275 years after Carlo Ginori began making porcelain for the Medici Court in Florence, Italy, the company continues to be one of the leading producers of high quality porcelain in the world.
Barbara and I had the opportunity to visit the Ginori facility in Sesto Fiorentino, Italy. We were there with our friend Francesco Fino. Francesco had recently embarked on a project to open the Francesco Fino Atelier at The Plaza in New York City. In his Atelier, Francesco would offer his sumptuous couture fashion designs, a small perfume line by Lorenzo Villoresi and some of the world-renowned ceramic pieces by Gio Ponti, which Ginori produced during the 1920’s.
Ginori, along with Meissen and Du Pacquier, was one of the earliest practitioners of the oriental art of porcelain making in Europe. His distinctive patterns such as “Granduca” and “Italian Fruit” set a high standard and continue to mark the artistic quality that serves as a touchstone for the Ginori brand. During these early years, Noble families such as the Medici were frequent clients and became ardent fans. Even during the Napoleonic Wars, when Tuscany was annexed by Napoleon, Ginori continued to produce his “Empire” porcelain designs.
The new Italian monarchy of 1861 saw Ginori, commissioned under Royal patronage, create a new table service for the Royal family. To accommodate the needed expansion in production, Ginori joined forces with Giulio Richard’s Milanese factory to form the Richard-Ginori Company.
1923 saw a move toward modernity with the appointment of Gio Ponti as Art Director of Richard-Ginori. Ponti brought fresh ideas to the company, which were highlighted in the 1925 International Expo in Paris. These fanciful designs are highly sought after collectables that secure high prices at auction today.
With such a vast history, we anticipated a wonderful visit to the Richard Ginori factory. We were not disappointed. The hundreds of employees, artists and technical people necessary to turn out these artistic treasures were more than giving in their time and energy.
We were given access to the whole array of Ginori manufacturing. We entered the sprawling facility and witnessed first hand how the “slip-mold” figurines are created. The painstaking time and dedication it takes to transform a stream of liquid “slip” into a cupid or angle figurine is very impressive. We were astounded at the how hundreds of pieces of porcelain are loaded onto “railroad” cars in the factory and driven directly into the waiting kilns.
In some of the workrooms, we witnessed finally skilled artisans hand-painting plates, cups and saucers. The sureness of their hands never waivered as they tirelessly worked brushes full of cobalt blue, dark umbra and real gold.
As if seeing all of that wasn’t enough, we had the opportunity to visit the archives of molded pieces dating back through the centuries. Plaques from 1780 formed a ring around the walls as stacks of metal shelving held busts, vases and life size figures dating from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. As we marveled at these historic pieces, workers were busy creating new additions to the Ginori legacy.
To finish our day at the Sesto Fiorentino, factory, we entered the Ginori Museum. We saw everything from table settings for Europe’s Royalty to the garden porcelain stools designed during the Victorian period. After seeing how some of these pieces were made and being able to view them in the museum, we came away with a new understanding for the dedication to an artistic vision, in combination with innovative technology, which has come to symbolize the Richard –Ginori Company.
By clicking on the image you can watch a great video guide through the Ginori Factory:
This article has been written by Luke & Barbara from POV Italy, a great site for travel resources and other useful information when planning a trip to Italy. All pictures are copyrighted to Luke Wynne.