Wonders of Craftsmen at Venice-Corriere.it

from Gian Luca Bauzano

The Michelangelo Foundation’s international exhibition pays tribute to Japan and its “Living Treasures”. But also haute couture, haute couture and high jewelry: from Dolce & Gabbana to Schiaparelli and Van Cleef & Arpels, who speak to young people and about sustainability

Venice’s charm, perhaps more than it seems at first postcard reading, lies in being instead of constant rebirth. It even has an opera house with a mythical name: La Fenice. In Venice, anything can be built, anything can be resurrected. So it was for the second edition of Homo Faber, an international event dedicated to high craft. In September 2018 the debut edition, then four years of suspension and postponements due to pandemic and now returning in good shape. The main characters are “Living Treasures of Europe and Japan”, the focus of this event, which is subtitled: To create a more human future, to create a more human future. Where human hands are, the craftsmen of every type, origin and age, the engine (All photos published Courtesy Michelangelo Foundation).

The second edition of Homo Faber can be visited until May 1, 2022 (homofaber.com); event organized by the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship, thanks to the general curatorship of Alberto Cavalli, CEO of the foundation itself.


Born in 2016, Michelangelo is the expression of cultural protection lived in unison by Johann Rupert, founder and CEO of the Richemont Group and by Franco Cologni, the creator of the homonymous foundation based in Milan. The setting of Homo Faber is very suggestive, Giorgio Cini Foundation complex on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore: unique opening of some rooms such as the Longhena Library or the former Gandini swimming pool, usually closed to the public.

In addition to the unique experience of the visit inside the Cini dei Foundation 15 pavilions designed by 22 different curators, adds the discovery of the so-called 12 Japanese national living treasures, that is, creators / creatives to be preserved as unique treasures, guardians of important intangible cultural properties. Not only. Leaving the island of San Giorgio you have the opportunity meet the Venetian artisans. From weavers to shoemakers, from the legendary Murano glassmakers to master craftsmen who build gondolas, such as historic squero Tramontin & Figli, since 1884 ai forcolai, that is, who in jargon makes the forcola, the wooden foot, where the oar rests: how Piero Dri, trained in astrophysics and now in love with his work with the laboratory called Il Forcolaio Matto in the heart of Serenissima.

Materials, techniques, origins and respective skills of more than 350 designers and artisans from 30 countries around the world have been selected and invited to the lagoon for this international event born from collaboration between the Michelangelo, Japan, the Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte and the Giorgio Cini Funds. A plurality of views. The main character is, in addition to the craftsmen’s amazing manual skills, the willingness to maintain the activities and then a professional outlet for the new generations.

About a hundred students were also selected as “guides” inside the various pavilions. Without forgetting how much the craftsmen work with recycling, reworking and recycling of materials are inextricably linked to the constant process of transforming the planet into a world of sustainability.

The exhibition itinerary within the Cini Foundation has been studied as a story in chapters with great impact and suggestions. As is the case with the sections in dialogue The garden with the 12 stones edited by Naoto Fukasawa with Tokugo Uchida e Next of Europe signed by Stefano Boeri with his studio and Jean Blancheart. The first pavilion celebrates it 12 Japan’s Living National Treasures, masters of art with an excellent mastery of traditional techniques, which can be considered an integral part of the Japanese cultural heritage. While the other is suggested as Cabinet de curiosits containing objects made by craftsmen with a double role: symbol of the best European art masters, but also guardians and means of passing on their knowledge to the new generations.

The universe associated with fashion and the constellation of connected excellence has chosen as a unifying word: haute. In all its translations. The main character is: Haute couture, Haute watchmaking and Haute jewelry, but also perfume and leather masterpieces. Categories that can be seen and touched on the spot. In the pavilion Details: genealogies of the ornament, edited by Judith Clark, 15 international brands tell their story thanks to the presence of their craft masters.

The micro-studios are arranged between installations with exhibitions of Haute Couture and Haute Couture creations with high-sounding names such as Schiaparelli and Roberto Capucci, Alaia but also the imaginative yuzen kimonos from Chiso. Dolce & Gabbana wanted to tell about their prestigious heritage linked to men’s haute couture with garments with royal embroidery, but also with the presence of a master tailor: he tells the details with his hands and voice, revealing the secrets associated with the birth of a “tailor-made” dress.

For their part, the wizards from the French jewelery of Van Cleef & Arpels, reveals the secrets behind one of the brand’s most famous and most famous historical pieces, the Zip necklaceborn out of an avant-garde idea in the thirties that Wallis Simpson had.
The trail is then enriched with names related toHaute Horlogerie: A. Lange & Sohne, Piaget, Vacheron Constantin (in partnership with Louvre) and Jaeger-LeCoutre. And again the tall jewelry from Cartier and Buccellati; the unique scents of Aquaflor and the behavior of Serapian, Herms and Lemari. Without forgetting the “responsible” luxury of the project Yoox Net – Porter & The Prince’s Foundation, a partnership project launched in 2020 to strengthen tailoring skills and professionally train apprentices in the UK and Italyto.

Among precious incunabula, the Longhena Library, in a real coffin, represented the world of porcelain, with a theory of masterpieces chosen by David Camo and Frdric Bodet to give life to Porcelain virtuosos, dialogue between artists from The Rising Sun, Katsuyo Aoki, with other Europeans Tamsin van Essen and Ruth Gurvich.

Two major themes in Venice: glass and theater. Here it is in the area Beauty in bloom, curated by the Michelangelo Foundationinterior designer Sylvain Rocca has created an enchanted garden in close dialogue with the vases of historic Venini glassworksborn for the occasion in view of the floral compositions signed by a selection of the best international floral designers.

Instead, he could only be the imaginative director Bob Wilson, the creator of the pavilion created inside the former Gandini swimming pool and entitled Attendees nell’ombrosa quiete. Kaleidoscope that finds its origin in Wilson’s theatrical performances, especially Madama Butterfly, the famous opera by Puccini. The former swimming pool thus becomes a stage and is accessed from a corridor illuminated by the video portraits of the Japanese choreographer Suzushi Hanayagi.

The Home Faber project goes beyond the concept of wunderkammer. A stage of wonders, but with a deep concreteness. The demonstration of how much the manual ability, derivation of the craft is equal to the art itself. And how this world is the true future for the new generations as well as for the planet itself. Where the concept of beauty expressed in all its facets can be an elixir of life.

11 April 2022 (change 12 April 2022 | 00:13)

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