Upon entering the Orolacche workshop, in Via Buniva, at the very heart of the Vanchiglia district in Torino, one perceives love for artisanship and feels like going backward through time. The owner, Jash Ninni, narrates how a path is undertaken quite casually has turned into a true work and passion. ”I was born to a family of the South, in which almost everyone was a doctor or a graduate. I was a bit of a rebel and listless and a relative proposed me an employment with a lacquering workshop, operating for the Accorsi Foundation in Torino. I remember that when my grandmother had known of this, said “one Ninni acting Mastro Geppetto was something never seen before”.
Nevertheless, that born by chance activity has turned out into a real job. After four years in that workshop, in 2000, Ninni has created “Orolacche”, a workshop for woodwork renovation, lacquering and gold-plating. The first works for the private market, then the commitment to public worksites came. Among these, the Gobetti Theatre in Torino, the Royal Palace with the noble floor furnishings, the façade of the Cathedral in Biella. Lastly, he launched joint collaborations with architecture studies to carry out restoration works and to create design motives in luxury apartments.
The passion is there, but the situation is not an easy one. “For quite some time now – he observes – social recognition scales have been shifting over: if you are a doctor, if you perform intellectual activities, you are a high-level individual, if you are an artisan, you are at a lower level. I believe, and hope that social recognition of handicraft abilities will come back into being”. “In particular – he further explains – my work is an essentially aesthetic one, I do fixtures, I am the one who arrives the last on the worksite. I take care of gilding and lacquering of furniture, frameworks, surfaces. Certainly, the taste for a product of antique and its value has significantly decreased and if a piece is not a valued one, finishing it is not worthwhile”.
Jash Ninni makes no secret of the fact that “currently, I am earning very, very, very much less than my master used to 20 years ago. Oftentimes we work for 15/20 Euros per hour and for the public even less and occasionally one still needs to bargain in order to obtain such a compensation”. In spite of the difficulties, the passion remains, together with the will to pass the trade on to the young generations: ”I have been a master of Bottega Scuola for 12 years now. At times it is not easy to explain that the essence of this craftsmanship is time, precision. Often, young people rush to obtain results under all points of view”. In 2014 Ninni has established, with other artisans, the “Artes” Association, to diffuse the message of the importance of artisanship. “I hope – he concludes – that there may be a revalorization of artisanship since I am convinced that artisanship is the spirit of a territory, that orients the resources of that territory towards the necessities of its population”.