November 17, 2016
via Formentini 9, Milan
© Photo Nicola Ingegneri
Triennale di Milano – at Villa Reale di Monza
By Aldo Colonetti, exhibition design by Lorenzo Damiani
From October 9, 2016 to January 8, 2017
© Photo Gianluca Di Ioia
The exhibition Bottega Ghianda e Hinoki Kogei. Ebanisteria tra Italia e Giappone (Bottega Ghianda and Hinoki Kogei. Fine woodworking and cabinetmaking in Italy and Japan), from 1 to 8 November 2016, at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Tokyo, juxtaposed the work of two masters who are at the very top of the art of fine woodworking: Pierluigi Ghianda and Chuzo Tozawa.
The exhibit design was by architect Michele De Lucchi. The show shone a light on the links between the Italian tradition of fine ebanisteria, in connection with contemporary design, and Japan’s woodworking tradition born of an aestethic culture which has affected our own sense of modernity.
The 14 Bottega Ghianda pieces on show (which are still being crafted, with the same magisterial skills, by Bottega Ghianda) have represented the heritage of Pierluigi Ghianda within the framework of the Japanese exhibition. The exhibition also hosted a new piece, designed by Michele De Lucchi and crafted by the same artisans, creating a symbolic link between Bottega Ghianda’s past and future. The same pieces were also part of an exhibition at La Triennale – Villa Reale di Monza (9 Oct. – 27 Nov. 2016), which was focused on Pierluigi Ghianda.
Eleven more fine pieces, by Japanese artist Chuzo Tozawa, were on show in Tokyo. Tozawa, a purveyor to Japan’s Imperial Household and the founder of the Hinoki Kogei workshop, is recognised in the world as one of the greatest masters of fine woodworking.
The exhibition, organised under the auspices of La Triennale di Milano and the Italian Embassy in Japan, took place in the framework of the initiatives for the Tokyo Design Week and the 16th Week of the Italian Language in the World, which for 2016 was themed around “The Italian Language and Creativity: Brands and Costumes, Fashion and Design.”
© Photo Leo Pellegatta
The subject of craftsmanship is highly topical. Making things by hand, with expertise and quality, has increasingly become a battle of prowess between man and machines, especially today that objects can be produced using instruments offering quick and precise three‑dimensional modelling. But is there a difference between things made by machines and things made by hand? Is this not just a nostalgia for times gone by and the snobbery of bored intellectuals? After all, we created machines and we make them work, so they are also the brainchild of human ingenuity. Moreover, machines produce things in greater quantities, at a lower cost and for everyone.
It is not a futile question. A civilisation based on machines offers many advantages but also risks confining us to a standardised dimension that nullifies individual personality. On the other hand, an artisanal dimension alone would prevent us from benefitting from the wellbeing that much of our world has and would not enable us to enjoy the advantages of technology in fields such as medicine or telecommunications, to name but two.
But the great quality of the artisanal world is its human dimension. Starting over again every time that we embark upon making something with our hands is an extraordinary process that forces us to reflect on ourselves, as well as our ability, talent and creativity. We need to engage in this process more urgently than ever. Automatic gestures are efficient and certain but they are stultifying, and render us incapable of reacting to the smallest difficulties.
Michele De Lucchi
© Photo Leo Pellegatta