There’s no doubt that Italians are talented craftsmen and creative designers, their craftsmanship is known all over the world. From Ettore Sottsass‘s quirky Memphis furniture to Gio Ponti‘s lustrous pieces, Italy has been a leader in innovative, beautiful, and high-quality design for decades. There’s a reason why Salone del Mobile, one of the best and most notorious art and furniture design showcases in the world, is based in Milan since 1961. Italian craftsmanship always was internationally celebrated.
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Brianza, for example, is considered the craftsmanship-design district, halfway between Milan and Lake Como. It is a mesmerizing place, in which over the past two centuries noble and affluent families built many villas. These constructions required the skillful hands of master artisans and experts which furnished the breathtaking houses. This is the motive why such a fine and precious know-how survived there, as a crucial part of the region’s legacy. Some traditional craftsmanship knowledge can’t even be found anywhere else in Italy.
Since the 1950s, design entrepreneurs come to this area to collaborate with famous Italian and foreign artists, bringing to life of iconic furniture and lighting.
All the best Italian-made craftsmanship products merge together traditional craftsmanship and technology in an extremely detailed and almost perfect way. Artisan expertise has an irreplaceable value which allows delicate finishing details and final touches in all manufactured pieces. Human hands are capable of sensitivity and emotion while maintaining almost industrial precision.
Each hand-crafted art piece is truly unique since it is not being mass-produced. Every small little detail embraces the authenticity of its material and maker, a perfection in which flaws are features.
The popular saying “Love French. Drive German. Dress Italian” already assures us of the high quality of Italian design and craftsmanship. Just to name a few, Brioni, Brunello Cucinelli, Dolce & Gabbana, Ermenegildo Zegna, Etro, Fendi, Gucci, Armani, Kiton, Loro Piana, Paul Evans, Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo, and, of course, Versace, are all celebrated luxury brands with Italian origins. In luxury furniture and accessories we can also find Moooi and Swarovski, among many others.
Thanks to the nonstop evolution of technology, there are a million ways to use chemicals, for example, to tan leather. However, the best leather in the world is made by Italian tanners who use millennia-old traditions of au natural liming and dying. The result is a material that’s sturdier than any other on the market, as we can see in genuinely Italian-crafted shoes, which all have also a beautiful hand-painted finish. Also, most fabric mills use water that’s saturated with salt and minerals, which leads to fabric that’s covered in a thin, color-quashing layer. But Italian fabric mills are usually located in the North, an outstanding region in the south of Swiss Alp glaciers. Craftsmanship Italian mills use pure water to produce fabric, that’s why you won’t find a single thread covered in undesirable substances.
Some companies have been around longer than entire nations. In fact, Vitale Barberis Canonico, a family-run fabric mill in Biella, the main textile supplier for the tailor maestros at Zegn, is working for fifteen generations, since the 1600s.
Handcrafting any piece is a slow and detailed process, which requires a burning passion for craftsmanship. Artisans are almost wizards, dedicating their lives to the magic of building extraordinary art with their own hands. A hand-crafted project can take weeks, months, years to be finished.
In 2009, the Italian parliament passed a law prohibiting the use of the phrase “Made in Italy” on any product label unless the product is actually made in Italy, from start to finish. This was a strategy to protect the country’s precious reputation as a creator of the finest craftsmanship products.
From the columns of ancient Rome to Michelangelo’s David, style is carved into the stone of Italian life. There’s even a term for it: “La belle figura”, which literally means “the beautiful figure”, yet represents a lifestyle admired and followed, a trend, at all times and in all ways.
Italian-crafted goods can handle really well the passage of time. Vintage cloths and furniture are always, always en vogue, especially if they are handcrafted, high-quality, designer-made items. From Leonardo da Vinci to Poltrona Frau armchairs, from Armani and Prada to Tiramisu cake. Italians have several beautiful specific products of the highest level made by small producers, artists and artisans everywhere in the country. Pursuing a family tradition, innovating, creating, finding new styles and raising quality is in the Italian blood, characteristics which will lead the country to a bright future.
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