Interview of Daniele Mingardo
A Fondazione Cologni Interview
1. When did you start working with metal?
I was born on the 8th of June 1988. My whole life revolved around the smithy my father opened in Monselice in 1970. I started working there when I was 18. At 26, I am happy to continue in this path, because it is an inexhaustible laboratory of experience and experimentation. Thanks to the manual skills I inherited from my father, in my furnace I manage to give shape to new and engaging design projects.
What we do at the Mingardo metal workshop is quite unique: all our works are perfectly executed, with attention to detail and finishes, which are very minimal and refined. We collaborate with many architects and international companies: from the consolidated cooperation with Carlo Scarpa to the most recent assignments from the Museo del Novecento in Milano, the Parco della Musica in Florence and the Teatro Petruzzelli in Bari. Despite the excellent level of our collaborations, I felt that I could not really express my dreams and aspirations in full. For this reason I decided to develop a brand of my own, designing and producing limited edition pieces.
I felt the need to move beyond the boundaries of what is common to artisan tradition and routine. I developed an entrepreneurial project in which I could funnel my manual know-how. Creating a contemporary collection of works in metal designed by emerging and professional designers. Until 2012 it was only a daydream. But Aldo Parisotto – who comes from my hometown – influenced my choices and determined my future. Parisotto is an architect of world renown and has been very active in this district since the 1980s. We have developed many objects in metal together, and he follows their development and evolution very closely.
It was only natural that Aldo should become my mentor. He eagerly accepted to support the birth of the Mingardo brand and become our Art Director, steering our activity towards a consistent vision. His twenty years’ experience as architect and designer is reflected in our collections, for which he defines the guidelines for finishes, tactile effects, materials and character.
2. Does this work require a specific training?
What is really important is to be manually skilled, which is a specialised training provided by very few schools in Italy. Experience is also absolutely necessary. In my case, I studied computer and mechanical sciences. I would run to my father’s workshop every day after school. I liked it more than being in class. I owe my training to the Officina Metallica Mingardo.
3. How do you reconcile this craft with the new market trends and demands?
I am 26, and I started my activity only recently. For the time being I am content with working at my father’s smithy and continuing in my new activity as producer of handmade designs. I often work at night and during the weekend, to finish the orders for my designer|faber collection (that I sell directly or online through my website, as well as in a couple of shops in Milan and Venice) and also the new prototypes of the next 2015 collection.
4. Do the institutions protect this artistic craft?
I suppose so, but I did not have the chance to find out firsthand yet. The opportunity will certainly arrive in the near future, now that I started my own activity. I think that being supported by the institutions is very important for anyone who wants to follow this profession. Many of the techniques and know-how of this craft disappeared twenty years ago when, in the natural generational turnover, white-collar jobs were preferred to manual ones. These techniques and traditions are part of Italy’s cultural heritage, and as such they should be relaunched and then protected. But we have to move fast, or they will be lost forever. Which is what I have set out to do, working side by side with my father. It was my decision, because I was fascinated by what he was doing, and I wanted to try. I hope my choice will prove to be the right one.
5. Do you think that young people today could be attracted by this type of activity, as in your case?
I think they would. But it takes a cultural revolution, because we need to invert a consolidated trend, in order to inspire the younger generations. Today, very few young people want to get their hands dirty, sacrificing their free time. I think we need to cultivate the passion for beauty, for manual details. And we must encourage respect towards those who work with their hands.
6. What are the challenges in your field? And what are the prospects?
On top of the global crisis, we are suffering from the effects of twenty years of economic policies that have not favoured artisan enterprises. In fact, many companies have shut down and with them entire districts have disappeared, together with their competencies and know-how. The few survivors have withdrawn from the world, and the network has ceased to function. The field I work in faces many problems: the scarcity of high-quality materials; long delivery times… because nobody stocks raw materials any more; big fluctuations in the prices of semi-finished metals; etc.
As for the prospects, I believe that more emphasis is finally being put on the value of artisan enterprises. Not only in terms of their cultural heritage, but also for the economic relevance of these businesses in Italy’s manufacturing industry.
I consider myself very privileged, because I have a job that I love and my father supports me with his experience and advice. I am optimistic about the future, even because we are being rewarded by a great deal of appreciation for our work. For example, three pieces from our Mingardo designer|faber collection were selected for the TRAME Exhibition at the Triennale di Milano. I hope that the future will bring us also some monetary satisfaction, on top of boosting the enthusiasm of everyone working at our workshop in Monselice.
Via Liguria 3
35043 Monselice (PD)
Tel: +39 0429 73736
GIOVANNA TISSI │comunicazione│arte│architettura│design
Via Maroncelli 12 Milano
Tel: +39 347 7971873