Design Alabastro 22

  • 2023

  • Architectural
    Installation Design

Designed By:

Commissioned By:

Città di Volterra

Designed In:


Project developed for City of Volterra, Italy, which chose Design for the enhancement of local Alabaster craftsmanship. Alabaster is a limestone / chalky stone, found in Volterra. It has characteristics of brightness, workability, transparency. Its history has uninterrupted roots of local processing for over two thousand years, from the Etruscan period.

Image: Guido Mencari
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  • The project concerns the world of excellent craftsmanship which confronts itself with design to identify new ways of realisation, production and distribution. The goal, in the first phase, was to create an urban work, an artistic installation, that would bring the local stone working tradition back to the center of citizens' awareness and that would bring a message of hope through light during the pandemic. The next goal, in the second phase, was to create a new Collection of design products in alabaster, focusing on its characteristics, first of all transparency, and the local ability to work it.

  • In the first phase, the work “Arnioni in Piazza”, was created involving local alabaster makers; large blocks of alabaster have been emptied and illuminated inside. The work has become a permanent installation of the City. In the second phase, according to the project "Alabastro 22", 11 designers and 11 master craftsmen were involved, for the creation of new products. Designers of different generations, genres and geographical origins were invited to allow for a variety of design responses; the alabaster makers have collaborated according to their different skills. The products were presented during the the Salone del Mobile period in Milan.

  • Objective: to bring together designers and alabaster makers, give a new contemporary shape to an ancient material, introduce new ways of approaching the market, open up new job opportunities for local crafts. Design becomes a strategic tool for change because it aims to improve the lives of local artisans, offer new stimuli to the design activity, bring new products to the market, enhance the local identity and skills, trigger new tourism opportunities. Finally, design is used by applying its methodology, not only to the creation of industrial products, but also to processes and services for the city and the community.

  • Born in 2020 as part of Volterra's candidacy for Italian Capital of Culture and completed in 2022, as Volterra "First Tuscan City of Culture", the project was carried out with the contribution of the Tuscany Region, the Municipality of Volterra, the Chamber of Commerce North-West Tuscany. The project for the creation of the 11 products and the catalogue, which tells the story, the material, the manufacturing process, the conceived initiative, both created in 2023, were developed with the direct contribution of the work of designers and alabaster, in collaboration with Milano Makers, an association of self-producer designers in Milan. This project intends to be a stimulus for a new production that enhances the material, the contribution of local skills to work it and collaboration with design. This is the re-launch of manufacturing and the launch of a new production. It is expected that this initiative will develop with the creation of a Consortium that will continue to support production, with communication and distribution actions. At a demonstrative level, the path can be applied to other contexts, materials and craftsmanship that need to keep tradition alive and contaminate with design to identify new expressive opportunities linked to the contemporary vision.