It is hard to believe that a product that is part of our daily life, like a glass container, can become the star of a surprising installation that gives a nod to those artistic compositions we admire so much in the world of design. This is the magic of glass at Taste: an explosion of creativity from Vetreria Etrusca, a leading manufacturer of speciality glass containers, with a design project curated by architect Alessandro Moradei.
Vetreria Etrusca will be the force behind an eye-catching installation of bottles welcoming visitors at the entrance of Stazione Leopolda; and another artistic composition of 1000 bottles in maxi format will create an original line of lampshades, lighting the way on the Taste Tour.
We interviewed Riccardo Bartolozzi, one of the owners of Vetreria Etrusca, who told us a little more about the project and his company.
How did the Vetreria Etrusca project at Taste come about? What effect do you think it will have on visitors?
Like many things, the project stems from an almost fortuitous encounter with Agostino Poletto (ed. deputy general manager of Pitti Immagine) and Alessandro Moradei (ed. architect, curator of the Taste setup). We immediately realised that we could really do something good together. We had the desire and the right spirit. I hope to elicit an effect of surprise and wonder in the public: with the installation, we have been able to provide an artistic interpretation of an object which, although distinctive from a production viewpoint, is first and foremost a simple one, like a glass container, and is normally used for other purposes.
Creating the installation at Taste required great work on your part and from the architect Moradei, in terms of both the design and putting it all together in your workshops... can you tell us how the project developed?
After an initial briefing and some proposals from Alessandro, we all took a visit to Stazione Leopolda and, as often happens, started all over again, but with much clearer, more precise ideas. At that point, we selected the containers together and started work on the prototypes at the grinding station. How much time and study did it require? From the first meeting, a few months, but actually just a few weeks, we were on the same wavelength from the off!
The installation will feature veritable glass design elements, created ad hoc. One of the things that makes you stand out is your great customisation skills, as well as your careful attention to every single detail... how do you manage all this?
A lot of experience, a lot of work, a lot of attention to detail and to customer requirements. We have a technical department that is now able to cater to even the smallest needs, assisted by programs that help with the design and creation of cutting-edge prototypes. All seasoned with a pinch of Tuscan style that sets us apart from the rest of the world.
Tell us something about Vetreria Etrusca, about its history... Do you have any anecdotes or interesting facts to tell us?
Well, the story of Etrusca is long and short at the same time. It was set up in 1951 on the initiative of a group of people, including my father who was elected Chairman (and still is!), and it became the property of our family in 1984, by which time all the members had retired and, not without sacrifices, we decided to buy it. At the same time, my brother Andrea also joined the company, while Roberto, still a student, joined us a few years later. In 1994, for reasons of space, we moved from our old site in Montelupo Fiorentino to Altare, which has a glassmaking tradition dating back over 500 years. Here, we converted a company that produced glass for domestic use, adapting it to our type of production. With a furnace that was about three times what we had had before, we needed to roll up our sleeves and get going. Besides, we weren’t lacking an example, we had it at home. We’ve never had any problems getting along and, as the Italian saying goes, unity brings strength. When the furnace came to the end of its working life – it was almost saturated – we bought the next one a little bit bigger, but in our heads, the “new Altare” project was already taking shape. In addition to a larger facility, this also included the total transformation of the plant into one of the most modern and environmentally friendly in the world. This took place in 2009, when the economic crisis was already underway, but he who hesitates is lost, and last year, we started the project for the second furnace, which will be up and running in February 2016 and will allow us to provide better services to our customers in Italy and around the world. Who do we have to thank for all this? Mum and Dad with their example, the hundreds of workers who have passed through the factory doors over the decades and the customers who have believed in us. Without them, none of this would have been possible (we have had a few since right back in 1951, and this is a source of great pride for us).