It is often said that Italy is a fabled land, and as her natives, Cristina and I have to agree! It is also where the art of making-by-hand still enchants all who come to appreciate its importance. In fact, from the Far East, to the Middle East, and on to the New World, those who specialise in the crafts have enriched cultures for centuries.
The Concise Oxford Dictionary states that an “artisan” is a noun; it stems from the Latin verb “artire.”
“To instruct in the arts, a worker in a skilled trade, especially one that involves making things by hand.”
History tells us that artisans came to prominence in medieval times when Merchant Guilds or trade associations sprung up throughout the region to protect them and their skills.
Centuries later markets changed, and the power of the Guilds dwindled, but artisans proved to be a resilient group. They have successfully defied the arrival of the machine, and industrialisation on a massive scale, and have, of late, begun to flourish.
There appears to be a resurgence of interest in hand-tooled goods, thanks in large part to inspired individuals who seek to harness the uniqueness of wares made by time-honoured methods. At one end of the spectrum there are philanthropic, noble ventures, like the Afghanistan-based Turquoise Mountain Foundation launched by Rory Stewart in 2006 whose mission is to restore hope in a worn torn country by reviving centuries-old crafts that include carving, pottery, glass and furniture making. Ambitious as this project may be, it has received tremendous support; the Foundation’s first UK commission came from the luxury Connaught Hotel in London.
Rory Stewart at the Turquoise Mountain Foundation
Artisan at the Turquoise Mountain Foundation
Meanwhile, in the for-profit arena, adventurous, entrepreneurial types aspire to do good too by ensuring that the multi-generational workshops filled with tailors and seamstresses, cobblers and the like, stay open for decades to come. So be it a goodwill enterprise, an ambassador for peace, or one whose by-product is profit, the message seems to be the same.
In a world so driven by technology, there is still room for a beautiful cashmere wrap spun on an ancient loom, or a piece of jewellery lovingly and meticulously assembled by expert hands. Yet another catching idea is that modern living, gently buttressed by artisanal traditions refines cultural sensibility; and such a respect for the old, while embracing the new, helps to make a country like Italy one of the most seductive on earth.
Lucilla hand-sculpting her jewellery using a method called “cera persa”
The Italian Collection is an entity that, not unlike Rory Stewart’s Foundation, has a noble pursuit; to be another voice for the real artisan. Artisans bring more than tradition to us; they also bring a dash of romance to the mix. Small ateliers, hubs of creativity, evoke warmer images, than those of an impersonal factory producing limitless numbers of this or that. Perhaps, this is one of the many reasons why the demand for non-ubiquitous products, those that stir our soul, is growing.
So why do artisans matter? Because they are a conduit to traditions that have endured; they give us heartfelt pleasure for we love to hold and model their wares, and they represent hope for the future in their timeless designs.
With pride we aver the tag line “il bello e ben fatto”, the beautiful and well-made and the iconic label “Made in Italy”. And, we invite you to take a peek at our unique e-emporium theitaliancollection.com that with a mere click visually transports you to our fabled land.