I was surfing the internet without a definite goal when I came across a site advertising a series of events about ceramics. So I learnt that on Friday the 29th of May Este Ceramics Factory woul have been opern to the public.
I immediately decided to join the tour to see with my own eyes one of the most ancient ceramic factories in Europe. Este, a nice village 40 minutes by car from Padua, is known for the production of pottery since antiquity. In the village there is also an Archaeological Museum of great importance.
When I arrived, the first thing that hit me was the lovely location of this Este ceramics factory. The factory is an ancient palace with exposed brick walls along the walls of Este. On one side it overlooks the canal once used to transport the goods to Venice.
My visit to Este Ceramics factory
I was welcomed, along with other 30 visitors, by the wife of the owner, a very nice lady with an aura of natural elegance, a bright smile and a lovely French accent. She explained to us that the factory has been in operation since 1780. The grandfather of her husband was Giovanni Battista Giorgini, who came with the idea to organize the first presentation of Italian haute couture for major American department stores buyers (Florence, 1951).
Visiting Este he fell in love with the factory and decided to buy it. With foresight he decided to combine ceramic and fashion. To this day Este Ceramiche e Porcellane works for some of the best known fashion houses. About 80% of their production is exported to the United States. The activity is led with an eye to tradition and one to innovation.
We first visited the Este Ceramic’s showroom which displays many of their collections. At some point the owner’s daughter Isabelle joined us. How pretty she is! She told me that before our tour she escorted a group of primary school children. They were all enthusiast, attentive, and respectful of the place, i.e. they didn’t touch anything… 🙂
Isabelle and her mother told us that the main inspiration sources are:
- The ancient XVIII molds. One of the most beloved objects (a trend for Venetian aristocratic Palaces) is the trionfo (triumph), a great centerpiece composed of various removable elements.
- Nature. Nature is an inspiration to create for example an entire set of dishes with a single theme (cauliflower or radicchio for example) or funny trompe-l’oeil dishes with fake fruits, vegetables and other delicious foods which are a part of the plate. Their original function was to make it clear to the guests that dinner was over. An elegant way to dismiss the guests!
My favourite was the set of dishes inspired by Italian gardens. If I had a beautiful house I would definitely buy that service. I’d settle for the small boxwood decor (a delightful piece, in which the leaves are attached by hand, one by one).
Then we went to the factory. To get these fabulous objects they use 3 methods:
- Lathe: used for vases and tall objects
- Press with molds (the molds are made by hand): perfect to obtain flat objects, like dishes. They have a huge wall completely plastered with molds. One of the employees knows the location of all the molds!
- Manual labor: all the objects in the end are shaped and finished, as well as decorated, by hand. I can testify since I have seen for example Erika and Luciana at work.
The most fascinating part of the visit was to see the decorators (all ladies) at work. Very capable and fast. Before our eyes they were painting and decorating cups, plates, tureens and so.
The tour was also attended by a lady who had worked in the factory as a decorator 30 years ago. She had to leave the job to follow her husband in another region. She came back to Este to visit some relatives and discovered that the factory was open. She told me she was really moved to see the factory again because she had many good memories of that place. When we arrived at the decorating room a decorator recognized her. 30 years ago she had just arrived at the factory and she was working in the warehouse. It was a nice emotional moment!
Here the owner showing us a plate with a typical decor called palmette as before and after cooking (first pink, then blue).
Este Ceramics shop
At the end of the visit, out of curiosity and to show you around … and ok, I admit it, I wanted to see if there was a boxwood for sale, I went to see the shop/outlet. It is beautiful, with wooden beams, tables and shelves full of plates, cups, bowls, centerpieces, jugs, sugar bowls, vases, etc. I haven’t found my boxwood but I’ll try again! It would look so fine in my living room!
For those who visit Este I absolutely recommend to go and see this lovely Este Ceramics shop.
Via Sabina 31 Este
Este ceramics Shop
Via Zanchi, 22a Este
Mon – Fri 9-12, 2-5.30
Saturday by appointment (+3904292270 or +3904293064)