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Fine crafts, eco design, tradition and innovation, old materials and experimental techniques in this list of workshops and laboratories of excellence in Salento

Salento has a tradition of fine craftsmanship that starts from local stone and paper mache and passes through the ceramic pottery, wood and, above all, different experimental materials.

The use of natural raw materials, such as plant’s fiber or the reuse of old objects transformed into modern design is part of the artistic and local artisan fervor.

It is not always easy, however, to find some of the most innovative labs of artists since they are often work in quiet environments, mostly surrounded by nature.
So today we want to make you discover some aterlier and fine craft workshops, where you can admire, buy and know the artisan poetics of Salento.

Classic shapes and always unique concepts

Stone Fireplace and mantelpiece by Antonio Margarito
Stone Fireplace and mantelpiece by Antonio Margarito

“Modern archaeologists, rediscovering the art of the past.”
With these words, a professor of the  Academy of Brera called out the sculptural art of Art Studio Margarito, by Margarito Brothers, in Montesano Salentino, a town 47 km away from Lecce, on the road that leads to Santa Maria di Leuca.
No plaster model is the basis of any stone unique sculptures made here; they can be born from an infinite number of previous ideas or by a sketch on paper made by a customer.
As befits the artists, as well as the artisans, every idea becomes a starting point and inspiration for a concept that becomes an unrepeatable work.
Wonderful stone fountains, fireplaces with bas-reliefs, statues, objects and sacred art in which the stone is shaped by taking an ancient, evocative form of a timeless classic.

Design and sculpture. The life of the raw material before the functionality of the object.  

“You must know the stone breath first, then you can listen to it” is the first sentence you’ll read on Renzo Buttazzo’s website.
The artist works in the silence of the essential nature, in harmonious  balance with her.
Design meets sculpture in a process where a concept evolves and becomes functionality after the obligatory passage through the artistic beauty. His lab-house is surrounded by nature, in Tangano district of Cavallino, and becomes a contemporary art museum and center of creative energy and inspiration. (Showroom also in Via Palmieri, Lecce).
Design is not just about design; it’s also energy of matter that takes shape and finds a way to become part of the beholder’s everyday life

Experimental materials

The “pietra leccese” maieutics often starts from the observation of a beloved father, mother or master, working at this local tradition:

When a master extracts life out of a soft block of local stone, it’s hard to stop watching and wishing to manage the same art, between magic and physical effort, concentration and contemplation.
The observation was the beginning of Luigi Martina’s path; ceramist of Monteroni di Lecce, in his hands, local stone, tufa and ceramics take harmonic shapes which remind the intricacies of organic olive tree bark and waves games. He uses the living nature and the plant world not only as a source of inspiration but also as experimental material, as the structures made in prickly fig fiber.

Luigi Martini Experimental design and material
Luigi Martini Experimental design and material

Also read Salento and the art of re-creating. Interview with Maurizio Buttazzo

Naif spirit, as fresh as a watercolor

appliques casa Alea, created by Donna Barbara
appliques casa Alea, created by Donna Barbara

With a workshop located the Old Port of Santa Maria di Leuca, Donna Barbara’s ceramics are fine lightweight art, naive imagination with a professional mastery behind it.

Soft colors that coyly stand apart from enamelled white, lamps and pottery seem watercolor paintings that become real, childish thoughts turned into art and design.
In Casa Alea and Casa Opunzia you can find some wonderful examples of applique made by Donna Barbara atelier.

Learn more about the elegant country villa Casa Alèa and the precious sea view house Casa Opunzia.

The collective imaginary encased in a ring

In an enlightened small “piazza” in the historic center of Lecce  a small doors will call you at the Carmen Rampino’s atelier; this artisan-artist has found an interesting critical acclaim with a conceptual work on the female dream.
Recalls of classical mythology and current symbologies are celebrated in his works in papier mache and other local materials, becoming a collective  – almost Jungian – symbolism. Dolls, clowns and angels meet sea gods, jellyfish and sea urchins. Jewels rich in mystery and vivacity tell a story and the imaginery of a land, in the symbolic space of a ring

sculpture by Carmen Rampino
sculpture by Carmen Rampino

Carmen Rampino Cartapesta

The Elseways project 

Sometimes it is not easy to find certain types of craft and design, especially when you are looking for the top eco sustainability that goes hand in hand with innovation and new ideas.
Elseways is a project that contains all this and more: from collections that combine experimentation to tradition, ancient materials and new forms of artistic eco sustainability based on the reuse, Elseways embodies and promotes products that tell the history of an area, that respect the planet and working women and men, that preserve and transform the knowledge of the traditions thus allowing the transmission to future generations.