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”.
Borgo San Jacopo, 41R – Florence
Phone: +39 055 282840