Davide Gatti is the great-nephew of Riccardo, founder of the “Bottega d’arte Ceramica Gatti” of Faenza,

a historic atelier whose roots go all the way back to the beginning of the previous century, and that still is a testimonial worldwide of Faenza as part of the tradition and savoir faire of the excellence of Made in Italy.

Mr. Gatti, how did your business start?

The workshop was born in 1928 through the will, creativity and intuition of my great-uncle Riccardo, who wanted to set out on a very personal route between tradition and innovation, ever since he started out. Besides the production of classic Faenza decoration, in fact, he was also concerned with inventing his own, and with looking for new aesthetic solutions by going so far as to create a technique for coating ceramics characterized by polychrome with warm metallic reflections. We still use today – it’s safeguarded as a true “family treasure”.
His natural projection towards novelty and his innovative spirit led him to collaborate with illustrious exponents of the Futurist movement like Giacomo Balla and Mario Guido dal Monte: today those creations are on exhibit at the Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche in Faenza.
When my great uncle died in ’72, my father continued this trade, keeping its nature intact. For two years, instead, I have had the task of taking up the reins of the workshop.

#

When we imagine an object, our skill and professionalism automatically shape the idea, discarding unachievable solutions and preparing that idea to become reality.

What has remained intact and what instead has changed in the DNA of your workshop?

I was born and raised in it, amidst kilns and colours, and I can say that today, as then, our goal is to make excellence and tradition live together with innovation and experimentation.
We are constantly engaged in creating fruitful interaction with artists and designers in order to give life to objects that can become outstanding elements in the contemporary home, unique pieces that can be exhibited in the major galleries all over the world. Intuition and genius, culture and knowledge are combined in original creations that bear the name of the artist and the signature of the Bottega Gatti.

How do you handle the difficult relationship between manual technique and the mind’s creativity?

To create an object from an idea is like moving a hand to grasp an object: for a craftsman, for an artist, it is an involuntary, almost natural mental process.
When we imagine an object, our skill and professionalism automatically shape the idea, discarding unachievable solutions and preparing that idea to become reality.
We have greater difficulty when our ability meets with a designer’s or an artist’s idea that has a great impact from the aesthetic point of view, but from the choice of materials or production processes is more complicated.

Do you think that, in order to be complete, a young person’s training should also include an obligatory stint in a workshop?

Once upon a time, people said, “go to the shop and learn a trade”, and even today, in my opinion, it is necessary for an apprentice to work side by side with a master: observation, emulation and practice are the key elements to learning a master’s technique, whatever it might be. All the more so in a workshop that treats ceramics like we do, it is fundamental that after a course of training at the academy, a young person experiment with what the true profession of the ceramist is.

How do you see the future of art professions?

I’m very hopeful, despite the fact that the panorama is radically changing. Nowadays it is very complicated to recruit young people who are not only inventive and creative, but also want to “get their hands dirty”, despite the fact that work in a workshop offers more security than many other jobs. Probably, in a few years, we will no longer be able to recruit local workers, but will be forced to take on foreign personnel.

What do you mean by “very hopeful”?

My hope finds an answer in the savoir faire typical of Made in Italy. As long as the brain is Italian, the hands can be Chinese, Arab, or any other nationality: what counts is that taste, tradition and everything that makes the excellence of Italy distinctive remain intact, even if the production is entrusted to foreigners. So it is up to us to act, so that besides the creativity, the rigour of the artistry and the refinement remain Italian.

What is your bond with the territory?

The connecting tissue of our identity is permeated by the territory we belong to. Faenza is a name that represents the prestige of ceramics all over the world.
So all of our efforts go into taking our tradition everywhere, with an eye towards taste and innovation: that means taking part in international exhibitions like Maison & Objet in Paris, Mebel in Moscow or Index in Dubai. Globalisation, which many experience as a threat, is instead for us an opportunity to spread our artistic know-how. Our commitment is to maintain a high level of sensitivity to the difference in taste between one country and another, so as to try to interpret our spirit in a key that is appropriate to the reference market.
Your success is not decreed by the past alone – success means knowing how to look around, stay up to date, interpret and anticipate tastes. And that is also true for a workshop like ours, which numbers about ten people.

What relationship do you have with the institutions?

The institutions are present in the territory through funds provided to those craftsmen’s contexts that operate and export Made in Italy products all over the world.
More help should be given to training, in order to permit young people to arrive in the workshops equipped with baggage loaded with greater skills.