Minimalist and earthy, Manufatto collaborates with artisanal workshops to produce elegant, contemporary pieces that showcase the expertise and range of regional craft techniques and materials.
Manufatto was established by Davide Gallina (b. 1984) and Ilaria Aprile (b. 1981) in 2016. Gallina studied Product Design at the Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) in Milan, graduating in 2006. Aprile graduated from the Sapienza University in Rome in Product Design and Graphic Communication in 2004, before completing an MA in System Design at ISIA Roma in 2010. Gallina’s career had included collaborative work with luxury Italian hat-wear company Borsalino, while Aprile had worked as an art director and designed children’s books and toys for experimental tour guide company, Imago Artis Travel. The studio, which is based between Rome and Milan, began to take shape when the pair met at an experimental design workshop in the south of Italy in the summer of 2013.
The Italian word manufatto translates to “done and guided by the hand of man,” and this encompasses the studio’s approach and its passion. Italy is a nation rich from the cultural wealth generated by traditional craftsmanship methods, but unfortunately this world is fading. A key aim, for Manufatto, is to provide a fresh supportive force to the craft workshops that, often due to a lack of time, or the disruption to trends, styles, and demands brought about by digital access and globalization, struggle to stay abreast of the times. Through Manufatto, these workshops are supplied with more up-to-date communication tools, and enable designers and artisans to collaborate and discuss and devise projects in a contemporary way. Each craftsman who collaborates with the studio has a unique history, heritage, and personal production technique, evident in the worked material. Manufatto pays close attention to this, listening to and observing the artisans at work, and, mindful of contemporary uses of materials and predominant styles in the luxury market, designs collections of objects in collaboration with them. In so doing, they aid the regeneration and reactivation of the traditional craft workspace as a dynamic commercial space.
Manufatto’s resulting assortment of household items and accessories features a fine array of traditional manufacturing techniques that go back to ancient times, steeped in the craft methods and materials of the areas in which they are made. The studio’s Bucchero series is produced by master potter Michele Totino in the Etruscan region, in accordance with ancient Etruscan traditions, which determine its shape, color, and firing technique; the resulting terracotta is black and tinkling, like metal. The Ballerina vases, enclosed at their center by a cinched reed structure, are the outcome of closely working with basket-maker Dante Luzzi of the Leonardo Luzzi company in Anghiari, Tuscany. Operational since the late 19th century, they use wicker rush, rattan, and marsh grass that grows on the banks of the nearby River Arno. The Circe set of cocktail shaker and glass, meanwhile, are handmade by the Spaziani glassworks near Rome, who have long contributed their precision and expertise to nearby chemical companies. Derived from a single borosilicate tube, it is appropriately named after a witch from ancient local folklore, known for concocting potions.
The work produced by Manufatto features an elegant, minimalistic simplicity, which showcases the richness of its materials and the precise artistry of its artisanal manufacturing techniques. Still in its early stages, the studio participated in Milan Design Week in 2018, and their objects have been featured in ELLE Décor, which deftly communicated their achievement as “a contemporary way to work in the secular artisan tradition.”