Contemporary design and an artisanal approach: a recipe for unique products
The importance of an artisanal approach to design
The phrase “artisanal product” is often bandied around, particularly in the design and home furnishings sectors, and generally taken as synonymous with quality and exclusivity. What does it really mean? It suggests a return to tradition, a move away from mass production and rediscovering and appreciating once more the magic of an item that is quite simply one of a kind. It also means understanding that small “imperfections” in terms of material or finish should be seen as something positive, testimony to the unique nature of a product.
Today we explore the concept of artisanship and the impact it has on what we do. There is no doubt that the location of our headquarters plays an enormous part in shaping our work and approach. The area of Versilia, on the northern coast of Tuscany, has a rich heritage of art, with sculptures coming from around the world over the centuries to work with the marble that is extracted from the Carrara Alps that rise up behind us. We have literally grown up with natural stone, we see it in its primal state in the mighty mountains we view from our yard. It is little surprise that our craftspeople know its veins, its nuances and characteristics like the back of their own hand.
That’s why we champion artisan traditions and are committed to upholding them, integrating them into everything we do.
The term “artisanal” has evolved somewhat over time. Originally it was intended to define the activities of those who worked in small workshops but today it is often used as the opposite of “industrial”. As such, if “industrial” suggests products made by a machine, churned out one after the other, an artisanal approach is associated with tradition and exclusivity.
There are two key elements that characterise an artisanal product. The first is that it should be produced in a limited quantity, while the second is that it must be created or finished by hand. It’s the human touch that makes a difference, with painstaking care and attention to detail poured into every single piece to create unique works of art.
There is a third element that also comes into play, and that is territory. We live in a world where raw materials are freely available, but we need to stop and remember that some territories or habitats are shaped by their natural resources, be that sea, mountains or farmland. This is where artisanal traditions spring from, and in our case, the beating heart is natural stone.
The magic of natural stone accessories is created when you manage to strike that perfect balance between nature and design, when you bring contemporary vision and creativity to a millennium-old material. There are many elements that make artisanal marble products extraordinary pieces to hold and behold, from the infinite array of colours, tonalities and veining patterns to their timelessness and durability. Natural stone is incredibly versatile, lending itself to a seemingly endless array of uses and iterations and it is always fascinating when we work with our internationally-renowned designer friends to see how they play with it and interpret its solidity and kaleidoscopic palette of colours. How they bring out its innate essence. How they inevitably come up with stunning, one-of-a-kind pieces.
An artisanal product in marble or other types of natural stone contains centuries of history within. It seamlessly blends tradition and attention to details with contemporary flair and vision, ensuring it will never become outdated, but instead, will come to be considered something to be prized and passed on through the generations.
It will always bring a note of elegance into any home, regardless of the style or location. From the smallest accessories and ornaments to homeware, tables and lamps, from purely decorative to functional pieces you use every day, an artisanal product becomes an intrinsic part of your surroundings.
We never underestimate the value that the human touch and eye brings to the process of crafting beautiful, exclusive products. Every single Salvatori piece passes through the hands of our expert Tuscan craftspeople for finishing and a quality check. Their experience allows them to instantly understand how to bring out the very best in the wonderful natural material we are privileged to work with, and to identify flaws that would be imperceptible to anyone else.
This skill is particularly important with products such as our Lost Stones texture, inspired by the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi which was used to repair broken porcelain. Every slab is custom-created, making Lost Stones the design equivalent of a bespoke suit. This is just one of the many collections in which contemporary design and artisanal traditions combine to create unique and imperfect, yet perfect, works of art.
Modern design and age-old traditions can make for extraordinary results when they are combined with care, expertise and artisanal skill. This idea holds across many products, but is perhaps particularly pronounced in the world of natural stone, where only a handful of experienced artisans know how to identify the best blocks and how to bring out the essence of this incredibly tactile material. There is also a skill in understanding how to transform what could be perceived as imperfections or flaws into an intrinsic element that becomes cherished and prized.
If you are fascinated by this juxtaposition of old and new, and love understated but powerful design, we invite you to browse our website and discover the many surprising and stylish ways an artisanal approach can give life to timeless and elegant home accessories.