To find Massimo Lunardon you have to start climbing in the hills that divide the Po Valley from the Alps. San Giorgio di Perlena is preceded by vineyards perched on the slopes and it is so small that you can cross it without noticing anything but the church, still expecting to come across the main square and the town centre.
We had seen Massimo’s ironic creations in a restaurant in Solagna and his unconventional photographs on the web, but we were not prepared for what we would encounter.
To find his ‘workshop’ we went around the back of a white building that looked like a dairy. And the more we asked people where to go the less we understood. Massimo chose to open his workshop in the centre of the town renovating an old disused dairy and to not change the external characteristics. He lives and works in contact with real people with real stories.
Just past the threshold of the factory, everything changes: on one side a workshop with fifteen well equipped working positions and on the other a showroom with wonders: his creations. Carafes, glasses, bowls … every shapes and colours it is possible to make working with borosilicate glass.
Massimo is a true artist, one who feels the urgent need to express himself in a personal way, but he likes to be called an artisan. “Before learning my art I went to a workshop and after it I started to study. If you want to work in glass-blowing you should spend some years becoming its friend and knowing its secrets, then you can be free and let imagination and creativity to fly! ”
After the time spent in learning the basic techniques, Massimo wanted to open his own business but not near the other laboratories of Bassano. He wanted to be recognized and find a different ways to express his emotions.
He took a suitcase and went to Milan. He was not sure what would happen, but at that time Milan was the capital of design and the best minds were attracted by the spirit of this city. This is where the transformation from a provincial craftsman to an international artist occurred. His creations are unique and are on the front pages of every international magazines of furniture and “VIP” customers stand in line to have a personalized creation for their table and home.
“My style is born from lack of awareness of youth. I blow the borosilicate glass, highly resistant but very expensive and the colours are even more expensive. Maybe that’s why nobody used them. But then I was very young and I had no idea of what an enterprise is, and how to make a budget or how you define the price of a creation. I started to use colours as a painter. I’ve done thousands of trials to understand how to approach the colours and how to achieve certain hues with blown glass, without worrying about the cost of what I was doing. And the more I tried, the more I enjoyed it. And more I enjoyed it, the more I dared irony in the creations”.
And he was right.
Despite his international fame, Massimo has very solid roots: his philosophy is different. He opened his workshop in the centre of his small town and began immediately to hire and train young people. Many artists are jealous of what they do and do not reveal their secrets, and this leads them perhaps to be personally rich but not to enrich their communities.
One of his fortunes, however, is the sharing of knowledge and dreams. His company has a workshop in the Renaissance sense, where young volunteers can go and learn a trade from the master and then open their own businesses. What these young people need to know is that it takes many years to learn the secrets of glass.
“It takes ten years before a person can internalize the know-how needed to be able to have freedom of expression.”
Massimo met Giordano and together they accomplished the transition from a small workshop to an artistic enterprise. Giordano is the ‘alter ego’ of Massimo, together they complement. They share commitment to environmental sustainability, their factory is energy efficient, and they work in the promotion of small businesses, those which are in urban centres and have owners who love their work.
If I had to describe in few words what I saw I would use “love” and “irony”, and the combination is stratospheric (especially for my love of surrealism). Love of beauty, of people, of community, friends and family. Irony in knowing that we have only few years of time in this life and that we should pass them trying to laugh and make people smile: to have “good time”.
And to understand what I am writing you should look at pictures of Massimo Lunardon on the web: an artist is always an artist (also in his personal life)!
He really made me smile when, during our meeting, he told me how he organizes “Jam Sessions” at night or on Sundays among “experts of the art”, ie craftsmen, artists and designers. His fame led him to travel around the world, but in his heart he find pleasure when he creates in his laboratory with his tools and alongside other creative people.