Via Parma, 469Chiavari - GenovaTel + 39 0185383092
It started in the 1950s, in the aftermath of World War II. Rinaldo Levaggi, our uncle, started working as a lathe turner with the few tools he had: an old lathe and an abandoned barn where he set up his workshop. Thanks to his skill and resourcefulness, in ten years he managed to make his business flourish and he started to recruit staff. In 1963, Rinaldo and his three brothers took over an existing company and founded Fratelli Levaggi, which, thanks to the high quality of its production, has made a name for itself for over 50 years. The young brothers Gabriele and Paolo have picked up the family tradition, which they pursue with unaltered enthusiasm.
Tradition is not only a historical and cultural value: it is also the result of the know-how of generations of craftsmen. In order to protect it, it is not sufficient to reproduce the models of the past, however faithfully: innovation and research are a pivotal aspect of the process. When we create new products, we follow the lessons of the great Italian designers of the past, who always developed a deep relationship with artisans. We also like to look beyond our national borders: to Nordic design (Wagner, Aalto, Eames and others), for example, a precious source of universal teachings.
The construction of a chair starts with the careful observation of the pieces of wood: experience is fundamental to obtain light and robust elements. Each component is cut from solid wood and worked with traditional woodworking machines. We only use manual control machines, because the expert hand of the craftsman is fundamental throughout the manufacturing process. Each component is then accurately polished until the surface is perfectly smooth and flawless. The pieces are assembled by hand to obtain the robustness for which the Chiavari Chairs are famous. At this point the seat is woven with thin threads of Vienna straw and the chair is painted.
All the wood that we use comes from Italy and the seasoning process is rigorously natural, in order to obtain an optimal result. The seasoning can take between two and five years. In some cases, as with wild cherry wood, we personally select the trunks in the Ligurian hinterland and follow them during the cutting and seasoning processes.
The unusual and curious thing about the Chiavari Chair is the total absence of a designer: each craftsman and workshop created their own range developing new proposals that were the direct result of their personal skill and taste. After two centuries, we have hundreds of different models, some of which are really innovative and original, whereas others are more linked to the traditional “Chiavarina”. The Superleggera chair designed by Gio Ponti has a different story. This masterpiece of Italian design is known all over the world, but only very few people know the story behind the famous model 699.
We supply both Italian and foreign private clients, but most of all we work with architects and interior designers, who look for pieces with a high aesthetic and historical/cultural value.
Young people today are increasingly interested in manual crafts, maybe because they are tired of digital technologies. In fact our work possesses the “mystery and wonder of handicrafts”, of which William Morris was such a supporter.
It is fundamental. Artisans are no longer considered “old people in a workshop”. Modern day craftspeople, especially the younger ones, need to know how to use the tools offered by digital communication. This often requires a great effort, but it is the first step in becoming global artisans!
Laura Inghirami, journalist and advisor specialized in the jewelry sector, and Founder of Donna Jewel, interviewed, for the Cologni Foundation, the Master artisans who have been awarded as “MAM – Master of Arts and Crafts”, in the category: Jewelry - Silversmithing – Goldsmithing.