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The Artisan

Incalmi: Venetian Contemporary Design

Born in Venice, the historic cradle of Italian craftsmanship tradition, Incalmi combines a work of research in the development of the materials with the aim of creating objects that are unique in terms of inspiration, creativity and craftsmanship. Discover the story of the brand and the evolution of their production from the Venetian tradition to its contemporary vision.

The story of Incalmi begins in 2015, when the company was founded in the creative heart of Venice. The artistic past and present of the city influenced the brand’s production right away, establishing the framework for the production of pieces with an exclusive design, manufactured with traditional techniques inherited from the local glass tradition and reimagined in a modern key.

Incalmi has dedicated itself to the search for excellence in the most diverse fields of Italian craftsmanship and know-how, laying the basis for the meticulous study of the objects, from the material that compose them to their intended function. Inspired by art, design and fashion, Incalmi’s master artisans transform ideas into projects, working glass with innovative techniques and new prototyping processes and feeding creativity with research and invention.

The name Incalmi reveals a great deal about your brand’s origins and philosophy: “incalmo” is a distinctive glassmaking technique from the Veneto tradition. Why did you choose this name and what does it say about your brand?

Incalmo is a process by which two or more blown glass elements combine to create a different element, similarly, INCALMI combines people and materials with other characteristics and peculiarities which results in something entirely new.

Stemming from age-old traditions, your work has been expanding thanks to the meticulous study of materials and the development of new processing techniques. How does research influence your production?

Every brief we receive from clients and every idea that pops into our minds makes us delve deeper into history or literature. As we often say, we follow the dots and discover that every material, every design, and every technique has deep and structured roots in the past. This starting point inspires empirical research into the materials themselves, matching design, culture, and production.

Onorata and Brioni are two of your most distinctive pieces, inspired by Italian design master Carlo Scarpa. Elegant and modern, these objects properly tribute the architect and his work. What prompted you to create these pieces and what does Carlo Scarpa's philosophy represent for you?

Like Scarpa, we were born and raised in Venice. We are lucky enough to live in an open-air "Scarpa museum"; therefore, it is in our DNA to mix contemporary ideas with traditional culture. Scarpa’s legacy transpires in our interest in architectural design and small scale, as he said: "Great work of art, always small size." The details are the true works of art in design.

Research is one of your investments in the future, the fruit of a logic marked by improvement and fueled by curiosity. What do you see as the future direction of Italian design and what themes are most important to you?

I have just read one of the last interviews with Valerio Castelli (1947-2023, Founder of Domus Academy, Art Director of Flou, partner with Kartell and Olivetti, recipient of the Compasso d'oro in 1977), in which he pondered: "I have always thought that the design of an object, of a space, should have as its objective to improve the quality of our life, but since nowadays this is no longer the case, and it is evident how minimal is the need to design a new table or a new chair, what is the sense and value of what we do?". Our answer isTimeless, Senza Tempo objects. Real eco-sustainability does not only refer to recycling or recyclable but primarily to preserving. Our great ambition is to create things that do not go out of fashion but are passed down from generation to generation, and always convey a story of research, experimentation, and design.

One of the processes that best characterizes your pieces is fire enamel on copper. This is a decorative technique used by Ettore Sottsass and Gio Ponti, which is expressed in new ways thanks to your research. How does a piece created using this technique, such as the Specola Collection, come about?

We came across this artistic form - kept alive only in the hands and gestures of jewelers or enthusiasts - to fulfill the request of a renowned New York restaurant that wanted to reproduce Gio Ponti enameled handles made by De Poli between the 1950s-1970s. At the time, no one was producing decorative fire-enameled copper objects with a true entrepreneurial spirit, so we decided to empirically study this craft: we started first with a 1950s kiln to understand how it works and then moved to a custom kiln, learning more and more every day about this process, that, like all “fire arts, it is difficult, at times unpredictable, and never controllable. The meeting with Giorgia and Daniele, Zanellato/Bortotto, was a stroke of fate: they had been searching for someone to explore this art form with for quite some time and they found in us the ideal partner. Before Specola, we developed the "specolini”, initial color tests to study the color combinations and performance of the various glass powders; we ran tests on different copper shapes until finally the Specola Collection was born.