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The Artisan

Mario Cioni & C: The Art of Crystalware

Deeply rooted in its Tuscan origins, Mario Cioni & C is a historic Italian brand that embrace many different stylistic identities, all bonded by the high quality of artistic craftsmanship. Meet Miriana Cioni to discover the brand’s vision of crystal crafts.

For over 60 years, Mario Cioni & C stands out for its stunning selection of crystal décor and home accessories. The family brand embraced a philosophy of passion and painstaking craftsmanship to transform the sand into timeless crystal design pieces. Mario Cioni creations are expression of a careful seeking out of perfection in the quality of the material and in its processing, preserving ancient techniques of a centenary tradition of crystalware.

Mario Cioni’s history begins in 1958: during those years the craft of crystal working flourished and almost all Italian crystal was made in Tuscany. Entirely handcrafted, glass and crystal factories used grinding to refine the components, and thanks to Mario Cioni’s strong initiative, the sector took a great step forward. Today the company includes four brands, bonded by the same design philosophy and high quality.

Earth, air, fire, and water: these four elements masterfullycombine to give life to Mario Cioni & C.'s signature crystals. Tell us what lies behind this combination and the process that transforms raw material into a piece of artistic craftsmanship.

Earth, Air, Fire, and Water: they are the essence of the world and the four elements from which crystal is born. Air: the human breath. The craftsman blows into the soft incandescent crystal, enabling its expansion and thus the crystal takes shape. Earth: the sand. Its mineral components transform into molten material through the fire, which, with its powerful energy, combines the matter into one inseparable body. Water: the final element. It facilitates the cooling down of the mold after the object has been blown, and also allows the grinding wheel to glide over the crystal to engrave the chosen design without burning it.

Sixty years of experience pursued with passion and creative flair have made Mario Cioni & C a true pillar of the crystal and glass processing industry. How was the company established and what is its history?

It all began 65 years ago. After returning from military service, young Mario Cioni wanted to reorganize his life. He met a skilled master grinder from Empoli - a high-demand job at that time among the local glass and crystal factories - who was looking for a space to open his own “moleria” (mill). It just so happened that Mario had just the perfect space and, either by fate or destiny, he asked the artisan to teach him the secrets of the trade in exchange for his hospitality. At that time, glass art was flourishing and almost all Italian crystal production was manufactured in Tuscany, made exclusively by hand: glass and crystal factories used grinding to sharpen, polish, and smooth out, in short, to finish the object to put it on the market. The year 1958 was the turning point: Mario's great resourcefulness and talent encouraged him to strike out on his own, and he founded Mario Cioni & C. when he was just in his thirties. Passion, ambition, and foresight were the driving values that led the company to become, in just a few decades, one of the most important crystal maison in the world. Mario immediately proved to be an excellent leader, skilled in wisely choosing his collaborators. The "Mario Cioni" brand established itself as a symbol of style and refinement, a timeless classic that has enriched the tables and homes of illustrious international figures. Over the years, Mario was joined by his children: Andrea, Luca, and Miriana. The new generation picked up on their father's teachings, making them their own and revamping them: like their father in his time, today they are bearers of new inspirations and ideas that will move the company forward.

Unique pieces with impressive artistic value: your crystals are distinguished by an elegant and timeless style. What is the object that best embodies your stylistic values?

Hard to say! Each object is unique, in its manufacturing characteristics and also for its own “story” that reveals its inspiration, its intrinsic beauty, and the emotion it stirs in a specific-style interior. Our pieces are different expressions of the four brands that developed from Mario Cioni's experience: the historical and more traditional "Mario Cioni" brand; "Tondo Doni" from Michelangelo's famous painting that revolutionized Renaissance pictorial art, and represents an ethos of experimentation and innovation in form, color, and design; "MCCS" (Mario Cioni Crystal Sound) dedicated to the elegance of the sound of crystal acoustic instruments; and “Lucescultura", a union of art and lighting craftsmanship. Mario Cioni & C. expresses different conceptual worlds through its brands, giving voice to complementary aesthetic philosophies within the same creative soul and, at the same time, meeting the tastes and needs of an increasingly varied and heterogeneous audience.

Craftsmanship is unquestionably a strong point in your production which embraces the standards of high-quality artistic crystal production. In your opinion, what is the value of Made in Italy craftsmanship nowadays?

We owe the value of Made in Italy to our long history, and to the great artists, scientists, and thinkers who shine in our past. Craftsmanship has always been the highest expression of manufacture, which in Tuscany - especially in Florence - has always been characterized by a strong concentration of artisan workshops from which many unique and timeless artists have emerged. While on the one hand, globalization has somewhat disoriented vendors, on the other, it has made his artisan pieces even more important and prestigious, offering the whimsy of exclusivity in a luxury market. To this, it owes its fame!

Tuscany is your company's home and origin, so much so that it has inspired the name of one of the brands, "Tondo Doni". Tell us about that and what value this region, which has always stood out for its singular and inimitable artistic heritage, holds for you.

The Tuscan landscape is a great source of inspiration, thanks to its natural, artistic, and historical beauty. The ancient villages, set like precious stones in the Tuscan landscape, stir emotions in us that we translate into our crystal pieces. There is no doubt that all this, and more, have contributed to increasing our know-how as Tuscan crystal craftsmen and stimulating that “right” imagination from which our original products have sprung to life.