Gianfranco Chicco
Oct 25, 2017 · 6 min read

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A collection of products and experiences celebrating craftsmanship, paying homage to those who take the expression of our humanity to a higher level.

“In service one of the most important things is to let individuals show their personality — and not be robots”.

James Spreadbury, Restaurant manager @ Noma
[Source: Noma]

Empreintes Concept Store, Paris

An extraordinary space in Paris’ Haute Marais neighbourhood celebrating the work of a few dozen French craftsmen through a myriad of unique and limited edition objects which are all available for sale. From ceramics to jewellery, from furniture to magic wands (!!!). I particularly liked the profile information on each craftsman, including a mini bio, details on the technique and location. Empreintes also features a peaceful cafe and a projection room. See more photos on my Instagram.

5 rue de Picardie, 75003 Paris, France

Fortuny Textile Factory, Venice

Born in 1871, Mariano Fortuny was an eclectic polymath with remarkable achievements in art, lighting, architecture and most prominently fashion design and textiles. Even today, the pleating technique behind his eponymous Delphos gown generates admiration, as well as his secretive dyeing and pattern methods, still utilised in the factory located in Venice’s Giudecca island. I had the opportunity to visit the showroom and private garden, but access to the actual production area is forbidden to all except a handful of craftsmen. Fortuny is highly sought after its patterned fabrics, used for everything from bespoke dresses to cushion covers, from drapes to upholstery and more. Thanks to Anna Turcato for organising the visit. (Photo: Fortuny, more on my Instagram)

Giudecca 805, 30133 Venice, Italy

Hokusai Exhibit: Beyond The Great Wave, London

The British Museum has announced a massive exhibition that from 25 May to 13 August 2017 will feature the work that Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), one of Japan’s most well known and influential artists, did during his later years. His famous piece, colloquially known as the Great Wave, was made when he was at least 70, and the British Museum owns one of the better conserved copies. Hokusai “fervently believed that the older he got the greater his art would become” and he kept working until his death at 89 years old (read more). As a corollary to the exhibition, the animated movie Miss Hokusai tells the story of Hokusai’s work through the eyes of one of his daughters, also an artist. (Image: Wikipedia)

Bar Termini, London

Cocktail alchemist Tony Conigliaro creates new concoctions at his lab, the Drink Factory, to populate the menus of his multiple bars. Bar Termini, co-founded with coffee expert Marco Arrigo, is an extremely well curated place featuring some of those drinks. The good stuff always comes in small packages and this applies both to the bar’s size and its signature sous-vide aged Negroni. It’s available in four kinds, Superiore (my favourite, infused with pink peppercorns), Rosato, Robusto and Classico, and served chilled, with no ice (to avoid dilution) in elegant little glasses. (Photo: Gianfranco Chicco) 7 Old Compton Street, W1D 5JE London, United Kingdom

Urushi by Gobara Lacquerware, Japan

Lacquerware has always been part of Japan’s traditional everyday tableware. I had the privilege to meet master craftsman Kunimitsu Takatsuki from Gobara Lacquerware at the Daiwa Anglo Japanese Foundation. He presented his unique method using wood from the Hiruzen Highlands in Okayama Prefecture, which he grinds in a potter’s wheel, and the applying successive layers of Urushi (lacquer). Master Takatsuki’s story is that of a traditional shokunin, someone who not only has remarkable technical skills, but also a social obligation to do their best, materially and spiritually, for the general welfare of the people. Gobara Lacquerware’s technique has been passed on uninterruptedly for almost 600 years, until a drastic stop in 1945, only to be brought back into existence in 1989. It’s continuity is once more at risk due to the lack of successors from younger generations, who don’t seem interested in learning this ancient craft. (Photo: Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation)

Rick Powell Pens, London

I’m a sucker for good pens, especially if made of copper and with a simple and robust design. Rick Powell hand-makes such pens, with the key detail of including a strong magnet that allows you to stick the cap to the tail of the pen so as to not lose it when in use. The plain version features a timeless design and there’s a limited edition with a Fibonacci spiral. Hat tip to Paul Armstrong, read his interview with Rick Powell here. (Photo: Rick Powell Design)

Hiut Denim, Wales

Located in Cardigan, a town with a long jean-making tradition, Hiut Denim is driven by a very clear mantra: Do One Thing Well. The team is composed by 16–18 people, mostly Grand Masters, and their yearly production is limited to 4,000 pairs. As co-founder David Hieatt likes to say, “Rolls Royce make more cars than we make jeans!”. The jeans are made with denim from the best mills, especially from Japan and Italy, and each one comes with a lifetime free repair service (as long as you bring it to them). Attention to detail is supreme and each pair carries the signature of the person who made it, because artists always sign their work…both of mine were signed by Amanda. (Photo: Hiut Denim)

Sir Paul Smith, Fashion Designer

I had no idea that Sir Paul Smith was so fun and warm in person. During an evening talk at London’s Design Museum, he shared how he finds inspiration in the mundane — almost everything, everywhere (check him out on Instagram) — and how his obsessions almost always make it into the final product. He kept on pulling out tricks and gifts from a magic bag that resembled that of Felix the Cat. A true craftsman, very attentive to details and providing joy via their products. Curiosity: store managers have creative autonomy to dress up windows however they like, competing to outdo their peers from other stores. More on Paul Smith in this interview. (Photo: Bloomberg)

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The Craftman Newsletter

A celebration of craftsmanship, paying homage to those who take the expression of our humanity to a higher level.

Gianfranco Chicco

Written by

Curator of The Craftsman Newsletter. Conference director for hire, digital-physical experiences, marketing & storytelling. Japanophile. ✌

The Craftman Newsletter

A celebration of craftsmanship, paying homage to those who take the expression of our humanity to a higher level.

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