Diary of a Travelling Designer
by Anna Bertinelli
«Who works with his hands is a laborer. Who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. The one who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist»
My name is Anna and I am a designer. My great passion for home, furnishing and everything is done by hand, allowed me to fulfil my great dream: nowadays I had the good luck to do the job I like.
I was born in Assisi and I have always lived in my native village, the birthplace of St. Francis; for love of my country and for working reasons I settled here; in the last few years I have met several artisans on my way and I have establish with them many relationships to give a contemporary interpretation of all that is traditional.
Was it bound to happen? …maybe! My father is a craftsman, a carpenter and a restorer. As a child I spent a lot of summers in his workshop where I still pass my time, indeed my father is the main craftsman I work together with.
In this column I will talk you about arts and crafts, materials, design, creativeness, all those places characterized by Umbria’s outstanding features which are done good and with heart!
The Joiner's Workshop
Today my journey starts closely, from the place which affected me to become a designer: the Workshop of Fulvio Bertinelli.
The carpenter’s shop is welcoming: it is located in an industrial estate but fortunately it gives onto the country, whereas the higher windows overlook the Assisi hills and all other small villages surrounded by vegetation. This place looks contemporary but has an ancient flavour… it preserves an old knowledge about the technique and experience handed down! Whenever I enter, I am immediately affected by the evocative scent of wood, which takes me back to another dimension arousing an exciting sensory play. It happens every time! However, before losing myself in stories about essences and features of this material that I love, I wish to talk you about the work in carpentry.
All work done by my father is handcrafted; in the joiner’s shop there are some modern machines which are very indispensable to work, even if many steps necessary to manufacture a piece of furniture are still carried out by hand, with manual machines, as we did hundreds of years ago.
Plane, file, rasp, chisel: they are small tools offering a great charm to the handcrafted furniture. It keeps knowledge, techniques, and the good produced will show evidence of handwork made in a precise, meticulous and careful way. From the accurate and skilled work of the carpenter, wooden boards turn into high-quality and well-finished masterpieces. Oil, shellac, beeswax: they are just some possible natural finishes, but since wood is a natural and living material, these finishes are the most recommended to the customer who wishes a first-rate and “green” object, one hundred per cent.
A Balm for the Senses
The carpenter’s job is surely a complex one; it consists of stages of study and research, feasibility study, employment of the technique, choice of wood and finishes… But I think this job offers you the great privilege of being in contact with a living, warm, scented, coloured material that is also agreeable to the touch. So, the sensory play is again stimulated when I observe and touch all the essences that are in the shop; mostly local woods, that are typical of our territory: the valuable, solid, smooth and rich brown walnut; the white and “rough” oak, often treated with the technique of brushing; the soft and white poplar of modest value, Albanello of old craftsmen; the bright pink cherry, chestnut with its clear nuances, the mystical, bended and knotted olive…
Wood is fascinating, we feel better when we touch it and smell it. I have performed an experiment, recently: I kept wood chips of different essences in hermetic sailing jars (so the smell of the freshly wood is not lost!) and I got many people to smell them. The evocative power of these scents is surprising… nobody left without a memory called back to mind!
Tell me: aren’t you curious to go in the carpenter’s shop to see, touch and smell?
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