Thirteen excellent projects that are looking beyond the crisis with creativity and courage: this is the most important result achieved by the ‘Premio Maestro di Mestiere’, awarded for the first time this year. Promoted by the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Biella ​​​​​​​in collaboration with the Associazione Fatti ad Arte, the award has been set up with the aim of supporting the master artisans of the region at a moment of profound crisis like the one faced by the many workshops and small-scale enterprises that bear witness to the value of the handmade for the city of Biella, included in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network precisely for its crafts and folk arts.

The Commission made up of Luisa Bocchietto for the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Biella, Patrizia Maggia of Fatti ad Arte, Alessandra de Nitto of the Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte in Milan, Maria Pilar Lebole of the Osservatorio dei Mestieri d’Arte in Florence, Nurye Donatoni of the Istituto di Valorizzazione dell’Artigianato di Tradizione of the Valle d’Aosta, moving spirit of the initiative, Cristiano Gatti of Confartigianato Biella and Gionata Pirali of CNA Biella has finally selected two winners and one special mention. Alessio Guarnieri, a luthier trained at the Civica Scuola di Liuteria in Milan, has been awarded a prize of 3,000 euros in the under 35 category for a project that envisaged the construction of an acoustic guitar and a classical one.

Alessio won thanks to the skills and expertise he has acquired in one of the most complex and important crafts of the Italian tradition. Barbera Sandro & figli, a historic shoemaker’s shop in Biella, won a prize of 5,000 euros in the over 35 category with an environmentally sustainable project: a pair of sneakers handmade from organic cotton, using 100% natural dyes, in collaboration with several different manufacturers in the region.

An unforeseen special mention worth € 2,500 went to the master organ maker Alessandro Rigola, who has developed a revolutionary electronic system that permits the integration of new and customizable functions that increase the level of control over the instrument on the part of the organist, who is able to program which and how many controls to activate just by pressing a button, with no need to stop playing. 

Given the quality of the projects submitted and the interest aroused by the prize, the Fondazione intends to stage it again in an upgraded form in 2022, still in conjunction with Fatti ad Arte, a showcase of excellence at which the projects will be presented.