makes the collaboration even more stimulating.
In our atelier and on site we constantly carry out training. One of the most stimulating and beautiful things about my job is certainly having the opportunity to live among creative people in a continuous exchange of ideas and skills. If some can offer the experience, others add freshness and innovation. In this work you never stop developing new skills, and I can’t say who, between the teacher and the pupil, learns the most!


Via Battista de Rolandi, 14 – Milan
Ph. +39 02.28095960


Living heritage: Diego Poloniato and the excellence of the ceramic tradition of Nove

Diego Poloniato is a master ceramicist who grew up in Nove, a small town renowned for the ceramic tradition.
He specializes in the creation of the typical Venetian “cuchi” and “arcicuchi”, whistling terracotta sculptures of different sizes, with varied and curious shapes; but he also creates home ornaments and clay sculptures, mastering various modeling and coloring techniques, from oxides to engobes, and making the most of the nuances of the earth.
His style is truly unmistakable, imaginative, whimsical and original, and gives life to cockerels, hussars on horseback, clowns, pinocchios and other animals, also combined in complex epic scenes.
In 2020 he gained the “MAM – Maestro d’Arte e Mestiere” title, bestowed by the Cologni Foundation.

How and why did you decide to dedicate yourself to ceramics?
I was born into a family where almost everyone worked in ceramics: father, mother, uncles and cousins. It is a material that has always been present in my life. Since I was a child, I used to watch my father working on tiny or impressive sculptures in clay, and try to imitate his gestures. I loved being next to him and trying to learn as much as possible, while he told me the stories of the past, of his childhood lived in poverty during the war. He became a ceramic molding teacher at the Istituto Statale d’ Arte of Nove, the school I attended for three years; and I, as a teenager, felt embarassed of having my father as a teacher.
At the end of the course I worked for about four years in a factory that produced sculptures. After that, I decided to open my own workshop. My father continued to teach me the secrets of the craft, while I was trying to find my identity as a ceramicist.

Nove (Vicenza) is a town famous for its ceramic production. How important was the bond with the territory for your career as a ceramicist?
The bond with the territory is, and has always been, fundamental for my professional and artistic growth: it gave me the opportunity to get in touch with an ancient tradition, and at the same time to confront myself with stylistic, technological and material innovations. Growing up in a town of fervent creativity and industriousness, provided me with the stimulus and knowledge to evolve my own style, differentiating myself from other ceramicists.

You specialize in making the typical Venetian “cuchi” and “arcicuchi”, terracotta whistles with curious shapes. How did this passion come about and what are the secrets of these particular artifacts?
In 1961 the director of the Civic Museum of Vicenza, Gino Barioli, invited many ceramic teachers and students of the area to create “arcicuchi”, large whistling sculptures. On that occasion, my father’s “Napoleonic soldier arcicuco” was purchased by the Museum, and it’s still exhibited there. Starting from that satirical sculpture, many ceramicists started an artistic and modern reinterpretation of the two-tone terracotta whistles, which had been, until then, a simple toy to give to children at village festivals, or as a gift to a loved one.
In my childhood I saw countless arcicuchi, different in size and shape, and I was inspired by them, always looking for new lines, materials and subjects that could better represent my personality and my style. I create riders on horseback, or on bulls and cocks; high relief panels, trees of life, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, Pinocchios, clowns, policemen and animals of every species and shape. The real secret in making these artifacts is in following one’s creative flair, giving space to the imagination with caricatural and fairy-tale subjects.

What is your favorite working technique and what does it consist of?
For several years I created the clay model of objects requested by the ceramic factories in the area, from which the plaster mold was then created for mass production. In those years I dedicated my free time to creating my cuchi and arcicuchi, experimenting with techniques, materials and shapes. Refractory and semi-refractory clays are my favorite materials for their yield and plasticity. I love to prepare by myself the shades of the semi-refractory materials that I need, and try to obtain a harmonious polychrome whole.
Using polychrome semi-refractory clay requires technique and patience: you have to proceed by adding piece by piece, paying attention not to contaminate the colours. My pieces are made entirely by hand without the use of plaster molds, they are fired at a high-temperature and finished with engobes or pure oxides.
Your style is truly unique. Where do you draw inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from fairy tales, legends, local folk stories, and I use their stories and characters with delicate irony. They bring joy to people.

How many hours of work does the creation of one of your pieces require and what is the process?
My works require different timing, depending on the size and degree of finishing I wish to give to the sculpture. I never count the hours, I just stop when I have achieved the result I imagined.
I start by creating the base, on which I then proceed to build the subject that I have imagined by adding material.

Do you also organize courses in your workshop? Or other initiatives to promote this art?
I don’t run classes in my workshop, but I often do live crafting demonstrations at the events I attend. For the Civic Museum of Nove, I made a demonstration video with the curator Elena Agosti, to teach how to build a cuco. Other video footage of my work was made by Geo&Geo, by the Veneto region, by some universities and the Volksbank, to promote local craftsmanship in Italy and abroad, and to carry on research on this tradition.
I particularly love to run courses for children and teenagers in schools, because they know how to use limitless imagination and creativity, for the pure sake of creating, unlike adults, who often have very high expectations and are influenced by precise, existing models.

In 2020 you gained the “MAM – Maestro d’Arte e Mestiere” title from the Cologni Foundation. What was it like to receive this acknowledgement, dedicated to the authentic masters of craftsmanship?
I have won numerous awards in my career as a craftsman, both for cuchi and sculptures, with great pleasure and satisfaction. None of these equal the gratification and pride I felt in receiving this very important title, which I didn’t really expect. Receiving such a prestigious title in 2020, when the business was stopped by the pandemic, gave me the strength to continue resisting in a really dark moment.
Being recognized as a Master of Arts and Crafts pushes me to improve myself continuously to honor this acknowledgment.


Diego Poloniato
Via Astronauti, 3 – Nove (VI)
Ph. +39 0424 592422

Simona Scala and the family business “Ornella Bijoux”: a know-how handed down from mother to daughter

The atelier Ornella Bijoux was founded in Milan in 1944 by Piera Barni. A historic business with an incredible story, bridged into present days thanks to the talent and determination of Simona Scala, the third generation at the helm of the business.
They create jewels with a vintage flavor, ofetn inspired by Art Nouveau, but also with a more contemporary taste, made up of original compositions of metals and Venetian stones, hand-painted ceramics and crystals, pearls and shells, as well as enamels, ropes, leather and feathers, mixed with freedom, harmony and originality.
An all-female enterprise, where know-how and craftsmanship have been handed down from mother to daughter for almost 80 years now.

Tell us the story of “Ornella Bijoux”.
The history of Ornella Bijoux dates back to the Second World War, and it is an all-female story of courage and relience: the company was founded in 1944 by my grandmother Piera Barni, who at the time worked as a secretary at Visconti di Modrone’s Gi.Vi.Emme Perfumes.
All of a sudden, she found herself having to decide whether to take the leap and risk everything by starting her own business.
In fact, during the war, both gold, a raw material needed for the creation of jewellery, and alcohol, necessary for the production of perfumes, disappeared from the market.
So Gi.Vi.Emme, not being able to make perfumes, proposed to “Calderoni Gioielli” to design and realize a collection of bijoux, which Gi.Vi.Emme itself would market through its distribution network.
When both gold and alcohol returned to the market in 1944, the two companies resumed their ordinary production, and Dino Villani, who was then the artistic director of Gi.Vi.emme, proposed to my grandmother to buy the costume-jewelery samples and start a new life, with a business of her own.
I am still surprised by the courage of this choice, because my grandmother was a widow with three children and her mother dependent on her, and she was providing for them all only with her salary; and, above all, she was still in the midst of World War II.

My grandmother called my mother, who was 14 at the time and was in sixth grade, and told her that they would start a new life and a new job.
Under the bombing, as my mother proudly told me, they began to tour Lombardy and Veneto by bike, to present, sell and deliver their bijoux, and they also arrived in Southern Italy thanks to the generosity of truck drivers, to whom they asked for a lift, since at that time the railway lines were all cut off.

For a few years they lived off the jewelry they had sold, then my mother, Maria Vittoria Albani, immediately showed an extraordinary talent for drawing, and thus she became, even if she had never studied, the pillar of Ornella Bijoux: from her imagination, more than 30,000 pieces were born, and we are still selling them today.
Over the years, my father, Mario Scala, has also joined the company. Having met my mother and grandmother on the train during one of their many journeys, he was immediately hired, and, until his untimely death, took care of the company administration.
In 1962 they also decided to open a prestigious store in via Montenapoleone in Milan, with the name of “Creazioni Maria Vittoria” (Maria Vittoria’s creations), where more than once, thanks to the collaboration with Biki, the famous Milanese seamstress, we created jewels for Maria Callas.

How did you decide to dedicate youself to this craft?
I was practically born in the company: the San Giuseppe hospital in Milan was 200 meters from our office and home in Via Carducci, and my mother left the workshop when she was in labor, and walked alone to the birthroom!
Since the house and the atelier were on the same floor of the building, they used to bring me to the office every day, and I was looked after by my mother, then by my grandmother or father, or even by the employees who had found a family in our company.
I grew up among beads, rhinestones, colored glass, chains and murrines: without even realizing it and, above all, without wanting to, I learned the trade, absorbing the passion and love that my whole family had for the craft, as well as to create new bijoux.

But, since my fate seemed to be already marked, I chose to explore other paths, following my interests: I graduated from university and pursued a career as a sport journalist, which at the time, moreover, was difficult to combine with the all-round role of mother, which I had promised myself to have with my children Pietro and Marta.
My mother, despite having been left alone in the meantime, since my father and my grandmother had died, continued her work, even if I think she knew in her heart that sooner or later I would have landed there too.

One can’t help one’s destiny, and mine certainly was to get to Ornella Bijoux, with the same love and dedication that my grandmother and my mother had put into the business before me. So, to give my mum a hand, I joined the company to initially deal only with sales, but, of course, at that point everything I had learned, seen, known and loved since I was a child emerged, and thus I stayed. Today I am glad I did.

What has changed over three generations, and what does it mean today to manage a business handed down from mother to daughter?
I believe that there are more things that have remained unchanged in 79 years of business and three generations (actually, currently it’s four generations, because my daughter Marta works with me in the company), than those that have changed: and these are the things that I believe and hope one can see in our jewels.
First of all, the passion and love for our work, but also the attention to detail in each piece of our collections; the joy of bringing shapes, colors and materials to life, even unexpected ones, in ever-changing expressions.

The business obviously had to fit into this time, and the evolution of the market. Now I think the management is much more complex, but we have tried to maintain its traditional character: sometimes this can be a limit, for example when we manage large runs in short times, since our bijoux are still made by hand today, one by one, and therefore require more time, and this does not fit into the fast online market, but this is the guarantee that the jewel is created specifically for the customer and can be personalized.

From a personal point of view, I feel the responsibility to carry on what was built by my grandmother, but above all by my mother, who was an uncommon creative genius, despite having always remained a humble and simple woman, loved by all.
She passed away four years ago, at the age of 90, and right up to the end she was totally and absolutely dedicated to her work, with the same creative force, the same love, the same imagination that allowed her to conceive ever-new designs for her creations, finding inspiration in the little everyday things. I miss her so much, but I feel that she is always here by my side, because this is her home.

What is your favorite technique and what does it consist of?
Actually, there is no favorite technique, I love playing with all materials, shapes and colors. If I had to choose, I would say that our flagship product are the brooches, all created entirely by hand, which are made with the welding technique, unlike most of the ones on the market today, mostly made in fusion.
This means that we have a jewel that can be modified or enriched every time, even following the needs of the customers, and that can evolve and change over the years, starting from the original creation.
Among the almost 4000 brooches in our archive, a large part is linked to the world of nature, a theme of inspiration very dear to us, and we often enhance them with the enamel technique, which allows us to emphasize the beauty of the floral compositions through colors.

What styles are you inspired by, to make your jewels?
As Giambattista Vico said, the sense of humanity passes from fantasy to logic and then, cyclically, returns to the starting point, according to the well-known theory of “historical courses and recourses”.
Even fashion and accessories inevitably repropose the themes of the past, declined according to today’s perspectives. So the sources of inspiration are always in the history of costume, fashion and jewellery.
We have an archive of over 30,000 models spanning 80 years of fashion history and, from this point of view, we are very lucky.
Then obviously everyone has a certain interest for a certain type of jewel and period, the one that most reflects our soul, our sensitivity and our taste.
I, like my mother before me, have a particular fondness for Art Nouveau, a style focused on the themes of nature, flora and fauna, in which there are no limits to the imagination, characterized by soft lines, which, with kindness and harmony, enhance the beauty of women.

How is the workshop organized today? Do you have collaborators who assist you in the work?
We have a workshop and showroom in the same place: as it has always been in the past, we have maintained the production and display of our creations in the same location, because we want customers to see how their jewels are made, browse our archive and see or choose the materials with which to give birth to their accessories.
I have internal collaborators for the manual creation of the jewels and a welding workshop outside our building.
Tradition is very important to us, and a good feeling with collaborators in the creation phase is fundamental: my mother has always created her jewels directly following their genesis in the welding workshop, where “we worked with our eyes closed”, thanks to the good connection that we had with the welder. Today, I am lucky enough to be able to do the same thing with his son, who also trained in the field under the guidance of his father.

Over the years you have worked with important brands and fashion maisons. What was it like working side by side with designers and other professionals of the field?
It was very rewarding. Those were different times and the work was organized differently, the fashion houses dedicated themselves exclusively to the creation of clothing collections and assigned the rest to others.
They came to us with the sketches of the clothes and gave us carte blanche for the design and creation of the accessories. There were some guidelines, but we had total freedom in the execution.
Today the most important brands have accessory designers and dedicated workshops where they directly create their collections; but it still happens that the style offices of the best-known fashion houses turn to us to draw inspiration from pieces in our archive, and re-propose them in their collections.
Over the years, and in a completely spontaneous way, we have made the choice to focus on our brand and our history; a choice that has probably been less profitable, but more rewarding, since we have always identified ourselves with our product.

Among other prizes and recognitions, in 2000 your atelier was included by the Municipality of Milan among the historical workshops of the city. Maria Vittoria Albani Scala, second generation in the management of the business, has also gained the title of “MAM – Master of Arts and Crafts”, from the Cologni Foundation. What do these awards mean to you?
We are very proud of the awards obtained and this year we also received the title of “Historical and Valuable Enterprise” from the Lombardy Region.
The true value of these awards lies in the fact that we are recognized that we have taken, and still follow, the right path, that one of quality, tradition and enhancement of Made in Italy.
In 2024 we will celebrate 80 years of activity, and I think I can say that the spirit, love and passion that animate our company have remained unchanged in all these years.
My mom used to say: “When you love your job, there are no Saturdays and Sundays”.
A statement that, as a little girl, left me puzzled, and I controversially asked her if she didn’t have a life outside her work! Then I understood, when it happened to me too, because when you love something with all yourself, you wish you had more and more time and energy to dedicate yourself to it.


Ornella Bijoux
Via Monte Cervino, 4 – Milan
Ph. +39 02 8052742

Vincenzo Aucella: Post Fata Resurgo

Laura Inghirami, journalist and advisor specialized in the jewelry sector, and Founder of “Donna Jewel”, interviewed, for the Cologni Foundation, the Master artisans who have been acknowledged in 2022 as “MAM – Master of Arts and Crafts”, in the category: Jewelry – Silversmithing – Goldsmithing.

Vincenzo Aucella, Marketing Manager and Master artisan of Aucella, and President of Assocoral, awarded MAM – Master of Arts and Crafts, has accompanied us to discover the history of his family company, which is based in Torre del Greco (close to Naples), home to a fascinating centuries-old tradition, and specialized in the processing and production of corals and cameos. “Post Fata Resurgo”: this is the motto of the city, which, like the legendary phoenix, has always risen from the difficulties to build a future made of uniqueness, art and beauty.

The history of Aucella began in 1930. Today Vincenzo and Manuel, under the expert guidance of their father Carmine, represent the fourth generation of the family, which over the years has been able to transform the company from a small goldsmith workshop to an excellent and world-renown atelier. “It was my grandfather Giovanni in particular – says Vincenzo Aucella – who shaped the vision of the company, investing in internationalization. He was a very esteemed man, here in Torre del Greco, for his competence and generosity, which led him to always help others and to invest in art to provide a future to the artists he met on his path”. The active inclination towards social commitment has still remained as an essential feature of the company. “Our founding values are the promotion of creativity and art, respect for our collaborators and team building”.

Furthermore, what drives the company every day is the strong passion for the ancient tradition of Torre del Greco, which today holds the world record for the production of coral jewels and cameos, two forms of art that had different developments and then met right here. “The stories of corals and cameos have one aspect in common – says Vincenzo Aucella – that is the importance of women. When men, since the Renaissance, stayed away for months, facing the sea to catch corals, the women had to carry on their families, facing poverty and uncertainty, since they did not know if their children and husbands would ever return. When in the 19th century the inhabitants of Torre del Greco learned not only to trade the raw material, but also to process it, often the women themselves engaged in this art during the long months in which their companions were by the sea. Similarly, between the 19th and 20th centuries Torre del Greco became an important cultural center and the landmark of cameo manufacturing, and then again women taught local workers this art, training the city’s artisans and master engravers”.

Torre del Greco, nestled in the wide horizon of the sea and the grandeur of Vesuvius volcano, is a continuous source of inspiration for Aucella. “Our territory has taught us to always seek for beauty. We are travelers, and we always carry this philosophy with us: wherever we go, we look for inspiration in beauty. When we create a jewel, we do not follow the trends of the moment, because our hand-crafted product represents a universal and timeless beauty”. And Vincenzo Aucella precisely and inextricably links the concept of excellence to the territory. “Only Torre del Greco specializes in the making of coral jewels and cameos. Uniqueness is the true essence of excellence”.

Pursuing excellence also means knowing how to effectively combine tradition and innovation. This is Aucella’s vision. “I studied IT, and this allowed me to bring technological innovation to the company. Furthermore, since the beginning I have sought to bring stylistic innovation in the atelier, to give a new soul to an art that is often associated with a bygone taste, through research, the continuous comparison with the contemporary world and collaboration with other top companies. Together with my brothers and my parents, Carmine and Maria Francesca, who work in the Torre del Greco office, we are always committed to guaranteeing the distinctive characteristics of elegance and refinement of our jewels and to promoting a culture of openness and innovation”.

And then, the prestigious MAM award. “My application for this award was a personal challenge. I have to thank Alba Cappellieri, who has always believed in our work and gave me the necessary inspiration to reach this important recognition. I consider this award a success for the whole company, for the family and for our collaborators who allow us to express our art at its best, in Italy and in the world”.
And Vincenzo Aucella wishes to dedicate the award precisely to Torre del Greco. “Our territory represents for us a great strength in positive moments, as well as in difficult times”. Post Fata Resurgo.

Laura Inghirami



Head Office and Factory:
Via Vittorio Veneto, 25 – Torre del Greco (Naples)
Phone: +39 0818812545

c/o Goldsmith Center “Il Tarì”
Form 106 – Marcianise (Caserta)
Phone: +39 0823513139


Paolo Pagliai. The art of silversmithing at the time of the “fiaccherai”

Laura Inghirami, journalist and advisor specialized in the jewelry sector, and Founder of “Donna Jewel”, interviewed, for the Cologni Foundation, the Master artisans who have been awarded as “MAM – Master of Arts and Crafts”, in the category: Jewelry – Silversmithing – Goldsmithing.

“The “fiaccherai” – says Master Paolo Pagliai – were the old-time drivers of horse-drawn carriages. In the 40s, my father Orlando Pagliai, founder of the family company, used to give them his hand-written business cards to be distributed, and also to be known and find customers.”

This is the old-time, fascinating story of Paolo Pagliai, Florentine craftsman, awarded MAM – Master of Arts and Crafts, specialized in the production and processing of silverware, as well as in the restoration and the creation of unique pieces on request. Nowadays Pagliai’s silverware is a reference point of excellence, and it has been recognized as a prestigious Florentine Historical Business.
“I’m Orlando Pagliai, the silversmith who worked at Rogai’s: if you need me, you will find me in Costa San Giorgio, 77” – as it was reported on those business cards.

Thanks to his creativity and skills, Pagliai met many important clients; among whom, in the Sixties, was a very relevant person among them – Giovanni Battista Giorgini, acknowledged for his avant-garde taste and for organizing the first fashion show in the Sala Bianca of Palazzo Pitti, Florence, in 1951. The famous entrepreneur thus became a mediator between high Italian craftsmanship, especially Florentine, and the American market.

“Thanks to him – says Stefania Pagliai, third generation of the family – a ten-year collaboration was established with Tiffany, who invested in our company by commissioning several works. For example, they asked us to replicate the works exhibited at the Museum of Silversmithing in Palazzo Pitti, a very prestigious assignment. So my grandfather and my father worked intensively together with a team of specialized craftsmen. The collaboration with Tiffany contributed significantly to the development of the company. ”

Pagliai’s is one of the last shops with its own artisan atelier inside. It is located in Borgo San Jacopo, in the heart of medieval Florence, nestled in the beauty of one of the most inspiring Italian art cities. It is not difficult to understand that the bond with the territory is a key aspect of Pagliai’s identity, as well as a continuous source of inspiration for his creations. The techniques used in the workshop, from hammering and chiseling to complex engravings, celebrate an ancient tradition; and the work of chiselers, founders and goldsmiths gives life to objects of extraordinary beauty, such as the silver dolls that Mrs. Wanda Ferragamo commissioned to Pagliai, as a present to her grandchildren.

“Return to the axis and continue straight on the path of principles and righteousness that was indicated to you. Grandma Tà”: this is the engraving on the back of the dolls, which was intended to be a deep teaching. The dolls, in fact, move when pushed, but then always return standing (2022, G. Visconti: “In the red book of Tà. The life of Wanda Ferragamo”. Mondadori Electa).
Or like Chrysler Building, the unique piece in silver realized on commission, made entirely by hand from a perforated and engraved plate, and then welded to silver, in which the spire of the skyscraper, the details, the gargoyles and the decorations are executed with the lost wax method and chiseled manually.

Over the years, the Pagliai family has shown a strong dedication to the company. And the
women of the family have played a fundamental role: “My wife Raffaella – says Paolo Pagliai – started working as a saleswoman to support me. Her contribution was key for the success of the company: her outgoing and charismatic personality contributed to create a honest relationship of affection with the customers, who would contact and choose us more and more. Today my daughter Stefania carries on the family tradition with commitment and passion”.

Regarding the MAM award, the Master feels proud and surprised. “I am proud to have received the prestigious MAM title. After many years of work, obtaining this recognition was a great satisfaction and an honor for us all. In my life I have always sought excellence, which is the extraordinary beauty of this craft, and nothing else. A timeless beauty I am so passionate about; the same passion that motivated my father, and that we are committed to handing down from generation to generation in our family”.

Laura Inghirami




Silversmith Pagliai
Borgo San Jacopo, 41R – Florence
Phone: +39 055 282840

Davide Furno and the art of wax, between magic and hyperrealism

Davide Furno is a true master of wax.
He was the first in Italy to give new life and dignity to wax modeling, thus recovering an ancient and completely forgotten technique: this is a discipline that, with the help of waxes, natural resins, plasters and powders, gives life to flowers and fruit, that can be combined into extraordinary compositions. With this process, and thanks to secret recipes he learned during years of study, research and experimentation, Davide Furno is able to create true masterpieces of still life, refined and hyper-realistic, which make any environment magical and poetic.

What was your career path and how did you start doing this job?
I wasn’t the perfect student when I was attending school, but for art history, drawing and applied arts, I always made an exception.
Then, after graduating at high school and at the IED (European Institute of Design), I worked for several years as a graphic designer and illustrator, experimenting with drawing and with different decorative techniques, such as gilding, trompe l’oeil and faux marble, among others.
During this time of tireless research, I came across wax modelling by chance – and it couldn’t be otherwise, since at the time it was an unknown process – and in particular I discovered the collection of wax fruits by Francesco Garnier Valletti, which was basically forgotten on the shelves of the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Turin: hundreds of wax fruits of breathtaking beauty, made with a technique which was considered lost forever.
I am lucky enough to remember very well the moment I fell in love with what was to become my work for the rest of my life. But it would still take many years, spent between researching and experimenting recipes and materials, wandering between fairs and markets, and going through failures and recoveries, to make of this passion a real job.

Your works are true masterpieces of still life. How much time and how much practice did it take to get to this result?
It is not easy to calculate the necessary time and practice, as both have blurred boundaries. Being a discarded and forgotten technique, I had no one to teach me. The output I have reached is the result of a few recipes that I found or created, by matching rare notes and ancient manuals, as well as a lot of self-taught experimentation, which still continues. I can say precisely when I started working with wax, but the preparation of the plaster casts, the study of the colors and their preparation, the practice with resins, organic materials and glues, all started many years earlier. In this process I wasn’t realizing that I was accumulating experience and knowledge, that would be useful in the development of the technique of wax modelling.
To answer the question, I would say that it took a few years from the moment I casted my first apple, which actually looked more like a burnt tuber, to the moment I obtained a recognizable fruit with the correct recipe by Garnier Valletti. The time I spent in this process was necessary to experiment and confirm the accuracy of the procedure, often more than anything else. From then on, it was above all a question of improving my works and the aesthetic result, but I think this is the natural inclination of any craftsman.

Who are the clients of your works and what has been the most interesting work you have done so far?
Incredibly, even with a time jump of two centuries in which wax modeling was disappeared, my client is exactly the same one that a master wax modeler would serve two hundred years ago, obviously with the natural differences between the two eras: concerning the decorative elements and the compositions such as centerpieces, my clients are usually furniture shops, interior designers and private individuals; while for the “pomone” (i.e. collections of fruit replicas) I have requests above all from museums and botanical gardens, universities, and collectors.
I have often received exciting commissions from museums and important exhibitions, but if I had to choose the one that still satisfies and excites me the most, it is when the collector sends me his own fruit to reproduce. Often, these are plants owned and cared for by loved ones, or ancient rediscovered varieties, many times linked to particular memories.

How many hours of work does it take to make a piece and what is the procedure?
Among the techniques I use, the one by Francesco Garnier Valletti is certainly the most characteristic and complex one, as well as the technique that best represents me, having rediscovered it personally.
Having to be exhibited on the shelves of a museum, durability is one of the prerogatives of the object, and this is not exactly a characteristic of wax.
To get a durable object in wax, the base mixture must be worked for a long time and cooked for hours in very precise conditions, until you get a result somewhat similar to terracotta. At this point, however, the material has lost basically all the characteristics of wax, such as shine and translucency, and it looks dark brown and opaque instead.
The mixture must therefore be treated like a common pictorial background and prepared, with a few coats of white priming, a subsequent glaze with resin colors, which I necessarily have to prepare personally.
Given this long premise, and considering that each fruit has different coats of glaze, it is easy to understand how the time needed to make a fruit is no less than a few months, depending on whether you work in summer or winter, in a dry or humid environment, and so on.

Have you ever thought of teaching this rare and little-known technique?
Of course I have thought about it, and sometimes I have even tried it, with children, friends and enthusiasts.
But the lessons didn’t last long: they all ran away pretty quickly, I don’t know if it was disappointment for the result, the fatigue or my temper!
Seriously, I’m definitely going to pass this knowledge down sooner or later. But since it is not a simple job at the moment, with few professional opportunities, it is difficult and perhaps not even fair to involve a young person as an apprentice.
I mean that I am still thinking about it and how to do it. In the future, a solution could be to collaborate with craft schools, which certainly have more resources than me.

How do you combine tradition and innovation in your work?
It’s difficult to talk about innovation in a profession as tied to the past as mine, but there is still room for renovation.
From a technical point of view, let’s say that over time I have been able to renew classic recipes, making them more up-to-date and ethically acceptable, for example by eliminating toxic paints and pigments, which were once used without concerns, or unavailable ingredients such as whale fat, and replacing them with resins, waxes and other organic materials.
Today I am able to offer both historical recipes and personally created blends, which are probably, depending on the case, more resistant and plausible.
From an aesthetic point of view then, it is trivial to talk about the actualization of taste. Today, proposing cornucopias and triumphs of fruit can be surprising at an exhibition, but then you have to be really lucky to be able to sell it.

In 2022 you got the “MAM – Maestro d’Arte e Mestiere” title, assigned by the Cologni Foundation to master craftspeople. What did it mean for you?
I will not deny that, if on the one hand it was a wonderful satisfaction that I badly needed, on the other hand I feel, the responsibility of that.
I mean that in addition to having felt awe towards the audience and the other awarded masters – since the level of talent and excellence was such as to intimidate anyone – the fact of having reached the top so quickly, makes me fear of not being able to make the most of all the opportunities that are offered to me.
In any case, for me this has been an enormous stimulus to carry out all the projects I have in the pipeline, and perhaps this is just the right time to carry them out.

What are your future projects?
For a year now I have been dedicating myself to two large-scale works: the first is the re-edition with the ceroplastic technique of a first part of the Gallesio pomona. The second is the creation of a collection of grapes, certainly the most complex, difficult and extraordinarily beautiful fruit of all achievable with the Garnier Valletti technique.
These are very demanding and somewhat presumptuous undertakings, but the extraordinary year that was 2022, with the recognitions I gained from “Fatti ad Arte” – with the “Maestro di Mestiere” Award – and the title of “MAM – Maestro d’Arte e Mestiere”, gave me somehow the courage to try.

Davide Furno
Salita di Riva, 6 – Biella
Ph. +39 345.6273518

Giovanni Poggi: a history of passion and excellence

The history of “Ceramiche San Giorgio” started with the dream of a boy, Giovanni Poggi, who wanted to be a ceramicist and to open an important workshop.
He decided to do it in his hometown, Albisola, a Ligurian city with a long artisanal tradition: the San Giorgio factory opened its doors in 1958, thanks to the partnership between master artisan Poggi and his two collaborators, Eliseo Salino and Mario Pastorino.
Albisola was a great place for experimenting and re-inventing the art of ceramics, and Giovanni Poggi’s workshop was one of the protagonists of this revolution. Numerous internationally renowned artists have worked in his furnace, and over the years it has been a true point of reference for Italian ceramics. Today, the history of the atelier continues with the same passion and consistency.

What is your story and when did you approach the world of ceramics?
Since I was a child I was fascinated by ceramics, and I used to watch the pots drying “en plein air”. That’s how I approached to this world; in fact I always used to say to my mother: “I want to become a ceramicist”.
My adventure in the world of ceramics began after my military discharge, when I decided to leave Albisola and work in the ceramic factory “C.A.S. – Ceramiche Artistiche Santa Margherita Ligure”: there I lived an important stage of my life, and I met Giuseppe Pinelli, owner of the factory, who immediately treated me like a son.
There, from 1955 to 1957, I learned new techniques and put aside the teachings of Albisola ceramics for a while, thus starting to use, for the first time, the glazes that years later I would use at the San Giorgio workshop – those glazes, applied to bowls with jagged edges, obtained a great success in Albisola, where the bright colors were a real novelty.
At the end of 1957 I finished the experience at C.A.S. and I came back with enthusiasm to Albisola, where I worked for a few months at the Fabbrica Albisolese Ceramiche. There I met the artistic director, Eliseo Salino: not only a true friendship, but also a profitable working partnership immediately was born among us, as well as with Mario Pastorino. From our conversations would then arise the dream and the common goal to open our own ceramic factory.
But this path was not simple. First we had to find a suitable place. We immediately thought about the headquarters of the Piccone factory in Albissola Marina, a former ceramic furnace; but the negotiations were not easy, because the owner did not want to rent the place to potters. However, Salino’s father managed to convince her, by taking himself the responsibility for the payments.
We inaugurated the workshop in April, in the day of San Giorgio: for this reason we decided to call the factory with the name of the saint.

What styles and techniques do you prefer?
Albisola is renowned for the traditional “white and blue” or “Antico Savona” decoration, which was introduced by the Guidobono family in the mid-17th Century. The decoration, which usually includes a human figure inserted in a landscape with a castle, has made Albisola famous all over the world. However, I feel personally more inclined towards the use of color: in fact I love the shiny and bright glazes that characterize the modern production of Ceramiche San Giorgio, such as the “stork vases”, so called because they have a very thin and long neck, and they are decorated with very bright colors.

Many important artists, such as Lucio Fontana, Asger Jorn and Wifredo Lam, who settled in Albissola between the 1950s and 1960s, chose your factory to create their pieces. What influence did they have on your work and experience as a ceramist?
I was lucky enough to work with important artists of the second half of the 20th century, each of whom gave me useful lessons. A significant working partnership often arises between an artist and a craftsman, and I have many good memories of each of them.
Fontana, for example, was always very elegant, he used to dress in white and often wore a red hat. He moved around by bike, with which he went to the atelier. He attended San Giorgio factory in 1962-1964: here he made a one-meter large in diameter plate, and he modeled original vases as well. He used to draw the pieces himself, and I shaped them on the lathe. His drawings are still hanging on the wall of the workshop, as a tangible mark of his work at Ceramiche San Giorgio.

When Asger Jorn arrived in Albisola he was already an acknowledged artist, and his art was internationally recognized. Together with Sergio Dangelo he had organized the “International Ceramics Meetings” in 1954. In 1959, in my workshop, Jorn created a panel that is today located in Aarhus (Denmark). It took us about three months of work, because it was 90 square meters big: at the time it was considered the largest ceramic panel in the world!
We proceeded in sectors of 3 square meters at a time, which were then selected, left to dry, emptied and numbered, for a total of 1250 irregular tiles. Jorn mainly used red, yellow, orange, blue and turquoise selenium-based enamels, which were very expensive at the time. They had to be prepared in buckets of 10 kilos each, and Jorn used to throw them impetuously over the piece of clay.

I share so many memories with the Cuban painter Wifredo Lam. He was a hard-working man, and he loved to paint in a peaceful environment. That’s why we used to close the workshop with curtains, so that he wasn’t disturbed by anyone. We worked side by side, and for me it was a great honor to be able to host such an important artist.
I shared him information on colours, glazes, oxides…
He used to stand still for hours and hours without getting tired or complaining. He loved experimenting new techniques and combining bright colors, and he was always curious to know the result of the work. Lam realized a wide production, ranging from plates to vases and panels. Many of these masterpieces are now exhibited in the most prestigious museums of the world, while I jealously keep others for myself, in order to display them in group exhibitions, when I proudly show them to the public.

How is the workshop organized, today? Do you have collaborators who assist you in the production?
The San Giorgio factory is a family-run workshop. The team is composed of my son Matteo, who works on the lathe, a technique which I personally taught to him; Silvana Priametto, who in the 1960s was the only woman potter, and who knows all the techniques of ceramics; and Luisa Delfino, the very talented decorator of the factory.
Then, also my brother Piero takes care of the photographic archive and cataloguing, and my niece Simona organizes exhibitions and cultural events.

Do you also organize courses or other initiatives to promote ceramics?
For some years I taught the lathe technique at the Municipal School of Ceramics of Albisola Superiore. It was a beautiful experience. Currently, I do not organize courses but in the workshop we regularly organize cultural activities, exhibitions and meetings, with the participation of the artists who work in the atelier, as well as of critics and ceramic experts.
I am glad to see that San Giorgio has been, since its foundation, and continues to be today, an important point of reference for artists and young people who, sometimes shily, approach clay for the first time, and thus need the advice of master artisans.

Do you still collaborate with artists and designers?
The collaboration with artists is very important for us. Art evolves, changes and renews itself, which is why I always welcome with great enthusiasm artists who come to experiment with ceramics, colors and different techniques. It is very inspiring to collaborate with artists, and often the artists themselves propose to others to come to us to try working with clay. So far, more than two hundred painters and sculptors have chosen our kilns to give life to their creations, and I hope that the new generations of artists will continue to come to Albisola and consider it a great place to make ceramics.
Last week, in our workshop, I felt like I was in Germany: Italian, German and English were spoken in the atelier, and there were at least six German artists at work!

What are the plans for the future of your business?
We are currently working on an important project by the artist Alfonso Borghi, which involves the creation of twelve large panels that will be placed in Castelnovo di Sotto (Reggio Emilia).
I think that new ideas and intiatives will always arise because, as I often repeat, art has the power to connect people and create wonderful bonds and collaborations.


Ceramiche San Giorgio
Corso Matteotti, 5/R – Albissola Marina (SV)
Ph: +39 019 482747