GILDA EDITIONS, the revaluation of craftsmanship

Rooted in the exceptional heritage and know-how of Italian craft tradition, Gilda Editions is a new design company positioned at the intersection of an artisan workshop and contemporary design production. Founded in 2021 in Vicenza, Gilda Editions seeks to bring the slowness, care and accuracy of artisanal production to contemporary audiences. Mostly focused on producing tableware and small domestic items, Gilda Editions works with a “cohort” of young international designers to bring traditional craftsmanship to contemporary markets.

Particularly concerned with the processes of making, materials and techniques, Gilda Editions draws on a long tradition of designers who have sought to question the systems of production and distribution of objects by paying attention to the skill and labour of artisans, celebrating slow, meticulous working processes and the economy of craft production. Taking its name from the Italian word for guild, Gilda Editions seeks to foster relationships between designers and craftsmen, grounded in a synergic exploration of different techniques and materialities. Crafted from wood, glass or metal, each object manufactured by Gilda Editions is determined by its unique production technique, a material expression of the particular process through which it has been produced.

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The first collection of Gilda Editions has been presented at “supersalone” 2021 in the Alcova showcase. It includes the work of eight designers – Theodóra Alfreðsdóttir, Tiago Almeida, Marco Campardo, Sammi Cherryman, Rio Kobayashi, Michael Schoner, Norma Studio, Jamie Wolfond – each of which has presented tableware pieces crafted exclusively for this occasion. Inspired by Richard Serra’s 1967-68 work Verblist, a compilation of a series of “actions to relate to oneself, material, place, and process”, each designer has conceived a specific object as the result of a precise manufacturing process. Twisting, carving, blowing, bending, and so on, determine a system of actions that result in precise contemporary objects. A materialisation of the dialogue between designers and artisans. Produced as open editions, the collection will include everyday objects such as fruit bowls, vases, toilet paper holder, house numbers, pestle and mortar, salt/pepper mills, a lamp and a trivet, a drinking glass, all designed for and made by Gilda Editions.

Theodóra Alfreðsdóttir is an Icelandic product designer based in London. She holds a bachelor’s degree in product design from the Iceland University of the Arts (2012) and a master’s degree in Design Products from the Royal College of Art in London (2015). Theodora’s work centres upon storytelling through objects: she’s interested in the way an object can act as documentation of its manufacturing process; a record of what went on between the machine, tools, craftsman and material, as well as communicating its origin and former life. This approach often leads to the discovery of unexpected qualities, as well as giving the user a subtle opportunity to reconsider our material world and explore new values. Collaborations are a big part of Theodora’s work and practice, both with other designers/makers as well as companies and brands. Alongside her self-initiated and commissioned work Theodora has been a Visiting Tutor at the Iceland University of the Arts since 2016 and Associate lecturer at the London Metropolitan University since 2019.

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Tiago Almeida grew up in the Portuguese countryside and, after finishing High School, he moved to Lisbon to study Product Design. Later on, he moved to London where he learned and developed craft techniques. Over the past years, he has been creating furniture and home goods mostly self-produced. Having wood as his main medium, he likes to combine it with other materials exploring theirs different physical and aesthetic properties.

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Marco Campardo is a London-based designer and maker working with private and public clients, designing objects, exhibition design and site-specific installations. He has a particular interest in making and material experimentation as a form of critical practice using it to explore wider narratives about culture materiality identity and authenticity. Marco’s work starts with hands-on experimentation and research to question the nature of contemporary models of production. With a keen interest in materiality his research seeks to subvert or adapt industrial manufacturing processes to propose an alternative to standardised mass production. He works with local communities and artisans to develop projects that value craftsmanship tacit knowledge and materials.

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Sammi Cherryman is a designer and creative thinker based in London. She likes to design everyday objects, giving particular care to the construction by making mindful decisions about the materiality used, with thoughtful attention of achieving the maximum use of the material and ensuring every element of the design is there for a reason. Since graduating from Kingston School of Art in 2018, her work has been exhibited in The Barbican, The Aram Gallery, New Designers and London Design Week.

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Rio Kobayashi is a London-based designer and maker, uniting creativity in thinking with excellence in hand-crafts. Rio was born and grew up in the Tochigi, Japan, in a ceramic artisan family, creating his first piece of furniture at an early age. At eighteen he moved to Austria, where he developed and honed his skills in carpentry over the course of three-year apprenticeship in cabinet making. From 2011 on, he gathered further creative experience; working with international studios and artists in Berlin, Milan, Tokyo and Paris. In 2017 Kobayashi set up his own workshop in East London. He has since exhibited under his own name at London Design week, Milan Design week and several galleries. His work is broad in its scope, but precise in its execution; creating pieces which open playful dialogues between the traditional crafts of his native Japan and the boundary-less creative freedoms of the modern design world he inhabits.

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Michael Schoner develops designs of different scales varying from architecture and interior to furniture and sculpture. His love for simple design operations, like cutting and folding, gives him the opportunity to play with form and identity of the object. Thus, the construction and making process creates the Gestalt of the objects. Michael Schoner believes that we are all hardwired with a library of archetypical forms or architectural elements and tries to rediscover and reshuffle them.

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Norma is a studio for objects, moveables, and spaces. From its base in Los Angeles, the studio pursues research, fabrication, interior, and curatorial projects rooted in explorations of form and material. Norma seeks out commissions from and collaborations with patrons and peers both local and international, with the consistent goal of creating narrative-based outputs founded in generosity, candor, and delight.

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Last but not least, Jamie Wolfond is a Canadian designer of furniture, lighting and tools for everyday living. Each of his designs begins with an observation about the material world — a car’s differential mechanism, a bendy straw, a lichen that grows only on the shady side of a rock. Wolfond explores these phenomena through a series of hands-on experiments, each one building on the discoveries of the one before until one of these ideas asks to be developed into a useful object. Wolfond and his team collaborate with skilled tradespeople and factories to resolve each design. By allowing the strengths of an individual manufacturer to influence his designs, Wolfond creates objects that are inherently suited to production — things that want to be made.  The results of this process are at once exceptional and familiar, both reflecting and transforming common elements of material culture.

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