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Manuel Bozzi

Manuel Bozzi in wonderland

March 21, 2019

Manuel Bozzi in wonderland

"Manuel Bozzi in Wonderland. An extravagant goldsmith who lives poised between dream and reality, between magic and matter" is a business storytelling article written by Camilla Biagini and published on PisaCool.it in April 2018. We decided to offer it also on the pages of our blog, because it is a story that will allow you to discover something more about our artisan reality and our jewelry, especially about the passion we put into each work. Enjoy reading it!

Foreword

How much work goes into the making of a piece of jewelry? This is probably how you think a report on a goldsmith's workshop should start, with the hope that I will tell you about the tools used, the machinery, the beauty of the jewelry.

In the following lines you will find none of this. Much of this information you can unearth directly on Manuel Bozzi's official website. Others you can discover by browsing a little online. No, what I want to give you are the emotions I felt upon entering a goldsmith's workshop for the first time in my life and watching Manuel and his collaborators work with my own eyes.

Here, if these emotions are what you are looking for, all you have to do is sit down, make yourself comfortable, perhaps in front of a nice cup of steaming coffee, and immerse yourself in all the sensations I had the chance, and above all the honor, to discover.

Enjoy your reading.

 

Chapter 1. Unexpected magic

 

"While thus speaking she found herself on the mantelpiece, although she did not know how she got there. And the glass was really beginning to dissolve like a shimmering silver mist. Instantly Alice stepped through the glass."

(Lewis Carroll - Alice Through the Looking Glass)

I never thought of myself as a modern Alice. Then I met the Mad Hatter. In fact, Manuel Bozzi is just like the hatter, quirky, creative, a mad genius, a man who lives poised between this magic and his knowing how to move in the world in a posed, discreet, never excessive way.

So, just like Alice, I found myself on the threshold that separates two worlds: on the one hand the store in Pontedera so real and tangible and on the other hand Manuel's goldsmith's workshop that seems almost improbable, as if suspended in space and time. And like Alice, I too crossed that threshold.

Beyond the mirror I discovered the magic that a goldsmith's workshop can hold within itself. I am convinced that some of this magic is present in every goldsmith's workshop, but I am also convinced that the atmosphere here is unique in the world. In Manuel Bozzi's workshop, black is the star color, and plays of light and shadow follow one another in a continuous cross-reference. The old and the new come together: modern total black counters with a minimalist flavor, latest generation computers, ringing smartphones, shiny glass, almost seem to clash with the dusty flavor of the artisan counters that smell of times gone by, a clash that actually turns out to be a perfect union. There are rock details, with strong personalities, determined and heavy, but there is also a feeling of shine and lightness, simply amazing.

Manuel walks around the room with the phone to his ear, taking new orders. He almost looks like a little boy, but the prescription glasses worn on his head give him away. He checks emails in his office. I see him in the distance from behind the glass, a room I think he has dreamed of having for years, similar in every way to the recording room of a record company, with the Marshall amplifier towering right above the safe, an electric guitar, skulls as paperweights. I watch Manuel dance from one side of the lab to the other, but here's the younger boy standing at his workbench catching all my attention.

He has his cap pulled down over his head. He has never taken it off, almost as if it were a protective helmet. A pack of cigarettes sticks out of his sweatshirt pocket and almost seems to shout to the boy, "Hey, take a break, I'm here waiting for you." He does not relent, so caught up in his concentration. His is a work of finishing and endless patience that in my eyes is even more fascinating than the making of the jewelry itself. For in my eyes that ring that he turns over and over between the fingers of his hands was already ready to be placed in the window of a jewelry store, and yet no, that ring needed so much more time before it could be said to be finished, perfect, free of defects.


 The other two collaborators get to work soon after: one silent, quiet, placid, gets to work on microscopic details. He is the virtuoso Luigi Ranchelli, Manuel's partner, who has shared every move, every breath, for 15 years. The other opens a drawer revealing an incredible treasure, disposable wax models. I did not believe that an object of this type could hold such intense fascination, but the point is that they are jewels in power, in the making, something that foreshadows what will be next.

Manuel also takes his station at his workbench and immediately starts getting his hands dirty with a fine silver powder, trying to cut a ring. He hums the Fabrizio De Andrè song that plays on the radio "any day you'll remember me love you flee from me you'll come back" in a thin voice. He is the only one singing, king of this space, king of this time.

All these quirky characters collaborated with each other all the time, each on his bench, each caught up in his work, but always ready to advise, to ask for help, to finish each other's work. Even Manuel asked for advice. I wouldn't have expected that. After all, one would think, he is the boss, he knows everything. But no he is not, he is the boss but only up to a point because a goldsmith laboratory of this level, I only now realize, is a living organism composed of many cells, each important, each independent but with the others inextricably interconnected.

 

Chapter 2. The weapons of creativity

 

Supporting the magic of such a special place is the silence. It is by no means absolute silence. In the background is the sound of the saw Manuel is using to cut a ring, a persistent squeak that at times manages to give me an uncomfortable feeling. There is the sound of compressed air, the sound of rollers whirling, the scratching of sandpaper, the radio on, and chatter among colleagues, among friends. Despite these background noises, there is a deafening silence, the silence of concentration.

The lights also seem to follow the same rules, lights that are never loud and that facilitate concentration because they fall right where they are supposed to fall. They hit each workstation with different brightness, when warm and enveloping, when cool, when cone-shaped to work best on a microscopic fragment, when more diffuse. The light clothes the concentrated faces with warmth, making them familiar even to me.

That concentration under the workstation light finally appears to me for what it really is, passion, a desire to create the best that those hands are capable of making, that those hands are capable of bringing to life. And it is a concentration that does not create on those faces any grimace. I didn't see mouths twitching or eyes frowning, but only relaxed, relaxed faces, as if that incessant work of their hands was the easiest thing in the world. I tried to identify with these gestures, to observe them as closely as possible, and, believe me, there is nothing simple about it. It is only an illusion, the result of mastery and experience: these are complex gestures, which need skill and also a certain way of dancing, of making the movement harmonious, always the same, fluid.

Silence and concentration are interrupted from time to time by emails, phone calls, orders from new customers and old customers who need new goods. A few moments to stop, organize the work, and off we go again, toward new creations, with the silver always clutched in our hands.

 

Chapter 3. Back to reality: the Pontedera store.

 


Like Alice, I too found myself forced back to reality, to leave that magical and somewhat dusty place behind me and enter the store in Pontedera.

The store mirrors Manuel's goldsmith's workshop, a black place, an absolute black, where plays of light and shadow chase each other, where creativity has a chance to show off in all its glory. There are, however, fundamental differences. Dust, workbenches, tools, saws, hammers, sandpaper-there is no room for any of these elements in Manuel's store, where extreme elegance, cleanliness, precision, lightness reigns. Some of Manuel Bozzi's jewelry at first glance has nothing light about it. Their character is strong and assertive and their dimensions are often really intense, but despite this they hold the lightness of a dragonfly, as if they can calibrate themselves high in the air without knowing, even they, how.

The other substantial difference is that obviously Manuel is not here. There is his wife, Chiara Vigilante. Petite, skinny, elegant, Chiara has the ability to wear Manuel Bozzi's larger, eye-catching jewelry in a way that is simply amazing. On her you hardly notice their presence, a nonchalance her delightful and at the same time full of determination. Then of course you notice them, impossible not to because these are jewels that are born precisely to be noticed. And in that instant, as soon as you notice their presence, you want to wear them too. Or at least that's what I immediately thought. I would like that ring, I said to myself, yes it's beautiful. Chiara is the best advertisement Manuel could give to his jewelry, of this I am more than convinced.

Among extravagant clients, special requests, interesting characters, here comes Valentina, Chiara's half, colleague and friend. Livornese by birth, Valentina escaped from a city that was cramping her style and seems to have found her dimension in Manuel's store. Mom for a very short time in fact, she went right back to work, ready to take care again of Manuel's jewelry and all the other treasures enclosed within these four walls. Because at Manuel's store, cross productions such as watches, leather accessories, and paintings also find a home, almost a concept store then, if you'll forgive the term, where there is room for many different realities.

And finally Manuel arrives. His hands in his jacket pocket, strictly dressed in black, looking intense, partly perhaps a bit dull after a long week of work, partly so attentive in observing the world around him. And it is with this image, with the image of his eyes, that this tale must end.




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