As its name would suggest, Richard Ginori 1735 was founded way back in 1735 after Marquis Carlo Ginori scoured Italy to find Kaolinite, the white clay mineral that is the essential ingredient of porcelain. Centuries later, the factory proudly maintains its legacy as a manifattura—a term indicating that all elements of production take place under one roof. We were lucky to be invited to visit the factory, located just outside Florence, to see firsthand the level of passion and skill the artisans—many of whom have been part of the Ginori “family” for generations—bring to their craft.
Our tour gave us a new appreciation for the collections we carry here at Barneys. We knew they were beautiful, but seeing the way Ginori fuses raw materials and artisanal craft revealed how truly special the pieces are. Below, we share highlights from our visit.
All porcelain is created from hand-carved forms made by skilled artisans pictured above. The craft is so personal to them that even their wooden tools are handmade and considered an extension of their hands.
Porcelain, or “china clay,” originates from Kaolin, China. The history of hard paste porcelain in Europe is vast and a rich. Often referred to as “white gold,” it was accidentally discovery by an imprisoned alchemist in the basement of August the Stong in Germany. Once discovered, there was an esprit de corps among artisans who were motivated by furthering the craft and art of porcelain making.
Each time a new form is made, the previous one gets put into the archive. They’re replaced after being used a few dozen times.
This is the archival book that features the original patterns that date back 275 years, many of which are still in production today.
Here, an artisan works on the detail of a model. Each petal of the flower is created one at a time from a piece of clay that is formed and shaped by hand.
Designs are created on a silkscreen, which is then used to make a decal on special transfer paper.
The subtle nuances of the decal have both texture and movement, emulating a freshly applied brushstroke freshly.
All paints are custom made by combining raw minerals.
Pieces being wheeled to the the oven.
The kiln gets up to over over 2000 degrees fahrenheit. Blue is the only color that can withstand the temperature and can therefore be placed under the glaze.
After up to 200 hours of craftsmanship, the beautiful finished product is something to be admired—and, better yet, something to be used and appreciated in the home. Porcelain is extremely durable, which is why it’s often a collectible passed down through generations.