gleaming Florentine artistry
gleaming Florentine artistry
“It’s all grandfather Emidio’s fault” quips Gianfranco Pampaloni “he should have chosen to make airplanes instead”. Or maybe not, seeing as the Florentine Pampaloni silversmith company founded over one hundred years ago is today world-renowned for its splendid silverware creations, and dazzling ingenuity.
Founded by Emidio Pampaloni back in 1902, Pampaloni is now a dynamic, highly inventive company owned and managed by Gianfranco, Teodora and Roberto, the family’s zealous third generation. Traditional techniques, inventive design and talented expertise, paired with excellent technical appliances, are what make Pampaloni immensely successful. Yes, good machinery, because like their grandfather they maintain that extraordinary artisans need good machines to reach glorious results. “Machines are poetic instruments” Gianfranco declares “like poetry, they help us create but do not cause fatigue”.
Exclusive design, unrivalled skill, creativity and an unconventional streak make each of Pampaloni’s pieces a veritable work of art. Among these, a plethora of superbly crafted highly coveted items. Such as those exhibited at the MoMA in New York (and, alas, liberally embezzled by the museum’s employees) and those sought-after by connoisseurs and discerning collectors. Or the many exclusive creations custom-made for important special events, such as the BNL Italia International Tennis Cup or the silver hourglass, which the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded to Oscar nominees in 2002.
And the stunning silver chalice, fashioned by Israeli designer David Paltererone, created on the occasion of Pope Francis’ visit to the Jewish Community and Chief Rabbi.
Can one see, admire it (and perhaps buy it)? Catching a glimpse of Pampaloni’s gorgeous masterpieces and a taste of the firm’s unending pursuit of innovation, is easy. The firm’s shop is in via Porta Rossa, in the heart of Florence’s UNESCO-listed city center, and one can hardly walk past without gasping. First and foremost for the beautiful objects displayed, of course. And also because it often features a pert, funny, sometimes slightly “irreverent” message mocking religion, contemporary clichés, politics etc… It’s all part of the Pampaloni character, and Tuscan soul: honest, direct and jaunty!
The pieces on display, and those within, are breathtaking. Epitome of extraordinary artistic creativity for over a century Pampaloni produces a wide range of precious superbly crafted creations, from silverware and homeware to jewellery, both sterling silver and silver-plated.
Eager to bring new ideas forward, innovate and re-invent tradition following their innate creative temperament the Pampaloni brothers have recently added new, unconventional features and products to their business.
Among these, the stunningly beautiful, unorthodox and definitely one-of-a-kind pieces of the SilverWear line. Cooperating with designer Maria Giulia Parapini, aka Muia, Pampaloni manages to renovate and revitalize silver by using it to dress up stylish cutting-edge leather handbags. Leather and silver, two iconic Italian products, blend harmoniously creating unique, and very precious, pieces. Signature Pampaloni silver items, such the silver tray’s handles, central pivot of the cruets, and fork, become handles and dècor, adding timeless luster to the handbags. And thus classic elegant “comme il faut” silverware turns into an emblem of whimsical, nonchalant style.
But unconventional silver-bedecked handbags are definitely not the most innovative and ground-breaking of Pampaloni’s novelties. Aiming to honor and enhance the heritage of skilled craftsmanship, the new generation offers a unique, and simply astounding, insider’s view of the marvelous realm of artisan creation. It’s a leading-edge idea: at the end of the working day the company’s silversmith factory turns into a restaurant!
Located in the surroundings of Poggio Imperiale, Pampaloni’s Via del Gelsomino factory boasts alluring antique windows which showcase historic pieces, fascinating prototypes, and wooden and plaster models. Within, a large green-tiled workshop where the artisans heat, melt, roll, chisel, hammer and assemble silver, moulding the precious material into exquisite vases, glasses, dainty cups and other magnificent objects. This is the fabbrica, i.e. the factory. Giancarlo Pampaloni spends a lot of time here, and he’s the one to design the pieces. Until mid-afternoon, when everything changes.
The large works tables are cleared, cleaned and set with superb silver Due Sicilie cutlery and elaborate silver goblets. Empire-style candelabras illuminate the room, highlighting the hunting trophies and noble figures which hang on the walls, and the hammer and sickle which daringly hover above. The artisans change out of their overalls and into military garb or crisp overalls and white gloves, ready to serve at table. Luxury and opulence mingle with rustic authenticity, and menus, especially designed by Sicilian chef Santo La Macchia allows for a mini-carte choice.
A family dedicated to creating resplendent silver masterpieces according to time-honored tradition. A passion for innovation and style, and a desire to surprise and dazzle. Famous worldwide for its utmost quality, creativity and elegance, Pampaloni offers new and unique ways to experience, appreciate and honor Italy’s ancient silversmith heritage.