For an object to truly be the result of fine craftsmanship, it must have been created according to acknowledged rules of the art with a prevalence of manual workmanship that relies on a constant dialogue between the artisan’s mind and hands. The role of any machinery used in the process is strictly one of service to the manual and mental intelligence of the artisan.

S. Pozzoli ©Michelangelo Foundation 2016

When we make something with our hands, we can tweak it until we achieve the result we are looking for. This is something that can’t be done in serial production. And when we do it with passion and pleasure, we transfer a part of ourselves into this object.

Ludovic Avenel

Ludovic Avenel makes limited-series furniture, by hand, in his Parisian atelier. He brings a contemporary edge to a classical art, pairing traditional woods with different materials, and borrowing unusual techniques from other cultures.

Tomas Bertelsen © Michelangelo Foundation 2016
Tomas Bertelsen © Michelangelo Foundation 2016

The lacemaker interprets the pattern, but to do so perfectly, she must follow the method correctly. This is why someone must have originally taught her the correct method for each stitch. She must apply the techniques in the purest and most honest way possible. When well made, bobbin lace stands up on its own: it is almost rigid.

Renata Casartelli

Renata Casartelli is an expert in the art of bobbin lacemaking. A passionate defender of her craft, she has made an enormous contribution to keeping this centuries-old technique alive. In addition to authoring several books, in 1993 she founded the Cantù Lace Promotion Committee which now represents 40 women experts in this specialty craft, hosts meetings and courses and organizes the International Lace Biennial.

S. Pozzoli © Michelangelo Foundation 2016
S. Pozzoli © Michelangelo Foundation 2016

Using just the sense of touch, you can understand if a job is done well: you feel it in the shape, the joints. My workers would ask me, ‘Luisin, is this good?’ And I would touch it and say: ‘It’s good!’ Industrial production lacks the hand that can tell you: ‘No, it’s not ready yet.’

Pierluigi Ghianda

Known as “the poet of wood”, and renowned for his ability to create furniture without nails, Pierluigi Ghianda’s rare perfection and patient hand was sought by companies across the world. His masterful technique is best embodied by his Kyoto table: 1,764 dovetail joints forming a chiaroscuro pattern of more than 1,600 square holes.

© Emanuele Zamponi