THE SURVIVING QUESTIONS
1. IN ONE SENTENCE, HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE WHAT YOU DO?
That’s a big question! Where do we start? From the Whys? No, there’s no why…I do this because I’ve always done it, as a boy I thought of work as a self-realisation, something that one wants to feel in his own head. I do not make much distinction between working and the holiday time. I do not have “hobbies”, what I do every day has being done because I hope to make a living from it – with little results – though I do this job because I like working independently. Is not so much to do the job but it’s how you do it. I always thought that I could never do an employment job in a company where you perform repetitive tasks: it would kill me. With all due respect to those who do. The decision to work the leather is due to the fact that it is a material that lends itself to being manipulated, in the sense that the more you work on it, the more it changes, a bit like with the wood: the more you handle it, the more you leave traces of your work. The older it gets, the better it looks: exactly the opposite of us-humans. But I must add that it is not always so profitable to work at home. When you work at home it looks like you always work but in reality you don’t really!
2. WHAT DID YOU LEARN THANKS TO YOUR HANDS?
I have to thank my hands, because thanks to them I earned a living. They allowed me to make a better life for my dears. I learned to survive. I have always worked, I had an idiosyncrasy for school, it gave me rash! But thanks to my hands I have survived, I made my own home, what I need the most I can make it by myself. I found a great similarity between different crafts, in terms of mental mechanisms, such as the mason and the goldsmith: they’re not one thing only, they are a mix of many other things. In Italy we took this for granted for a long time when in fact one of the most important things in Italy is the result of mixing, there is no such thing as “Italian” – take the pizza which is unleavened bread that they eat in the Middle East, the tomatoes come from Americas, the coffee comes from Ethiopia. So what is it that you sell as Italian? It is the ability to put together different things, everybody came to Italy, everybody! We often worry about defending nationality, language, crafts. To defend a craft it is necessary to disseminate it, do not close the doors!
3. IF YOU HAD TO SUGGEST A TEENAGER TO FOLLOW YOUR PATH, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?
You see, in Italy we have done a lot of damage, in the sense that the Italian youth is very different from the ones in other parts of the world. In the last few decades we are passing the message that working is for stupids, that having this sort of interests does not pay off, that is rather more profitable to be a “velino” or “velina”, and we sent out this message through all the mass media: all that really matters is to make money as quickly as possible. But this is no kids fault. So the first thing I would tell to a teenager is: you take your passport and go see the world for three years, and when you get back we’ll talk again. Luckily the world is much better than we are led to believe but to understand it you have to see it before your eyes.
Generally speaking, to undertake a job like mine, my advice is to make a boy fall in love with life, for others, for time, because the time could be a big enemy. Our society is evolving in only two directions: miniaturization and acceleration of time.
In a sense, a you should be a little conservative: you need to have love for objects. How can you fall in love with something that lasts a week and then you throw it? What do you fall in love with? A suggestion? Or for the purchase-orgasm? This may seem off the topic we are talking about but how do you talk about skill, hands, craftsmanship when you don’t have the opportunity to appreciate what we have?
THE SURVIVING STORY
The traditional handmade work of Stefano Parrini comes from his experiences developped in the saddlery and his passions for voyages, adventures and trips. All the objects he mostly produces are knapsacks, bags, folders and other manufactured articles used everyday or for a long journey or trips. Faithful to the saddlery traditions, his handmade&handsewn objects with waxed yarn are complitely worked using exclusively tanned vegetable leather. All metal parts are made of casted brass. The wearability and the armony of appearances create a unique example that needs some working days to be completed and to became a strong handmade object that lasts in time. In opposition with the throwaway culture that depreciates the relationship between the object and his owner, Stefano Parrini’s creations like knapsacks or bags, give evidence and memory to the shared experiences, they bring their signs, they change in time ,but, they cherish the power of their owner’s experiences. It looks like a crazy thing nowadays but he knows that in all cultures was mentioned the strong relationship between people and the playing role of their objects. This is Stefano Parrini’s work philosophy.