Master ceramicist Giovanni Mengoni is specialised in “bucchero”, a time-honoured technique typical of Umbria, his own native region. For many years, Mengoni has dedicated himself to research and innovation, merging tradition with contemporary design. For the 2016 Salone del Mobile in Milan he created a collection designed by Ugo La Pietra that is sold on yoox.com.

Tell us about your background.

I live in Umbria, a land permeated with a great spirituality and deeply linked to nature and history. This sense of transcendence has guided my vision and my actions. I have always been fascinated by research and innovation.

In my life I have been involved in several professional experiences, sometimes very different from what I do now. But I have strived to contextualise them and make them challenging for me, to nurture my inspiration.

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What type of training did you receive? And how did it influence the choice of your profession?

I attended the Istituto Statale d’Arte in Gubbio in the Ceramics Section. Then I went to the Fine Arts Academy, where I obtained a degree in Painting. Certainly my high school years influenced me the most, as far as my choice of career is concerned. Then, when my passion for ceramics blossomed, I discovered the secrets of this wonderful art in the workshops of old craftsmen in Umbria.

You approach tradition from a contemporary perspective. Tell us how your works come to life.

I have always been fascinated by the possibility of creating solid objects from a shapeless, primeval material. I have observed the evolution of my land’s traditions, trying to understand the new trends and how I could obtain contemporary solutions from traditional applications.

Your artistic research is focused on the use of different materials: which ones, in particular, and with what techniques?

Over time I acquired specific skills on many different materials and techniques that belong to the vast universe of artistic industrial ceramics. But I prefer to focus on the most ancient methods, using the lathe and modelling. At the same time, I developed more innovative competences, like the use of 3D printing and the preparation of three-dimensional drawings.

Who are you clients?

My clientele is very diversified and each client has different needs. They buy pieces from my collections, but sometimes they are interested semi-finished products, prototypes, experiments and special processing techniques. I also teach and give lectures in several training courses.

Do you think that this profession could be interesting for young people?

I think that we are living in a society where the meaning of manual skill is changing. The importance of handing down a traditional know-how has always existed, but for the young generations it is more difficult now to learn a trade on the job, because the amount of information they must take in and master is very big and overlaps with other fields. With the right vision and guide, this job can be exciting and make people happy, even if it is a difficult path to follow.

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