Carlo Apollo is a creative artisan who gives antique wood a new life. His panels and floors are true works of art that are “tailor-made” to suit the desires of his numerous clients. Carlo Apollo is on, the new website dedicated to the best Italian artisans created by the Cologni Foundation and Whomade.

Tell us about your background.

I was born in Apulia in the 1950s. My origins have played an important role in the development of many aspects of my work. In fact, I’m deeply connected to everything representing the real essence of being Italian, such as the family, human relationships and genuine things. In my youth, I also embraced the philosophy of preservation and reuse.

Did you follow a specific training? How did your education influence the choice of your profession?

I was never a “conventional” student: I thought that school was a limitation to my ambition of working with my hands. So I started visiting construction sites with my father, to observe architects and builders at work. That is where my passion for interior design began, together with the awareness that it takes a great deal of work and dedication to achieve one’s goals. Through the teachings of Mario di Donato and Renzo Mongiardino, I have managed to merge the competences I acquired among the artisans with the art of these two matchless masters.

You have changed and evolved over time: from mosaic floors to the antique wood used in the API-Antichi Pavimenti Italiani line. Tell us about this choice.

I have always loved unusual and original materials. Mosaic is my favourite technique because with thousands of precious tesserae you can always create new and fascinating stories. Moreover, mosaic is an ancient art that comes from the Byzantines. Following the motif of tradition, I started experimenting with wood, because it reflects the way I am. Wood preserves the memory of when it was first manipulated, retaining in its fibres the patina of time.

What is the story of the wood that you use?

I mainly use recycled materials, such as discarded wood often coming from abandoned sites. I find it very rewarding to take this “sleeping” matter and bring it back to life. It makes me feel that I am contributing to the cycle of life by creating something unique. My creations are the expression of an inimitable art, reaching innovative results through the reuse of worn-out materials.

What inspires the design of your decorative motifs?

I take inspiration from the incredible motifs of nature: leaf veins to create exquisite patterns, sea waves to form the most beautiful curved lines. I am inspired by the beauty of creation, and I try to put this beauty into my floors. Sometimes the places for which I design my floors spark an intuition in my mind, and then I just try to follow that feeling. The result is what I call a “tailor-made floor”: a product that suits the desires of my clients like a jacket or an evening dress, at the same time retaining the independence of the material out of which it is made.

Who are you clients?

My clients are people who love art and appreciate the value of beauty. Some want to surround themselves with precious details in every aspect of their lives (and their homes), while others simply love craftsmanship, which is the pride of our nation. Most of all, my clients understand that luxury has nothing to do with ostentation, but rather with the possibility of choosing and going against the tide.

Tell us about your most unusual undertakings

I worked on important Russian, Chinese and Ukrainian private residences. I even restored the floors of the Aleksandrovsky and Andreyevsky Halls in the Gran Kremlin Palace, dealing with huge spaces and very demanding clients. Outside of Italy, our craftsmanship is perceived in a very different way and, paradoxically, it is much more appreciated than it is here. At the moment I am finishing one of my most unusual projects, but I am not authorised to talk about it and, unfortunately, I don’t think I ever will be.

Do you think that the younger generations could be interested in following in your footsteps?

We are witnessing a return to the origins, as more and more young people are rediscovering the beauty of craftsmanship and the slowness of working with their hands. I believe it is a reaction to the impossible pace of modernity and to the alienation caused by new media, which are effective but impersonal. We need to preserve our savoir-faire and transmit it to the new generations, so that they can bring it to the next level. Unfortunately, due to the institutional void and to what I define the philanthropic void, much of this talent remains unexpressed.