Orolacche and the passion for artisanship

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”.

Via Miche­le Buni­va 15, Torino
10124 Tori­no